In the past year, Freedom Treks has seen a 50% increase in bookings for boat and bike holidays, its biggest growth ever, and it’s easy to see why.
Not only does the boat act as a floating hotel, meaning guests need not pack and unpack every day, but it gives travellers the opportunity to see a country from a different perspective and allows them to spend the day on board if required. The knowledgeable, on-board guide can help answer any questions and share top tips with the group, and full-board accommodation removes any hassle, as people need only pay for drinks. The boat is also a great way to bring a group of people from around the world together, and the various board games (on all vessels) are a fun way to socialise in the evenings.
From cruising through cobalt-blue waters in Croatia to winding through waterways past windmills in Holland and admiring the cliff-clinging abodes along the Amalfi Coast, there are plenty more highlights to experience.
Here are five incredible Boat & Bike tours to begin…
NEW: Dalmatia Highlights – Zadar to Dubrovnik – Deluxe
Having seen a continual rise in e-bike popularity, with circa 75,000 purchased in Great Britain last year*, Freedom Treks has launched its first boat and e-bike only tour. Perfect for those who might have previously considered the coastal terrain of Dalmatia a little too hilly to manage, imagine cycling with ease through picture-postcard villages, enjoying excellent service and marvelling at unforgettable after-dinner sunsets. Guests will be torn between staying on board the gorgeous new motor yacht and exploring the idyllic islands. Beginning in the romantic seaside city of Zadar, ‘Croatia’s new capital of cool’ according to Condé Nast Traveller (due to its seaside location, mysterious old town, paved marble streets and romantic Balkan heart), discover the secrets of Southern Dalmatia, from its bustling cities and beach resorts to its protected national parks. Sail to the spice island of Dugi Otok and pedal along the scenic ‘highway in the sky’ to reach the historic fishing town of Sali, float through the clear waters of Kornati National Park looking out for marine life and spend an evening in Trogir, a UNESCO-listed old town. Marvel at the waterfalls and green wilderness of Krka National Park and breathe in the sweet-smelling lavender on Hvar Island. The tour ends in the vibrant city of Dubrovnik, home to grand palaces, baroque buildings and ancient walls.
Level: Easy to Moderate
An eight-night Dalmatia Highlights – Zadar to Dubrovnik – Deluxe tour costs from £1,546 pp (two sharing on the lower deck) and includes full-board accommodation aboard the Newstar, e-bike hire with pannier, English-speaking tour guide on board and on e-bike, overview maps for the daily tours, welcome meeting, guided tour of Zadar, Korcula, Trogir and Dubrovnik and entrance fees to the National Parks. Return flights, transfers and cycle helmets extra.
Departures: April to October, every other Sunday
NEW: Grand Tour of Holland by Boat & Bike
One of the longest Boat & Bike trips offered by Freedom Treks, the Grand Tour of Holland ensures you see the best of the country’s attractions. Holland is known for its flat terrain, making the cycling part of this trip nice and gentle. Pedal past polders, alongside canals and beneath windmills, pausing in the most fascinating cities en route. Beginning and ending in Amsterdam, cruise to the cycle-friendly island of Texel, cross the large lake Ijsselmeer to Stavoren and visit the southwestern part of Friesland to admire the open-air museum of Zaanse Schans. To the south of Amsterdam, admire the cathedrals in Utrecht, considered the ‘beating heart of Holland’, the cheese city of Gouda and the 19 windmills at Kinderdijk, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In Amsterdam, make time for Anne Frank’s House, the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum. After a day on the bike, relax on board the sleek Angela Esmee, which caters for approximately 80 guests. And don’t leave without trying a selection of local specialities, including smoked eel, salted herring, creamy Edam and potent Dutch gin.
A 14-night Grand Tour of Holland by Boat & Bike tour costs from £1,273 pp (two sharing) and includes full-board accommodation, an English-speaking tour guide on board and on bike, daily briefings, maps and route information, welcome meeting and drink, daily tea and coffee, four city walks with tour leader, two nights of live music and use of Wi-Fi in the ship’s lounge. Return flights, transfers, bike and helmet hire extra.
