Thinking of a bicycle vacation this year? There’s a great case to be made for pedaling the prettiest routes in Holland. Did you know that there are over 35,000 kilometers of cycle paths in the Netherlands?
It’s a place that absolutely caters to its cycling friends—trust us, there’s no better place to ride your bike.
Still need convincing? Check out some of the sights and experiences in store for you if you take a bike tour in Holland this summer.
1. Pedal through the Hoge Veluwe National Park to the Kroller-Muller Museum and see the famous Van Goghs.
Hoge Veluwe National Park is a haven for wildlife—mouflon, deer, and wild boar roam the park’s 5,400 hectares. You can explore the park on bike or on foot before taking in the exhibits at the Kroller-Muller Museum.
The museum houses over 90 paintings and 180 drawing by the Netherlands’ native son Vincent van Gogh; it’s the second-largest collection of his works in the world.
You’ll also see works by Picasso, Monet, and Piet Mondrian. The park is home to one of Europe’s largest sculpture gardens, as well, with over 160 works dotting the grounds.
2. See the Kinderdijk windmills like you’ve never seen them before.
Is there anything more iconically Dutch than a row of magnificent windmills? The 19 windmills of Kinderdijk are so symbolic of the country’s water management feats, they were awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1997.
Just a short journey on bike from Alblasserdam, the windmills dominate the polder landscape. It’s one of the few places you can see such a variety in windmill construction—hollow post mills, round mills, polygon-shaped mills. There’s even a couple of museums and a tea garden to enjoy on your ride.
3. From windmills to tulips—you’ve never seen anything like the Keukenhof.
The Keukenhof is one of the most instantly recognized flower parks in the world. Where else can you see 7 million tulips soaking up the sun? Some 800 different tulip varieties make a colorful carpet. It’s an unforgettable tulip-tour experience.
Take time to learn about the history of tulips in the Netherlands, how the flowers are cultivated, and even christen your very own tulip. There are magnificent flower shows at the park every single day of the season.
4. Follow the River Linge to Leerdam, home of the Royal Leerdam Crystal Factory.
Delft may have cornered the painted porcelain market, but Leerdam wins when it comes to fabulous glassware. You’ll pedal along the curving contours of the Linge, the largest river flowing entirely in the Netherlands, before arriving at Leerdam, a 15th century town renowned for its glassworks.
Take a tour of the Royal Leerdam Crystal factory and watch the glassblowers creating their incredible works art. Take a piece home as a memento of your trip.
5. The Waterland villages of Edam, Marken, and Volendam are like an Impressionist painting.
These lovely villages were originally built around trading, fishing, and whaling, and the buildings and canals conjure up a 17th century vibe. On a sail and bike tour, you can while away an afternoon just wandering these picturesque towns, capturing perfect photos for your travel journal.
Be sure to leave some time to explore Edam. Yes, it’s famous for its mellow cheese—and during summer months, you can still see farmers bring their wares by horse or boat to be weighed and traded by merchants in traditional garb at the Kaasmarkt Edam.
6. The trip from Alblasserwaard to Schoonhoven is positively pastoral.
Grazing herds of cows, sheep, goats line the route to Schoonhoven—but what would you expect from the birthplace of Gouda, the most famous Dutch cheese? You’ll love pedaling past these peaceful animals (maybe even stopping for a bit of bread and cheese along the way) on your way to Silver City.
Schoonhoven is famous for its metalworks and silversmiths; there’s even a Silver Museum that pays homage to this traditional craft. Take a workshop and design your own piece of silver to take home. Not feeling particularly crafty? You’ll have no trouble finding something lovely to buy from one of the many shops that line the canal.
7. Cycle along the River Zaans to Zaanse Schans and learn how wooden clogs are made.
You’ve seen the windmills, sampled the cheese, browsed the crystal and silver shops—now it’s time for clogs at the famous Zaanse Schans open air museum dedicated to all things Dutch.
A perfectly preserved piece of Dutch history, the Zaanse Schans has bakeries, windmills, charming shops, a coopery, a weaver’s house for making sails, a pewter foundry, a chocolatier—and the famous clog workshop where you can watch a craftsman take a chisel to a block of wood and create a clog.
8. Bike across the Zuiderzee Dike to the 17th century town of Hoorn.
Perched near the shores of IJsselmeer, Hoorn was a wealthy trading city in its heyday. Today, it’s a mecca for shoppers and foodies, although much of its early charm and ambience remains. Wander past the old churches and monuments to get a feel for life in Hoorn during its prime.
If you’re feeling more like an outdoor adventure, walk to the nearby dunes or take your pick of watersports.
9. Check out the world’s largest flower auction at Aalsmeer.
If you’re here for a tulip tour, you won’t want to miss the Aalsmeer flower auction. Some 20 million flowers are traded here every day. The auction building itself is positively massive—at almost 1 million square meters, it’s the 4th largest building in the world.
Don’t mistake this for Keukenhof, however. The auction is a spectacle of size and logistics, something you have to see to believe. It’s an amazing highlight on your way back to Amsterdam.
10. Head to Haarlem for a taste of its famous Jopen beer.
Haarlem is famous for many things—the Grote Markt, the Grote Kerk, the Molen de Adriaan, and museum Corrie ten Boom. It’s also famous for Jopen beer, made from the original medieval recipe dating back to the 14th century.
De Jopenkerk is perhaps the most famous Jopen brewery in Haarlem. Located in a converted church, you can sample the malty brew, take a tour, and enjoy dinner at the luxe restaurant even your inner epicure will love.