Netherlands By Bike

KING THOMAS.NL

Getting Around by Ferry Boats

Ferry Boats

Passenger & Bicycle Transport

With so much water around the Netherlands, it's almost impossible not to rely on a ferry boat at some point in your bicycle travels. They come in all shapes and sizes from large ships to small private boats. You will even encounter bike ferries that you operate yourself.
The Dutch have a long and impressive maritime history. You can expect to find a modern fleet of ships and boats throughout the Netherlands that are operated efficiently and safely. They take this very seriously!
 
In most cases, ferries in the Netherlands are privately run operations and are not covered by your OV-Chipkaart. The exception to this is the Rotterdam Waterbus and the Westerschelde ferry between Vlissingen and Breskens.

Most of the large ferry operators will accept credit cards but be prepared to pay cash for the smaller private run ferries. In addition to your passenger ticket, you'll typically be charged an additional fee for your bicycle. Having exact euro coin for the "Fietsponts" that cross the small canals is appreciated by the ferry captain. If you are planning a return day trip using a fietspont, be aware of their hours of operation, or you may find yourself stranded or require a long detour back to the nearest bridge.

A fietspont crossing a canal outside of Amsterdam

Here is a comprehensive data map showing locations of most ferries currently operating in the Netherlands today including the small hand operated ferries. Although this is a Dutch website, the map is easy to use and very helpful.

Association of Ferry Enthusiasts

Some helpful Dutch words...

Bike Ferry = "Fietspont"

Ferry = "Pont"

Lake = "Meer"

Sea = "Zee"

Bridge = "Brug"

Beach = "Strand"

An introduction to some popular Ferry routes....

Marken - Volendam

North Holland

Marken Express

Part of a day trip from Amsterdam to Edam. Be sure to allow time to explore the historic and quaint fishing village of Marken, then continue on to Volendam where you can ride along the dijk to Edam. Although you can bypass this ferry by taking the inland route, you will miss the experience of sailing into the very bustling and vibrant town of Volendam and its harbor. Sailing time across the bay is 30 minutes.

Enkhuizen - Stavoren

North Holland - Friesland

Verboot Enkhuizen Stavoren

The best way to begin or end your bike tour around Friesland. Enjoy a beautiful trip across the IJsselmeer between two historic cities. In the summer months, be prepared to see an amazing abundance of old and classic Dutch sailboats out on the water. Have your camera ready! The ferry terminal in Enkhuizen is located directly across from the NS train station. The Stavoren terminal is conveniently located. Sailing time across the IJsselmeer is 80 minutes.

Den Helder - Texel

North Holland - Wadden Islands

Teso Ferry

This ferry goes to the largest and most populated of the Wadden Islands. The ferry terminal is a short bicycle ride from the NS Rail station in Den Helder. Sailing time is about 25 minutes. Once you reach the northern tip of Texel in the town of De Cocksdorp, you can continue by a small private ferry to the island of Vlieland (see next).

Texel - Vlieland

Wadden Islands

De Vriendschap

This is a fun experience that you should seriously consider if you want to "island hop" around the Wadden Islands. The ferry De Vriendschap sails between the town of De Cocksdorp, located on the northern tip of Texel, and a sandy beach on the southern tip of Vlieland. You must embark and disembark using an extended scaffolding plank boardwalk over the sand dunes.
 
The nearest paved road is 12km away on the Vlieland side so you will be transported by the Vliehors Express, which is a large 8-wheel "people mover" truck, between the ferry and Posthuys. The town of Vlieland is a comfortable bike ride away by paved road or on a scenic dunes bike path along the North Sea.
One-way passengers with bicycles in either direction are required to make advance reservation using their online Registration Form. The Vliehors Express is included in your ferry purchase.

De Vriendschap

Vliehors Express

Harlingen - Vlieland - Terschelling

Friesland - Wadden Islands

Rederij Doeksen

This ferry sails between the mainland of Friesland to the car-free islands of Vlieland and Terschelling. Bikes are only allowed on the Regular ferry, not on the Fast ferry. Sailing time across the Waddenzee is 90 minutes.  You can return to Harlingen or continue your journey south to the island of Texel via De Vriendschap ferry (see previous).

Vlissingen - Breskens

Zeeland

Westershelde Ferry

Take this ferry when heading south along the North Sea to Brugge, Belgium. This is one of the few ferries that accept the OV-Chipkaart. Sailing time across the Westerschelde is 23 minutes. The ferry terminal is located next to the NS train station in Vlissingen.
This ferry is a critical link when exploring this part of Zeeland by bike!

Dutch

Nature Cruise - Burghsluis

Zeeland

De Onrust provides both a Family Cruise at 1-1/2 hours and a Nature Cruise at 2-1/2 hours. Both tours provide binoculars for viewing wildlife. The on-board tour is spoken in Dutch only but they offer English tour information by book. A full galley is available for food and drink. We recommend you coordinate a visit to the Flood Museum (Waternoodmuseum) in Ouwerkerk by bike. (De Onrust no longer provides ferry service to Colijnsplaat)

This is a nature cruise of the Oosterschelde National Park and is a great way to get off the bike path and enjoy some fun in the sun on the open water. You’ll get an up close view of the largest Delta Works storm barriers and sail under the Zeebrugge (Zeeland Bridge) for a dramatic closeup view. Observe abundant varieties of bird life and marine mammals such as seals and porpoises on your trip. Sailing time is 1-1/2 hours or 2-1/2 hours depending on which cruise you choose. The ferry departs from Burghsluis.
 

Passenger ship de Onrust

Dutch

Harwich - Hook van Holland

England - Netherlands

Stena Line

The Stena Line offers an alternate to the Eurostar train. This ferry sails a direct route between the two countries and provides a relaxing experience as long as you're not in a rush. Your bike travels at a nominal charge and is safely secured on board. Both ferry terminals are served by bike-friendly trains from either London or Amsterdam. You can easily pick up the North Sea bike route from Hook van Holland. Sailing time across the North Sea is 8 - 9 hours depending on schedule.
An introduction to the Fietspont
Fietsponts (bicycle ferries) are located throughout the Netherlands. They are designed for pedestrians and bicyclists who need to cross small bodies of water and are essential in rural areas where there are few bridges.  A fietspont can be either a privately operated ferry that charges 1€ to 2€ per person or a manually operated free ferry.

Fietspont

Netherlands

Manually Operated Bicycle Ferry

These ferries are self propelled and are linked to both shores by a cable. They are geared for easy operation although a bit slow. Just operate the hand crank located on board the ferry or from each side of the shoreline if you need to bring it back from the opposite side.
 
These hand crank ferries are located on small canals in rural areas where there is minimal boat traffic. In the event that you encounter a motorized boat, you will always have the right of way and they are happy to wait for you to successfully reach the other side. Give it a try!!!
 
 

Walk on self-operated canal ferry in North Holland

Bicyclist operating a hand crank

Photos courtesy of Carla Tours

Fietspont

Netherlands

Privately Operated Bicycle Ferry

These small ferries are either owner operated or supported by local municipalities. They typically have seasonal schedules so be sure to investigate prior to arranging your bike route. The cost for these ferries is usually around €1 to €2 and exact change is expected.

 

A municipal bike ferry outside of Amsterdam near Amstel Park

Small private ferry shuttling bicyclists across a canal

Ferry boat for bicyclists and pedestrians