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Guide to Cycling in the Netherlands PDF Printable Version E-mail


Guide to Cycling in the Netherlands

 
Barry and Margaret Williamson
July 2016


The following information has been put together from the following website:

 
http://www.hollandcyclingroutes.com/online-cycle-route-planner
 
This is an initiative of Stichting Landelijk Fietsplatform, the official Dutch organisation for recreational cycling.
 
The website also contains a detailed map of all the official cycle paths in the Netherlands. A very useful features is that it provides routes between any two places you name or click on the map. It lists all the junction numbers with distances and directions, as well as showing the route on the map. It even calculates the time taken, the energy you will expend and the amount of carbon dioxide you add to the atmosphere.

Introduction

The Netherlands has the reputation of being a great cycling destination. Nowhere else is cycling this established. There are even more bicycles than people here! The infrastructure is geared to cyclists: many roads have separate, dedicated cycle lanes for exclusive use by cyclists. Cyclists also have their own crossings and their own traffic lights. Cycle paths allow you to reach places you simply can't get to by car. In the city, it is sensible to cycle behind each other. Outside the city, it is perfectly fine for two cyclists to cycle next to each other.
 
City versus countryside
 
Cycling in a city like Amsterdam is hectic, particularly at first. You have to contend with cars, trams, busy junctions with cyclists regularly jumping red lights. Don't copy them; it is illegal and foolish. The impression you get of cycling in the big city is not representative of what cycling in the Netherlands is really like: outside the city, it is a peaceful, rural and well-organised experience. By the way, Dutch people always lock their bikes; in the city preferably with a chain lock to a fixed object (cycle stand, lamp post). It deters bicycle thieves from stealing the bike.
 
Signposting
 
There are different types of cycle route signs. Signs with red lettering against a white background point out the shortest cycling distance to places in the area. In nature reserves, this is mostly indicated by Royal Dutch Touring Club ANWB 'toadstools': square, low signs in the shape of a toadstool. When you follow recreational cycle route signs, you will not be taking the shortest route but rather the most scenic route to your destination. The intricate junction routes are intended for short trips from junction to junction; the long-distance national cycle routes or LF routes (Landelijke Fietsroutes) for longer bike rides and cycling holidays. In addition, you will see hexagonal signs for themed routes or special signs, put up by the local tourist information office for instance.
 
Cycling for everyone
 
Anyone in good general health can get on a bike in the Netherlands. You won't need a 21 speed hybrid in this flat country. A 3 speed bike will do you just fine. Mountain bikes are mostly used on rough terrain, while racing bikes are suitable for cycling on asphalt (thin tyres!) Helmets are not compulsory here. Racing cyclists, mountain bikers and children who wear helmets do so of their own (or their parents') choice.
 
Children
 
Children will absolutely love exploring the Netherlands by bike. Distances are short, there is lots to see and do along the way and following the route signs is fun. The children will show you the way!
 
Climate
 
The Netherlands has a mild maritime climate. Precipitation occurs on average 7% of the time, spread over the year, including nights. So even though the 'wet climate' isn't too much of a problem, make sure always to carry rainwear. The best time for cycling is from May to September inclusive. Hilly places have the highest rainfall because the clouds tend to hang over these places (Zuid-Limburg, Veluwe, on the coast by the dunes). In open landscape (polders, by the water), it can get pretty gusty. Check the weather forecast before setting out and plan your trip accordingly so you enjoy a tailwind instead of having to battle a headwind.
 
Cycle Maps and Guides 

There is a huge selection of cycle guides in the Netherlands. Unfortunately, the choice of English guides is (as yet) rather limited. In this section, we list some of the guides available and state whether they are intended for day trips or multi-day tours. Cycle maps are generally not language bound. You can 'read' or use them even if you don't speak the language.
 
The guides and maps listed below can be ordered from our webshop (in association with the Fietsvakantiewinkel). Please bear in mind the shipping costs! You can, of course, also buy cycle guides and maps in the Netherlands at local Tourist Information Offices, Royal Dutch Touring Club ANWB shops or bookshops.
 
Basiskaart LF routes
 
This is a very useful cycle atlas for a (multi-day) cycle trip in the Netherlands. The complete LF route network and all cycle junctions are mapped out on a set of waterproof unbound maps (scale 1:100,000). Cycle-friendly accommodation providers are also included on the maps. 24.95. You can order the atlas (only available in Dutch) in our webshop.
 
