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The Netherlands: Holland’s Golden Age Towns & the North Sea

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This bike tour through North Holland’s tulip country takes you to serene canals, Renaissance-era cities, cheese markets, untouched dunes, and breathtaking fields of springtime blooms.

Self-Guided Biking

  • Daily Mileage: 11 - 43|
  • Biking: 1 - 4 hr
Activity Easy
Easy
E-Bikes Available
E-Bikes Available
Airplane
Air Package Available
Self-Guided Tour
Self-Guided Tour

Starting From

9-day Self-Guided Air+

$2,745

6-day Bike Vacation Only

$1,845

Per person, double occupancy

The Netherlands: Holland’s Golden Age Towns & the North Sea

Discover the pleasures of cycling North Holland’s tulip country from Enkhuizen on the scenic IJsselmeer to historic Haarlem. This colorful canvas boasts stunning brushstrokes—serene canals spanned by quaint bridges, urban centers dotted with Renaissance architecture and thriving ports. Here, tranquil paths and roadside lanes were made for biking, crisscrossing blissful meadows, tidy farms and breathtaking fields of springtime blooms, a vast secret garden far from tourist crowds. Ride the historic triangle where Dutch merchants prospered during the Golden Age. Trace untouched dunes and pine forests along the North Sea to the chic artists’ haven of Bergen. And linger as you wish during this Self-Guided Bicycling Vacation in the Netherlands at cheese markets in Hoorn, Schagen and Alkmaar or over coffee and cake in a charming windmill.

What to Expect

This tour is easy and is ideal for beginning and experienced cyclists, with wind creating any challenge. Routes are either dedicated bike lanes (alongside streets) or dedicated bike paths, traversing tulip fields and dunes and following the IJsselmeer Lake and canals. The traffic is busiest when entering and exiting the cities of Haarlem and Hoorn. Please verify your bike selection for this tour as it is not always possible to change bikes once you arrive on tour. Travel with your friends and family—we can accommodate multiple guests on this self-guided vacation. Our 24/7 support system is available if needed.

  • Daily Mileage: 11 - 43|
  • Biking: 1 - 4 hr
Activity Easy Easy
Cycling
Bar Graph Beginner - Experienced
Cyclists
24/7 Support System 24/7 Support
System

Tour Highlights

  • Ride in a country where bicycles are woven into everyday life, following a network of planned bike paths and lanes along a flat landscape.
  • Stay in historic Enkhuizen, threaded with narrow canals and quaint bridges, Renaissance architecture, and a pretty port overlooking the IJsselmeer.
  • Explore the “Golden Age” city of Haarlem, anchored by Grote Markt, called Holland’s prettiest square, and its splendid Grote Kerk.
  • Pedal the tranquil Dutch countryside past meadows, tended gardens, tulip fields, fertile farms and windmills, all linked by waterways and bike paths.
  • Enjoy the springtime blooms in North Holland where the locals enjoy them, far from the overcrowded bloom centers of the south.
  • Cycle to North Sea beaches and follow bike paths into a national park framed by dunes, pine forests and grassland.
  • Sample cheeses and other products of North Holland as we’ve timed your visit to coincide with market days in Hoorn, Schagen, Alkmaar, and Haarlem.

Climate Information

Temperatures

Average High /
Low Temperature (°F):

May61º/46º

Jun66º/52º

Jul69º/55º

Aug70º/55º

Sep64º/51º

Oct57º/46º

Average
Precipitation:

May2.0 in

Jun2.4 in

Jul2.9 in

Aug2.4 in

Sep3.2 in

Oct4.1 in

What's Included

Self-Guided Air+

Bike Vacation Only

Roundtrip international airfare Check
Detailed information for your independent travel to/from arrival and departure airports One night in Amsterdam and one night in Haarlem in conveniently located hotels with breakfasts included Check
5 nights in boutique hotels Check Check
5 meals: 5 breakfasts, 0 lunches, 0 dinners Check Check

Tour Bikes

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Road Bicycle (Carbon frame)

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Step-Through (Mixte Hybrid) Comfort Bicycle

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Step-Over (Diamond) Comfort Bicycle

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Electric-Assisted Bicycle (E-bike)

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Self-Guided Biking Packages Include:

Custom VBT bike, helmet, and bike bag

Welcome orientation and bike fitting with local host

Luggage transfers

Ride with GPS and daily route notes

VBT Road Book with destination information

24/7 support system

Flat kit and multi-tool

Your choice of VBT branded gear for your adventure

Itinerary

Sat, Mar 27 to Sun, Apr 4 - 2021

Show Itinerary:

Depart home for Amsterdam. The particulars of your arrival overseas are detailed with your flight itinerary.

