Pedal past windmills, tulip fields, and castles on this wonderful two-week cycling tour of the Netherlands and Flanders! You'll explore green landscapes and coastal scenery as you make your way between historic Dutch cities like Haarlem, Delft, and Leiden, then cross over to Belgium, where medieval architecture and locally made chocolates await. There's so much to see and do in the region, and there's no better way to see it than on a bicycle.

Highlights

  • Explore Dutch and Belgian landscapes that inspired world-famous artworks
  • Pedal through tulip fields in the Flower Bulb Region
  • Sample locally made cheeses in Gouda and chocolates in Bruges
  • Ride past the historic windmills of Kinderdijk
  • Marvel at medieval architecture in Ghent

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Amsterdam and Visit the Anne Frank House Amsterdam
Day 2 Cycle from Amsterdam to Haarlem Haarlem
Day 3 Pedal Through the Bollenstreek, the Flower Bulb Region Leiden
Day 4 Continue to the Hague and Sightsee in Delft Delft
Day 5 Take a Break to Sample Cheeses in Gouda Haastrecht
Day 6 Cycle Past the Windmills of Kinderdijk Dordrecht
Day 7 Enjoy a Free Day in Dordrecht Dordrecht
Day 8 Explore the town of Breda Breda
Day 9 Cross the Border to Belgium Antwerp
Day 10 Travel from Antwerp to Medieval Ghent Ghent
Day 11 Learn About Flemish Art and Textiles at Oudenaarde Oudenaarde
Day 12 Detour to Bierkasteel to Try Local Beers Roeselare
Day 13 Spend the Last Day Exploring Bruges Bruges
Day 14 Depart Bruges  Bruges

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Amsterdam and Visit the Anne Frank House

Amsterdam at night

Welcome to the Dutch Lowlands! After arrival at Amsterdam's airport, transfer to your hotel in the city center. You'll start exploring Amsterdam with a visit to the Anne Frank House. Learn about the famous story of a young Jewish girl who lived here during the Second World War; the museum is built around the secret annex where she and her family hid for over two years.

Several other museums are nearby. The Rijksmuseum is the most famous museum in the Netherlands, housing the country’s most famous painting, The Night Watch by Rembrandt van Rijn. Besides this masterpiece, you can see The Milkmaid by Johannes Vermeer, plus many other 17th-century works by Dutch Master painters. Right next to the Rijksmuseum, you will find another Dutch highlight: the Van Gogh Museum. The Dutch post-Impressionist painter created more than 2,000 paintings in just over a decade. Later, take a stroll through the picturesque neighborhood of the Jordaan and stop to have dinner there.

Day 2: Cycle from Amsterdam to Haarlem

Magnificent architecture in Haarlem

After breakfast, it's time to start your bicycle tour. The first cycling day is an easy one, with about 19 miles (30 km) of cycling. You'll pedal through the Kennemerland area, passing botanical gardens and pristine forests en route to the Dutch city of Haarlem. If you're interested in art, visit the Frans Hals Museum in the afternoon. Hals was one of the most important painters of the Dutch Golden Age. Teylers Museum, the oldest museum in the Netherlands with collections of art and exhibits on science and history, is another great option.

Day 3: Pedal Through the Bollenstreek, the Flower Bulb Area

Reflections in the canals

Cycle through the beautiful dune area around Haarlem, past a landscape of sand drifts, heather, and forest. The route continues further south to the area that the Dutch refer to as the Bollenstreek, meaning "Flower Bulb Region." Wedged between the bustling cities of the west, this unique landscape features seemingly endless fields of colorful flowers that burst to life in spring. As early as the 16th century, excavation of dunes began in this area; the sand was needed for city expansions and railways. The geestgronden, or remaining soil along the coast, proved suitable for cultivating tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths. The gentle maritime climate also favored flower-growing, making this area a flower bulb hotspot. 

The next city you'll stop in is Leiden, home to Leiden University. Founded in 1575, it's the oldest university in the Netherlands. The total cycling distance of today is about 25 miles (41 km). 

Day 4: Continue to the Hague and Sightsee in Delft

Colorful Dutch buildings

Today you will cycle through a typical Dutch landscape with winding roads, vast lakes, historic mills, old farms, and moss-green grasslands. This morning's ride to The Hague takes less than one hour. Known to the Dutch as Den Haag, it's the seat of the Dutch government and home to one of the most magnificent paintings in the country, Johannes Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring. You'll have a chance to view it in person while visiting the Mauritshuis. The museum features a few of the 37 paintings Vermeer created during his life, as well as works by Rembrandt, Jan Steen, and Frans Hals.

After your museum visit, pedal over to nearby Scheveningen Beach for some fresh air and lunch on the coast. The cycle tour continues until you reach Delft, a charming city full of quaint canals and monumental buildings. The great painter Johannes Vermeer lived here in the 17th century. Visit the Vermeer Center, where you can see reproductions of his work and tour his studio, then stop into nearby workshops where the world-famous blue and white Delft Blue pottery is made. First introduced as a cheap alternative to Chinese porcelain, it's still produced according to age-old techniques. 

The total cycling distance of today is about 28 miles (45 km).

