Cycling in HollandPosted on March 5, 2014
Cycling in Holland makes for a fantastic holiday experience. There are so many plus sides and if you haven’t considered a cycling trip to the Netherlands before we really can’t recommend it enough.
We’ve already written about the practicalities and what to expect when cycle touring in Holland, and about Dutch bike and boat holidays, so this time we wanted to talk a bit more about what to see and where the tours typically go. Throughout we’ll also highlight some of our most popular tours.
No Dutch cycle trip would be complete without at least a short time in Amsterdam. In fact, with the incredible ease of transport connections to the Dutch capital you’re almost guaranteed to start your cycle trip there.
Luckily, there’s loads to see in Amsterdam. If you’re on a whistlestop tour a city canal cruise is a must, while art lovers should check out the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum. Amsterdam is also very cycle friendly, with loads of cycle lanes and considerate motorists so an Amsterdam cycle break is the perfect way to enjoy the city.
But life in Holland doesn’t just start and end in the capital of course. While most of our tours generally allow for some time in the city, many also explore explore further afield as well.
The ‘Green Heart’ of Holland
Such is the pull of Amsterdam that many visitors to Holland don’t get to see anything beyond the capital. Subsequently, even for Europeans, much of the rest of the country remains something of a mystery, apart from vague notions of windmills and polders.
The Netherlands actually has loads to offer, and one of the most pleasant areas for cycling is the ‘Green Heart’ – or Groene Hart in Dutch. It’s a rural area circled by the cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Den Haag, Utrecht and Haarlem. In contrast to the cities that guard it, the region is mainly agricultural and characterized by meadows – which come alive with flowers in the spring – and marshy wetlands criss-crossed by lakes, rivers and canals. Smaller and historic towns like Gouda, Oudewater and Nieuwkoop dot the landscape and make for excellent, relaxing stops on many of our itineraries.
Lake IJssel is western Europe’s largest lake, fed mainly by the River Rhine and is a dominant feature of the northern Netherlands. It’s actually an artificial lake, separated from the North Sea by a causeway, but still harbours plenty of nature around it.
As it’s very easily accessible from Amsterdam it’s a popular spot for local families and offers great cycling all around it. There are also plenty of opportunities for watersports like canoeing and sailing. You’ll also find lots of attractive small towns to visit, like Giethoorn, famous for having no roads at all, only small waterways. The locals all get around by boat! Our Classic Dutch Cycling Tour is a great way to see all the highlights of this wonderful region.
The North Sea Coast
For a small country, the Netherlands has a surprisingly long coastline, which covers the provinces of Zeeland, North and South Holland, Friesland and Groningen.
Many of our Dutch cycle tours include a visit to the coast, mostly concentrating on North and South Holland. They maybe also head down to Zeeland, especially if the trip is combined with some time in Belgium, like the Amsterdam to Bruge Cycling Holiday.
These parts of the North Sea coast will come as a pleasant surprise. They boast long sandy beaches, many backed by beautiful – and ecologically important – stretches of sand dunes. And there are many quaint fishing villages and historic towns to discover, too. Have a look at our Northern Holland Bike and Boat Holiday for a excellent way to really get to know this region.
Texel and the Frisian Islands
The Frisian Islands are a long string of small islands strung out just off the Dutch North Sea coast. Many are uninhabited but the settled ones are wonderful places to visit. The most accessible, and arguably most interesting, is Texel, which can be reached by a short hop across from Den Helder on the North Holland peninsula. If you’re on a cycle cruise your boat will take you there itself, otherwise it’s an easy ferry ride with the bikes onboard.
Once there, you’ll find Texel is an idyllic retreat from the modern world. Most people use bicycle as their first means of transport and the island is covered with cycle paths. It’s possible to circumvent the island in a day, and it’s a pleasure to ride to its lovely, unhurried villages and quaint artists retreats. Texel is a highlight of many people’s trips to Holland, and features on our Northern Holland Cycle Cruises.
Across the border
Many of our Dutch tours actually cross over into Belgium to get the best of both worlds. They typically stick to the Flemish, Dutch speaking north of Belgium, with highlights including the great cities of Antwerp, Ghent and Bruges. They are all popular stops on our Amsterdam – Bruges Bike and Boat Holidays
Cycle touring in Holland – enjoy the ride
So as you see, cycling in Holland offers a surprising variety, with buckets of history, culture and great scenery. All those cycle lanes and almost overwhelmingly flat terrain make it a cyclist’s paradise, so what are you waiting for – check out our cycling holidays in Holland now and start planning a truly wonderful cycling experience.