5 Dutch cycling trips you need to do!
The summer is almost here; everyone is happy, time to plan a day out. What to do? How about a trip cycling through the beautiful Dutch countryside? If that sounds like something you'd enjoy, check out our tips for some of the loveliest cycling routes in the Netherlands.
1. Catch a glimpse of the tulips in bloom on the Bollenstreek route
The tulips are in bloom in the Netherlands throughout the spring until the end of May, so if you time your trip right you'll be able to see them before they're gone. There are plenty of ways to go about cycling around the area, but one way is to start from the station in Leiden and take the Leidse Bollenroute.
This is a 37-kilometre route amongst the tulip fields, meadows full of birds, castles and ruins. Perfect for a family cycling day or a romantic trip with a picnic. You can, of course, plan to make your route longer or shorter if you like, but you should at least try to see the following on your way:
- Oud Poelgeest - A 1668 castle north of Leiden, now used as conference rooms.
- Hogeveense Polder Mill - The mill combines two Dutch classics; windmills (obviously) and tulips. This mill was built in 1654 and is a great sight to behold.
- Keukenhofbosch (Keukenhof forest) - This is just south of the famous Keukenhof, and whilst not as well known, is just as lovely. It’s the perfect place for a picnic on the way or just a stop to rest your legs for a while.
- Teylingen Castle ruins - This was one of the first national heritage sites of the Netherlands, prohibited from being demolished since 1795.
- Huys te Warmont- Warmond - This is another beautiful country house. You can’t go inside, but you can walk around the grounds and marvel at the trees and birds.
If you don’t fancy planning your own route, there are plenty of pre-made ones and resources online to help you out. And if you don’t fancy cycling through Zuid-Holland to see the tulips, alternatively, you could visit the “Northern Bollenstreek” - it’s the biggest interconnected bulb region in the world. To cycle this route, you’ll need to head to Julianadorp aan Zee.
2. Breathe in some sea air in the dunes
There are plenty of dune areas in the Netherlands to explore, like Zandvoort and Texel. But why not head right on up to Julianadorp, just below Den Helder, and try a quick 13-kilometre round trip? As this route is rather short, it’s the perfect cycling trip for families.
Start off at junction 18 in Julianadorp and cycle around 3 kilometres via junction 22 and 8 right into the dunes. You can even make a pit stop here, park your bike and walk along the beach. Taking a picnic along with you would be a great idea, so you can picnic on the beach before heading off to explore the dunes some more.
Once you’ve satisfied your hunger, cycle through the dunes (note: you’ll be climbing and descending a lot - definitely a great workout!) and head in the direction of junction 5.
To get back to Julianadorp, cycle via junctions 2, 99 and 22 to 18 where you began. The dunes are great areas to see a different variety of wildlife and plants; however, cycling is not always allowed in such areas. So, if you want to plan a trip cycling through the dunes in another area, you should first check if it is allowed.
3. Marvel at nature in a national park
The Hoge Veluwe is the largest privately-owned national park in the Netherlands and has about 40 kilometres of designated cycle paths. So, you can roam to your heart's content and discover all of the park’s different landscapes and plant and animal species, such as red deer, roe deer, wild boars and foxes.
You won’t even have to bring your own bike for this trip, as the park itself has 1.800 White Bikes, which you can use, free of charge. You do, of course, have to pay admission to the park, but you can buy a ticket online. There are even several custom bicycles available free of charge, such as wheelchair bicycles or ones which can be used with a wheelchair and tricycles for kids as well as adults.
On some busy days, you might not be able to find a bike, but you can always bring your own with you. Cycling through this park is a great way to get back to nature and appreciate the plants and animals that we share this country with.
4. Fall in love with Dutch windmills
If you are crazy about Dutch windmills and water mills, this cycling route is perfect for you. The Molenroute Noord-Leudal is about 42 kilometres long and takes you past six stunning picture-worthy mills and partly through the Leudal nature reserve. The route is in Limburg, close to Roermond.
This cycling trip will take you through some charming Dutch villages too, like Buggenum and Roggel. The route is pretty easy to navigate, as you go from junction to junction. Just remember to set your GPS or pack a map before you head out.
As this cycling trip is pretty long, don’t forget to pack enough food, water, sunscreen and anti-chafing cream - we’ve all been there and it’s not pretty. This isn’t the only mill route you can take, of course. There’s obviously the famous Kinderdijk route, which is a similar distance and will take you past this immensely popular World Heritage site.
5. Discover ancient burial mounds
Want to get a good dose of history on your cycling trip? Take the hunebedden route along ancient burial mounds called dolmens in Drenthe. There are plenty of routes online and they all vary in length, so choose the one you think will be comfortable for you. The majority are around 45 to 50 kilometres.
Hunebedden or dolmens are megalithic tombs and consist of large stones lined up in two rows as a foundation and a larger stone on top. These tombs date back to 5.000 years ago, before even the pyramids were built! Cycling this route will give you a chance to see many of these tombs and gaze in awe as you wonder how they could possibly be built.
52 of the 54 remaining dolmens can be found in Drenthe, so it’s worth making the trip there. And if you do go, you’ll want to make sure you include the dolmen marked D27 - it’s the biggest one in the country!
Where will you be cycling to next?
We hope we’ve inspired you to get on your bike and take a day to discover the Netherlands on two wheels. Looking to plan a trip that's a little further afield? Check out our pick of the best cycling routes in Europe!
Are there any other cycling routes you’d recommend? Do you have any cycling trips planned? Let us know in the comments below.