Amsterdam to Bruges bike and barge vacation

“A unique vacation, traveling by barge and bike from Amsterdam to Bruges, with a small group, fully guided and full board. Great way to see highlights of Netherlands and Belgium.”

Highlights

Amsterdam | Gouda | Flowerpark Kuekenhof (in Spring) | Zeeland waterways | Ghent | Antwerp | River Schelde | Horse and carriage ride in Bruges (in Spring) | Bruges

Travel Team

If you'd like to chat about this vacation or need help finding one we're very happy to help. The Travel Team.

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Our top tip:
Keep the slow travel theme throughout and take the train from the UK, either by Eurostar or using sail rail packages from Harwich.
Trip type:
Small group, 16-22 people. Suitable for children.
Activity level:
Easy cycling.
Accomm:
Shared cabins on barge.
Included:
Accomm., all meals, bikes, guided city walks, entrance fees to Keukenhof and Windmill Kinderdijk, transfers.
Solos:
Solo travelers welcome. Surcharge for own cabin when available.
Vouchers
Accepted
Vacation type
Small group vacations
Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, traveling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week vacation, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travelers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.
What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Simplicity
Make the most of your vacation time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travelers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your vacation.

Solo travelers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those traveling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travelers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
Mythbuster
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travelers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travelers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
No.
Meet a group leader
As well as taking care of all the day-to-day practicalities, your group leader is the one who will turn your trip into an adventure. Leaders are extraordinary characters – the kind of person who has spent 14 Christmas days on the slopes of Mount Everest, runs marathons wearing tiger suits to raise funds for their conservation and thinks nothing of leading an overland trip in Sudan or Afghanistan. Fearless and inspiring, group leaders are as important as the destination itself.

Meet a local guide
No matter how experienced your group leader, they can never make up for the knowledge gained from a lifetime in the destination. That’s why many of our trips work with local guides around the world – who invite you into their homeland with pleasure. As well as doing crazy things like climbing Kilimanjaro 100 times, they also donate their time to local projects supported by travelers – such as rebuilding Sri Lankan villages following the 2004 tsunami.

Responsible tourism

Amsterdam to Bruges bike and barge vacation

Carbon reduction

Your vacation will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this vacation and how to reduce them.

Environment

Traveling by bike during the day and by barge overnight, this vacation is the ideal way to get deeper into authentic rural countryside, visiting small towns not on the tourist trail and to explore the natural and cultural highlights of a region without the needs of vehicle transport.

A barge uses only two small engines to transport up to 35 people and uses less fuel per person and produces much less emissions than a bus would. It also emits very little noise pollution so we can travel without disrupting the river animals and humans living peacefully near where we travel.

By cycling during the day you are able to travel under your own steam and minimise further your impact on the environment. After a thoroughly rewarding day’s cycling you will be warmly welcomed onto our barge which carries between 16 and 35 people. By traveling in small groups we do not dominate small villages that we travel through.

We employ local leaders who guide the trips and the food supplied is sourced from suppliers who only supply foods from Holland.

The natural landscapes we explore are some of the richest, often most challenging, yet at the same time some of the most fragile environments on earth. With education, experienced leadership and appropriate equipment and techniques, it is possible to travel responsibly through these regions. For us, it is critically important that such wilderness travel experiences do not diminish the natural values of the environment.

Our environmental sustainable principles
True sustainability is a guiding aspect in all aspects of our business planning and operations. Specifically our tour operations should be managed in a way where the natural and cultural values of the host region are undiminished in the long-term.

Where possible, we engage in partnerships with local environmental groups and/or land managers to actively campaign for conservation or promote environmental protection and/or rehabilitation.

Our Responsible Travel Guidebook Our philosophy since 1975 has been to leave only footprints and take only photographs. To reiterate this, every customer who travels with us receives a copy of our award-winning Responsible Travel guidebook. This detailed book outlines our environmentally sustainable principles, and outlines how each customer can minimize their impact while traveling.

Global Warming and Carbon Balancing The root cause of Global Warming is society's dependence on emission creating fossil fuel. Planting trees is not going to reverse this trend or cancel our carbon emissions very quickly or effectively. We believe the way to reduce these dependencies is to create clean energy production. Therefore, we support renewable energy projects like wind and solar power, and we are aligned with Climate Friendly, the gold standard setter in effective, meaningful action addressing climate change. So, while we believe that tree planting can play a small role in greenhouse gas abatement, we have gone the extra mile in promoting a longer term solution. Is this cheap? No. Is it responsible? Absolutely!

Community

The average tourist to Holland spends 2 days in Amsterdam and surrounds. This bike and barge tour opens travelers up to people and landscapes of Holland seen by few and in the process assists many small towns with extra income potential.

