View our latest offers and deals on our offers page! See all offers

Especially on bicycles and boats it is easy to see what the Netherlands is doing about water management. You will pass dikes, weirs, locks and pumping stations. Tour leader Thomas Wuts explains what he finds so special about water management and which stories he likes to share with his guests.

Request E-Book Watermanagement

What do you find so fascinating about water management?

“It is in part what makes the Netherlands unique and shapes our character. Water management is so wrapped up in who we are and how we live. Fascinating! I actually only became aware of this when I looked at it through the eyes of our foreign guests. It is something that you quickly take for granted as a Dutchman. Suddenly I saw how beautiful mills and pumping stations are. The surprised reactions from tourists made me aware of the special nature of our water control system. ”

Why look at this from a bike and boat tour?

“You use two sorts of infrastructure that make the Netherlands unique; waterways and bicycle paths. When you cycle, you can’t escape seeing water management in action. A large proportion of Dutch people live below sea level. That seems so easy, but it involves a very complex system of dikes, weirs, locks and pumping stations. You can see all that on the bike. The ship also takes you through many locks. I still find that interesting, and it’s especially so for someone who has never seen it before. ”

How does a lock work?

“A lock is actually a kind of lift for a ship. It is a structure between two waterways with different water levels. Inside, the water rises or falls, with the ship moving with it. When the weather is good, everyone is on deck watching. At the end of the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal you enter the Lek River via a huge lock. That is close to Vianen. So many ships fit in that lock, it’s nice to see! When the gigantic lock gates open, you are suddenly on the river. ”

It’s quite an art for a skipper. Does he also explain what’s happening?

“The skippers are part of the whole thing. They really have a passion and are often very social. They like it when people visit the bridge, at least at times when sailing is not too complex. Then they tell you how it all works on the water and how, for example, communication is done with a VHF radio. It’s interesting to hear stories from a real authority and get an explanation for everything. ”

What story do you like to tell your guests?

“A nice anecdote is that of Hans Brinker, the main character in an American children’s book. His statue is in the village of Spaarndam. Hans came back from a skating competition and saw water coming through the dike. He immediately understood that Haarlem was in danger and put his finger in the hole. Americans know the book from their childhood, just like we know Pluk van de Petteflet by Annie M.G. Schmidt. The story touches them, which is nice to see. Although they don’t like to hear that it is fictional.”

What do you think is a place that is beautiful on the bike?

“Kinderdijk. The great thing about cycling is that you will encounter windmills along the way, where you learn about the reservoirs and the different water levels. You cycle through the polders of the beautiful Alblasserwaard and I can explain a bit along the way about how water management works. As a climax you arrive at Kinderdijk! Mass tourism made everyone a bit crazy with the crowds at Kinderdijk, but now that there are fewer buses, it has become fun again. People take time for each other.”

Is the history also covered?

“Of course. We spend the night in Gouda on the cycling and boating holiday Southern Tour of Holland. The Sint Janskerk has wonderful stained glass windows. One of them beautifully shows the story of the Siege of Leiden. During the trip in Leiden I tell the story of William of Orange, who flooded the polders and thus relieved the city, forcing the Spaniards besiegers to flee. After that success, the Netherlands started to build water lines, a string of fortifications with areas that could be flooded. ”

But, as a Dutch guide, don’t you prefer to be abroad?

“It is a misconception that a holiday is only valuable if you at least go to France or the Mediterranean. This has become apparent now that many Dutch people are forced to stay in their own country due to corona. Last year I cycled with Dutch people through their own region, Broek in Waterland. Everyone thought it was very special. “How beautiful and varied,” I hear from the guests. The Netherlands really has a lot to offer, from historic city centers and museums to gastronomy.

I remember that, not far from Hoorn, we cycled past a polder pumping station that happened to be open to the public just that Sunday. Two volunteers passionately told us about the pumping station. That expresses a certain love: it was very charming. You discover such a place on your bike! During a cycling and boating holiday it’s not only fun, but you also have the comfort of the ship and good food. You are on the move all week. It’s not bad at all to eat a delicious three-course meal once you’re back on board, haha. ”

Bicycle boating holiday with Boat Bike Tours

Would you like to visit such a beautiful place on one of the water lines? Boat Bike Tours offers various trips where a special fort or beautiful fortified city can be visited along the way. Keep an eye out, when you’re cycling, because the forts are often hidden behind a lot of greenery. Be sure to ask our tour guide for advice! Such a building is not only interesting because of its history. It also often serves as a beautiful spot to take a break and relax!

Request an offer