Departures: April to September, Saturdays
Amalfi Coast & Gulf of Naples
See the spectacular staggered buildings of the Amalfi Coast from the large sun deck of Deriya Deniz, an elegant Turkish gullet and the guests’ home-from-home for the week. Starting and finishing in Castellammare di Stabia, in the Bay of Naples, pedal back though time to the world-famous city of Pompeii, which was buried in ash after Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. After wandering through the ancient UNESCO World Heritage Site, ride along the coast from Sorrento to Positano, where the pastel-coloured houses are arranged in the shape of an amphitheatre, before continuing to Amalfi and exploring the narrow streets and white-washed fisherman’s cottages. Set sail for Capri, which has charmed all who visit, from Roman rulers to Hollywood legends, and discover its glittering grottoes, Roman ruins and chichi piazzas. Towards the end of the trip, head back to Castellammare via the pretty port of Ischia and the island of Procida, home to the beautiful San Michele Abbey. Because the Deriya Deniz Caïque only has five bedrooms (sleeping 10 people in total) its best to book sooner rather than later.
A seven-night Amalfi Coast & Gulf of Naples tour costs from £1,340 pp (two sharing) and includes full-board accommodation aboard a comfort class motor yacht, an English-speaking tour guide on board and on bike, maps and route information, welcome meeting and harbour charges. Return flights, transfers, entrance fees to museums, parks and monuments, drinks, bike and helmet hire extra.
Departures: April, May, June, August, September, October
Tulip tours in Holland
Throughout March, April and May, Holland becomes awash with colours as tulips, and other wild flowers (such as daffodils, hyacinths and crocuses) bloom across the region. Originally cultivated in the Ottoman Empire, tulips were imported into Holland in the 16th century, and as the Dutch Golden Age grew, so did the colourful flower. They became popular in paintings in festivals, and were so sought after in the mid-seventeenth century they created the first economic bubble known as ‘Tulip Mania’: as people bought up bulbs they rose in cost so much that they were used as money. Freedom Treks offers two Boat & Bike tours to see these renowned flowers in Holland. Enjoy easy rides along cycle paths lined with millions of technicolour petals, passing pretty villages, green riverbanks and working windmills. Visit Keukenhof, the most famous flower park in the world, pedal to the open-air museum of Zaanse Schans and journey to Leiden, the Netherlands’ oldest university town and birthplace of Rembrandt. Choose from luxury barges with premium cabins on the Spring Flowers in Holland tour, or comfortable river cruisers on the Tulip Tour. Departures are limited to match the short tulip season; the boats sell out quickly.
A four-night Spring Flowers in Holland tour costs from £546 pp (two sharing) and includes full-board accommodation on a premium or comfort class barge, an English-speaking tour guide on board and on bike, maps and route information, welcome meeting and drink, daily cabin cleaning and daily coffee and tea. Return flights, transfers, entrance fees to Keukenhof and Aalsmeer flower auction and other excursions, ferry fees and tips, drinks on board, bike and helmet hire extra.
A three-night Tulip Tour costs from £483 pp (two sharing) and includes full-board accommodation on a comfort or convenient class barge, hybrid bike with seven gears and a pannier, an English-speaking tour guide on board and on bike, entrance to Keukenhof Flowerpark and a visit to the Aalsmeer Flower auction, maps and route information, visits to a windmill and cheese farm and several city walks. Return flights, transfers and cycle helmets extra. Departures: March, April, May
Danube cycling holidays
Drift away on glistening blue waters of the Danube River each evening, after spending the day exploring Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary by bike. The Danube River Cycle Path was Europe’s first long-distance cycle path, and Freedom Treks offers five Boat & Bike tours on the Danube that take in a wealth of natural beauty and historic monuments, from wild forests and pristine islands to impressive castles and palaces. Brand-new for 2018, the Walking Package Upgrade on the Danube River – MS Theodor Körner offers an ideal solution for a large group of friends, or family, who would prefer to walk instead of jumping on a bike. The upgrade includes a knowledgeable walking guide and a shuttlebus to the start and end point of daily walks on selected departure dates (for a minimum of eight people). Highlights of the tour include the mighty castle of Grein and the imposing Palace of Hof, with its beautifully terraced gardens, in Austria, and the imperial St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna.
A seven-night Danube River – MS Theodor Körner tour costs from £614 pp (two sharing) and includes full-board accommodation on MS Theodor Körner, an English-speaking tour guide on board, with daily briefings of the bike tours, maps and route information, welcome meeting with cocktails, daily cabin cleaning, towels and bedlinen, harbour fees, daily live music and a farewell gala dinner with cocktail. Return flights, transfers, excursions to Austria’s oldest theatre in Grein, city tour of Vienna, bike and helmet hire extra. The Walking Package Upgrade costs from £215 pp (minimum eight people) and can be used on 12 May, 30 June, 18 August and 8 September departures in 2018.
Departures: May to October
* An annual report produced by the Confederation of the European Bicycle Industry (CONEBI) gathers reports from EU countries, including the UK. Largely based on HMRC figures, Bicycle Association findings and informal estimates for Great Britain.