Upon arrival at Amsterdam’s Schiphol International Airport, make your own independent travel arrangements to your centrally located hotel. For details, refer to your VBT Handbook. A train station is conveniently located in Schiphol, making it easy to take a train directly to Amsterdam’s Centraal Station and a short taxi ride to your hotel.

VBT provides you with City Information that includes information and recommendations for what to see and do in Amsterdam. Enjoy the rest of the day to relax or to begin exploring this charming, fairytale city of tranquil canals and pretty, gabled houses. The city is home to countless restaurants and cafés whose cuisine ranges from traditional Dutch to international.

Accommodation: Mercure Hotel Amsterdam Centre Canal District, Amsterdam
Included Meals: None

After breakfast, make your way from Amsterdam to Enkhuizen, once one of the most important trading harbors in The Netherlands. You meet your VBT local host at 1:00 p.m. (after lunch), along with any other VBT guests arriving on the same day, for your Welcome Orientation in the lobby of the Villa Enkhuizen (Enkhuizen, Tel +31 0583 47615). Please be dressed and ready for cycling. Your local host will be carrying a VBT sign and/or wearing a VBT garment.

The Welcome orientation with your VBT local host includes:
• An overview of the itinerary
• Bike fitting and equipment familiarization
• Review of the Ride with GPS navigation app
• Important contact information in case you need to reach your VBT local host
• Safety briefing
• Local suggestions (restaurants, things to do, etc.)

Enkhuizen was one of the most prosperous cities in The Netherlands in the 17th century. During this Golden Age of Holland, the Dutch East India Company ruled the waves from here, particularly the trading routes to Africa, India and Indonesia, where merchants filled their ships with textiles, spice and coffee—and their coffers with profits. Today, it is a beautiful little port on the IJsselmeer, called the largest lake in Western Europe. In truth, it is a massive inland bay created in 1932 when a small sea, the Zuiderzee, was closed off from the North Sea by the 19-mile Afsluitdijk, part of the massive works project that, still today, keeps the North Sea waters at bay. The IJsselmeer is just 15-19 feet deep.

Today’s ride introduces you to the famous Dutch polder landscapes, a patchwork of low-lying swathes of land bordered by dikes. This tranquil and colorful canvas of agricultural fields, tidy small farms, and wide-open skies hosts a profusion of birdlife in its meadows and waterways.

Later, walk through Enkhuizen’s historic center and admire its numerous villas, canals, churches and city walls—legacies of the 17th-century mercantile wealth. Today or tomorrow, visit the fascinating Zuiderzeemuseum, home to an indoor exhibit about the history of the region and a 15-acre open-air museum that features restored buildings, gardens, demonstrations of fish-smoking and rope-making, and a large collection of wooden ships from all over Holland.

For dinner, stroll to one of the inviting outdoor cafés or restaurants in the pedestrian-only Old Town.

Today’s Ride:
Enkhuizen Warm-up: 17.5 km (10 miles)

What to Expect: Get comfortable with your bike and used to following the route notes. Today’s easy out-and-back ride on flat bike paths along the waters of the IJsselmeer also serves to acquaint you with the Dutch bike network that you will follow most of the week.

Accommodation: Villa Enkhuizen, Enkhuizen
Included Meals: Breakfast

Enkhuizen is surrounded by remarkably preserved fortifications, transformed into a park with walking trails overlooking the moat and several gates. You may choose to admire the harborside Drommedaris, the city’s landmark plump tower named for its resemblance to a camel. Or browse the 500 volumes of the Netherland’s only remaining 17th-century library located in the impressive Westerkerk church.

