Instead, here are some of our favourite places to ride:
The Hoge Veluwe National Park – Set between the eastern towns of Appledorn and Arnhem, this is a beautiful part of the Netherlands. You can spend hours darting between trees and over open moors, without ever reaching a village. With a bit of luck, you might spot one of the wild boar, deer or badgers living in the woodlands.
No visit to the Hoge Veluwe National Park is complete without stopping to see the Kröller-Müller museum in the middle of the park. Its collection of paintings by Vincent van Gogh plus works by Pablo Picasso, Piet Mondriaan, and many other famous artists is as impressive as anything you’ll see in the big museums of Amsterdam.
The North Sea – More cycling pleasure awaits along the North Sea, where the LF1 bike route traces the coastline for nearly 300km. The paved bike paths in this part of the Netherlands take you on a rolling ride, over the crests of the endless sand dunes. None of the hills are particularly big but this is a good ride to challenge the notion that Holland is entirely flat.
Any extra calories you expend are quickly recouped with a stop at one of the many cafés in the beachside towns. A traditional Dutch pancake, topped with bacon and drizzled with syrup, along with a coffee, is just the thing to keep your energy and spirits high.
The ideal time to do this route is mid April or early May, when a short detour inland, just north of The Hague, will let you experience one of Holland’s biggest flower growing regions. In the right season, miles of vibrant tulip fields and the stunning Keukenhof Gardens will keep your camera snapping away.
Texel – This island in the north of the Netherlands is easy to access (a 2-hour train ride and a short ferry trip will get you there from Amsterdam) and offers everything from national parks to seal sanctuaries and lighthouses to explore. You can see a lot here in a weekend. Then it’s back to the mainland, or catch a ferry to some of the other nearby islands like Terschelling. Read more.
Enjoying Texel during a short weekend trip on Brompton bicycles.
The Fietserpad – Perhaps no one journey gives a better impression of the Netherlands than the Fietserpad—a 500km itinerary that crosses the country from top to bottom (download a GPS track of the route). It parallels the popular Pieterpad walking track, taking you entirely along quiet country roads and bike paths. On the way, you pass through picturesque little towns, where the church spires usually also marks the next cafe and a chance to rest your legs. You also pass over the ubiquitous Dutch canals and touch on plenty of history, including ancient burial sites and WWII monuments. (Richard Tulloch gives an excellent account of this route.)
South or North – Other options include heading south to Maastricht, with its well preserved old city center or north to the province of Friesland, where you can follow the bike equivalent of the grueling “Elfstedentocht.” In the winter, this 200km tour of 11 cities is completed in one day by skaters on the frozen canals. For you, it won’t be a race but a chance to trace the same route on bike paths, over the course of a few days. Along the way, you can stop to admire the harbors filled with sailing boats and fields dotted with Friesian cows.
These are just a few ideas for bike trips in a country with hundreds of possibilities. If you are having trouble deciding there is also the option to simply turn up, buy a good cycling map (bookstores carry a wide selection), and follow your nose.