The best way to explore the country is on the Dutch’s most popular means of transport, the bicycle. There is a more than 17,000 km well-developed cycle path network, which not least because of the flat landscape offers the ideal conditions for a cycle tour. The province of Drenthe has a particularly large number of cycle paths that lead through a landscape with over 50 barrows (especially near the village of Havelte) and several historic villages.
Province of Friesland
The province is located in the northwest of the country. The Frisian lake area south of the town of Sneek offers good water sports opportunities. The town of Bolsward has a magnificent Renaissance town hall. The provincial capital Leeuwarden attracts with historical buildings and the Frisian Museum and in 2018 Leeuwarden-Friesland was European Capital of Culture. 6 km west is the village of Marssum with a 16th century manor house. The West Frisian Islands (Texel, Vlieland, Terschelling, Ameland and Schiermonnikoog) with their bird sanctuaries are wonderful for mudflat hiking and North Sea air sniffing. Rooms and tent sites are available.
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Amsterdam from the boat
A trip down the canal in a glass-roof boat is a great way to get to know the city. Several shipping companies offer various boat trips, a full list of all providers is available from the city tourist information center (website: www.iamsterdam.com ). A particularly romantic experience is an evening boat trip, where food or cocktails are also served, depending on what is on offer. Most boats leave in front of the main train station.
Coast and Wadden Sea
The Dutch North Sea coast has 280 km of beaches with over 50 bathing resorts. The water deepens gradually, but waves can be quite strong and swimmers should be aware of currents and local warning signs. The Dutch Wadden Sea was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2009, and guided mudflat hikes are offered in many places.
Tulips in Keukenhof Gardens
The Keukenhof Gardens are located near Lisse, 8 km south of Haarlem (website: www.keukenhof.nl ). Over 4.5 million tulips and 15 km of footpaths invite you to take a stroll. With their colorful splendor, the bulb fields attract thousands of visitors from all over the world every year from the end of March to mid-May.
Province of Zeeland
In the province of Zeeland there are medieval port towns that offer the best fish and seafood in Europe. Most of Zeeland lies below sea level and has been reclaimed from the sea, and several islands and peninsulas in the south-west of the Netherlands belong to the province (Walcheren, Goeree-Overflakkee, Schouwen-Duiveland, Tholen, St. Filipsland and North and South Beveland). The provincial capital Middelburg has a long history, its town hall is known as one of the most beautiful Gothic secular buildings in Europe. 8 km north is the small town of Veere, which still has buildings from the 16th century. The flag of freedom was first raised in the port city of Vlissingen in 1572 during the Dutch War of Independence.
The Netherlands is known for its good museums. In addition to art and science museums, there are also unusual exhibitions, such as the Hendrikje Bag Museum (Internet: www.tassenmuseum.nl ) or the BakkerijMuseum (Internet: www.bakkerijmuseum.nl ). A museum card (Internet: www.museum.nl ) allows free entry to many of the country’s more than 300 museums. The card is available in every VVV office. There is a discount for young people under 25 and seniors.
Rotterdam (Internet: www.vvv.rotterdam.nl ) has the largest port in the world. The city was badly damaged in World War II, and there are only a few historical buildings here. But Rotterdam offers a lot for fans of modern architecture. In 2007, the city therefore bore the title “City of Architecture”. In the Euromast (Internet: www.euromast.nl ) there is a panoramic restaurant at a height of 100 m. Those who are not afraid of heights can even go up to 185 m with the rotating Euroscoop.
The city of Utrecht (website: www.utrechtyourway.nl ) is the fourth largest city in Holland. The city’s early prosperity can be seen in the many magnificent churches. Sights also include the House of the Teutonic Order, St. Bartholomew’s Hospital and the modern Neudeflat. The old town is criss-crossed by canals. It is also worth visiting the national railway museum Het Spoorwegmuseum (website: www.spoorwegmuseum.nl ), another museum is dedicated to Dick Bruna, the creator of Miffy (website: www.dickbrunahuis.com ).
Drive across the Afsluitdijk
The Afsluitdijk is a 30 km long barrage built in 1930 to separate the Zuiderzee from the North Sea. The result was today’s IJsselmeer, a freshwater lake popular with sailors. The dyke carries the Rijksweg 7 motorway (European route 22) on its crown, halfway between Friesland and Noord-Holland there is a lookout point with parking facilities. A cycle path also leads across the dike.