Amsterdam, Haarlem, Leiden, Delft and Gouda are among our cyclists’ all-time favorite cities - each unique and all brimming with that typical Olde Holland character. We have decided to combine them into this one route for the ultimate cultural bike holiday. Cycling distances are relatively short allowing more time for sightseeing and museums. Although you will stay within the Randstad conurbation you’ll discover how rural and quiet the countryside can be, where polders, windmills, bulb flower fields (in spring!), lakes and rivers take the spotlight. In short, this route stands for seven days of enjoying cultural gems and idyllic countryside in the heart of the Netherlands.
Day 1: Arrival in Amsterdam
Get here early and opt to wander around the gorgeous and surprisingly peaceful seventeenth century canal ring area (World Heritage Site). If you like bustle, make your way to the city’s famous squares: Dam, Rembrandtplein and Leidseplein. Should you prefer to roam off the beaten track, saunter up Brouwersgracht or hire a canal bike and find out what the city looks like from the water? Parking in Amsterdam is difficult. Your hotel charges a fee for the car park. Please make a reservation beforehand.
Day 2: Amsterdam - Haarlem, ~30 km/19 miles
Get an early start and beat the queues at the Van Gogh or Anne Frank museum. At the end of the morning, say "tot ziens!” to amazing Amsterdam and mount your bike to journey through Kennemerland where a great variety of lovely countryside awaits: vast polders, wild(life) gardens, country estates, woods and beautiful peat land. You will stay the night in the elegant city of Haarlem. The attractive city center offers a wealth of possibilities for shopping, delving into art and culture, or relaxing in cafes and restaurants.
Day 3: Haarlem - Leiden, ~43 km/27 miles
Downtown Haarlem deserves to be explored thoroughly. We recommend a city walk to discover the city’s hidden "hofjes”. A hofje is a square of tiny almshouses set around an idyllic courtyard, often built by the church or by private charity to house single older women. Also dating back to the Dutch Golden Age, the works of Haarlem painter Frans Hals (group portraiture) and his townsmen including Jacob Ruysdael (land- and seascapes) and Pieter Saenredam (church interiors) are on display at the Frans Hals museum. In the afternoon get set for a colorful bike trip through the Dune and Bulb Region. Try to time this holiday before mid-May to capture the bulb flower fields in their full splendor! Tulips, crocuses, daffodils and hyacinths are grown here commercially (for bulb export) and temporarily transform the landscape into one of the country’s best-loved tourist attractions. Should you want to spend a day at world famous Keukenhof flower exhibition, we recommend you book an extra night in Leiden. Leiden is our oldest university town. It has a very busy cultural events calendar and a friendly city center with canals, monuments windmills and museums. The historical botanical gardens get special mention.
Day 4: Leiden - Delft, ~29 km/18 miles
After taking your leave of lively Leiden, peace and quiet will reign once more in today’s typically Dutch scenery. Note all the orderly rectangles in this man-made polder landscape (mostly peat land reclamations). Let shining lakes and green pastures, old windmills and farmhouses pass you by whilst pedaling on to the famous city of Delft. The melancholy charm of historical Delft is breathtaking. Most will associate Delft with its blue and white hand-painted pottery: Delftware. But did you know that painter Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) lived in Delft all his life? The Vermeer Centre gives illuminating insights into his life, works and city (no original paintings on show here).
Day 5: Delft - Gouda, ~34 km/21 miles
This stretch of the tour takes you through the Green Heart: a stronghold against urban sprawl in Randstad conurbation. Balancing atop polder dikes, delight in characteristic villages, far horizons and pleasingly strict rectangles cut by ditches in fields of vibrant green. As you wander around the city of Gouda at the end of the day, don’t miss the gothic town hall (1450), the Weighing House (1667), the romantic inner city canals and the stained glass windows in St. John’s Church. Gouda is also famous for making syrup waffles (try one hot!) and candles. If you’re travelling in summer, plan your trip so that you can witness the traditional Thursday morning cheese market at the start of day 6 (last Thursday in June till last Thursday in August - please check!).
Day 6: Gouda - Amsterdam, ~79 km/49 miles
After a hearty breakfast at your hotel, get back on your bike and set off on the longest leg of this bike tour! You will be making a tour via the rural green heart. On the way, the scenery is punctuated by rivers, polders and lakes (bird lovers bring your binoculars!). In the green heart of Holland only small villages, lakes and meadows await you. Do stop for a sample of Dutch style apple tart! Thus fortified, continue on your way back to Amsterdam pursuing beautiful river Amstel. Would the 80 km be to long for you then you can split this day (44 km and 27 km) by booking an extra overnight in Woerden.
Day 7: Departure or extension!
Your cycling holiday has come to an end. Enjoy a big hearty breakfast one last time - don’t forget to try chocolate sprinkles! - And then it’s time to go home.
6 nights in 3*** and 4**** hotels
luggage transfer to each hotel
detailed tour description with maps and information
GPS tracks on request
self-guided tour - 7 days / 6 nights
arrival every day
arrival on Saturdays and Mondays
season I (625 €/person)
season II (+60 €/person)
no supplement 'arriving on Saturdays and Mondays' in season II
route (1): ~215 km/135 miles
how to get there
by car: motorway to Amsterdam
by train: station Amsterdam
by plane: airport Amsterdam
on request at the first hotel, to pay at the hotel
some of our bike tour suggestions