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Bike and Boat Holidays

Posted on February 15, 2014 by

Bike and Boat: a winning concept

MS Gandalf barge - Underway

MS Gandalf

Bike and Boat holidays are a great concept. The name says it all – you’ll combine a canal and river cruise holiday on a fully fitted out barge with daily cycle tours.

Sleeping on board, there’s no need to worry about packing and unpacking each day. You’ll also cover more ground than on a regular cycling holiday so it’s a great way to see your destination.

You’ll typically spend part of your day cruising on board followed – or preceded by – a mid-length but easy-paced bike ride. You’ll typically stay in a different spot each night so it’s a fantastic way of really getting to know the country you’re visiting, and from a totally different perspective.

Kinderdijk - Holland

Kinderdijk Windmills

Some of the longer tours have days where you’ll spend a couple of nights in the same place, to give you a chance to explore particularly interesting spots like the fantastic cities of Amsterdam or Antwerp.

Bike and Boat holidays are highly sociable and lots of fun. Your expert, friendly crews and bike guides also really help to make a cycle cruising holiday truly memorable.

Comfortable and Cosy

So what’s it like on board? Well, you’ll naturally have a private cabin – no sailors’ hammocks here – which will be comfortably fitted out. The brochures will probably call them cosy – and as we all know, cosy usually means a tad compact.

MS Magnifique barge - Twin Cabin

MS Magnifique – Twin cabin

But that’s not a big deal on barge and bike holidays – it’s not as if you’ll be spending much time in your cabin other than for sleeping, so most people are more than happy with the arrangements.

If you do crave a bit more luxury then take a look at our Magnifique Bike and Boat Tours in Holland and Belgium. These boats offer spacious cabins and elegant, modern public areas.

Whatever type of barge you choose, there are comfortable and convivial common areas from where you can socialise and watch the scenery float gently by.

Sociable, cosmopolitan mix

Cycling in Loire

Cycle cruising

In fact, one of the best things about a cycle cruising holiday is how sociable they are. As you’re all cyclists everyone on board has a common interest so it’s easy to get on with people. This means they’re a great option for solo travellers, but you’ll also find they’re popular with couples, groups and families.

You’ll find your fellow passengers are generally a relaxed, cosmopolitan bunch, indeed some of the most enjoyable parts of the trip are likely to be the evening socialising, either on board or at a local restaurant or tavern. And your crew are always able to recommend the best spots!

Barge and bike tours attract cyclists from all over the world, but you’ll find that English is normally the common language on board, and your barge crew and bike guides will always speak good English so you’ll have no problems communicating.

Cycle Cruising in Holland

Holland is the birthplace of bike and boat holidays and it’s not surprising that you can find the best selection of this kind of holiday based there.

cycling in holland

Cycling in Holland

It’s easy to see why it’s taken off so much here. There are excellent and inexpensive transport connections to the Netherlands – flights from Heathrow to Amsterdam take only one hour and then there’s easy rail links. Using the Eurostar you can be in Amsterdam via Brussels in under 5 hours, with prices starting at less than £100 return. You’ve also got the option of a cross channel ferry plus train, which can be even cheaper, although it may take a little longer.

Once in Holland you’ll find that the canals aren’t just found in the big cities like Amsterdam. The whole country has an extensive canal network, which interconnects with local rivers. You can even reach the coastal estuaries and venture into into Belgium for a twin-country bike and boat holiday.

Family cycling

Family cycling

Then there’s the cycling. As we all know, Holland is almost entirely flat, so this makes for ideal cycling country. You can very easily cover good distances with minimal excursion. There’s a real cycling culture in Holland, too, and the Dutch treat cyclists with respect. So there’s no need to worry about the motorists, and in any case, most of the time you’ll be able to take advantage of the country’s truly extensive network of cycle paths.

And if you thought the Dutch countryside was all dykes and polders, think again. Yes, this is a distinctive feature of Holland, but that’s not all there is to this compact and surprisingly pretty little country. There are nature-filled national parks, sandy seaside resorts and large swathes of horticultural land that really come into their own in the spring. That’s when the tulip fields come into life and you’ll be treated to huge colour-filled fields wherever you go.

The cycle cruising concept has spread to other countries as well. For example there are some great options in France. The concept has also been extended to coastal cruising and cycling options, in places like Italy and Croatia.

But if you’re new to this style of holiday, take a look at the options in Holland first as you’re bound to find something that appeals.


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Our easy cycling holidays offer short daily rides on mostly level terrain. A typical day’s ride will take 2 – 3 hours at a leisurely pace and the remainder of the day will be free for you to explore further or simply relax. These rides are particularly recommended for newcomers to cycling holidays and for families.

Our leisurely cycle holidays will suit those who are reasonably fit through regular exercise of one kind or another – not necessarily cycling. On the whole, the terrain will be level but there may also be a few small hills to contend with along the way too. Daily rides will typically take around 3 – 4 hours to complete.

Our moderate cycle holidays are for regular cyclists, who are used to longer rides with regular climbs. A good level of fitness is needed and you can expect to be in the saddle for between 4 and 5 hours each day.

These holidays are for seasoned cyclists who cycle long distances regularly and who enjoy the thrill of long days in the saddle. There will undoubtedly be some challenging climbs along the way and you can expect to cover between 55 and 75 miles each day.

Simple 2 star hotels, pensions inns and B&Bs. All rooms feature en-suite facilities.

Typically a mix of good quality 2 & 3 star hotels and in some cases all 3 star hotels. All rooms feature en-suite facilities.
Tours that have a mix of 2, 3 and 4 star hotels are also included here. All rooms feature en-suite facilities.

A mix of 3 and 4 star hotels & or in some cases excellent 3 star hotels.

High standard properties offering well-appointed guest rooms and good facilities. All rooms feature en-suite facilities.

Basic: Cabins with bunk beds and shared facilities.

Simple: Cabins with bunk beds and en-suite facilities

Comfort: Twin bedded cabins and en-suite facilities.

Superior: Well appointed en-suite, twin cabins.

Deluxe: Very high levels of comfort & service. All cabins are en-suite.

theme-icon-familyFamily: Cycling holidays that are suitable for families.

theme-icon-riversRivers & Lakes: Cycling holidays alongside rivers and/or lakes.

theme-icon-coastalCoastal: Cycling holidays that follow a coastline.

theme-icon-wineWine Lovers: Cycling holidays through well known wine regions.

theme-icon-gastroGastronomic: Cycling holidays through regions renowned for their cuisine.

theme-icon-ebikeE-bikes: Cycling holidays where e-bikes are available as well as regular bikes.