Accommodation: 4 star hotels in the heart of Haarlem and Zaandam and 3 star hotels in Edam, Muiderberg and Amsterdam. All the hotels are very individual and stylish and provide a continental breakfast. Dinner (3 courses) is included for 3 nights in Zaandam, Edam and Muiderberg.
Cycling mileage: 5 days of cycling 13 - 22 miles (20 - 36 km) per day . Bike hire is included.
Grade out of 5 based on distance and elevation: 1.
Traffic free: 95%.
Of all countries, Holland offers the most fabulous gentle cycling for it is wonderfully flat and has an astonishing network of well signed tarmacked bike paths with traffic lights for cyclists. It also has a stunning mix of heritage rich towns, beautiful coastline, picture postcard countryside and maritime history especially in north Holland where this tour takes place.
Amsterdam, Haarlem, Zaandam, Edam and Volendam are among our all time favourite cities – each unique and brimming with that typical old Dutch character. We have decided to combine them for the ultimate cultural bike holiday. Discover how rural and quiet the countryside can be where windmills, bulb flower fields (in spring!) and polders take the spotlight. More than half of this landscape has been reclaimed from the sea leaving a maze of dykes, locks and colourful waterways and bridges.The tour leads to the dunes on the North Sea coast and the islands and historic villages on the coast of the former Zuiderzee now Lake IJsselmeer. And then there's Amsterdam - a highlight in itself, but you will discover many more on this holiday.
The tour has a very relaxed itinerary which coupled with its traffic free cycling makes it an ideal choice for families.
Extend the tour with additional nights in Amsterdam or any of the stops enroute. £75 per person per night.
Car parking in Haarlem £60 per week.
Day 1: Haarlem.
Arrive in Haarlem and settle into the Lion D'Or Hotel - a 19th Century town house in the heart of the city. Check out your cycling equipment and then soak up the old Dutch charm of this achingly pretty city. The cobbled streets are lined with historic buildings and grand churches and museums with plenty of antiques shops and cafes to tempt you.
Day 2: Haarlem to Zaandam. 22 miles (35 km).
Your cycling today takes you through tulip fields, a riot of colour in April and May and through a National Park to the seaside with its dunes and beaches where you touch the coast and pause for a while. Crossing the North Sea Canal by ferry - just 10 minutes, you pedal north through a quiet landscape of windmills and meadows to arrive in Zaandam, a city with a historic centre. Your overnight stay is in Hotel de Vijf Broers on the banks of the Zaan river, overlooking the water meadows. What a view to relax with!
Day 3: Zaandam to Edam. 22 miles (35 km).
Pedal through Zaanse Schans and wonder at the beauty of the windmills and houses remaining here from the 17th Century when literally thousands of windmills powered saws in the vicinity of Zaandam. Typically green and of wood, they are a fine sight. Cycling on through a traditional polder landscape of narrow dykes and bridges you can stop enroute at a workshop to see clogs being made. Your overnight stay is in the utterly charming town of Edam. Brimming with half timbered houses, the town still hosts a colourful cheese market when large rounds of cheese are shunted around by locals.You stay in the wonderful boutique Dam Hotel a few yards from the central canal.
Day 4: Edam to Muiderberg. 22 miles (36 km).
Today is fun riding (again !) as you reach the shores of Lake Ijsselmeer, formerly the Zuider Zee and discover Volendam where ships wonderfully old and new tie up. Don't miss the notable and delicious delicacy of smoked eel and then head for the short ferry crossing to the former island of Marken. Now connected to the mainland by a causeway, the peninsula is well known for its traditional wooden houses. Further south along the coast you reach the small fishing village of Monnickendam and tiny Durgerdam and then there's a treat in store at Muiden with its well preserved castle dating back to the Middle Ages. Your overnight stay is not far away at Hotel het Rechthuis in Muiderberg.
Day 5: Muiderberg to Amsterdam. 13 or 22 miles (20 or 35 km).
There's a choice of routes to Amsterdam, with the longer ride taking in the Vecht and Amstel rivers. Either way, its an easy but fascinating pedal into the heart of this outstanding city whose 17th Century canals are World Heritage listed. Cycling is the best way to see the city and to mingle with the locals. Bike paths thread over and along the canals, through alleys, parks, and markets to the Royal Palace, Anne Frank's house and the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum - just two of the fifty museums on offer. Packed with history and yet full of contemporary flair, this is an exciting city to explore. Your hotel is The Arthur Frommer which is centrally located with a unique Dutch charm.
Day 6: Amsterdam to Haarlem. 19 miles (30 km).
Your last day of cycling leads you west out of Amsterdam through parks and gardens dotted with sculptures and fountains. Pass through a wetland area of floating canal houses at Lange Bretten, spot the falcons and listen to the silence, before arriving back in Haarlem. Your hotel is the Lion D'Or once again, where you are well placed to take a last stroll through typical old Dutch character.
Day 7: Depart Haarlem.
Enjoy Haarlem and depart at your leisure.
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Europe Netherlands Outdoor: Land Rambler Bicycle Touring Cultural Journey
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