If you’d like to explore by bicycle, enjoy a ride in the scenic region of North Holland that is described as a historic triangle—with the towns of Enkhuizen, Hoorn and Medemblik as its three points. Cycle to Hoorn, “the pearl of the IJsselmeer,” traversing flower fields and farmland. Like Enkhuizen, Hoorn prospered from the bustling trade of the Dutch Golden Age and boasts a remarkably preserved historic pedestrian center; see its 16th-century defense tower, the Hoofdtoren (or Head Tower), the 1609 weighing house known as De Waag where cheese was weighed for centuries, and the Oosterkerk, its steeple crowned with a ship weathervane. Stroll the piers past masterfully restored sailboats, peruse the many shops and take a break at an outdoor café or restaurant. If you are here from mid-June to August, be sure to visit the Tuesday afternoon cheese market in Rode Steen Square, a festive celebration featuring West Frisian folklore dancers and cheese carriers dressed in white hoisting enormous wheels of cheese. On the third Tuesday in August, you can enjoy the lively atmosphere of an annual cheese festival instead.

Return to Enkhuizen by bike or, if you’d like to spend more time in Hoorn, you can catch the train back to Enkhuizen; it’s a 26-minute ride that delivers you just a short distance from your hotel. Just look for the train compartment marked with a bicycle.

Back in Enkhuizen, enjoy a drink or dinner overlooking the port.

Today’s Ride:
Enkhuizen to Hoorn one way (return by train): 42 km (26 miles)

What to Expect: After exiting the city gate of Enkhuizen, you ride with little traffic through farmland, hamlets and towns, sometimes on dedicated bike paths and sometimes along the road in the bike lane. Encounter some busier traffic as you enter and ride through Hoorn. Return to Enkhuizen via the train (at your own expense).

Enkhuizen Loop: 66 km (41 miles)

What to Expect: After exiting the city gate of Enkhuizen, you ride with little traffic through farmland, hamlets and towns, sometimes on dedicated bike paths and sometimes along the road in the bike lane. Encounter some busier traffic as you enter and ride through Hoorn. Departing Hoorn, you follow the coastal bike path along the IJsselmeer with the water on your right. As you ride, you may notice that the water here is higher than the land! Weather permitting, you could stop for a swim.

Accommodation: Villa Enkhuizen, Enkhuizen
Included Meals: Breakfast

Begin today with another spin through the historic triangle, this time tracing a seaside bike path along the IJsselmeer. The Omring Dike that holds back the sea here was built by monks in the 14th century to protect this flood-prone land. Soon, you arrive in Medemblik. This vibrant sailing port boasts a small picturesque Old Town lined with 17th- and 18th-century houses. Its Radboud Castle on the east bank of the harbor dates to the 13th century. This modest fortress served as a hiding place for Rembrandt’s renowned painting The Night Watch during World War II. Today, the town’s most impressive sight is the 426-foot wind turbine—one of the largest in Europe. Gain insight into a considerably older source of energy if you stop at the Medemblik Steam Museum.

Continue cycling inland to the charming village of Twisk, straddling the banks of a creek. Heralded as one of the most beautiful villages in West Friesland, its buildings and farmhouses date to the 1600s. Perhaps pause for lunch here at Rempt, a modest shop serving grilled cheese and apple pie, all prepared with local ingredients! You can also pick up some snacks for later at the grocery here. Later, pass by the quaint historic town of Kolhorn. Steeped in charm, this village was once a fishing port, but dike construction sent its waters into retreat and it is now 12 miles inland on a canal. Its surrounding farmlands are the source of millions of Holland’s famed tulips, with more than 500 types grown here. Fields here stretch as far as the eye can see.

Your destination today is Schagen, a pretty village boasting a lovely town square overlooked by an historic church. This warm, friendly town hosted a horse market in the 1600s and a cattle market in the 1800s. Settle into your hotel, occupying a small castle beloved to the locals, then head out for a stroll and your well-earned dinner.

