Striking scenery meets historic charm in the Dutch lowlands
Starting in Amsterdam and finishing in Bruges, this eight-day cycling trip takes in picturesque rural settings and historic settlements as it winds its way through the beautiful lowlands.
Your journey will take you via the medieval town of Gouda, famed for its cheese; the island city of Dordrecht; Willemstad, a star-shaped city with splendidly-preserved fortifications; Vlissingen, another island city which was once home to the Dutch East Indies Company; the border town of Sluis; and Damme, a small Flemish town known for its many bookshops; and a host of other villages, hamlets and countryside treasures. Bookending the tour are the magnificent canals of Amsterdam and Bruges.
En route you can expect peaceful countryside, peaceful nature reserves, charming towns and some of the most impressive (and surprising) scenery Western Europe has to offer.
The reverse tour - starting in Bruges and culminating in Amsterdam - is also available.
Please note: this is not a round trip tour.
Day One: Arrive in Amsterdam
The tour commences in Amsterdam, the Dutch capital and one of the most unique cities on the planet. Arrive early to ensure you have time to take in the sights and sounds of this bustling city. From museums and galleries to street performers and the infamous red light district, you'll discover a treasure trove of delights and oddities as you stroll or cycle along the streets. Of course, the city's extensive canals are a must-see attraction. Flanked by seventeenth-century warehouses and townhouses, you'll get a great grasp of the city's history as you pass along the canals, which coincidentally were added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list back in 2010. This first night is spent in a hotel, enjoying some much needed rest before our long journey begins.
Sample hotel: Hotel Westcord Art
Day Two: Amsterdam - Gouda (80 km)
The cycling tour begins with a journey through the Netherland's "Groene Hart" (Green Heart). After the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam, the peace and quiet of the countryside is sure to calm the nerves and loosen the mind.
The journey takes you through the pleasant, rural countryside - past low-lying polders, unique landscapes composing of water, dykes, levees and fields. The occasional church spire or windmill poles its head over the horizon, while grazing cattle and other wildlife can be spotted along the way.
Gouda was once a bustling market town drawing visitors from across Western Europe, with everything from cattle and horses to seed and linens on sale. Today, the city continues to be famous for its cheese, which you're sure to be able to pick-up during your time here.
Other attractions worth seeking out before hitting the hay include the impressive, gothic-styled town hall and The Waag, a weigh house that dates all the way back to 1667.
For those that feel 80km is too far to cycle in a day, this part of the tour can be extended to two days, with an overnight stop in Woerden, 48 km from Amsterdam.
Sample hotel: Best Western Plus Gouda , four stars
Day Three: Gouda - Papendrecht / Dordrecht (45 km)
The first part of today's journey is spent en route to Kinderdijk, a small village that lies 15 km west of Rotterdam. Here you'll find a network of 19 windmills which were used to drain water from the nearby polder and disperse it into the River Lek. The windmills, which are today listed as a World Heritage Site, hark back to the glory days of wind power.
Leaving the windmills behind, the journey continues on to Dordrecht, a truly unique and aged town. One of the oldest towns in the Netherlands, Dordrecht is constructed entirely on an island and houses more than a thousand buildings of historical significance, including the Grote Kerk (Big Church) which is billed as hosting the heaviest bell in the country. Be sure to check out the marina and old canal system during your time here.
Sample hotel: Postillion Hotel Dordrecht, three stars / Center Upgrade: Bellevue Groothoofd
Day Four: Papendrecht / Dordrecht - Willemstad (45 km)
Today's journey from Dordrecht to Willemstad takes in one of the most unique landscapes you'll find in this part of the world. De Biesbosch National Park is an extensive stretch of tidal wetlands that sees the confluence of both saltwater (from the North Sea) and freshwater (from various local rivers and tributaries). These wetlands date back to a massive flood in the fifteenth-century. Today they consist of a fluctuating collection of creeks, streams, swamps and rivers. Willow trees are prevalent, while birds and wildlife can be seen in abundance.
The national park offers the opportunity, should you choose, to explore the wetlands in more detail. Expect to add an additional 15 km to your journey time if you opt to explore the park.
Leaving De Biesbosch behind, it's time to head for the fortified town of Willemstad. This small city is shaped like a seven-pointed star and features well-preserved fortifications, well worth checking out before you turn in for the night.
