Boating holiday in the Netherlands

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Boating holiday on the traditional rivers and canals of the Netherlands

Look forward to sailing through the colourful tulip fields of the Dutch countryside where traditional windmills towers over the village rooftops.

There is great tradition of sailing and living in riverboats in the Netherlands. Sail you own riverboat and get a true, Dutch experience! A riverboat holiday is one of the best ways to experience this beautiful country and befriend the friendly locals. Admire the traditional windmills, framing your sailing route, go on a biking trip or moor at the nice marinas with modern facilities or right next to the town square. 

On a riverboat holiday in the Netherlands, you will be able to do the trip in your own pace, and get to pass by colorful tulip fields, charming villages and bigger, cosmopolitan cities. This is also the place to admire the masterpieces of the great, Dutch artists and the famous, Dutch cheeses. Here you will find activities for family members of all ages – and you get the opportunity to fish or taking a swim in the glittering lakes.

The Friesland-Amsterdam region is filled with history and cultural heritage, especially Amsterdam and Utrecht. Visit the house of Anne Frank in Amsterdam, the royal palace and Dom Square. If going to the historical Utrecht you should not miss a trip to Stadskasteel Oudaen – a fortified house transformed into a brewery.

Watersport activities: The lake district is famous all over Europe for being a great destination for watersport holidays. In Friesland sailing is not only a hobby – it is a lifestyle. Check out the watersport centers of Sneek and Grow, where you can rent kayaks, jet skis and dinghys.

Cycling: The Netherlands is known for being a rather flat country, which makes it ideal for biking trips. Rent bikes for the boat, and bike past tulip fields and rustic, restored watermills, or make a stop in a village to enjoy a portion of oysters or steamed clams and watch the world pass you by.

Fishing: A fishing holiday in the area is quite popular. In most waters you can catch carp, pike, bream, skull and perch. A network of canals, rivers and lakes makes out a pretty scenery, so why not give it a shot and try to catch tonight’s dinner yourself!

The sleepy fishing villages in the Northern Friesland gives a lovely twist to the cosmopolitan Utrecht and the curved gables from the 15th to 16th century in the city of Amsterdam. Moor the boat just next to the town square in picturesque villages or by a restaurant near the water with a view to the busy life on the canals.

On your sailing trip through the green landscapes of waterways, that has inspired so many, Flemish painters, you will see neatly kept marsh farms with thatched roofs, fisherman's houses with quirky duckling nests on the gable and traditional sailboats from a time, when the most common transport routes was via these waterways.

Many old traditions have been kept, and remodeled riverboats with flower boxes, a garden bench and laundry hanging to dry on a string, are still a way of life and a living arrangement for a large part of the population.

 

Riverboats in The Netherlands

Explore the sailing areas in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands there area two, great sailing areas. Read more below.

Riverboat at quay in Friesland

Friesland

This region located in the Northern Holland and well known for its picturesque canals, rivers and many lakes. The area has great tradition for sailing, and in the summertime, there are arranged watersport activities and interesting festivals to visit. A riverboat holiday in Friesland gives you a splendid range of routes, with the possibility of making a stop in one of the many marinas and smaller villages, in which you can enjoy the Dutch charm and forget all about your busy daily life. Stop for a lunch break in a traditional fisher village and have a local beer – maybe even some fresh mussels on the side. Take on sightseeing in the pretty town Lemmer. Let us also recommend you do a little daytrip with a rented kayak in Grouw. Sea birds will hover over you and contribute to the beautiful natural surroundings.