Today’s Ride:
Enkhuizen to Schagen: 66.4 km (41 miles)

What to Expect: Depart Enkhuizen along the flat bike path closest to the IJsselmeer. After about 25 km (15 miles), you arrive in Medemblik, marked by its giant wind turbine. Turn inland and in 5 km (3 miles) ride the 2 km (1.5 mile) long main street of Twisk, passing its historic farmhouses. You wind past the town of Winkel and the historic former fishing village of Kolhorn, then ride to your hotel in the center of Schagen.

Accommodation: Slot Hotel Schagen, Schagen
Included Meals: Breakfast

After breakfast, you may head to the traditional Thursday morning market, where you may sample cheeses and other delicious treats produced locally. Activities and performances change each week during July and August, so you never know what you’ll stumble upon—perhaps folkloric dancing, handicraft demonstration, theater performances or costume displays. It’s a rich and vibrant celebration of West Friesland culture! During other months, browse a selection of Dutch cheeses, the day’s catch at a fish market and other local treasures.

Later, head out on a ride into tulip country. The prime blooming season is late April and early May, but our route into De Kop van Noord Holland (the top of North Holland) is beautiful and invigorating any time of year. You ride flat roads to the small town of Anna Paulowna, named for the 19th-century Russian wife of the Dutch king. This is where the charms of the Dutch countryside come to life: a bucolic canvas of windmills, deep-green fields, cows and traditional houses.

Later, you arrive at the North Sea coast and follow it south, passing miles of dunes, quaint towns and low forest. Your destination is the seaside village of Bergen, a well-to-do town nestled among seascapes and woodlands. An artist community at the turn of the last century, the Bergen School of painters evolved here in the 1920s and 30s. Today, it is home to inviting galleries, cafés, restaurants and the respected Kranenburgh Art Museum, where the works of regional painters and sculptors is collected. You can also explore the Park Meerwijk neighborhood, lined with unique thatched “Amsterdam villas.”

Today’s Ride:
Schagen to Bergen: 63 km (39 miles)

What to Expect: Depart Schagen through the town of Oudesluis (“old lock”). After about 15 km (9 miles), arrive in the town of Anna Paulowna; in the spring, enjoy the fabulous bloom display here. Your route winds its way to the coast at about 32 km (20 miles), then turns south to parallel the North Sea coast on a combination of separate bike paths and bike lanes along the road. In the spring, the road is lined with about 10 miles of blooming tulip fields! Continue through sand dunes and low forests planted to combat erosion. At Camperduin, ride inland through forest and small rolling dunes to the town of Bergen.

Accommodation: Villa Breeburg, Bergen
Included Meals: Breakfast

Depart Bergen on bike paths through pretty upscale neighborhoods and green parks. The first stretch of the day’s ride is short—just five miles—and delivers you to the town of Alkmaar. This charming Dutch community of gabled houses has been making cheese since at least 1635. Over time, its market grew so much that town officials tore down some buildings in the main square to make room for cheese makers and other vendors. Today, this historic market runs most Fridays, perfectly timed for your visit.

After sampling cheeses and perhaps purchasing some for a snack later, continue cycling through small towns and fertile farmland. Later, you arrive at the busy North Sea Canal. This massive engineering project—built between 1865 and 1876—acts as a groundwater management system for western Holland. Critically for commerce, it links the North Sea to Amsterdam. After crossing the canal, you skirt the Zuid Kennemerland National Park, a stunning protected coastal land of dunes and bogs. The pine forests and marram grasses were planted here to fix the dunes in place. You then coast into the chic Haarlem suburb of Bloemendaal, one of the wealthiest places in The Netherlands. Your ride concludes at your hotel in the center of Haarlem.

Haarlem was the prolific center of linen manufacturing and flower cultivation from the 15th to the 17th centuries. Its prosperity was bolstered by its location on the Spaarne River, a serene waterway that lends the city a tranquil air. Your accommodations put you within walking distance of the Grote Kerk, or Great Church of St. Bavos, where both Handel and Mozart are said to have played the organ. This impressive 15th-century church rests on Grote Markt, the Great Market square, also home to the City Hall and a statue of Laurens Coster, whom the Dutch will tell you invented printing a decade before Gutenberg. There are many options on Grote Markt for dinner this evening.