Zuiderzee cycle map
 
The Zuiderzee cycle map offers 3 double-sided cycle maps, scale 1:100,000. A special booklet contains general information to help you prepare your cycle ride. You will read about the former Zuiderzee and receive useful information on how to plan your cycle ride over multiple days. 12.95. You can order the map in our webshop.
 
Regional junction maps
 
Cycle junction maps are available at local Tourist Information Offices. Alternatively, visit our onlinewebshop where you can find all maps in one place. Select your chosen Province for an overview of available maps. The online shop is only available in Dutch but the images and prices give you some idea. Junction maps can also be obtained via the Royal Dutch Touring club ANWB shops or online shop, as well as via Falk, who also provide an online planner with all junctions. Both sites are only available in Dutch.
 
Other cycle guides
 
Cycling The Netherlands, Eric van der Horst
 
The guidebook Cycling The Netherlands - The very best routes in a cyclist's paradise - contains over 700 kilometres (430 miles) of high quality cycling routes with full route descriptions, high profile mapping, visitor information and accommodation suggestions. Whether you fly to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport or arrive on a ferry from the United Kingdom, clear and concise travel information is included. 17.95. You can order the guidebook in our webshop.
 
Bicycle Touring Holland, Katherine Widing
 
This book highlights more than 50 bike tours into every corner of the country. Widing is an Australian-born journalist, living and working in the United States. She has been touring the Netherlands by bike for many years. She is the author of several Lonely Planet cycling guides. 18.95. You can order the guidebook in our webshop.
 
Cycling Day Trips

Mention the Netherlands to foreign tourists and they will most likely think of windmills, dykes, tulips and cheese. But the Netherlands has much more to offer: polders, watery areas, heathlands, woodlands, villages and cities. There is no better way to discover the country than by bike. You will find a rich diversity of interesting sights and attractions within a relatively short distance; the landscape is predominantly flat and there are a huge number of cycle routes. Signposted routes, in particular, are an excellent choice as they are easy to follow. Choose from junction routes, themed routes and long-distance cycle routes (Landelijke Fietsroutes). These LF routes are especially popular with holiday cyclists.
 
Junction routes (knooppunt routes)
 
The junction route network pretty much covers most of the Netherlands. Every junction has a number and an information board which contains an overview map. It also indicates the distance to the next junction. At every junction, you have a choice of several junction numbers to continue your trip. The advantage of this system is that everyone determines for themselves how short or long they want their route to be. Moreover, the system is flexible: at every junction, you can decide to shorten or change the route. To cycle from one junction to another, just keep following the route signs with the number of the next junction. It couldn't be any simpler.
 
Themed routes
 
These routes are usually between 30 to 50 kilometres long and are signposted using hexagonal signs. The theme of these routes can often be deduced from their name, eg the Molenroute (Mill route) or the Pontjesroute (Ferry route). Although there are still a number of these routes in the Netherlands, the emergence of junction routes has resulted in a steady decline of the number of themed routes with hexagonal signs.
 
Well prepared
 
Make sure to always prepare your trip properly. After all, well begun is half done. A wide selection of cycle maps and guides will help you on your way. English versions of Dutch guides with cycle routes in the Netherlands are also available. Don't have a (good) bike? Not to worry, cycle hire is available at stations and cycle shops. There may be times when taking the bike on the train would be useful. For instance, to return to your starting point.
 
Which route? 
 
Before you set off on your cycle trip, you can plan your own route using our cycle route planner or a junction map. Make a note of all the junction numbers along the route, take them with you and start cycling. If you prefer using an existing route, eg a themed route, check out the junction route overview (Overzicht van knooppuntroutes). Here, you can find themed cycle routes which are mostly based on junctions. Most routes can be downloaded immediately. The overview is in Dutch, but the accompanying map with junction numbers is very self-explanatory. In principle, you only really need the starting point and order of the junctions together with the map.
 
