Sailing and biking around the Lake IJssel
8 days / 7 nights | Ship: Leafde fan Fryslan | Guided cycling tours
Historic harbour towns, green polder scenery and former islands on the Ijsselmeer.
Take an exciting discovery tour on a stylish and beautifully appointed sailing ship. Your tour starts in Amsterdam and takes you along the Ijsselmeer coast. The charming historic towns, the polders and the villages of the interior are connected by excellent cycle paths. In Monnickendam, Hoorn and Enkhuizen you'll discover the old trading towns from the era of the Dutch East India Company. On the Ijsselmeer's eastern shore you can visit the provinces of Friesland and Flevoland with the former islands of Urk and Schokland. On the final day, wind and weather permitting, you set off under full sail again for Amsterdam. Here you have plenty of time to enjoy an evening seeing the sights of the capital.
Day 1, Sat.: Amsterdam – Monnickendam or Volendam | testride (Cycling 10 km / 6 miles)
Your week of sailing and cycling starts in Amsterdam. The crew welcomes you on board between 1 and 2 P.M. Once all guests have checked in, the ship sails under motor to Monnickendam or Volendam. From the port of one of these former fishing villages, a short warm-up ride leads you through the rural nature reserve of Waterland with its many villages.
Day 2, Sun.: Monnickendam/Volendam – Volendam (Cycling 32 km / 19 miles or 51 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 arrive at the promenade of Volendam, where the ship is docked. You will have some time on your own to check out the souvenir shops. After dinner, let the historical city center lure you into a digestive walk. Later in the evening, the ship sails to Hoorn.
Day 3, Mon.: Hoorn – Enkhuizen (Cycling 28 km /17 miles or 39 km / 24 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 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, Thursday: Lemmer – Zwartsluis (Cycling 51 km / 32 miles)
From Lemmer, cycle paths through open polder countryside and a forested area lead you to the small town of Ossenzijl. This is where you enter the Weerribben-Wieden National Park, the largest freshwater wetland in northwestern Europe and a peaceful oasis for plants, animals and humans.
A bicycle path through the center of the park takes you far away from roads, immersing you in the tranquility of this region. Keep your eyes peeled for a fleeting kingfisher or—if you’re really lucky—an otter, the symbol of the park. Your morning ride ends with lunch in Kalenberg, a village that till the fifties of the last century could be reached by boat only.
Once out of the park, the extremely pretty town of Blokzijl invites you to stop and take a good look around. A twisting route through an agricultural landscape of narrow strip fields surrounded by dikes takes you first to the town of Sint-Jansklooster and subsequently to the small city of Zwartsluis. Here you’ll get back on the ship.
Day 7, Fri.: Zwartsluis – Lelystad | Lelystad – Blocq van Kuffeler (Cycling 20 kms / 12 miles or 39 kms / 24 miles) | Blocq van Kuffeler – Amsterdam
The day starts with approximately four hours of sailing to Lelystad, capital of the province of Flevoland that was entirely reclaimed from the sea. In its harbour 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..
Please note: All cycling distances stated above are approximate only.