Today’s Ride:
Bergen to Haarlem: 46.7 km (29 miles)

What to Expect: Depart Bergen on a bike route that takes you due south through a mixture of neighborhoods and parkland. You ride on dedicated bike paths, bike lanes alongside streets, and quiet neighborhood lanes. As you enter and leave the town of Alkmaar, and as you cross the busy North Sea Canal, be aware of signs and traffic. After skirting the coastal Zuid Kennemerland National Park and the suburb of Bloemendaal on bike lanes and paths, you follow well signed bike lanes into the center of Haarlem. Again, you will share the road with traffic as you ride to your hotel near the city’s main cathedral and square.

Accommodation: Amrâth Grand Hotel Frans Hals, Haarlem
Included Meals: Breakfast

Enjoy a full day to explore Haarlem and its surroundings at your own pace. VBT provides you with City Information and recommendations for what to see and do.

Your hotel is perfectly situated for easy exploration. Your visit coincides with the Saturday morning market in Grote Markt, considered by many to be the prettiest square in Holland and the nation’s best outdoor market. You might also visit the Molen de Adriaan, the city’s beloved windmill looking over the river. Peruse the lush collection of portraits at the Frans Hals Museum, dedicated to the art of the city’s most famous native son. Embark a canal cruise for a waterside view of the pretty city. Or visit the country’s oldest museum, the Teylers, a captivating collection from the arts and sciences. In addition, your hotel can help you arrange a walking tour with a local guide, the ideal way to see Haarlem’s many monuments or its hidden almshouse courtyards (hofjes), many dating back to medieval times.

Accommodation: Amrâth Grand Hotel Frans Hals, Haarlem
Included Meals: Breakfast

After breakfast* this morning, allow yourself a minimum of 3 hours prior to your flight departure to get to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. This timeframe includes approximately 30 minutes by taxi or an hour on public transportation, and around 2 hours of recommended pre-flight check-in time.

* Please note: For guests with early-morning departures, breakfast at the hotel may not be available. Please check with the front desk to verify the times that breakfast is served.

Accommodation: N/A
Included Meals: Breakfast

Mon, Mar 29 to Sat, Apr 3 - 2021

Show Itinerary:

Make your own independent travel arrangements to Enkhuizen. We suggest arriving in The Netherlands at least one day prior to the tour start date as your tour begins at 1:00 p.m. For details, refer to your VBT Handbook. Meet your VBT local host at 1:00 p.m. (after lunch), along with any other VBT guests arriving on the same day, for your Welcome orientation in the lobby of the Villa Enkhuizen (Enkhuizen, Tel +31 0583 47615). Please be dressed and ready for cycling. Your local host will be carrying a VBT sign and/or wearing a VBT garment.

The Welcome orientation with your VBT local host includes:
• An overview of the itinerary
• Bike fitting and equipment familiarization
• Review of the Ride with GPS navigation app
• Important contact information in case you need to reach your VBT local host
• Safety briefing
• Local suggestions (restaurants, things to do, etc.)

Enkhuizen was one of the most prosperous cities in The Netherlands in the 17th century. During this Golden Age of Holland, the Dutch East India Company ruled the waves from here, particularly the trading routes to Africa, India and Indonesia, where merchants filled their ships with textiles, spice and coffee—and their coffers with profits. Today, it is a beautiful little port on the IJsselmeer, called the largest lake in Western Europe. In truth, it is a massive inland bay created in 1932 when a small sea, the Zuiderzee, was closed off from the North Sea by the 19-mile Afsluitdijk, part of the massive works project that, still today, keeps the North Sea waters at bay. The IJsselmeer is just 15-19 feet deep.

Today’s ride introduces you to the famous Dutch polder landscapes, a patchwork of low-lying swathes of land bordered by dikes. This tranquil and colorful canvas of agricultural fields, tidy small farms, and wide-open skies hosts a profusion of birdlife in its meadows and waterways.