Long-distance Cycle Routes

If you are putting together your own cycling holiday, the best thing to do is to follow the LF routes: linear cycle routes which are intended for cycling from a to b. They can easily be combined with themed routes. And whether you are camping or prefer having a proper roof over your head, you won't have any trouble finding a nice place to stay thanks to a great choice of cycle-friendly accommodation in the Netherlands. Don't fancy organising everything yourself? Just let one of the many companies who provide cycling packages do it for you!
 
LF routes
 
LF routes are national cycle routes perfect for multi-day cycle trips. These long-distance, cross-border routes constitute a national network of approximately 4,500 kilometres. They are signposted in two directions with rectangular white signs with green lettering. The signs show the route number, the route name and a directional arrow. The addition of 'a' or 'b' indicates the direction: direction a (e.g. LF1a Noordzeeroute/North Sea Route) usually goes from North to South or from West to East, and vice versa for direction b. Where two LF routes converge, finger posts point out the direction. The LF routes are included in various cycle maps and guides. See the GPS tracks of all LF routes or check the cycle route planner.
 
Themed routes
 
Another option is to follow themed routes which are made up of several LF routes. The Zuiderzeeroute (Zuider Zee Route, 400 km), for instance, is a particularly popular route, as is the Nederlandse Kustroute (Dutch Coastal route, 570 km), which follows the North Sea and Waddenzee coast. Rondje Twente (Tour of Twente, 165 km) combines various sections of LF routes. The ultimate route for any holiday cyclist is the Ronde van Nederland (Tour of the Netherlands) via LF routes. This tour strings together several (sections of) LF routes into a tour of over 1,300 kilometres. Anyone who completes this route receives a certificate and is listed in the hall of fame at nederlandfietsland.nl on our Dutch website.
 
Internationale routes
 
Dutch LF routes don't end at the border. There are plenty of options to cycle on to Belgium, Germany or Great Britain. More and more European countries provide long-distance cycle routes. Some LF routes are part of international routes, for instance the Rijnfietsroute (Rhine Cycle Route) and the Maasfietsroute (River Maas Cycle Route).
 
Well prepared
 
When organising your own cycling holiday, make sure to always prepare your trip properly. After all, well begun is half done. A selection of cycle maps and guides will help you on your way. English versions are also available of Dutch guides with cycle routes in the Netherlands. Don't have a (good) bike? Not to worry, there are many places where you can hire a bike. There may be times when taking the bike on the train would be useful. For instance, to return to your starting point.
 
Accommodation
 
So you have chosen your route? Great, but there are more decisions to be made because where will you stay? In a tent at a natuurkampeerterrein (national park campsite) in a stunning scenic location, or in a hiker's hut? Or do you prefer a hostel, guesthouse or comfortable four-star hotel? Choices galore. In the Netherlands, cyclists like to stay in cycle-friendly accommodation.
 
Cycling packages
 
Chances are you won't feel like planning your own route and looking for somewhere to stay. You are on holiday after all. No problem! There are many cycling holiday providers in the Netherlands who offer a wide range of all-in cycling packages, including one-base cycling holidays or touring holidays, group or individual travel, with campsite or hotel accommodation.
 
International Routes

LF routes don't end at the border. LF7, LF2 and LF51, for instance, link seamlessly into the Flemish cycle route network. What's more, some LF routes are part of international cycle routes including the following three routes:
 
The North Sea Cycle Route (NSCR EuroVelo 12), with LF1 and LF10 constituting the Dutch part of the route. This 6,000 kilometre long route travels through eight countries along the North Sea.
 
The Internationale Rijnfietsroute (International Rhine Cycle Route EuroVelo 15), along the banks of the Rhine, starts in Switzerland and ends in the Netherlands with the Rijnfietsroute (Rhine Cycle Route).
 
In 2016, a new route will be unveiled: the Internationale Maasroute (International Maas Route). This route follows the river Maas from its source to estuary. The Dutch LF3 Maasroute (Maas Route) and the LF12 Maas- en Vestingroute (Maas and Fort Route) constitute the Dutch part of this route.
 
Cycle maps and guides
 
Separate cycle guides and maps are available of all international routes, including, of course, in languages other than Dutch. They can be purchased at specialist bookshops or ordered online at the online shop of the Fietsvakantiewinkel. Stichting Europafietsers has developed several cycle routes to attractive destinations such as the Mediterranean Sea and Santiago de Compostella.
 
