Sail and Bike Netherlands: Sailing and biking around the Lake IJssel
8 days / 7 nights | Ship: Mare fan Fryslân & Wapen fan Fryslân | Guided cycling tours
Sail & Bike along the coast of the IJsselmeer. Once a salty sea, now the largest sweetwater lake in all of Holland! Discover this unique part of the Netherlands aboard a magnificent and comfortably furnished sailing ship, and while riding excellent cycle paths and tracks. Sailing experience is not necessary. Just a desire to give it a go. Cycling can be done on your own or by joining a tour leader. Whatever you like best.
Up until 1932, the IJsselmeer was an inland sea called the Zuiderzee. Since the Middle Ages, the area played a major role in the economic development of the Netherlands, but was also often severely flooded. A 32 kilometer long dike, finished in 1932, put an end to the flooding and turned the salty sea into a sweetwater lake. Along its banks many picturesque, historical harbor and trading towns, centuries-old polders (fields of reclaimed land below sea level) and beautiful inland villages are still witness to a rich seafaring past. The Ijsselmeer’s now sweet water is home to a huge diversity of birds, plants and fish.
You will visit many of those historical towns and polders on both the western and eastern banks of the IJsselmeer. The tour also leads you through various Dutch national parks and gets you as far as the province of Overijssel. On the final day the ship sails back to Amsterdam, while you can relax on board. We do stop for a last short bike ride though: through the Oostvaardersplassen—a nature reserve known for its rewilding, meaning that the area is left alone to create its own natural balance of animal and plant life.
If you feel up to the challenge, you may – instructed by the experienced crew – lend a hand during navigating and raising of the sails on board your ship. Of course, you are just as welcome to relax and enjoy the fresh air, sailing and scenery. Since the ships are very large (up to 55 meters/60 yards) and very stable, there is almost no risk of seasickness.
Day 1 (Sat): Amsterdam – Volendam | testride (Cycling 10 km / 6 miles)
Your week of sailing and cycling starts in Amsterdam. The crew welcomes you on board at 2 P.M. Once all guests have checked in, the ship sails under motor to Volendam. From the port of this former fishing village, a short warm-up ride leads you through the rural nature reserve of Waterland with its many villages.
Day 2 (Sun): Volendam – Volendam (Cycling 36 km / 22 miles or 49 km / 31 miles) | Volendam – Hoorn
A very Dutch start of the day: you cycle to a nearby, family-run cheese and clog shop for a short demonstration of cheese and clog making, and of course a cheese tasting. Continue pedaling along the dikes to Purmerend, in the heart of a polder named De Beemster, 11½ feet (3.5 meters) below sea level. It was created more than 400 years ago, when the Dutch transformed an inland lake into pasture land. Divided into a tight geometric pattern of squares and quadrants, it is recognized by UNESCO as “a creative masterpiece”.
Your next destination is Edam, a lovely town whose lanes and canals deserve a stroll. Edam is known worldwide for its cheese covered in red or yellow wax. This practical solution keeps the cheese fresh for a long time, so 17th century sailors could take it on their voyages or trade it for spices and other riches of the East.
Via the main dike of the IJsselmeer you will return to the promenade of Volendam, where the ship is waiting for you. You will still have some time on your own to check out the souvenir shops. During diner the ship will take you to Hoorn. Let the historical city center lure you into a digestive walk.
Day 3 (Mon): Hoorn – Enkhuizen (Cycling 26 km /16 miles or 44 km / 27 miles)
Through small rural hamlets and villages, today’s ride brings you to Enkhuizen. Pass by windmill De Krijgsman (The Warrior), the highest windmill in the province of North-Holland and one of a handful of old Dutch windmills still in use to produce flour commercially. The area is also known for its many greenhouses, where vegetables are grown.
In the 17th century, Enkhuizen was one of the wealthiest cities in Holland, thanks to its harbour that shipped then-costly spices from Asia. Be astonished by the stately mansions, canals, churches and city walls that to this day reflect the city’s rich history and wealth.
Day 4 (Tue): Enkhuizen – Stavoren | Stavoren loop (Cycling 25 km / 15 miles or 37 km / 23 miles)
Weather permitting, we sail across the IJsselmeer to the port of Stavoren in Friesland (approx. 4 hours). On board, you can help the captain sail the ship if you wish. Or you can simply sit back on deck and enjoy the invigorating journey, while keeping watch for marine bird life. Upon arrival a bike tour is planned that first takes you to Hindeloopen, a picturesque and lively fishing village. From there you go to Workum, home to the Jopie Huisman Museum. This museum is dedicated to the work and life of the Frisian realist painter Jopie Huisman, whose work is very much loved by the Dutch.