Later, walk through Enkhuizen’s historic center and admire its numerous villas, canals, churches and city walls—legacies of the 17th-century mercantile wealth. Today or tomorrow, visit the fascinating Zuiderzeemuseum, home to an indoor exhibit about the history of the region and a 15-acre open-air museum that features restored buildings, gardens, demonstrations of fish-smoking and rope-making, and a large collection of wooden ships from all over Holland.

For dinner, stroll to one of the inviting outdoor cafés or restaurants in the pedestrian-only Old Town.

Today’s Ride:
Enkhuizen Warm-up: 17.5 km (10 miles)

What to Expect: Get comfortable with your bike and used to following the route notes. Today’s easy out-and-back ride on flat bike paths along the waters of the IJsselmeer also serves to acquaint you with the Dutch bike network that you will follow most of the week.

Accommodation: Villa Enkhuizen, Enkhuizen
Included Meals: None included

Enkhuizen is surrounded by remarkably preserved fortifications, transformed into a park with walking trails overlooking the moat and several gates. You may choose to admire the harborside Drommedaris, the city’s landmark plump tower named for its resemblance to a camel. Or browse the 500 volumes of the Netherland’s only remaining 17th-century library located in the impressive Westerkerk church.

If you’d like to explore by bicycle, enjoy a ride in the scenic region of North Holland that is described as a historic triangle—with the towns of Enkhuizen, Hoorn and Medemblik as its three points. Cycle to Hoorn, “the pearl of the IJsselmeer,” traversing flower fields and farmland. Like Enkhuizen, Hoorn prospered from the bustling trade of the Dutch Golden Age and boasts a remarkably preserved historic pedestrian center; see its 16th-century defense tower, the Hoofdtoren (or Head Tower), the 1609 weighing house known as De Waag where cheese was weighed for centuries, and the Oosterkerk, its steeple crowned with a ship weathervane. Stroll the piers past masterfully restored sailboats, peruse the many shops and take a break at an outdoor café or restaurant. If you are here from mid-June to August, be sure to visit the Tuesday afternoon cheese market in Rode Steen Square, a festive celebration featuring West Frisian folklore dancers and cheese carriers dressed in white hoisting enormous wheels of cheese. On the third Tuesday in August, you can enjoy the lively atmosphere of an annual cheese festival instead.

Return to Enkhuizen by bike or, if you’d like to spend more time in Hoorn, you can catch the train back to Enkhuizen; it’s a 26-minute ride that delivers you just a short distance from your hotel. Just look for the train compartment marked with a bicycle.

Back in Enkhuizen, enjoy a drink or dinner overlooking the port.

Today’s Ride:
Enkhuizen to Hoorn one way (return by train): 42 km (26 miles)

What to Expect: After exiting the city gate of Enkhuizen, you ride with little traffic through farmland, hamlets and towns, sometimes on dedicated bike paths and sometimes along the road in the bike lane. Encounter some busier traffic as you enter and ride through Hoorn. Return to Enkhuizen via the train (at your own expense).

Enkhuizen Loop: 66 km (41 miles)

What to Expect: After exiting the city gate of Enkhuizen, you ride with little traffic through farmland, hamlets and towns, sometimes on dedicated bike paths and sometimes along the road in the bike lane. Encounter some busier traffic as you enter and ride through Hoorn. Departing Hoorn, you follow the coastal bike path along the IJsselmeer with the water on your right. As you ride, you may notice that the water here is higher than the land! Weather permitting, you could stop for a swim.

Accommodation: Villa Enkhuizen, Enkhuizen
Included Meals: Breakfast

Begin today with another spin through the historic triangle, this time tracing a seaside bike path along the IJsselmeer. The Omring Dike that holds back the sea here was built by monks in the 14th century to protect this flood-prone land. Soon, you arrive in Medemblik. This vibrant sailing port boasts a small picturesque Old Town lined with 17th- and 18th-century houses. Its Radboud Castle on the east bank of the harbor dates to the 13th century. This modest fortress served as a hiding place for Rembrandt’s renowned painting The Night Watch during World War II. Today, the town’s most impressive sight is the 426-foot wind turbine—one of the largest in Europe. Gain insight into a considerably older source of energy if you stop at the Medemblik Steam Museum.