Cycling Packages

It takes very little time to book a cycling holiday. That is, if you can decide on what you want from the huge selection of cycling packages on offer. And then, the real fun begins: after a delicious breakfast, you head out on your bike, follow a plotted route and at the end of a great day of cycling, park your bike once more at your hospitable accommodation. Will you opt for a cycle tour with luggage transfer, or a one-base cycling holiday? Will you be travelling with your own party or will you go for the group travel option? We are happy to show you what's out there. All you have to do is take your pick.
 
Cycling holiday providers
 
Cycletours
 
One of the biggest cycling holiday providers is Cycletours. Their website is available in English. Choose a Bed & Bike Tour and cycle along farms in Groningen or through De Hoge Veluwe National Park. For a special experience, try FietsVaarVakanties, holidays where you follow a pre-planned route through the Netherlands by boat and bike. During the day, you cycle through nature reserves and past villages. At the end of the day, you return to the hotel boat which serves as a restaurant, a place to stay and somewhere to store your luggage. Cycling and sailing is a typical Dutch experience!
 
Dutch Bike Tours
 
Dutch Bike Tours organises cycling holidays along the Waddenzee, through the polders of Holland and along big rivers, among others. They also offer several cycling packages that follow the LF route network such as the themed route Langs de Hollandse Waterlinie (Along the Old Dutch Defence Line) or the Molens en Weiden (Mills and Meadows) tour. There are more than 30 cycling holidays to choose from! The Dutch Bike Tours website is available in English.
 
Cycle Trips Holland
 
Cycle Trips Holland offers self-guided cycling holidays with a very complete array of services, from full luggage transport to en-route support. Overnight stops are at exclusive accommodations. The website is available in English.
 
Fiets-Fun
 
Fiets-Fun caters to the camping enthusiast who wants to spend the night in a fully equipped De Waard tent (the Fiets-Fun site is only available in Dutch).
 
Boat-Bike tours
 
A unique concept that combines cycling and cruising. Discover beautiful spots in the Netherlands. During your trip your accommodation will simply follow you. This avoids the hassle of having to move from one hotel to another. Please check the website - in English - for more information.
 
Holland Bike Tours
 
Holland Bike Tours offers a variety of bike tours in the Netherlands, to discover the hidden gems! Recreational cycling - Road biking - E-biking. They have a tour program and tailor-made options. For routes, accommodation and equipment they have a long term experience and local expertise. The website is in English.
 
Travelydays
 
Fully organized bicycle tours with overnight stays in cycle-friendly hotels. The trips follow classic cycling routes in a particularly beautiful landscape or are tailor-made tours, partly on special themes. Transportation of luggage from one hotel to another is provided. Check the website.
 
Holland Cycle Tours
 
Holland Cycle Tours offers a wide variation of cycling tour packages across The Netherlands. From the beautiful sandy dunes to the historic Dutch city centres and the famous tulip fields. All tours include 3 and 4 star hotel stays, luggage transport and all the tour and sightseeing information you need to have the ride of your life! Check the website.
 
Cycle-friendly Places and Lodging

In the Netherlands, places that carry the Fietsers Welkom! (Cyclists Welcome!) quality label go the extra mile to cater to cyclists' needs. You will enjoy a warm welcome, even when you have a punctured tyre or arrive all sweaty. There are over 1,100 cycle-friendly places to eat, drink and stay in the Netherlands. These are just a selection of the total number of hotel and catering establishments the country has to offer. You can recognise them by the Fietsers Welkom! sign on the front of the buildings. Alternatively, check out the special map online in the Fietsers Welkom! section. You can also find them in the recreational cycle route planner. As you zoom in on the map, you will see junctions and Fietsers Welkom! locations appear.
 
Catering to cyclists' needs
 
At cycle-friendly hotel and catering establishments, you can fill up your water bottle; charge your electric bike; use a bicycle pump, tyre repair or first-aid kit. They also sell or provide cycle maps for you to consult. Open from as early as 11:00, they are the perfect place for your first coffee break of the day. You will always receive a warm welcome, even when you turn up in wet rainwear or muddy shoes.
 
Cycle-friendly accommodation providers also offer cyclists somewhere to stay for just one night. What's more, there is always somewhere to park your bike safely. You can buy or consult cycle maps and some providers also offer cycling packages.
 