Day 5 (Wed): Stavoren – Lemmer (Cycling 33 km / 20 miles or 40 km / 25 miles)
Following the dike along the IJsselmeer we arrive in Gaasterland, renowned for its sandy heights that are over 32.8 feet (10 meters) high. The name Gaasterland derives from gaasten, the Frisian word for these elliptically shaped heights. They were formed during the Ice Age, when boulder clay from Scandinavia was deposited on this terrain. Leaving the dike, you enter the Rijsterbos, a 300-year-old forest. Through this wooded area you ride to the town of Balk and along the tree-lined river Luts, that flows through the center of town. Shortly afterward, you’ll arrive at the fortress city of Sloten. With less than 800 inhabitants, it is one of the smallest cities in The Netherlands. Take the time to leisurely wander the narrow streets, to relax and to find a spot for a lunch on your own.
The last stretch of today’s tour brings you to the fishing port of Lemmer, where the ship moors for the night. Dinner will be served on board. An after dinner stroll into town is definitely worth your while.
Day 6 (Thu): Lemmer – Urk | Urk loop (Cycling 25 km / 15 miles)
In the morning we sail across the IJsselmeer to the port of Urk. On board, you can help the captain sail the ship if you wish. Or you can simply sit back on deck and enjoy the invigorating journey, while keeping watch for marine bird life. In Urk you may stroll through the narrow streets and alleys. The houses in this picturesque fishing village were built close to one another on elevated grounds to protect them against the water, and that is still visible today. In the afternoon a short optional bike ride is planned through the Northeast polder (Noordoostpolder).
Day 7 (Fri): Urk – Lelystad | Lelystad – Blocq van Kuffeler (Cycling 20 kms / 12 miles or 28 km / 17 miles) | Blocq van Kuffeler – Amsterdam
After breakfast you’ll disembark for your last half day of cycling. You’ll ride through the Oostvaardersplassen—a nature reserve on new land, left to find its own balance like nature did in old times on old land. Sections of the ride wind through forested areas, while others give you panoramic views of expansive reed beds and marshes. This is a birdwatchers’ paradise. The ship picks you up in the small harbor of Oostvaardersdiep for the return voyage to Amsterdam. Celebrate this marvelous week around the Ijsselmeer while having a farewell dinner aboard the ship.
Day 8 (Sat): Amsterdam
Your tour ends today with a nice breakfast. Disembarkation afterwards until 9.30 a.m.
Good to know
Parts that are printed in italics parts will be covered by the ship.
All distances are “approximate distances” of recommended bike tours.
The planned itinerary is subject to change due to nautical, technical or meteorological reasons and other unforeseen circumstances. If there is low or high water and a route cannot be shipped, the captain reserves the right to change the route in view of your safety (this cannot be accepted as a reason for free withdrawal).
- The daily cycling tours will be accompanied by a knowledgeable and multi-lingual tour leader.
- During the days when 2 bicycle options are possible, the tour leader will make a choice for the longer or the shorter option together with the group.
- Not all mentioned highlights will be visited during the short bike option.
- You can also choose to ride individually with the help of a map and route notes (available on board). GPS tracks will be sent to you 4 weeks before the start date of the tour.
- In case you prefer a day of rest, you can skip the bike tour and relax on board while cruising to the next town.
- On the arrival day is it possible to bring your luggage on board from 11 a.m.
Important observations for the Sail & Bike program: A little bit of adventure is a part of every Sail & Bike tour: the departure and arrival day and the location – Amsterdam – are a certainty, 100%. For the rest, the planned daily sailing routes are partially dependent on the strength and direction of the winds. The skipper decides the best route to be taken day by day, and discusses the options with his guests. The crew does everything in its power to enable the program to run according to plan and to offer you as fascinating, varied and active a week as possible, in which nature and culture play a major part. It is, however, also possible that departure times and the time spent on the water – and even the order of the program itself – may be adjusted. Enjoy the ride and let yourself be led by the elements!
Whenever possible, various passages will be undertaken fully rigged and anyone who would like to help the crew to sail and steer the boat is welcome to do so. This is of course absolutely up to you and no sailing experience is necessary.