Continue cycling inland to the charming village of Twisk, straddling the banks of a creek. Heralded as one of the most beautiful villages in West Friesland, its buildings and farmhouses date to the 1600s. Perhaps pause for lunch here at Rempt, a modest shop serving grilled cheese and apple pie, all prepared with local ingredients! You can also pick up some snacks for later at the grocery here. Later, pass by the quaint historic town of Kolhorn. Steeped in charm, this village was once a fishing port, but dike construction sent its waters into retreat and it is now 12 miles inland on a canal. Its surrounding farmlands are the source of millions of Holland’s famed tulips, with more than 500 types grown here. Fields here stretch as far as the eye can see.

Your destination today is Schagen, a pretty village boasting a lovely town square overlooked by an historic church. This warm, friendly town hosted a horse market in the 1600s and a cattle market in the 1800s. Settle into your hotel, occupying a small castle beloved to the locals, then head out for a stroll and your well-earned dinner.

Today’s Ride:
Enkhuizen to Schagen: 66.4 km (41 miles)

What to Expect: Depart Enkhuizen along the flat bike path closest to the IJsselmeer. After about 25 km (15 miles), you arrive in Medemblik, marked by its giant wind turbine. Turn inland and in 5 km (3 miles) ride the 2 km (1.5 mile) long main street of Twisk, passing its historic farmhouses. You wind past the town of Winkel and the historic former fishing village of Kolhorn, then ride to your hotel in the center of Schagen.

Accommodation: Slot Hotel Schagen, Schagen
Included Meals: Breakfast

After breakfast, you may head to the traditional Thursday morning market, where you may sample cheeses and other delicious treats produced locally. Activities and performances change each week during July and August, so you never know what you’ll stumble upon—perhaps folkloric dancing, handicraft demonstration, theater performances or costume displays. It’s a rich and vibrant celebration of West Friesland culture! During other months, browse a selection of Dutch cheeses, the day’s catch at a fish market and other local treasures.

Later, head out on a ride into tulip country. The prime blooming season is late April and early May, but our route into De Kop van Noord Holland (the top of North Holland) is beautiful and invigorating any time of year. You ride flat roads to the small town of Anna Paulowna, named for the 19th-century Russian wife of the Dutch king. This is where the charms of the Dutch countryside come to life: a bucolic canvas of windmills, deep-green fields, cows and traditional houses.

Later, you arrive at the North Sea coast and follow it south, passing miles of dunes, quaint towns and low forest. Your destination is the seaside village of Bergen, a well-to-do town nestled among seascapes and woodlands. An artist community at the turn of the last century, the Bergen School of painters evolved here in the 1920s and 30s. Today, it is home to inviting galleries, cafés, restaurants and the respected Kranenburgh Art Museum, where the works of regional painters and sculptors is collected. You can also explore the Park Meerwijk neighborhood, lined with unique thatched “Amsterdam villas.”

Today’s Ride:
Schagen to Bergen: 63 km (39 miles)

What to Expect: Depart Schagen through the town of Oudesluis (“old lock”). After about 15 km (9 miles), arrive in the town of Anna Paulowna; in the spring, enjoy the fabulous bloom display here. Your route winds its way to the coast at about 32 km (20 miles), then turns south to parallel the North Sea coast on a combination of separate bike paths and bike lanes along the road. In the spring, the road is lined with about 10 miles of blooming tulip fields! Continue through sand dunes and low forests planted to combat erosion. At Camperduin, ride inland through forest and small rolling dunes to the town of Bergen.

Accommodation: Hotel Breeburg, Bergen
Included Meals: Breakfast

Depart Bergen on bike paths through pretty upscale neighborhoods and green parks. The first stretch of the day’s ride is short—just five miles—and delivers you to the town of Alkmaar. This charming Dutch community of gabled houses has been making cheese since at least 1635. Over time, its market grew so much that town officials tore down some buildings in the main square to make room for cheese makers and other vendors. Today, this historic market runs most Fridays, perfectly timed for your visit.

