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Pearls of Holland by Bike 16

Cycling the Highlights of Holland

Overview

Explore the cultural riches of Holland on a bike, enjoying an idyllic countryside, and one of Europe’s best bike lane systems. Amsterdam, Haarlem, Leiden, Delft and Gouda are often defined as the “pearls of Holland” – each unique and all brimming with typical local character. We have decided to combine them into one single route for the ultimate bike and cultural discovery holiday. Cycling distances are relatively short (except day 6, which can be split with an extra night), allowing more time for sightseeing and museum visits. Although you will stay within the Randstad conurbation, you’ll discover how rural and quiet the countryside can be with its polders, windmills, bulb flower fields (in spring season), lakes and rivers. The cycling is mostly on designated cycle paths without any traffic, so the trip is suitable for beginner cyclists as well.

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Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival Amsterdam*

Your holiday starts in Amsterdam, one of the crown jewels of Europe. With so much to see and do, you couldn’t wish for a more vibrant way to kick off your holiday. If you arrive early or book an extra night before the holiday, make sure to go for a walk to marvel at the townhouses in the 17th-century canal district (listed as a World Heritage Site). In case you have some time and energy left, you can also explore the infamous red-light district which attracts millions of curious tourists every year; or enjoy the street performers on friendly Rembrandtplein.

*Please note that the following surcharges are applicable depending on the timing of your holiday:
Stay in Amsterdam on Saturday: 22 GBP per person
Stay in Amsterdam in the periods listed below: 40 GBP per person
8, 9 & 10 April 2023
22 April 2023
18 May 2023
28 & 29 May 2023

Minimum of 2 nights is required on these dates.

Day 2: Amsterdam – Haarlem | 30 km

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 get on your bike to start your cycling trip through Kennemerland where a great variety of lovely countryside awaits: vast polders, tidy gardens, country estates, woods and beautiful peatland. You will spend the night in the elegant city of Haarlem. The attractive city centre offers a wealth of possibilities for shopping, delving into art and culture, or relaxing in cafes and restaurants. In April and early May, you have the option of cycling a longer route of approximately 60 km where you can see the tulip fields as well.

Day 3: Haarlem – Leiden | 43 km

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 a 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 set for an exciting bike trip through the Dune and Bulb Region. If you do this holiday before mid-May you will be able to enjoy the bulb flower fields in their full splendour. 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 the world-famous Keukenhof flower exhibition, we recommend you book an extra night in Leiden, Holland’s oldest university town. It has a very busy cultural events calendar and a friendly city centre with canals, monuments windmills and museums. The historical botanical gardens are a great site to explore.

Day 4: Leiden – Delft | 29 km

After leaving the lively Leiden, peace and quiet will reign once again in today’s typically Dutch scenery. Note all the orderly rectangles in this man-made polder landscape (mostly peatland reclamations). You will pass through shining lakes, green pastures, old windmills and farmhouses while pedalling 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

This stretch of the tour takes you through the Green Heart of Holland: a stronghold against urban sprawl in Randstad conurbation. Biking 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 (early April till last Thursday in August).

Day 6: Gouda – Amsterdam* | 79 km

After a hearty breakfast at your hotel, get back on your bike and set off on the longest section of this bike tour (bird lovers bring your binoculars). Once again, switch on your five senses to fully enjoy the characteristic countryside of the Green Heart, cycling past meadows, lakes and small villages. Can you hear the wind in the rushes? Did you see the clouds reflected in the lake? Are you feeling peckish? In that case, do stop to taste a Dutch-style apple tart with your coffee, to get some energy to continue on your way back to Amsterdam along the beautiful River Amstel.

Should the prospect of 79 km be rather daunting, opt to split this leg by booking an extra night in Woerden (making two legs: 43 km and 49 km).

Day 7: Departure

Our services end after breakfast, unless you have booked an extension or extra nights.

What to Expect

Accommodation

Comfortable 3-star and 4-star hotels, all nights in twin/double rooms with en-suite facilities. All places have been carefully hand-picked by us, and their quality is regularly monitored. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour.

Click to view default hotels

*Please note that hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.

Meals

Accommodation is on a bed & breakfast basis. Picnic lunches are optional at an extra charge and can be ordered locally, or products for picnics can be purchased in the towns where you’ll be staying. On some days you have the option of having your lunch in a restaurant along the way. You can have dinner at your hotel or nearby restaurants.

Difficulty & terrain

The daily distances are relatively short, approx. 30 – 40 km per day (except day 6, which can be split with an extra night), and the cycling is mostly on designated cycle paths without any traffic, so the trip is suitable for both beginner and intermediate cyclists. Renting an E-bike is also possible, which will make the cycling effortless (read more about difficulty grades). Upon arrival, you will receive detailed travel information with route maps or overview maps, route description, tourist attractions and important telephone numbers.

When to go

This trip is available from April until September.

The flexibility of self guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates, and you can start your trip on any date during the season.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

Click to view travel options

By plane

Our recommended airport for this tour is Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS).

By train or bus
  • In case you prefer arriving by car, parking in Amsterdam is approx. €15 per day.
  • The train from Schiphol to Amsterdam Sloterdijk departs 6 times per hour. Travel time is about 10 minutes. A single ticket costs approx €4 per person excl. bicycle.
  • For timetables and tickets, visit to NS or use the Omio planner above.
  • For bus details on how to reach the hotel, check 9292.

Inclusions

Included

  • 6 overnights in 3 and 4-star hotels as listed in the itinerary
  • 6 breakfasts
  • Luggage transfers between hotels (max. 1 piece of 20 kg per person)
  • Detailed travel information including route maps, route description, tourist attractions info and important telephone numbers
  • 24/7 phone support by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • Airfare and connecting land transfers
  • Lunches, dinners, drinks and snacks
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses
  • Local tourist taxes and entry fees (payable on-site)
  • Any items not explicitly listed as included

Options, extras & supplements

  • A supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room
  • This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
  • Half-board meal plan (5 dinners, not included in Haarlem)
  • Bike / E-bike rental
  • Bike theft insurance
  • Helmet rental

Bike Rental

If you don’t bring your own, you can rent a bicycle from us, choosing between the following options:

  • Standard touring bike with 24-speed gear
  • E-bike, with a small electric engine and battery, which can be charged at the hotels

All bikes for this tour come with a defender lock with plug-in chain (cable lock that is attached to the regular lock)

Terms of use:

  • The bicycle(s) may only be used for its/their intended purpose and only by the cyclists listed in the booking
  • The bike(s) must be returned to us in the same (clean) state in which you received it/them
  • You must take excellent care of the bicycle(s) as if it/they were your own. You must take every precaution against damage, loss or theft.

Damage, Loss and Theft
The renter will be held responsible for damages to or loss of the bicycle(s) or parts of it, as well as bicycle keys and chains and locks, for such an amount as is determined by us according to standard market prices. You must understand that you are not insured for damage to the bicycle(s) or for any damages to third parties.

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