Often I am asked for advice on cycling in the Netherlands.
Often my first advice is to check the cycle path network : “LF-routes” pictured in red here below. This is a network of long distance bicycle routes. (note that practicallly all bicycle paths can be found on routeplanner.fietsersbond.nl, which is in dutch,”in Deutsch” et “en Français“.) :
An attractive cycle path I find the LF1 Noordzee-route / Dutch Coastal Route (Part of the international track which is connecting Boulogne-sur-Mer in France, with Germany). However you can reach any destination via good cycle paths, using this network. See the read network in the picture above.
About the dutch weather
Statistics learn that it rains, during a year, on average 7% of time in the Netherlands. Do you find that much? Sure it will not always be bright sunshine as on the picture above. Some times, but not very often, it can be like this :
If you do not like cycling against the wind, I think it is the best to cycle the LF1 from south to north. As most of the time wind is coming from the south west.
How does the LF1 looks like?
Some impressions of cycle path LF1 :
- See some some video-impressions (5 minutes) of 2 Dutch coureurs doing the 460 km between Duinkerken/Dunkirk/Dunkerque and Den Helder in 3 days. The first minutes are in Belgian. It is in the second part where you will see the famous high quality cycling lanes : flat asphalt, only bicycles. Along the coast the best parts are looking like :
- A Belgian mother with her daughter and her parents, did it far more easy as pictured in this slide show (2 minutes) (with well chosen music).
- 6 minutes of video, no music, no words … very good impression on the experience and quality of the LF1.
- And a 15 minute video where you see even more variation (wait for the nice sandy beaches).
To reach the LF1 from Lille : one can start following the river “la Lys“/”de Leie” up to Deinze (or even to Genth). On Google Maps one can find this route from Lille (F) to Sluis (NL) Especially following this really good cycling path next to the Leie from Menen (F) up till Genth (B) is very quiet. However nearly no signs. For the good signs you have to wait untill you are in the Netherlands. Between Deinze and Sluis I think it is not that beautiful … I did not take this route. Most of the time I cycle Genth – Bergen op Zoom (30 km north of Antwerp. A lot of bad cycling paths … but as soon as you enter the Netherlands infrastructure for cyclists is just great. Not only on the LF1, but everywhere in the Netherlands.
Where to sleep? (and about a good map!)
A lot of possibilities to stay overnight are found on the LF1 Basiskaart (it costs about €25 in the Netherlands). You will find more possibilities to stay overnight, which are not indicated on this map. Finding a B&B, hostel, hotel is not to difficult. I do not like to make reservations. When cycling it is not that easy to plan. In the end there is always a place to lay your head down. Personnaly I like these 22 maps of the LF1 Basiskaart. They cover the whole of the Netherlands. And they are protected against rain. I like to have a map in my hand. As it is nice to be able to see what kind of routes and landscapes are in front of me. I like computers, but when I am cycling I like to have a map next to my coffee. Just for imagining a bit on what is coming up that day. Open windy roads? Trees? Nature? How to avoid cities and industrial zones?
When searching for a place to sleep, I do have most confidence on ending your day for a village/city at the coast. In villages and cities you’ll find people with the sign “zimmer frei” (= room available). As a lot of Germans are coming to the Dutch coast. I have an idea the prices will be acceptable. You knock on the door, see the room, hear the price. A good method. Reserving in advance? It is not easy to plan, when cycling! A lot of cyclists must be following this method.
Another possibility is to check http://www.warmshowers.org. The site is self explaining. And my experiences are that you’ll find people who love to cycle long distances. So they know what cyclists are in need of.
It is a bit of planning in advance. However I do find it a very attractive way of finding a place to stay. And to participate the joy of cycling.
And another possibility is to join the association “Vrienden op de fiets“. Membership is €10 per year. You can stay with members, at their homes. You pay about €20 per night, per person. Members(often active cyclists theirselves) prepare a good breakfast. There is also the possibility of having a lunch packet being prepared for about €5. Members will be sent get a guide, with the adresses and telephone numbers. You can also use the web site. I entered the web site, the route between Hoek van Holland and The Hague. Resulting in following map (I choose for French language here!) :
The circles with numbers show the amount of adresses of members in that village. So in Hoek van Holland there are 2 addresses. In ‘s-Gravenzande 10. And in The Hague 38 people who offer a room to stay. So as soon as you have an idea when you will be arriving in a certain area, you choose an address from the supplied guide (or from the web site) and you pass a telephone call. And you’re sleeping place is arranged! (En Français toute l’information à : www.vriendenopdefiets.nl/fr/ .
Visiting the “Waddeneilanden”
The “Wadden-eilanden” are the islands in the north of the Netherlands.
From Den Helder, you can take the ferry to the biggest island Texel. All info at www.teso.nl (also in english).
From Texel you can take, with your bicycle, a boat to Vlieland. It is a small boat, and maybe you have to wait for the next boat as there are many people. Or in case of bad weather. All info (only in dutch!) : www.waddenveer.nl. I did this trip with my children and their mother, with bicycles. During a summer holiday following the LF1. In this video (6 minutes) one can discover the passage with the boat “De vriendschap” and the truck which brings you and your bicycles from Texel to Vlieland (Or Vlieland to Texel). You might have to watch the video a few times to really have an idea of how it works.
Between the two islands named Vlieland, Terschelling and the town Harlingen, there is this ferry : www.rederij-doeksen.nl (also in english).
Taking the train
Taking the train in the Netherlands is not that difficult. And sure you can take your bicycle (which needs to be payed for, €6,10 in 2016. You can not take a bicycle during rush hours. Search the following web site. All possibilities, all schedules, all prices, you find on www.ns.nl (also in english). (To see where you can find all train stations go to trein-kaart.nl.)
You like to see another video of how cycle paths can look like? See my short trip in Zeeland.
– contact me for specific questions –