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Please review this itinerary for short cycle tour in the Netherlands

Hi folks,

Back to Europe for the 5th summer in a row, this time a part of the trip dedicated to bicycling from hotel to hotel in the Netherlands. On this part of the trip it will be just me and my 10 year old daughter.

We are renting a Hase Pino, a short-length tandem, so our difference in endurance levels is not much of a concern. We've used this bike and many other bike touring in Europe for over 50 nights in the past 4 trips, so are perfectly confident with navigational logistics, rules and polite customs of taking the bike on trains, etc.

Our Netherlands tour is still open at this time, but we have some ideas. We don't want to go to Amsterdam - I've been literally probably 15 times in my life and would like to see other things. We do have to go to Efteling amusement park. Our preference tends to be charming smaller cities and big towns. For instance on our Belgium bike tour two years ago we loved Mechelen, Aalst, Tournai, also bigger villages with a historic town core.

On our departure day there is a high-speed train leaving for Cologne Airport (then off to the Alps, tough life!) in the mid-morning from Utrecht (starts in Amsterdam, not many stops), so as it stand we think our last night will be in Utrecht.

6 nights, arriving at Schiphol at noon on Tuesday June 25th, departing Utrecht at either 8:40am or 11am.

The below schedule covers a lot of what we'd like to do/see in the Netherlands. One problem is that we are interested in some things that are fairly far apart, and so have built in a good number of days where we'd use local trains to shorten the bike riding segments by 20-40km. Ideally we prefer to use trains less, but can't seem to get an itinerary together that combines Efteling, Kroller-Muller and a place like Woerden starting in Leiden and dropping bike in Leiden and staying last night in Utrecht.

We really value all suggestions, have put together many great itineraries with help from these forums! Thanks for your feedback.

Proposed schedule:

Tuesday June 25th: Land at Schiphol, customs, train to Leiden, pick up bike. First day cycle to Delft (we love to ride a little on the first day, great for jet lag). Overnight Delft. (or cycle to city center of Den Haag and stay there? I've heard it's nice).

Wednesday 26th: Cycle or cycle/train combined to Efteling amusement park. Visit Efteling in evening. Overnight at Efteling hotel.

Thursday 27th: Visit Efteling in the morning. Combine cycling and train to Arnhem. Overnight Arnhem.

Friday 28th: Cycle to Kroller Muller Museum. Cycle to Apeldoorn. Overnight in Apeldoorn.

Saturday 29th: Cycle/train to Woerden. Overnight in Woerden.

Sunday 30th: Cycle to Leiden from Woerden. Return bike in Leiden. Train to Utrecht. Overnight in Utrecht

Monday July 1st. Depart Netherlands by train from Utrecht.

Posted by
126 posts

Your trip sounds great. What a wonderful experience with your daughter. It’s hard for me to evaluate your itinerary since every biker has their own time and distance comfort level. I will be in the Netherlands in June with three other adults. We plan to rent bicycles on a daily basis to ride along the rivers and canals. Here’s two links to information that I found very helpful. and also google the blog of Horst the Cycling Dutchman. Horst is trying to sell guidebooks but also gives a lot of good free information on bike routes.

Posted by
108 posts

thanks 3lovetotravel --

good reminder it is important to focus on the routes as much as the destinations when traveling by bike. The rides themselves really are the destinations.

Generally we like to ride 40-50km a day, a decent length journey but not dawn-till-dusk or too strenuous.

I think the route to Efteling, once you get out of the Rotterdam urban area, is pretty nice, and then from there on to Arnhem and Apeldoorn is good cycling, along rivers with good paths and nice towns, wind at our backs probably.. It might be better for us to slow down on this part of the trip and take an extra night before Arnhem. And then skip the night in Woerden, instead taking a single longer train ride back toward Leiden to return the bike (maybe to Woerden and then cycle to Leiden from there).

Have a great trip!

Posted by
2487 posts

Some comments:
Delft, although somewhat touristy, is a much better place to overnight than The Hague, the centre of which is not very lively in the evenings, to put it mildly.
Getting from Delft to the Efteling is, as you already noted, troublesome for the vast urbanised and industrialised Rotterdam area. There are some options: 1. train to Rotterdam and from there the Waterbus (river ferry) to Kinderdijk, 2. train to Dordrecht and cycle back to Kinderdijk, or 3. train to Gouda, and from there the scenic route along the Vlist to Schoonhoven, and from the other side of the river the back roads to the Efteling (with the occasional river ferry on the way).
From the Efteling to Arnhem can possibly be done best by taking the train to Culemborg, and from there following the narrow river dike roads. (Just before Arnhem there is the beautifully situated castle of Doorwerth and a few kilometres further on a 10th or 11th century church in the lower - riverside - part of Oosterbeek.)
Woerden has a history which is in stark contrast with the present-day attractiveness of the place. There is nothing wrong, however, with starting your last leg in Woerden and follow the Rhine to Leiden, with possibly short detours to avoid built-up areas. Don't forget the windmill system of Aarlanderveen, just east of Alphen.

The area north of Woerden - the so-called Green Heart - is perfect for cycling. You could do worse than starting in Breukelen, through villages like Kockengen, and following the meandering Meije to Zwammerdam, from where the Rhine will lead you to Leiden. It would possibly make a longer day than you care for.

Have good weather!