Dutch History Comes to Life
A tour of the southern part of Lake IJssel (or IJsselmeer) allows you to witness some truly stunning scenery. It also gives you a great opportunity to learn about the unique history of the region, which was once mainly underwater. IJsselmeer, as it is known today, hasn't always been a freshwater lake. In fact, until the 1930s, the lake was actually an inlet of the North Sea called Zuiderzee. Constant flooding in the region propelled the authorities to create a huge dam at the neck of the inlet. Areas of this newly-created artificial lake were then drained to create the polders we see in the southeast of IJsselmeer today. These polders are just some of the delights you'll experience as we cycle around the region. Along the way we'll take in a number of villages and harbor towns that were here long before the lake. We'll cycle across a 30km dike which separates Lake IJssel from Lake Markermeer - which was originally slated to be a polder, but is today a playground for watersports fans - and visit the likes of Volendam, Enkhuizen, Amersfoot, Amsterdam and the magnificent Waterland region. Comfortable accommodation is provided at the end of each day, with luggage transfer between destinations being included as standard.
Day 1: Arrival
Our tour starts in the town of Huizen in North Holland, where we stay in a hotel overnight. Free parking (without reservation) is available for those traveling by car. Those traveling by air or sea should head for Naarden-Bussum railway station, which is connected to Amsterdam and Utrect, for a connecting bus service (30 minutes) to the town.
Sample hotel: Fletcher Hotel Nautisch Kwartier or Hotel Newport
Day 2: Huizen - Amsterdam (35 km)
The day starts with breakfast followed by a ride to the Dutch capital of Amsterdam, one of the most popular - and interesting - cities in the world. A visit to the "Venice of the North" isn't one that should be rushed, so take your time to enjoy all that's on offer. From the famed red light district - the oldest part of the city - to the city's numerous hidden churches, there's plenty to see and do. Be sure to check out the Old Church and Our Lord in the Attic. The latter is a Catholic church that was secretly built in the attics of adjacent properties during the Reformation. When you've seen the sights, sit down and enjoy a coffee at one of the many cafes on Rembrantplein.
Sample hotel: Hotel Casa400 or Westcord Art Hotel
Day 3: Amsterdam - Volendam (32 km)
We'll start the day with a little more exploration of this fine city. Be sure to visit any of the numerous museums located in the city, including those dedicated to Anne Frank and Vincent Van Gogh. The city's many canals are also worthy of your attention. We'll hit the road once more and make our way through the magnificent Waterland region, with its peat meadows and picturesque wooden buildings. Monnickendam, a small but enjoyable village, features a museum in which to swat up on the region, before we head towards Volendam, following the shore of Lake Markermeer as we go. Volendam, where we'll spend the night, is chock full of character. Its' almost haphazardly designed streets feature distinctive stone houses, while the "De Dijk" - which overlooks the harbor - is home to cafes, restaurants and souvenir shops galore.
Sample hotel: Hotel Old Dutch or Hotel Spaander
Day 4: Volendam - Enkhuizen (44 km)
History takes center stage during our trip up the coast of Lake Markermeer as we pass through a series of former harbor towns and villages that were once vibrant and important settlements in the region. Our tour will take us to Edam, famed for its cheese of the same name, which hosts a summer cheese market which is unmissable for those that have a taste for dairy products. The towns of Hoorn and Enkhuizen recall the prosperous days of the 17th century, when shipbuilding and trade could be seen and heard across the region. If you want to learn more, call in at the Zuiderzee Museum in Enkhuizen, which features a re-created village from the glory days as its main attraction.
Sample hotel: Hotel de Koepoort or Port van Cleve
Day 5: Enkhuizen - Harderwijk (44 km)
Our tour continues with a trip across the 32km dike which separates Lake Markermeer from Lake IJssel. On the other side we come to Lelystad, a town located in the Flevopolder. The polder - named for the engineer responsible for closing off the Zuiderzee and creating the lake - was reclaimed in 1968, making it the youngest region in all of Holland. Still, history is rife in the region. The Museum Nieuwland explains the history of these marvelous polders, and the impact it had on people, villages, towns and more. We learn how the closure damn which opened in 1932 helped generate new farmland which continues to flourish to this day. We continue on, passing beautiful crop fields and marveling at the unique, vast designs that urban planner have put together. We reach the former Hanseatic town of Harderwijk, once a thriving fishing port which saw more than its fair share of hustle and bustle. Today the town looks out upon the impressive polder, and offers some stunning views to enjoy in the process.
Sample hotel: Best Western Hotel Baars
Day 6: Harderwijk - Huizen (45 km)
This leg of our tour takes us along the shores of the Randmeren (or Bordering) Lakes, which separate the Flevopolder from the provinces of Utrecht and Gelderland. Along the way we'll take in the Arkemheen-Eemland National Heritage Landscape. Here you're able to see dikes that were originally constructed in 1360 to help prevent flooding. The regions features a number of creeks left over from the Zuiderzee's tidal streams. Look closely and you'll even spy plants that are more suited to saltwater than the freshwater that lies here today. A bird sanctuary / habitat has also been created on part of the polder. The Hertog Reiijnout pumping station - which controlled the levels of the waters in the polder for a century until closing in 1983 - can also be found in the region, and makes for an interesting visit. The days comes to a close as we arrive at Huizen.
Sample hotel: Fletcher Hotel Nautisch Kwartier or Hotel Newport
Day 7: Departure
Breakfast is served before it's time to return home.
Total distance: 254 km
Average distance: 50 km
Shortest distance: 37 km
Longest distance: 69 km
Time in the Year
From April 1st to September 24th.
564 Euro per person
6 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) - 60 Euro
7 gear bike hire - 72 euro (for other options please go to our bike hire page)
Road Service - 15 euro
Bike theft insurance - 3 euro per day (6 euro for electric bikes)
Single room - 180 Euro
Half board accommodation - 165 euro
Extra night - 70 euro
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 4-12 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 5-6 people enjoys a 5% discount per person.
A group of 7-8 people enjoys a 7% discount per person
A group of 9 people or more enjoys a 10% discount per person