Witness the Real Holland
From tulip fields and polders to historic villages and vibrant cities, our grand tour of Lake IJsselmeer will give you a glimpse at the real Holland. Be prepared for a challenge; this 439km tour around the entire lake will test you to your limits. The end result is more than worth it though. Over the 10 days of the tour you'll learn the history of the region - once the Zuiderzee, an inlet of the North Sea - and get to witness countless amazing sights. Attractive scenery, picturesque towns, and wondrous natural landscapes are all there to be discovered. Comfortable accommodation is provided at the end of the day, while we provide a luggage transfer service between hotels that means you can stop worrying about your bags and start enjoying the incredible scenery on display.
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 - Hoorn (56km)
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: Hotel de Keizerskroon
Day 4: Hoorn - Medemblik (43 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 - Makkum (59 km)
After crossing the Wieringermeer Polder we reach Den Oever, and the Afsluitdijk. The Afsluitdijk is a 34km long dam that was created to prevent flooding of what was then the Zuiderzee. Completed in 1932, the dam held off the North Sea and created a freshwater lake, which today is known as IJsselmeer. Freshwater fish replaced the previous salt water dwellers, while the lake became a focal point for water sports and agriculture. As we pass across the Afsluitdijk, you'll be prevented with stunning views that cannot be matched. On the other side of the dam we reach the province of Friesland and travel to Makkum, where we call it a day.
Sample hotel: Hotel de Waag
Day 6: Makkum - Oudemirdum (46 km)
One thing that will almost certainly strike you during your time in Friesland is the fact that residents speak a different language, a language that is actually more closely related to English than Dutch. Bi-lingual signs direct the way, while the region offers a number of speciality dishes. "Fryske Dumkes" are hazelnut biscuits that you'll want to try. Back on our bikes, we'll head south passing through a variety of interesting villages. Hindeloopen, a favorite with many visitors, is famed for the colorful traditional outfits some of its residents wear, as well as equally colorful furniture. Moving on, the village of Workum has a novel historical claim. Until the Second World War, fishermen in the village caught eels exclusively to sell in England. Such was the call for eel across the North Sea that these fishermen had their own mooring places along the River Thames. Today, visitors will find an array of pottery in the village. Our days ends in the small village of Ouderirdum.
Sample hotel: Hotel Boschlust
Day 7: Rijs / Oudemirdum - Zwartsluis (61 km)
Our journey takes is through the rolling woodlands of Gaasterland through the town of Lemmer - famed for its watersports - and on to one of the more unique sites you'll see on this trip: the ir. D.F. Woudagemaal pumping station. Opened in 1920, this steam-powered pumping station replaced windmills as a source for draining the region's water, helping prevent flooding. Today the station is the largest in the world still operating, and visitors can enjoy a tour of the facilities. After visiting with the station, we head on to the Weerribben-Wieden National Park. Here we'll witness a wide array of flora and fauna, although reeds and rushes rule the roost here. Nature lovers will enjoy their time visiting the park, which is considered to be some of the most valuable marshland in this part of Europe.
Sample hotel: Hotel Zwartewater
Day 8: Zwartsluis - Harderwijk (61 km)
We begin the day with an exploration of Zwartsluis, a town that's popular with those into boating and other watersports. From here we'll set of south, traveling along the Kamperzeedijken, a sea dike designed to prevent flooding. Our journey takes us to Kampen, a town which offers a glimpse into the past. Between the 13th and 17th centuries, Kampen was a Hanseatic town, ensuring safe passage for merchants that were passing through the region. Like other Hanseatic towns, prosperity followed, as did impressive architecture. Today Kampen is one of the best-preserved towns in all of Holland, with plenty of old buildings and amenities on show. The town gates, which can be found close to the River IJssel which runs through the town, are worthy of your attention. After exploring the town, we once more hit the trails and make our way through the outer edges of the Veluwe Forest, heading for the town of Harderwijk.
Sample hotel: Best Western Hotel Baars
Day 9: 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 / habit 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 day comes to a close as we arrive at Huizen.
Sample hotel: Fletcher Hotel Nautisch Kwartier or Hotel Newport
Day 10: Departure
Breakfast is served before it's time to return home.
Total distance: 326 km
Average distance: 41 km
Shortest distance: 23 km
Longest distance: 66/60 km
Time in the Year
From April 1st to September 21th.
804 Euro per person
9 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 - 108 euro (for other options please go to our bike hire page)
Road Service - 22.5 euro
Bike theft insurance - 3 euro per day (6 euro for electric bikes)
Single room - 270 Euro
Half board accommodation - 247.50 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