Highlights in Friesland: 

  • Dutch pancakes in the house of pancakes, De Friese Doorloper, in Hindeloopen
  • A dense network of lakes and canals in picturesque landscapes
  • Giethoorn - Holland's little Venice
  • Great biking paths
  • Friesian villages and twinkling lakes
  • Watersport activites at Stavoren – the oldest city in Friesland
  • The historical Bolsward
Map of Friesland
Floating restaurant in Amsterdam

Amsterdam area

On a riverboat holiday in the area south of Amsterdam you will find endless tulip fields, interesting cities, good swimming opportunities and many cultural sights. Experience a traditional cheese market, the unique Dutch architecture styles and the big city of Amsterdam - the capital of the canals and not least the city of many bicycles. The cities of Edam and Alkmaar have a long history of cheese making. Vinkeveense Plassen is an important recreational area with many watersport activities such as swimming, diving and boating. See modern art at the Jan van der Togt Art Museum or the Cobra Museum of Modern Art in Amstelveen. Discover the largest and most traditional cities in the Netherlands - Utrecht, The Hague or Rotterdam, or typical Dutch villages such as Delft. Don't miss out on the flower fields and gardens near Lisse and Leiden. For a trip to Amsterdam, we recommend the boat to be moored in Weesp. From there, the subway frequently travels directly to the center of Amsterdam in 10 minutes. If you have some sailing experience, you can also choose Six Haven Marina (opposite Amsterdam Central Station).

Highlights in the Amsterdam area: 

  • Brightly colored tulip fields during Spring
  • Gouda cheese and Dutch pancakes
  • A dense network of lakes and canals in picturesque landscapes
  • The Cosmopolitan lifestyle of Amsterdam and its many art galleries
  • The flower park Keukenhof in Lisse
  • The great lock in Muiden
  • Great biking paths
  • Blauw Museum in Delft
Map of Amsterdam

Practical information about sailing in the Netherlands

The Dutch waterways are easy to navigate on, and all locks and bridges are manned. The two sailing areas, Friesland and the Amsterdam area, are therefore great destinations – also to the beginner.

Bridges

The landscapes in the Netherlands are flat and therefore there are only few locks – but you will find a lot of bridges. The bridge guards will most often await a line of boats to pass on the same time. Keep change ready for the bridge guard. Often the bridge guard hands you a fishing net for you to put the agreed coins in. Sometimes a large Dutch clog hangs in which you make the payment.

Designations that are good to know:

  • Brug and Bruggen = The Dutch words for bridges. All bigger bridges have a number and a name.
  • Kunstwerk = Construction/bridge
  • Naam = Name (of the bridge)
  • Trefwoord = The place where you will find the bridge in the map
  • Bijzonderheden = Special information about whether the bridge is managed by a bridge guard, is automatic or manual, when the bridge opens etc.

Locks

The locks in the Netherlands are as well-preserved as the bridges. Keep some change ready, as the lockmaster will demand a smaller fee for letting you pass. Often the lockmaster hands you a long rod with a small bag to put the agreed coins in. In other cases, he or she will leave a big Dutch clog for you to put the coins into. The locks are often closed during lunchbreak and for a short coffee break during the afternoon.

Marinas

In the marinas you will be charged a smaller fee for accommodation. The amount is usually settled bu the length of the boat and number of people on the boat. In peak season, the marinas are often densely packed, so don't arrive late if you want to spend the night in a marina.

  • In Amsterdam the marina is located close to the city center, yet in a quite area. If you are careful, it is possible to sail on the canals in the center of Amsterdam. This is a great way to experience the attractions in Amsterdam.
  • In Gouda the marina is in the middle of the old city center.
  • In Utrecht you can moor at the riverbank or across the cathedral. It is possible to retrieve a map showing the canals and many bridges of Utrecht. You will have a to pay a small fee when passing through the first lock – this is also the place where you can get the beforementioned map.

Paying with credit cards

The base offices accept the following credit cards for payments and blocking of the fuel and boat deposits: Visa og MasterCard.

Please note that although credit cards are commonly accepted in most restaurants, hotels, boutiques and supermarkets, it often is not the case in smaller supermarkets and grocery stores.

Amsterdam

This section is particularly for those of our guests who would like to sail to Amsterdam via the base in Vinkeveen.

  • Experienced sailors can moor at the private marina Six Haven (also the only possibility). The marina is located across Amsterdam train station on the other side of the Rijn Canal. From here you can take the free ferry (regular departures to the city center).
  • It is not recommended to sail on the Rijn Canal due to the heavy traffic. If possible, you should moor in the city of Weesp (close to Muiden) and take a train to Amsterdam. Trains run about every 10 minutes.
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