Witness the Beauty of North Holland's Bulb Flower Fields
Ask someone to describe Holland and they'll likely list windmills, tulips and cheese in their description. All three of these Dutch icons can be witnessed on this tour of North Holland, a tour which takes in some of the most wondrous scenery in the country. More than half of the province of North Holland lies below sea level. The reclaimed land features an assortment of polders, the oldest of which dates back to 1612 and is now regarded as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our tour will take in this historic site, while dipping into the history of the entire region. We'll cycle through meadows and dunes, ride across dikes and canals, and observe the magnificent bulb flower fields for which this part of the world is so famous. Stopping points include historic villages and harbors, and some truly stunning vistas. Our tour will include a trip to Amsterdam, where you'll be able to explore the "Venice of the North," enjoying the many delights the city has to offer. Comfortable accommodation is provided at the end of each day, with luggage transfer included as standard between all hotels, meaning you need only worry about enjoying the magnificent scenery on show.
Note: This tour can be booked without the trip to Texel, at a rate of ?569 for 7 days.
Important: To get the most out of this tour and in particular the bulb flower field, book a spring tour when the flowers are in bloom.
Day 1: Arrival
Our tour begins in the town of Alkmaar, where we will stay overnight in a hotel. Free parking is available for those driving to the hotel, while a regular train service connects Alkmaar to Amsterdam and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, for those arriving by air or rail.
Sample hotel: Golden Tulip Alkmaar or Grand Hotel Alkmaar
Day 2: Alkmaar - Amsterdam (66 km)
Alkmaar's traditional cheese market - held on Friday mornings between April and September - has become world-famous, and a must see if you're in town at the right time. From Alkmaar our tour takes us on towards the Dutch capital of Amsterdam. Along the way we'll pay witness to picturesque scenery, with wet peatland meadows, dikes and canals proving prominent. Before arriving in the city, we'll head a little north to visit the Zaan region. The River Zaan was vital to shipping and industry when Amsterdam, and Holland, experienced a golden age in the 17th century. Windmills aided the production of everything from fabrics to ships, while a wide range of craftsmen plied their trade. Today, the region still harks back to those glory days, and the Zaan Museum is well worth a visit. Green wooden buildings alongside bridges and windmills can be spotted in the area, and make for beautiful photos, while regular demonstrations reveal how to makes clogs, cheese and tin, all of which have been made in the region for centuries. After getting your fill of Zaan, we continue on to Amsterdam. With the evening in front of us, a visit to the canal district is ideal, particularly when canal houses begin to illuminate in the darkness to create an enchanting scene.
Sample hotel: Westcord Art Hotel
Day 3: Amsterdam - Hoorn (56 km)
With so much to see and do in the city, it's impossible to enjoy everything Amsterdam has to offer. Before we leave for Hoorn, try to fit a few things in, perhaps a visit to the newly renovated Rijksmuseum or a trip to the Anne Frank Museum. Back on our bikes, we head northeast passing through Waterland, a magnificent region which features reeds and rushes aplenty and wet meadows that make constructing anything a major task. Buildings and bridges in the region are all built from wood to prevent sinking. This marvelous region is chronicled in "De Speelklok", a museum in the village of Monnickendam that is well worth a visit. As we move along we'll pass through the likes of Volendam - where traditional attire is still worn by some of the older residents - and Edam. The latter is, of course, famed for its salty cheeses, which have been exported across Europe and the world over the years. During the summer, Edam hosts a cheese market on Wednesday mornings, something worth considering when you're planning dates for your bicycle tour. After visiting these sites, we arrive at historical Hoorn, home to plenty of delights.
Sample hotel: van der Valk Hoorn or Hotel de Keizerskroon
Day 4: Hoorn - Medemblik (44 km)
Today's journey takes us along the coast of Lake IJsselmeer, where old sea dike offers fantastic views of not only the lake but also farmland and orchards. Pretty farmhouses are scattered throughout the region. Our tour will takes us to the historic town of Enkhuizen, a settlement once known for its shipbuilding, fisheries and whaling industry. In the 17th century this was one of the busiest harbors in the region, with ships heading out across the seven seas from here, including those belonging to the Dutch East India Company. Today, the Zuiderzee Museum - located in the town - offers a wonderful perspective of these times gone by. After exploring the treasure trove that is Enkhuizen, we move on to Medemblik.
Sample hotel: Hotel Medemblik
Day 5: Medemblik - Den Helder (56 km)
The pumping-station responsible for draining the polder in the 19th century is located close to Medemblik and makes for an interesting visit. While it is no longer in use, it does house a steam engine museum, something you might not expect in the region. Back on our bikes, we head for Den Helder via the Wieringermeer polder, which dates back to the 1920s and 30s, when it was drained to create arable land. This region is home to one of the largest commercial flower gardens in the world. As you cast your gaze over this magnificent sight you'll be astounded by the seas of color on display, with daffodils, hyacinths and tulips all grown for (mostly) export. Spring - when the bulbs are in full bloom - is by far the best time to visit this wondrous site.
Sample hotel: Forest Hotel
Day 6: Tour of Texel (56 km)
Den Helder's location at the tip of the North Holland peninsular makes it the perfect base from which to visit beautiful Texel, the largest of Holland's Wadden Islands. A 20-minute ferry crossing gives you access to one of the region's most scenic locales, and one that has plenty to see and experience. A bike tour of the island will serve up sandy beaches, impressive dunes, picturesque countryside, and quaint villages, all with the sound of the waves lapping against the shore. A variety of cycle routes mean you can witness the beauty in all its glory. A stop at the De Slufter nature reserve is highly recommended. Those visiting in the summer months of July and August can expect to be treated to a lilac sea of lavender, a sight well worth checking out.
Day 7: Dan Helder - Alkmaar (54 km)
Our return to Alkmaar takes us through a plethora of landscapes. From the North Sea coast, through sandy dunes, and onto woodland expanses, cycling this final leg will offer a wide range of interesting and evocative sights. Seaside resorts frequent the coastline, while the Zwanenwater dune reserve demonstrates how the dunes protect this low-laying land from the sea. As we pass the town of Petten, you'll be able to see the Hondsbossche Zeewering, a man-made wall that was built to replace sand dunes that had been washed away. If you'd like to learn more about the wall, the "Dijk te Kijk" exhibit documents its history as well as its future. The exhibit is also offers an interesting narration about Petten and the people that have called it home over the many centuries in which it has been in existence. We conclude our tour back in picturesque Alkmaar.
Sample hotel: Golden Tulip Alkmaar or Grand Hotel Alkmaar
Day 8: Departure
Breakfast is served before it's time to return home.
Total distance: 332 km (without Texel)
Average distance: 55 km
Shortest distance: 44 km
Longest distance: 66 km
Time in the Year
From April 1st to September 23th.
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) - 60 Euro
24 gear bike hire - 84 euro (for other options please go to our bike hire page)
Road Service - 19.25 euro
Bike theft insurance - 3 euro per day (6 euro for electric bikes)
Single room - 210 Euro
Half board accommodation - 210 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
A group of 9 people or more enjoys a 10% discount per person