By traveling by barge and bikes we are able to visit many more towns which allows us a great degree of cultural interaction and for you to support many small businesses in smaller towns when we visit local sites of interest. Your purchases will assist many towns that see little tourism because they are off the main tourist paths.

Our responsible travel principles: Our company aims to maximise the positive benefits of tourism for host communities. This includes training and employment of local staff, using local suppliers and assisting in the development of sustainable local businesses.

We actively minimise the negative effects that tourism can have by ensuring that tourism does not divert resources away from local communities or drive up prices on local resources. We provide opportunities for real cultural exchange, where locals and visitors alike can share and learn from each other in an environment of mutual respect.

We contribute to the welfare of the host community. This is epitomised in our Community Project Travel program where we organise for our travelers to spend time in disadvantaged villages upgrading basic facilities such as health, education and water access.

We strive to educate our travelers about the destination and its local cultures as well as providing guidelines on appropriate behaviour to minimise impact.

No local payments policy: Local cash payments are becoming increasingly popular with many operators in the adventure travel industry. This policy seems to benefit the tour operators more than the local economies or the travelers, as it avoids local taxes and transfers the costs and risks of cash handling onto the travelers. In accordance with our Responsible Travel practices, we have chosen a policy of not asking for such payments.

7 Reviews of Amsterdam to Bruges bike and barge vacation

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Reviewed on 05 Oct 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


I enjoyed every minute of the vacation from the moment we boarded in Amsterdam until we left the barge in Ghent. I especially enjoyed the cycling through the Dutch countryside which was much more varied and prettier than I expected. The crew and guide created a good atmosphere and helped the group to mix and work well together.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


To do some cycling beforehand. While the pace is relaxed and the terrain is flat you will be cycling for 3-5 hours per day and cycling into the towns and cities
is demanding.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


To some extent as cycling obviously was environmentally friendly. Apart from coffee and snacks all food and drink was on the barge so we spent very little
locally.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Excellent if you're looking for an active vacation and sociable relaxed atmosphere.

Reviewed on 06 Sep 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?




2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?




3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?




4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?



Reviewed on 14 Aug 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Cycling through the beautiful countryside along waterways.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Ensure you are confident cycling through traffic in cities and can maintain a reasonable pace.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, to some extent.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


A great vacation, meeting people from all over the world, a good guide with lots of local information and fabulous cycling.

Reviewed on 24 Jul 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Cycling through the idyllic cities of Belgium and the Netherlands and experiencing the culture of the people living there through close by inspection of their everyday lives.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


To bring a lot of energy because there is a lot of excitement to be shared.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


The vacation benefited local people by the interactions at local shops and they were also able to talk to us and discover where we were from.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Absolutely fantastic

Reviewed on 21 Oct 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


The barge was wonderful with great and comfortable accommodation and ensuite. The staff were so friendly and accommodating and the food delicious as
well as beautifully presented. Very pretty scenery on the bicycle ride too. We also had a fabulous group on board with us from Australia, New Zealand, Brazil,
Germany, USA, Canada and Holland.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


If you don't like city biking, this trip is not for you. Although there wasn't a lot of city cycling, there was enough to scare the faint of heart - cars parked on the
right, then you on the bike and cars, buses, trucks passing on your left. I nearly had a heart attack. If you can't keep a constant speed of 15 km or more this trip
isn't for you. If you rent an e-bike you will be able to do it.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Nothing significant.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Loved it!

Read the operator's response here:

Many thanks for your feedback and we are really happy to hear that you enjoyed the trip in Holland and Belgium. We always appreciate your comments as these are important to help us improve trips and in this case documentation for the future. We were sorry to hear that you felt rushed on the trip. This tour is graded introductory and the route is almost flat, but we have discussed this with our guides, so that they understand that still they need to ensure the pace is suitable for all members of the group.

We have been running this trip for 15 years now, and have always felt that traveling on a barge and by bike is a great way to enjoy travel with a limited effect on the environment. We also would like to note that we only employ local people and source food locally and for every $ spent, it goes directly into the local economy. We hope you will join us again in the future. Thank you

Reviewed on 27 Jul 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Cycling through the lovely Dutch and Belgian countryside.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Cycling 50 km per day is much easier than you think!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Generally this was an environmentally low impact vacation in that our part was cycling and our tourist money of course benefits individuals and the economy
in a postive way.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Very relaxed pace and enjoyable. The guide, the food, the service and the staff were all outstanding.

Reviewed on 24 Jun 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Living and traveling on the barge Fiep. The crew, accommodation and food were excellent. Amsterdam, Ghent and Antwerp were great. Was disappointed with Bruges - too touristy!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Be prepared for the wind in Holland which made cycling more difficult than expected.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes because we were traveling by boat and bicycles so not polluting the roads and adding to traffic.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Enjoyable but felt that the leader lacked basic skills and 24 in a cycling group was too many, particularly when we were negotiating towns. There should have been two groups of 12.

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