Day 5: Take a Break to Sample Cheeses in Gouda

Bright orange cheeses produced in Gouda

Today’s journey leads right through the green heart of the Netherlands, passing old Dutch towns and villages, extensive meadows, dikes and fields, and numerous canals. Gouda is known for its cheeses, of course — take time to stop and try some, and buy one or two to take with you. After exploring the historic center of Gouda, follow the Hollandsche IJssel until you reach the waterfront in the town of Haastrecht. This is where you will spend the night. 

Today’s cycling distance is about 24 miles (40 km).

Day 6: Cycle Past the Windmills of Kinderdijk

A windmill reflected in the water

From Haastrecht, continue on to see the windmills of Kinderdijk. The area features no fewer than 16 windmills from the 18th century. Until 1868, these mills pumped water away from lower-lying areas. Now electric mills do the same job. But Kinderdijk is special: nowhere else in the Netherlands can you see so many windmills together, all in such good condition. It's a wonderful photo opportunity. 

Continue on the last stretch of the ride to the historic city of Dordrecht, the oldest city in Holland. Located in a wetland area, it was an important merchant city primarily trading in wood and wine. The historic city center is full of monuments that have been repurposed as restaurants, museums, and theaters.

From Haastrecht to Dordrecht, the distance is about 23 miles (38 km).

Day 7: Enjoy a Free Day in Dordrecht

A Dutch building covered with whimsical artwork

Take a day off from cycling, if you like, and venture into Biesbosch National Park, the largest freshwater tidal zone in Europe. Here, you'll find a wide variety of bird species, plus a population of around 300 beavers — the beaver is a symbol of the park. See this unique landscape on a boat tour or a guided canoe excursion. The latter, which is possible from April through November, is especially fun for older children.

Alternatively, put your bicycle on the waterbus (a public boat) to Rotterdam. It's a city of many faces, known for its rough-and-tumble port history, trendy nightlife, upscale shopping options, and lively art scene. Rotterdam makes an easy side trip, and it's also possible to detour there and sightsee without your bike.

Day 8: Explore the town of Breda

A quiet block in Breda

Continue from Dordrecht to Breda, a trip that's about 28 miles (45 km). It's a beautiful city with many grand buildings, and it makes for a convenient stop before crossing the border to Belgium. Relax over dinner in one of Breda's many restaurants, then get some rest for the next leg of the journey. 

Day 9: Cross the Border to Belgium

A city square in Antwerp

After cycling in the Netherlands for eight days, it's time to explore Belgium. Today's route leads through a wooded area and the Kalmthoutse Heide, a beautiful cross-border nature reserve between the Netherlands and Belgium. You'll end up in the heart of Antwerp, the largest city in Flanders and the most important port in Belgium. The afternoon is free for you to explore the heart of this historic city. The city center occupies a relatively small area, so it’s easy to see on foot.

The cycling distance today is 33 miles (53 km).

Day 10: Travel from Antwerp to Medieval Ghent

The market square in Ghent
The market square in Ghent

From Antwerp, follow the Scheldt River to Ghent, a trip that's 34 miles (55 km) in total. The city center of Ghent is like an open-air museum. Pay a visit to the medieval castle Gravensteen, located right in the city center, and the massive St. Bavo’s Cathedral. Enjoy the wonderful Flemish atmosphere before continuing on to explore more of the country.

Day 11: Learn About Flemish Art and Textiles at Oudenaarde

A bike parked on a scenic bridge on the Leie River

Today you'll cycle to Nazareth via Sint-Martens-Latem. Many Flemish artists were inspired by the beauty along the Leie River, and a rich collection of this art can be found in the Museum Dhondt Dhaenens

Your final destination today is Oudenaarde, a city famous for its tapestries during the 16th through 18th centuries. Local museums offer an overview of that history, and outdoor cafés provide great places to relax and recharge after a day's ride of 21 miles (34 km).

Day 12: Detour to Bierkasteel to Try Local Beers

A meadow beside the bike trail

The trip continues through the wooded area of ​​the Rhodesgoed. You will cycle past the traditional shoe-making town of Izegem. Just outside of town, beer lovers will appreciate a stop at Bierkasteel, offering 29 beers on tap. Cycle down gently sloping roads from West Flanders to Waregem, where the country's only American military cemetery is located, before reaching your destination for the night, Roeselare.

Day 13: Spend the Last Day Exploring Bruges

A charming cobblestoned street in Bruges

Today you will enjoy a beautiful ride through the Houtland. In this traditionally wooded region, you'll pass dozens of beautiful castles and estates on your way to Bruges. A true gem, the city is best explored on foot, full of cobblestoned alleys and charming squares. While strolling around the city center, gazing up at colorful facades, take time to stop at one of the many chocolate shops that Bruges is famous for. Admire the traditional lacework for sale in various shops and boutiques, then sit at a café on one of Bruges' historic squares and try out a locally brewed beer like Brugse Zot. You've cycled 37 miles (60 km) today — you deserve it!

Day 14: Depart Bruges 

One final treat in Bruges before departure

Your cycling adventure ends today. You'll return your bicycle and head to the airport or train station to travel onward. Safe journey!

More Great Netherlands & Belgium Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to the Netherlands and Belgium? Check out these other Netherlands itineraries, including a 10-day Art Tour of the Netherlands, a 14-day Family Tour of the Netherlands, and a two-week Grand Tour of the Netherlands and Belgium.

Or, describe your ideal trip and we will connect you with a local specialist to make it happen.

Bas
Written by Bas Naus, updated Jul 6, 2021