Cycle-friendly accommodation providers with the Fietsers Welkom! label include campsites, hotels, Bed & Breakfasts, as well as hostels. Almost all Natuurkampeerterreinen (Natural Campsites) carry the Fietsers Welkom! label. The same goes for several campsites with hiker's huts and Stayokay hostels. More information about the different types of accommodation available along the way is given below.
 
Natural Campsite (Natuurkampeerterrein)
 
Natural Campsites are a perfect choice of accommodation for cyclists who want to stay in areas of natural beauty. To do so, you will need to buy a compulsory permit (Natuurkampeerkaart) at Royal Dutch Touring Club ANWB shops, travel bookshops or the campsite where you want to stay. You can also pre-order your permit from 'Stichting De Groene Koepel'. Together with your permit, you will receive Het Groene Boekje (The Green Guide) with a description (in Dutch only) of all Campsites ( 14.95). All natuurkampeerterreinen are signed up to Fietsers Welcome! (Cyclists Welcome!). The website is available in English.
 
Hiker's hut (Trekkershut)
 
Hiker's huts are simple log cabins sleeping 4 to 5 people. They are situated on campsites and provide the use of campsite sanitary facilities. The huts are equipped with bunk beds with mattresses and pillows, a dining table with chairs, and a cooker. Bed linen and kitchen items are not provided. Prices start from 37 per hut per night; booking is required. The locations of all hiker's huts are listed in the recreational cycle route planner. The website is available in English.
 
Stayokay
 
Stayokay offers affordable accommodation in the most beautiful places in the Netherlands. The hostels offer several rooms. They are the perfect location to meet other cyclists! Prices start from 21 per person per night including breakfast. A Stayokay card gives you a 2.50 discount per night. Click here for more information (website available in English).
 
Nivon Friends of Nature Accommodation (Nivon Natuurvriendenhuis)
 
Nivon, a Dutch organisation promoting culture and nature conservation, provides hospitable accommodation in the countryside in the form of Nivon Friends of Nature Accommodation. Run by volunteers, the houses are equipped with double bedrooms (sheets available for hire), a communal kitchen (including pans, crockery) and a dining room. Nivon accommodation is open to members and non-members. Prices range from 18 to 29 per person per night; Nivon members get a 25% discount. Booking is preferred. See here for more information (website in Dutch only).
 
Friends on Bicycles (Vrienden op de Fiets)
 
Members only, non-commercial accommodation provided by Stichting Vrienden op de Fiets. The foundation's annual supporter fee is 8. Supporters of the foundation receive a guide with over 5,500 non-commercial accommodation providers, across the Netherlands. One night's stay costs 19 per person per night. The Vrienden op de Fiets website is available in English.
 
Stay on a farm: VeKaBo/SVR
 
If you want to experience the friendly, relaxed atmosphere of the countryside, a campsite or stay on a farm with simple amenities may be just the thing for you. VeKaBo Nederland provides two accommodation guides, available to buy via their website and local Tourist Information Offices. Supporters of Stichting Vrije Recreatie (SVR) (Free Recreation Foundation) receive a biannual overview of all camp sites and accommodation provided by farmers and private individuals who are members of SVR. Supporters (annual fee of 10) can also access these locations online by logging into the SVR website.
 
Bed and Breakfast
 
www.bedandbreakfast.nl has over 5,500 small-scale accommodation listings, spread across the Netherlands. These B&Bs offer a personal service in a warm, friendly setting. www.bedandbreakfast.nl offers a wide variety of great value for money accommodation: from historic buildings in the city to mills, farms or villas. The website is available in English.
 
Cycle Hire and Parking

If you prefer leaving your own bike at home, you can simply hire one at the start of your cycle trip. Many signposted routes start and finish at train stations: handy places to hire a bike. Large cycle repair shops or cycle shops, particularly in tourist areas, also offer cycle hire. Once on your way, many places provide secure cycle parking facilities at a minimal fee. When staying in accommodation with the Fietsers Welkom! (Cyclists Welcome!) quality label, you are guaranteed a secure place to store your bike.
 