Sample hotel: Hotel Het Wapen van Willemstad, three stars /
Mauritz Salon & Willemstad
Day Five: Willemstad - Schuddebeurs (52 km)
Today's leg of the tour passes through Zeeland, the western most province in the Netherlands. Zeeland, which loosely translates as "Sea Land", consists of water - a lot of water. Much of the area is beneath sea level, so expect to cross bridges and hop on ferries as you make your way towards the Netherlands-Belgium border. Along the way, take in the picturesque countryside, which offers sand flats and dunes as well as polders and islands. Today's final destination is Schuddebeurs, a tiny hamlet that houses an assortment of quaint, picture book abodes.
Sample hotel: Hostellerie Schuddebeurs , three stars
Day Six: Schuddebeurs - Vlissingen (53 km)
Picturesque and charming towns populate this leg of the tour. To start the day, swap the hamlet of for the small city of Zierikzee, much of which is enclosed by water. Despite suffering serious damages during the North Sea Flood of 1953, the city's historic buildings still hark back to the days when this was a hub for seafaring trade. Everything from wool and grain to salt and fish was exported from Zierikzee during the Golden Age.
Leaving Zierikzee behind, travel on towards the village of Veere, another throwback to the glory days of shipping. During the sixteenth-century, Scottish wool was often imported at Veere, which led to the city gaining its own Scottish community. Today, its beaches prove popular, while the expansive Oosterscheldekering storm surge barrier is worth checking out if you have the time.
Today's journey continues via Middelburg, the capital of the Zeeland province and historically one of the most important trading posts in all of the Netherlands. The city continues to house a number of impressive historical sites, perhaps none more impressive that the gothic-inspired city hall, the construction of which dates back more than five centuries.
The day closes out in Vlissingen, another historically-important port, one that once housed the Dutch East India Company. To close out the day in true style, head down to the beach and take in a picturesque sunset over the North Sea.
Sample hotel: Hotel Piccard , four stars
Day Seven: Vlissingen - Bruges (50 km)
Today's leg of the tour takes you from the Netherlands to Belgium via Zeelandic Flanders, the southernmost part of the Zeeland province. You'll need to catch the ferry to Zeelandic Flanders before continuing your two-wheeled journey, which will take you through winding countryside, passing wet meadows and occasional small village.
After passing across the border at Sluis, follow the course of the canal on towards Damme. This charming little settlement is home to an array of antiquarian and secondhand book shops, and has been considered a "Book Town" since 1997.
Leaving Damme behind, make the relatively short journey to Bruges, considered by many to be the "pearl" of the West Flanders. With many of its medieval buildings still standing, this charming and picturesque city offers delights around its every corner and, as such, is a favorite with tourists. The city center is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and deserves a day or more of exploration. Be sure to stroll (or cycle) along its historic canals and see why Bruges competes with Amsterdam for the moniker "The Venice of the North".
Sample hotel: Velotel Brugge , four stars
Day Eight: Bruges
With the journey from Amsterdam to Bruges complete, the cycling tour comes to a close. It's time to head home, after a bit of sightseeing of course.
Total distance: 320 km
Average distance: 54 km
Shortest distance: 39 km
Longest distance: 80 km
Time in the Year
Start on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays between 14 April and 24 September
In case of staying overnight in Amsterdam on Saturdays a surcharge applies of 15 Euro per person in a double room.
679 Euro per person
7 nights' double/twin room bed & breakfast accommodation in ***or ****hotels
Luggage transfer between hotels
Tour book with detailed route descriptions and maps
Panniers for carrying things you need on the road
Emergency hotline operating 7 days a week from 7:00 to 23:00
GPS (Only if you start & finish in Amsterdam) - 10 Euro
7 gear bike hire - 84 euro (for other options please go to our bike hire page)
E-bike -175 euro
Road Service - 19.25 euro
Bike theft insurance - 3 euro per day (6 euro for electric bikes)
Single room - 210 Euro
Half board accommodation - 192.50 euro
Extra night - 70 euro
Price does not include
Discounts / Group prices:
3 people sharing a room:
A child aged 0-4 sharing a room with their parents is free of charge
A child aged 4-11 sharing a room with their parents enjoys a 20% discount
3 people over 12 years old sharing a room enjoy a 3% discount
A group of 7-8 people enjoys a 7% discount per person