Sail and Bike IJsselmeer guided (Leafde)
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 harbour 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 – Monnickendam or Volendam | testride (10 km/6 mi.)
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 (32 km/19 mi. or 51 km/31 mi.) | 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 (28 km/17 mi. or 39 km/24 mi.)
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 (25 km/15 mi. or 37 km/23 mi.)
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 (40 km/25 mi.)
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 – Zwartsluis (51 km/32 mi.)
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 (20 km/12 mi. or 39 km/24 mi.)| 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.
Included in this tour :
- 8 days/7 nights
- 7 x breakfast
- Packed lunches
- 7 x 3-course dinner
- Coffee and tea on board till 4 p.m.
- Welcome drink
- Use of bed linen and towels
- Daily cleaning of the cabin
- Daily briefings by the tour leader
- Fully guided cycling tours
- 2019: Fees for ferries
- Some short walking tours
- Maps and notes for cycling tours (1 set per cabin)
- GPS tracks
- Use of a waterproof pannier bag
Excluded in this tour :
- Coffee and tea on board after 4 p.m.
- Bicycle rental or e-bike rental
- Helmet rental
- Personal insurances
- Gratuities (at your discretion)
- Entrance fees and excursions
- 2018: Fees for ferries
- Transfers to/from the docking place
- Parking fees
Additional options & information :
Rental bicycle: €80 per week. Rental E-Bike: €180 per week (only on request, limited number available). Helmets: A helmet can be rented for € 10 per week, only on prior reservation and payment.
Reduced rates for families with children :
We offer a reduced rate for children on the Sail & Bike IJsselmeer Tours in 2020: 15% reduction for children up to incl. 15 years of age, only applicable when staying in the same cabin with 2 adults (triple cabin).
Important observations for the Sail & Bike program :
While a little bit of adventure is part of every Sail & Bike tour, departure and arrival days as well as the location – Amsterdam – are a 100% fixed. As for the rest, the planned daily sailing routes partially depend on the strength and direction of the winds. The skipper decides day by day on the best route and discusses the options with his guests. The crew does whatever it can to run the program according to plan and to offer you a fascinating, varied and active week, in which nature and culture play a major part. It is however possible that departure times and the time spent on the water – and even the order of the program itself – have to be adjusted. So, enjoy the ride and let yourself be led by the elements! Whenever possible, various passages will be undertaken fully rigged. Anyone who likes to help the crew sail and steer the boat is welcome to do so. Of course this is absolutely up to you. Sailing experience is not necessary.