Cycle hire at the station
 
Cycling and rail travel in the Netherlands go really well together: via LF or junction routes, you can cycle from station to station. To return to your starting point, you can just hop on a train. For more information about rail travel, click here. Bikes generally have to be returned to their original docking stations. Many stations provide cycle hire from 6.50 a day (including theft insurance). You will be asked for a valid proof of identity and a deposit (50 to 145). Advance booking by phone is advisable.
 
Dutch people often hire an OV (public transport) bike. However, because of the special season ticket involved, this bike is less suitable for foreign tourists.
 
Cycle hire at cycle repair shop/cycle shop
 
Is your starting point nowhere near a station? Just hire a bike from a cycle repair or cycle shop in a village or city or in tourist locations, eg at a ferry jetty (West Frisian Islands). The local Tourist Information Office will point you in the right direction. In Amsterdam a well-known place for hiring you bike is Frederics. Or you can hire at King Bikes. Cycle hire companies generally ask for proof of identity. Make sure to inquire in advance about whether or not a deposit is required and what the insurance excess is in the event of damage or theft. Note that cycle repair and cycle shops have more limited opening hours than cycle hire providers at stations. You can also check the website for renting bikes BimBimBikes.  
 
E-bike
 
The e-bike, or electric bike, has seen a tremendous rise in popularity in recent years in the Netherlands. When you use one of these bikes, you can cover considerably greater distances. And they make cycling in a headwind a lot easier. The number of public charging points is increasing rapidly. For information about where to hire e-bikes, contact or visit the local Tourist Information Office.
 
Cycle parking
 
There are many places at stations or in the city centre that provide secure cycle parking facilities for a small fee. In the Netherlands, you will also find many free cycle stands. When you park your bike in one of these free stands, make sure to always lock it securely. In the city, Dutch people sometimes even use two locks. One of these is a chain lock that is secured around a fixed object (cycle stand, lamp post). It deters bicycle thieves from stealing the bike. Outside the city, one lock is enough. Hire bikes always come with a lock.
 
Cycle Transport and Repair

Many Dutch people transport their bike on the roof or the back of the car using a special bike carrier. The alternative is to travel by train: start your LF or junction route at one station and finish at another. Taking your bike on the train allows you to get back easily to your starting point. This way, you don't always have to cycle circular routes and you can set off from different places. Make sure you carefully study the costs and conditions involved beforehand.
 
Taking your bike on the train
 
In the Netherlands, you can take your bike on the train (except on Thalys and Fyra trains) on weekdays (outside peak hours, ie from 6:30 to 9:00 and 16:30 to 18:00), at weekends, on holidays and in July/August. Travelling from abroad to the Netherlands by train with your bike is possible to a limited extent. To take your bike on the train in the Netherlands you will be charged 6 per day. This is a fixed, national fare. Tickets can be bought at NS self-service ticket machines available at train stations. Bikes have to be put in designated areas of the train, recognisable from the outside of the train by blue bicycle stickers above the doors.
 
Cycle repair
 
A flat tyre, a broken chain, it can happen to any cyclist. But armed with the tips and information on this page, you will soon be on your way again! Need help repairing your bike? Find out here where to go.
 
Help along the way
 
At larger train stations, there are always cycle parking areas where you can hire a bike or have it repaired. Almost every village or city has a cycle repair shop. No station or cycle repair shop around? The following initiatives will help you out:
 
At 'Fietsers Welkom!' (Cyclists Welcome!) locations, there is always a repair kit or bicycle pump available. If you have problems repairing your bike, your host or hostess will direct you to a cycle repair shop in the area.
 
At an ANWB Fietsservicepunt (Royal Dutch Touring Club ANWB Cycle Service Point), there is always a toolbox on hand. You can use these tools free of charge; any materials used (eg a tyre) have to be paid for on the spot. You can find the Fietsservicebox (Cycle Service Box) at hotel and catering establishments, as well as visitor centres in the local area of LF and junction routes. They can be recognised by the ANWB Fietsservicepunt sign displayed on the front of the building.
 
Fixing a punctured tyre
 
Punctures are always a pain. To minimise the inconvenience, always carry a spare tyre. Want to repair the puncture there and then? Make sure the glue is not too old. Tip: to find the puncture, use a so-called 'lekzoeker' or puncture detector, a quick and easy way to locate punctures in tyres. Available to buy at any cycle shop in the Netherlands.