Enjoy a Dutch-style vacation by exploring western Holland on two wheels! On this dynamic weeklong cycling trip, you'll pedal through forests, flower fields, and sand dunes, stopping to see picturesque windmills and historic monuments along the way. You'll ride into the wilderness of protected national parks, sample cheeses in Gouda, and stop for sightseeing in charming cities and villages including Delft and Leiden.

Highlights

  • Explore scenic Dutch landscapes on a bicycle
  • Discover historic cities full of cultural highlights 
  • See the colorful flower fields of the "Flower Bulb Region"
  • Visit the world-famous Anne Frank House

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Amsterdam and Visit the Anne Frank House Amsterdam
Day 2 Cycle to the Lakes of Ankeveense Plassen and Onward to Utrecht  Utrecht
Day 3 Explore the Green Heart of the Netherlands and Learn About Cheese-Making Haastrecht
Day 4 View the Windmills at Kinderdijk and Sightsee in Rotterdam and Delft Delft
Day 5 Discover The Hague and Cycle to the Beach Leiden
Day 6 Pedal Through the "Flower Bulb Region" & Zuid-Kennemerland National Park Haarlem
Day 7 Cycle back to Amsterdam & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

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

Amsterdam illuminated 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 important 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. Situated on the west side of the city center, the Jordaan is full of beautiful arched bridges, cobblestoned streets lined with trees, and numerous Dutch cafés where you can spend a cozy evening enjoying local food and beer.

Day 2: Cycle to the Lakes of Ankeveense Plassen and Onward to Utrecht 

A view of Muiderslot, also known as Muider Castle

After breakfast, catch the train to nearby Weesp. You will meet your host at Weesp's train station to start your cycling adventure. You'll begin by pedaling through the Gooi, a green area between urban Utrecht and Amsterdam, stopping at the impressive Muiderslot. A medieval castle that looks straight out of a fairy tale, it houses a museum featuring 17th-century artifacts and weaponry. The gardens are also a pleasure to walk through. 

Continue along the banks of the IJmeer river to Naarden. Once a fortified city with lively textile industry, Naarden features a fortress built in the shape of a star. Take a walk past the city walls and through the historic center. Then cycle south to the beautiful lake area of ​​the Ankeveense Plassen. This region is known for its lakes, sandy islands, luxurious villas, and picturesque marinas. This area was traditionally a haven for Amsterdam's upper class, and it still is today.

One of the villages that you pass as you continue along the cycling journey is Breukelen. It's the namesake for the better-known Brooklyn, New York! You'll finish the day's itinerary in Utrecht. Located exactly in the middle of the Netherlands, it's the capital of the province that goes by the same name. The city is situated around Dom Tower, which is visible from everywhere in the city center, so it's hard to get lost here.

If you have time to spare, visit Oude Hortus, which served as the botanical garden of Utrecht University from 1723 to 1920. Architecture enthusiasts should definitely visit the Rietveld-Schröder House, a home designed by famous architect Gerrit Rietveld in 1923-1924. The house is strikingly modernist, standing out from the surrounding architecture with its open spaces and bright white walls. Today, it's listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.

Day 3: Explore the Green Heart of the Netherlands and Learn About Cheese-Making

A bright poppy blooming beside the bike trail

Today you'll cycle along the Hollandse IJssel river into the Green Heart, a region filled with green meadows, small dams and pumping stations, and lots of grazing cattle. Check into your hotel in Haastrecht, then make the short trip to nearby Gouda, the most famous cheese city in the Netherlands. The city center is crossed by canals and is relatively small, so it's best explored on foot.

The market square is the vibrant heart of the city. A cheese market is held here every Thursday in summer. De Waag, where the cheese used to be weighed, is a beautiful building, but it's dwarfed by the town hall, which demands attention with its glittering towers and stately staircases. The Gothic church of Sint Janskerk is also quite a sight with its beautiful stained-glass windows. Also of note is De Roode Leeuw, the nearby windmill, which has been supplying local bakers with flour since 1727. And travelers with a sweet tooth should not miss a stop at the Kamphuisen Syrup Waffle Factory, dating back to 1810. The aroma alone is enough of a reason to enter.

Day 4: View the Windmills at Kinderdijk and Sightsee in Rotterdam and Delft

WIndmills framed by a beautiful sunset

Another leg of the adventure begins this morning. Cycle south along the Hollandse Lek river, ultimately boarding a ferry to cross over to Kinderdijk, a Dutch icon. It 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. 

Put your bike on the waterbus for onward travel 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. Above all, Rotterdam is an architectural highlight of Holland. Its skyline is always changing, and there's so much to do amid the towering skyscrapers. Your cycle tour will take you past various landmarks, including the famed Erasmus Bridge.

The itinerary takes you next to 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. 

Day 5: Discover The Hague and Cycle to the Beach

A souvenir shop in Delft

Have breakfast in Delft. It's about a one-hour cycle to your next destination, The Hague. 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, ride over to The Binnenhof, headquarters of the Dutch government, taking advantage of the city's excellent infrastructure of safe and flat cycling lanes. Then head to nearby Scheveningen Beach. The coastline and the long pier are wonderful for walking, offering a break from the bike ride.

Continue towards Leiden, enjoying the quiet beauty of the dune area before reaching the lively university city. Leiden is home to excellent museums, quiet canals, and inner courtyards called hofjes. Leiden University, founded in 1575, is the oldest university in the Netherlands. Visit the Lakenhal Museum, offering a collection of paintings from the past four centuries, including several works by Rembrandt.

Day 6: Pedal Through the "Flower Bulb Region" and Zuid-Kennemerland National Park

Colorful blooms in the flower bulb district

Colorful blooms in the flower bulb region

The route continues further north today, through 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 bulb crops like tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths. The gentle maritime climate also favored flower-growing, making this area a flower bulb hotspot. 

You'll ride through beautiful flower fields for another few miles. At Aerdenhout the tour enters Zuid-Kennemerland National Park, once the source of drinking water for the city of Amsterdam. Its pristine forests, sand drifts, and fields of heather are a delight for the senses. 

The day of cycling ends in Haarlem. The historic center is home to many interesting attractions, including Frans Hals Museum, exhibiting the works of one of the greatest painters of the Dutch Golden Age. Have dinner at an outdoor café and enjoy your last evening of the tour.

Day 7:  Cycle back to Amsterdam & Depart

A map of the Netherlands

There's time for just one more bike ride: the short trip back to the center of Amsterdam. The trip ends here. Safe travels home or on to your next destination. 

More Great Netherlands Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to the Netherlands? Check out these other Netherlands itineraries, including a 5-day Flower Tour of Holland, a 7-day Best of Holland & Flanders trip, and a longer 10-day Highlights of Holland adventure.

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