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Amsterdam to Bruges in 11 Days
When 8 days is simply not enough, and many say it is not, this extraordinary 11-day adventure blends cycling and boating as you explore the enchanting landscapes of Holland and Belgium. This is a classic route but with the bonus of having a few more days to enjoy the ride...and the beautiful boat!
This itinerary is a captivating fusion of both nations, highlighting diverse facets. Explore poignant World War sites, marvel at Holland's remarkable Delta Works, and pay homage to the historic Flanders Fields in Belgium. Bookending this experience are two cities, Amsterdam and Bruges, that couldn't be more different, yet are equally captivating.
Whether your interests lie in history, art, architecture, engineering marvels, or simply the joy of cycling, this tour promises an unforgettable experience. Some have called it the trip of a lifetime!
- Cycling through picturesque Dutch and Flemish landscapes on dedicated bike paths and rural roads
- Visiting historic cities such as Leiden, Delft, and Ghent with their rich cultural heritage
- Exploring UNESCO World Heritage windmills at Kinderdijk
- Discovering charming towns like Willemstad and Tholen with their unique histories
- Experiencing the vibrant culture and architecture of Antwerp, Amsterdam, and Bruges
- Enjoying boat rides along scenic canals in Ghent and Bruges
- Choosing between beachside relaxation in Oostende or sightseeing in Bruges on a free day
Day 1: Amsterdam - Haarlem
Embarkation begins at 3:30 pm. By approximately 4:30 pm, the Merlijn will gracefully set sail towards the day's destination - Haarlem Once onboard, you can savor a complimentary beverage, enjoy meeting the crew, and receive a tour presentation. Delight in a sumptuous dinner on board, and as the evening descends, you can enjoy a leisurely walk through Haarlem, known for its stunning architecture, including the intricate facades of centuries-old buildings, the iconic Grote Kerk (Great Church), and the imposing Molen de Adriaan (Windmill de Adriaan), which stands proudly along the Spaarne River.
Day 2: Haarlem - Leiden (19 miles/30 km)
Your journey kicks off as you depart Haarlem by boat, offering the perfect opportunity for your guide to outfit your bikes and address any cycling-related queries. The first stop for the ship will mark the beginning of your cycling adventure. Pedal along well-maintained bike paths through picturesque landscapes, immersing yourself in the Dutch cycling paradise. Your route leads you to the historic city of Leiden, the birthplace of Rembrandt and home of Holland's oldest university.
Day 3: Leiden - Delft (22 or 28 miles/35 or 45 km)
You begin to cycle directly from Leiden after a hearty breakfast. Leave the city behind and relish the lush surroundings. Midway along the route is The Hague, a melting pot of culture and government, housing the Parliament buildings and the King's Palace.
Your destination for the day is Delft, renowned for its Delft Blue pottery. In the afternoon, a 400-year-old pottery factory is included in your tour. After dinner, an evening stroll will uncover Delft's standout attractions.
Day 4: Delft - Rotterdam - Kinderdijk - Dordrecht (19 or 22 miles/30 or 36 km)
As you commence your cycling journey, the skyline of Rotterdam unfolds before you. The paved cycle paths reveal all the highlights. You will cross the Lecht River by ferry to reach Kinderdijk, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 19 windmills played a crucial role in draining the surrounding polders, preventing flooding, and rendering the land suitable for agriculture and habitation—a testament to the Netherlands' rich cultural and engineering history. From here, you have two options: board a deluxe fast ferry to reach Dordrecht directly, where the Merlijn is berthed, or extend your tour and cycle on to Dordrecht.
Dordrecht's storied history dates back to the 11th century. The city played a vital role in the Dutch Republic during the 16th and 17th centuries. In the evening, indulge in Dutch cuisine at one of the charming local restaurants.
Day 5: Dordrecht - Willemstad - Tholen (28 miles/45 km)
The morning will find you navigating to Willemstad. Willemstad is renowned for its well-preserved 16th-century fortifications built to safeguard the town from invasion. Your cycling route then leads directly from Willemstad to Tholen, across flat terrain and through a picturesque 'polder landscape.' Tholen, once an island amidst the vast Zeeland streams, was historically centered around fishing. Today, it retains its charm and holds many relics from its eventful past.
Day 6: Tholen - Kreekerak - Antwerp (12 or 31 miles/20 or 50 km)
Today's bike tour is shorter, allowing ample time to explore Antwerp in the afternoon. After breakfast, set out on your journey, and just before you reach Antwerp, choose from two options. Either board the Merlijn and sail through Antwerp's magnificent harbor to the historic center or continue biking through the harbor landscape until you reach the Merlijn's berth in Antwerp.
