Cycling In The Netherlands: A Leisurely Tour of the Dutch Countryside

Cycling route that cuts through a Dutch windmill - image courtesy of pexels
Cycling route that cuts through a Dutch windmill - image courtesy of pexels
Written by Linda Hohnholz

Welcome to the Netherlands, a top destination for cycling enthusiasts from around the globe. Known for its idyllic landscapes and cycling-friendly infrastructure, this country offers an array of experiences on two wheels.

Whether you’re a seasoned cyclist or looking for a relaxed ride, the Dutch countryside awaits with its endless tulip fields in spring and the iconic silhouette of historic Dutch windmills. Get ready to embark on a journey through some of the most scenic cycling routes Europe has to offer.

Why Cycle in the Netherlands of All Places?

Did you know that geography led to the love for cycling in the Netherlands? The country’s famously flat landscape makes it a perfect biking playground for cyclists of all ages and abilities. Here, you’re invited to glide through expansive landscapes dotted with lakes and framed by the sky.

The Netherlands boasts an extensive network of well-maintained cycling paths that connect urban excitement with tranquil countryside. Along these routes, fietscafes, or bike cafes, regularly pop up, offering a unique Dutch twist where you can pause for a refreshing break in true local style.

Getting excited? Let’s start planning your packing list together.

Planning Your Trip: When to Go and What to Bring

The best time for cycling in the Netherlands is from April to June, when the weather is mild, and the tulips are in full bloom, creating a vibrant backdrop for your rides. Spring is also light and breezy, which makes it especially pleasant for cycling through the countryside.

When packing, remember practicality is key. Make sure you have these with you:

  • Layers: Opt for clothing that you can add or shed as needed. A mix of breathable and waterproof materials works best.
  • Rain Jacket: Always bring a lightweight rain jacket, as Dutch weather can be unpredictable.
  • Repair Kit: Include a basic bike repair kit to handle minor issues on the road.
  • Water Bottle: Stay hydrated with a sturdy water bottle that fits securely on your bike

As a tourist in an unfamiliar land, you will probably have to ride with GPS and your maps app running. It’s impractical to pause just to check your phone, and staying connected is crucial. A Netherlands eSIM allows you to stay connected without the hassle of Wi-Fi, ensuring you can navigate smoothly and keep in touch.

For bike rentals, you’ll find a variety of options ranging from traditional bicycles to e-bikes, all at reasonable prices to enhance your travel experience.

Must-Experience Cycling Routes

The Flower Route

This route will take you through the heart of the Dutch floral scene, a vibrant spectacle that stretches across 44 miles of the countryside. Plan your ride in late spring to witness the kaleidoscope of colors in the tulip fields. This path is not just about the views; it’s an aromatic journey that engages all your senses.

As you pedal through this floral paradise, you’ll pass iconic landmarks such as the historic town of Haarlem and the world-famous Keukenhof Gardens, known as the Garden of Europe, where the variety and sheer number of flowers on display create a stunning visual feast.

The Windmill Route at Kinderdijk

Explore the Kinderdijk windmills, a UNESCO World Heritage site, on this picturesque route. These iconic Dutch windmills offer a peek into the Netherlands’ past and its ongoing battle with the sea. As you cycle along this route, you can soak in the tranquil sounds of nature and stop for the occasional bird-watching session, making it a perfect spot for nature lovers and photographers alike.

Kinderdijk is just a 2-hour train ride from Amsterdam. With a fee ranging from $15 to $35, the opportunity to explore this part of the Netherlands and view its historic windmills will be worth every penny. The serenity of the area combined with its cultural significance offers a unique experience that resonates with the soul of every traveler.

Waterways of Giethoorn

Known as the ‘Venice of the North,’ Giethoorn is best explored by bike and boat. This route allows you to enjoy the peace of this car-free village, navigating alongside its canals and rustic wooden bridges. The absence of roads and the abundance of quaint canals lined with thatched-roof cottages give Giethoorn a fairy-tale atmosphere, distinguishing it from other destinations.

In Giethoorn, you can explore local artisan shops, cozy cafés, and beautiful flower gardens that line the waterways. Paddling through these serene canals, you might catch sight of traditional Dutch punters gliding along or families enjoying a leisurely afternoon by their canal-side gardens.

However, despite its stunning beauty, it’s important to remember that Giethoorn is indeed a small village. Visitors should be mindful not to crowd and inconvenience the locals. Respecting this quaint community’s pace of life and its natural environment ensures a pleasant visit for everyone involved and helps preserve the charm that makes Giethoorn so special.

Charming Stops Along the Way

As you pedal through the Netherlands, be sure to explore the picturesque villages that dot the landscape, like Zaanse Schans. This village is a portal into 18th and 19th-century Dutch life, showcasing historic windmills and distinctive green wooden houses.

Along the way, indulge in local delicacies at charming cafés and restaurants nestled within these landmark spots. For a truly Dutch experience, sample freshly baked stroopwafels or enjoy a hearty plate of stamppot.

Additionally, scenic spots for picnic breaks are abundant. Look for parks or riverbanks with views of the windmills or tulip fields, where you can get off your bike, relax, and soak in the tranquil surroundings.

Extending Your Adventure: Beyond the Countryside

Safety is key when exploring the Netherlands, just as the saying goes, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Here are a few rules to keep your cycling journey safe and enjoyable:

  • Stay on the Right: Always cycle on the right-hand side of the path.
  • Signal Turns: Use hand signals to indicate your direction to other road users.
  • Lock Your Bike: Never leave your bike unsecured. Always use a bike lock when parked.

While you may not know Dutch, communicating with fellow cyclists and locals isn’t as daunting as it might seem. Most Dutch people speak English and are usually friendly and helpful. Smiling, nodding, and using hand gestures can go a long way in expressing your needs or directions. It’s also a good practice to learn a few basic Dutch phrases for greetings and common questions.

In case of emergencies, it’s important to know how to find help. Here are some useful contacts and tips:

  • Emergency Services: Dial 112 for police, fire services, or medical emergencies.
  • Local Bike Shops: For minor repairs or issues with your bicycle, local bike shops are usually eager to assist. Keep a list of nearby bike shop numbers on your phone.
  • Fellow Cyclists: Don’t hesitate to ask for help from other cyclist, as the cycling community in the Netherlands is generally supportive and cooperative.

Gear Up for an Unforgettable Journey

Reflect on the joys of cycling in the Netherlands—a country that champions eco-friendly travel and healthy living through its cycling culture. As you plan your journey, think of the paths less traveled and the new memories waiting to be made.

Have you cycled through the Dutch countryside? Share your stories or plans below and inspire others to explore the Netherlands on two wheels. Whether it’s your first time or you’re returning for more, every trip has something new to offer. Happy cycling!

About the author

Linda Hohnholz

Editor in chief for eTurboNews based in the eTN HQ.

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