Discover the coastline of the North Sea on this active 5-day adventure. Start the trip in historic Haarlem, where you'll see original works by the great painter Frans Hals before setting off on a self-guided e-bike trip to a beach resort. Ride over to National Park Zuid-Kennemerduine, home to the largest dune area in Holland. Then continue to Bergen, a scenic village that's long been popular with artists. You'll base yourself here for the last few days of the itinerary, riding to a pair of resort towns, visiting the famous cheese market of Alkmaar, and seeing the windmills of Zaanse Schans before the trip ends in Amsterdam.


  • Tour the Frans Hals Museum in historic Haarlem
  • Cycle through vast sand dunes on your way to the North Sea 
  • Dine on fresh seafood in a beachfront restaurant
  • See how locals lived in 1900 at a preserved farmhouse in Bergen
  • Visit the famous cheese market in Alkmaar
  • Explore the dunes of National Park Zuid-Kennemerduinen

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Tour Haarlem & Frans Hals Museum Haarlem
Day 2 Cycle to the Beach Haarlem
Day 3 Visit the Museums of Bergen Bergen
Day 4 Explore the Sand Dunes & Visit Alkmaar Bergen
Day 5 Depart Amsterdam - End of Trip  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Tour Haarlem & Frans Hals Museum

A church in Haarlem

Welcome to the Netherlands! On the first day of the tour, you'll explore the city of Haarlem. Start by spending some time at the Frans Hals Museum. Hals, together with Rembrandt and Vermeer, is one of the greatest painters of the Dutch Golden Age. Known for his free and painterly brushstrokes, he lived and worked in Haarlem for more than sixty years until his death in 1666. 

The facade of the museum's main hall was designed by Dutch Renaissance architect Lieven de Key. His signature style is visible in the most iconic buildings of the city, including the town hall and De Waag, where produce used to be weighed before being sent off to the market.

If time allows, stop at the Teylers Museum, the oldest museum in the Netherlands, home to an impressive art collection. The rest of the day, you're free to enjoy the charming streets and cafés of the laid-back city center.

Day 2: Cycle to the Beach

The windswept coast of the North Sea

After breakfast, hop on an e-bike and head out of town on a ride to the beach town of Bloemendaal. Go for a stroll on the beach, admiring views of the North Sea, and stop for refreshments at a beach café. If you're up for more cycling, detour to National Park Zuid-Kennemerduinen, home to the largest dune area in Holland. Keep your eyes open for deer! Once you arrive in the park, explore its network of hiking trails.

If you happen to be here in spring (March through May), you may wish to detour to see the region's many tulip fields in full bloom. It's possible to add a visit to the Keukenhof, the world's largest flower park, to your cycling itinerary today.

Return to Bloemendaal in time for dinner — you'll have reservations in a seafood restaurant with views of the water. After the meal, cycle back to Haarlem for the night.

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Day 3: Visit the Museums of Bergen

A castle in Bergen
Continue on to the charming town of Bergen, popular with artists since the early 1900s. It's easy to see why, given the location on the edge of the dunes. These landscapes have inspired numerous painters, and you can see their works inside the Kranenburgh Museum. Another museum worth checking out is Het Sterkenhuis, an old farmhouse that's been carefully preserved to show visitors how locals lived in this region around the year 1900. Wander around town, stop into shops and art galleries, and enjoy coffee or a meal before checking into your boutique hotel.  

Day 4: Explore the Sand Dunes & Visit Alkmaar

Coastal dunes by the North Sea

Time for your next adventure! This morning you'll embark on a short e-bike ride through a brilliant landscape of sand dunes to the beach resort of Bergen aan Zee. It’s a relatively quiet beach that's perfect for quiet walks. Have lunch there, then continue cycling along the North Sea until you reach Egmond aan Zee, another beach resort. Grab a cold beer on summer days or a hot chocolate in cooler months. Then you'll cycle to Alkmaar.

Perhaps best known for its cheese market, Alkmaar is also home to a compact historic center and an interesting selection of museums. The cheese market, which has been in action since 1365, is held every Friday from April through September (plus Tuesday nights in July and August). Porters, loaders, tossers, and weighers all have their specific roles. Even when the cheese market isn't going on, you can visit The Waag, the historic building where cheeses used to be weighed. The building now houses a cheese museum on the second and third floors.

Have a leisurely dinner in one of the city's many excellent restaurants before returning to Bergen by e-bike.

Day 5: Depart Amsterdam - End of Trip

Postcards at a shop in Amsterdam

The trip is nearly over, but one highlight remains. In the 17th century, the Zaan Region developed into an industrial area with more than six hundred active windmills. The Zaanse Schans windmills were used to grind spices, produce paint, cut wood, and produce oil. They were also important to the shipbuilding industry. A number of them still exist and may be visited if you want to learn how these towering wind-powered machines work, inside and out.

From here, you'll transfer to Amsterdam to make your onward connection. Safe travels!

More Netherlands Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to the Netherlands? Check out these other Netherlands itineraries, with outdoor adventures, cultural trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights. 

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