Antwerp is renowned as the 'Diamond City' and the painter Rubens's birthplace. Within the city, you will encounter the impressive Cathedral of Our Lady and opulent merchant homes - remnants of Antwerp's illustrious past around the Market Square. A guided tour will introduce you to this marvelous city, including a closer look at the cathedral. The afternoon is free for shopping in the bustling city center. In the evening, you can choose where to dine in one of Antwerp's numerous local restaurants.
Day 7: Antwerp - St. Amands (28 miles/45 km)
You cycle through the St. Anna Tunnel to the other side of the Schelde River. Then after following the river upstream via Temse to Sint-Amands, a picturesque cycle path and magnificent riverside landscapes await. Sint-Amands, a small town nestled along the riverbanks, offers a tranquil setting surrounded by nature.
Day 8: St. Amands - Dendermonde - Ghent (22 miles/35 km)
Your morning cruise takes you to Dendermonde, a charming country town along the Dender estuary. The cycling leg of your journey commences here, following the captivating yet unpredictable course of the Schelde. Soon, the city of Ghent comes into view. Ghent, a lively university city with a rich history dating back to Roman times, sits at the confluence of the Leie and Schelde rivers. Its strategic location brought prosperity over the years. The St. Baafs Cathedral, a significant church built in various ages and styles, graces the city. After parking your bikes, enjoy a boat ride along the city's canals for a different perspective. Merlijn's berth is a bit distant from the town, so after your local tour, you'll cycle back to the ship to relish another delectable dinner on board.
Day 9: Ghent - Bruges (24 miles/38 km)
You begin cycling in Aalter after arriving by boat. Pedal through the serene countryside of Western Flanders to reach the enchanting city of Bruges, often referred to as 'Venice of the North.' Bruges boasts a UNESCO World Heritage Site city center, celebrated for its well-preserved and restored medieval architecture, charming canals, and picturesque squares. The notable Belfry of Bruges - a medieval bell tower dating back to the 13th century - is a prominent landmark in the city center. Visitors can ascend the tower for sweeping panoramic views of the city and the surrounding countryside. Conclude your day with dinner on board and an evening stroll through the city.
Day 10: Bruges (34 miles/55 km)
Today presents two options:
- Embark on a guided bike tour to Oostende, a major seaside city. Enjoy a refreshing swim in the North Sea and feel the sand between your toes, followed by a picnic lunch on the beach or at a seaside restaurant.
- For culture enthusiasts, leave your bike on board and embark on a sightseeing tour of Bruges. Explore the market square, cruise the canals, and savor Belgian fries for lunch.
In the evening, everyone returns to the Merlijn for a farewell dinner and the final night on board.
Day 11: Bruges
After a hearty breakfast, it is time to say goodbye.
Surface and terrain
On this tour, you traverse flat terrain, primarily using dedicated bike paths or lanes. While entering or leaving towns, you may encounter traffic, but the well-developed bicycle infrastructure, including signs, signals, and traffic lights, ensures a cyclist-friendly journey.
How to get there
The closest international airport to your tour start is Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS). Most people do fly into and out of the same airport. You can also fly out of Brussels (BRU) at the end if you prefer.
Train travel in both Holland (the Netherlands) and Belgium is known for its efficiency, accessibility, and extensive network. Schiphol train station is situated directly beneath Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, making it exceptionally convenient for travelers. Brussels Airport Zaventem railway station is located within the airport complex, connected to the terminal buildings by a short walkway.
Sunday, Jun 2, 2024
Per person, double occupancy €2995 Single-use cabin (1 person/1 cabin) On request
27-speed hybrid touring bike Included Electrically assisted bikes €300
- 10 nights aboard the Merlijn
- Welcome drink
- 10 x breakfast, 9 x packed lunches, and 8 x three-course dinner
- Coffee, tea, and water
- Supply of bedding, towels, facial tissues, hand soap, soap, shampoo, sewing kit, vanity kit, bathrobe, and slippers
- Daily cabin cleaning
- Tour guide and daily tour briefing
- 27-speed bicycle, which includes a waterproof pannier, towel, and helmet
- Complimentary water bottle
- GPS-tracks on majority of routes
- Canal, bridge & harbor fees
- All ferry fares
- Entrance to Royal Delft
- Boat ride through the canals of Ghent
Bikes available to be rented (booked in advance at the time of booking) include:
- 27-speed unisex model with lightweight aluminum frame (included in tour price)
- 7-speed electric bicycle with Bosch engine
Read more about electrically-assisted bikes >
Bike protection can be purchased at the time of booking. You can read more about that HERE.
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