The Netherlands is easy to explore by car, but the best way to experience it like a local is by hopping on a bicycle. As well as being one of the most convenient ways to get about the country, the extensive cycle network gives you a chance to see plenty of scenic sights along the way. If you’ve already biked around Amsterdam‘s famous Vondelpark and pedalled past the waterfront, check out these awesome cycle routes near the Dutch capital and start your own two-wheeled adventure.
Be transported 700 years back in time at Castle Muiderslot, which is a pleasant hour-long cycle along the coast from Amsterdam. When you’ve finished walking the ramparts of the Netherlands’ best preserved castle, you can leave your bike on the mainland and catch a quick ferry to Pampus Island. This manmade land mass was used in the late 19th century as a sea fort, and UNESCO has since named it a World Heritage Site.
After an hour on the saddle down the Amsterdam-Rhine canal, you’ll draw into the historic town of Weesp on the river Vecht. Made famous for being the home of the Van Houten chocolate company, here you can explore the Ossenmarkt and Issenmeer forts, wander along the picturesque canals or seek out the three historical windmills that date back to the 17th century.
A Spanish Star Fort
Close to Weesp and one of the best preserved fortified towns in Europe, Naarden is a hidden gem that simply begs to be explored. By bike, the town is around 1 hour 15 minutes south-east from the centre of the capital – a peaceful journey partly following the Amsterdam-Rhine canal. Shaped like a Spanish star fort, Naarden comes complete with fortified walls, a moat and an impressively large Gothic basilica, St. Vitus Church.
Because Holland is mostly very flat, it’s possible to go quite a long distance without exerting much effort. A leisurely two hours of pedalling by the grand houses and villages of the Vecht River see you arrive in the city of Utrecht. As well as plenty of museums and a maze of winding canals, this city is beloved for its charming wharf cellars – romantic restaurants set up right along the edge of the canal. If it gets late, you can always pay the small surcharge (around €6) to bring your bike onto a train back to Amsterdam and save yourself the effort.
Nature in Haarlem
For a beautiful ride through the Netherlands’ biggest flower growing region, head west of Amsterdam to Haarlem. You’ll pass vast fields containing tulips of all different colours, stretching as far as the eye can see. Upon arrival, you’ll be able to eat your way through the fresh produce on offer in the Grote Markt and admire the sublime gothic architecture of the imposing Grote Kerk tower. Haarlem has also been voted the country’s best shopping destination, so take your time strolling between clothing boutiques and souvenir stores.
Island Escape in Marken
A well-travelled route that takes you through the heart of Waterland region, the journey to the former island of Marken is full of scenic delights. Marken is connected to the mainland by a long, raised roadway, allowing you can cycle directly onto the unique commune. This historic fishing village is famous for its quaint wooden houses and the beautiful lighthouse at its easternmost point. Enjoy a lunch in a restaurant overlooking the harbour before heading back to Amsterdam on your bike.
If you’ve been inspired by this blog, why not check out our adventure page for more trip ideas?