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What would be more pleasant than to cruise and cycle through the province of Noord Holland?
That is exactly what a semi-retired couple from Butlerstown recently did.

BIKE and boat holidays area unique way of discovering another country; cycling during the day and relaxing and dining with new friends on board the ‘floating hotel’ at night. The vessel, the Angela Esmee, accommodates 80 guests. There were seven flags flying on the two masts which represented the nationalities on board, which were Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Canada, the United Kingdom and Ireland. In the dining room we were seated with the other two English speaking couples, Gwen and Billy from Alberta, Canada and Christine and John from Leeds. The remaining guests were German speaking.

See the North Holland tour


Noord Holland is a province of wild sand dunes, majestic forests, pristine coastline, heritage-rich towns and picture postcard countryside; more than half of which has been reclaimed from the North Sea. The province also encompasses Holland’s seafaring legacy with ports and marinas at every turn. There is nowhere in the world that caters so enthusiastically for the cyclist; the cycling paths are well maintained, all routes are numbered, motorists respect cyclists and there are cycling traffic lights in towns and cities. As cycle helmets are not compulsory, both motorists and local cyclists were aware of our visitor status and were careful. The seven speed rental bikes were comfortable and, what we Irish would call, High Nelly bikes.

Day 1: Dublin – Amsterdam

From Schiphol Airport we caught a train into Central Station and then hopped on a bus which brought us directly to the Angela Esmee mooring dock. At 5pm we attended a champagne reception and welcome meeting on the boat with our tour guide, Willemina. At 5.30, the six of us attended an English briefing of the next day’s route. We then enjoyed a dinner cruise from Amsterdam to Zaandam. The dining room is fitted with floor to ceiling panoramic windows which enabled us to appreciate the attractive scenery of Amsterdam, which is also known as ‘Venice of the North’.

Day 2: Zaandam – Alkmaar (45 km)

Our first coffee stop was at Zaanse Schans. This is an enchanting old hamlet on the banks of the river Zaan, with characteristic green wooden houses, delightful gardens, small humpbacked bridges, tradesmen’s workshops, historic windmills and engaging little shops. The windmills perform various functions, including a saw mill, a paint mill for grinding pigments, and an oil mill for grinding linseed or peanuts for oil. We toured the paint mill which, we were told, is the last wind-powered dye mill in the world. We continued along the cycle path to Alkmaar where, after dinner, our guide Willemina, brought us on a very informative walking tour of the historical town.

Day 3: Alkmaar – Den Helder (55 km)

Our day started at 7.30 am with a healthy, wholesome breakfast after which we began our journey. Our first stop for coffee was in the attractive town of Bergin. Five minutes beyond the town, we found ourselves under a forest canopy, surrounded by majestic trees with the sunlight flickering through. As we emerged from the forest, the curtains opened to reveal glowing shell pathways through golden sand dunes. We pedalled up the banks and free wheeled down the other sides for miles until we reached a string of beautiful beaches. We continued along the North Sea coast on the sea dyke which was challenging due to the strong head wind but eventually we reached Den Helder at 3.30pm. At 6pm we began a dinner cruise to the Isle of Texel.

Day 4: Leisurely cycle around Texel (40 km)

The Isle of Texel is 30 km long and 15 km wide. On the west coast the sand dunes run behind the beaches protecting the island from the North Sea. There are no beaches on the east coast as a sea dyke runs down the entire shoreline. At 3pm Willemina brought us to a Texel Brewery. We enjoyed a dinner cruise from Texel to the mainland port of Den Oever. This evening Willemina organised live music on board, so we danced the night away.

Day 5: Medemblik – Enkhuizen (50 km)

During breakfast we cruised from Den Oever to Medemblik and then commenced our cycle to Enkhuizen. This area is characterized by dykes, polders, nature reserves, pastureland and picturesque villages. Polders are areas of low-lying land that have been reclaimed from the sea and are protected by dykes. After dinner Willemina brought us on another excellent walking tour of historical Enkhuizen.

Day 6: Enkhuizen – Volendam (50 km)

We cycled on top of the dyke to Hoorn and then inside the dyke to Volendam via Edam. It was a pleasant sunny day and from the comfort of our bikes we enjoyed wonderful views across the outstretched polder with its grasslands, pastures and windmills. We saw beautiful tall pyramid-shaped farm houses which are typical of Noord Holland. The waterlogged peat-land was teeming with birds which were very vocal while we cycled through their territory.

Day 7: Volendam – Amsterdam (50 km)

After breakfast we visited a cheese farm with Willemina and then continued on to Amsterdam via the “Waterland” area with its countless small canals and lakes and which is known as the ‘Garden of Amsterdam’. We cycled through the city to the mooring dock of the Angela Esmee with ease as we were now accustomed to the Dutch cycling protocol.

Holland has a real cycling culture. We saw all kinds of cyclists: office workers in pin-striped suits, young ladies with tight skirts and high heels, mothers with their small children on carriers and in trailers and dog owners with their pooches in dog trailers. We learned that every Dutch person owns at least two bicycles, and that there are 17,000 km of cycle paths in Holland. We enjoyed a wonderful active holiday and hope to discover another country by bike and boat next year.

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If you have any questions about our offerings, mail or call us at +31 (0) 2072 35 400. We’re happy to help you choose which boating and biking vacation would suit you best. No obligations!