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7-day Self-guided Cycling Tour along the 'Pearls of Holland' Level 1
Amsterdam, Haarlem, Leiden, Delft and Gouda are among our cyclists’ all-time favourite cities. Each of them offer unique experiences awhilst brimming with that typical Olde Holland character.
We have decided to combine them into this one route for the ultimate cultural bike holiday. Cycling distances are relatively short allowing more time for sightseeing and museums.
Although you will stay within the Randstad conurbation you’ll discover how rural and quiet the countryside can be, where polders, windmills, bulb flower fields (in spring!), lakes and rivers take the spotlight. In short, this route stands for seven days of enjoying cultural gems and idyllic countryside.
Any ferry crossings are not included
Please book your bikes when you book the tour: [email protected]
Slow Tours offers a number of other Cycling Tours in Europe
Arrival in Amsterdam
Get here early and opt to wander around the gorgeous and surprisingly peaceful seventeenth century canal ring area (World Heritage Site). If you like bustle, make your way to the city’s famous squares: Dam, Rembrandtplein and Leidseplein. Should you prefer to roam off the beaten track, saunter up Brouwersgracht or hire a canal bike and find out what the city looks like from the water.
Amsterdam-Haarlem (29 km)
Get an early start and beat the queues at the Van Gogh or Anne Frank museum. At the end of the morning, say "tot ziens!” to amazing Amsterdam and mount your bike to journey through Kennemerland where a great variety of lovely countryside awaits: vast polders, wild(life) gardens, country estates, woods and beautiful peatland. You will stay the night in the elegant city of Haarlem. The attractive city centre offers a wealth of possibilities for shopping, delving into art and culture, or relaxing in cafes and restaurants. In April and early May, you have the option of cycling a longer route of ca. 60 km where you can see the tulip fields.
Haarlem - Leiden (43 km)
Downtown Haarlem deserves to be explored thoroughly. We recommend a city walk to discover the city’s hidden "hofjes”. A hofje is a square of tiny almshouses set around an idyllic courtyard, often built by the church or by private charity to house single older women. Also dating back to the Dutch Golden Age, the works of Haarlem painter Frans Hals (group portraiture) and his townsmen including Jacob Ruysdael (land- and seascapes) and Pieter Saenredam (church interiors) are on display at the Frans Hals museum.
In the afternoon get set for a colourful bike trip through the Dune and Bulb Region. Try to time this holiday before mid-May to capture the bulb flower fields in their full splendour! Tulips, crocuses, daffodils and hyacinths are grown here commercially (for bulb export) and temporarily transform the landscape into one of the country’s best-loved tourist attractions. Should you want to spend a day at world famous Keukenhof flower exhibition, we recommend you book an extra night in Leiden. Leiden is our oldest university town. It has a very busy cultural events calendar and a friendly city centre with canals, monuments windmills and museums. The historical botanical gardens get special mention.
Leiden - Delft (24 km)
After taking your leave of lively Leiden, peace and quiet will reign once more in today’s typically Dutch scenery. Note all the orderly rectangles in this man-made polder landscape (mostly peatland reclamations). Let shining lakes and green pastures, old windmills and farmhouses pass you by whilst pedalling on to the famous city of Delft. The melancholy charm of historical Delft is breathtaking. Most will associate Delft with its blue and white hand-painted pottery: Delftware. But did you know that painter Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) lived in Delft all his life? The Vermeer Centre gives illuminating insights into his life, works and city (no original paintings on show here).
Delft - Gouda (32 km)
This stretch of the tour takes you through the Green Heart: a stronghold against urban sprawl in Randstad conurbation. Balancing atop polder dikes, delight in characteristic villages, far horizons and pleasingly strict rectangles cut by ditches in fields of vibrant green. As you wander around the city of Gouda at the end of the day, don’t miss the gothic town hall (1450), the Weighing House (1667), the romantic inner city canals and the stained glass windows in St. John’s Church. Gouda is also famous for making syrup waffles (try one hot!) and candles. If you’re travelling in Summer, plan your trip so that you can witness the traditional Thursday morning cheese market at the start of Day 6 (early April till last Thursday in August).
Gouda - Amsterdam (80 km)
After a hearty breakfast at your hotel, get back on your bike and set off on the longest leg of this bike tour. Bird lovers bring your binoculars. Once again, switch on your five senses to fully enjoy the characteristic countryside of the Green Heart. Drift past meadows, lakes and small villages. Can you hear the wind in the rushes? Did you see the clouds reflected in the lake? Are you feeling peckish? In that case, do stop to sample Dutch style apple tart with your coffee! Thus fortified, continue on your way back to Amsterdam pursuing beautiful River Amstel.
Should the prospect of 80 km be rather daunting, opt to split this leg by booking an extra night in Woerden (making two legs: 43 km and 49 km).
Your cycling holiday has come to an end. Enjoy a big hearty breakfast one last time – don’t forget to try chocolate sprinkles! – and then it’s time to go home.
If you would like to drive yourself before or after your tour, ask us for a quote on any brand new Renault, Peugeot or Citroen vehicle for driving in Europe.
Pick up your vehicle from most capital cities in Europe and return it to your drop off destination. Top insurance cover. Email [email protected] for a competitive quote