After sampling cheeses and perhaps purchasing some for a snack later, continue cycling through small towns and fertile farmland. Later, you arrive at the busy North Sea Canal. This massive engineering project—built between 1865 and 1876—acts as a groundwater management system for western Holland. Critically for commerce, it links the North Sea to Amsterdam. After crossing the canal, you skirt the Zuid Kennemerland National Park, a stunning protected coastal land of dunes and bogs. The pine forests and marram grasses were planted here to fix the dunes in place. You then coast into the chic Haarlem suburb of Bloemendaal, one of the wealthiest places in The Netherlands. Your ride concludes at your hotel in the center of Haarlem.

Haarlem was the prolific center of linen manufacturing and flower cultivation from the 15th to the 17th centuries. Its prosperity was bolstered by its location on the Spaarne River, a serene waterway that lends the city a tranquil air. Your accommodations put you within walking distance of the Grote Kerk, or Great Church of St. Bavos, where both Handel and Mozart are said to have played the organ. This impressive 15th-century church rests on Grote Markt, the Great Market square, also home to the City Hall and a statue of Laurens Coster, whom the Dutch will tell you invented printing a decade before Gutenberg. There are many options on Grote Markt for dinner this evening.

Today’s Ride:
Bergen to Haarlem: 46.7 km (29 miles)

What to Expect: Depart Bergen on a bike route that takes you due south through a mixture of neighborhoods and parkland. You ride on dedicated bike paths, bike lanes alongside streets, and quiet neighborhood lanes. As you enter and leave the town of Alkmaar, and as you cross the busy North Sea Canal, be aware of signs and traffic. After skirting the coastal Zuid Kennemerland National Park and the suburb of Bloemendaal on bike lanes and paths, you follow well signed bike lanes into the center of Haarlem. Again, you will share the road with traffic as you ride to your hotel near the city’s main cathedral and square.

Accommodation: Amrâth Grand Hotel Frans Hals, Haarlem
Included Meals: Breakfast

Enjoy breakfast at your hotel and depart on your own on your onward travels. For details, refer to your VBT Handbook. Depending upon your destination, it may not be possible to depart for the U.S. on the last day of the tour. Please check airline schedules carefully. If you plan to schedule return flights immediately following the tour’s conclusion, please call your airline directly for specific check-in requirements.

Included Meals: Breakfast

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Dates & Prices

Self-Guided Air+

9 days, includes round-trip international airfare and additional hotel nights with included breakfast.

Single Supplement: From $545
Solo Surcharge: From $1,245

Departing From New York, NY (JFK)

Bike Vacation Only

6 Days. Includes Self-Guided bike vacation only.

Single Supplement: From $295
Solo Surcharge: From $1,245

Sat, Mar 27 - Sun, Apr 4, 2021

From
$2,745

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Mon, Mar 29 - Sat, Apr 3, 2021

From
$1,845

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Sat, Apr 3 - Sun, Apr 11, 2021

From
$2,995

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Mon, Apr 5 - Sat, Apr 10, 2021

From
$2,045

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Sat, Apr 10 - Sun, Apr 18, 2021

From
$2,995

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Mon, Apr 12 - Sat, Apr 17, 2021

From
$2,045

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Sat, Apr 17 - Sun, Apr 25, 2021

From
$2,995

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Mon, Apr 19 - Sat, Apr 24, 2021

From
$2,045

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Sat, May 1 - Sun, May 9, 2021

From
$2,995

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Mon, May 3 - Sat, May 8, 2021

From
$2,045

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Sat, May 15 - Sun, May 23, 2021

From
$3,345

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Mon, May 17 - Sat, May 22, 2021

From
$2,345

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Sat, May 22 - Sun, May 30, 2021

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$3,345

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Mon, May 24 - Sat, May 29, 2021

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$2,345

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Sat, May 29 - Sun, Jun 6, 2021

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$3,345

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Mon, May 31 - Sat, Jun 5, 2021

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$2,345

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Sat, Jun 19 - Sun, Jun 27, 2021

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$3,345

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Mon, Jun 21 - Sat, Jun 26, 2021

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$2,345

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Sat, Jun 26 - Sun, Jul 4, 2021

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$3,345

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Mon, Jun 28 - Sat, Jul 3, 2021

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$2,345

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Sat, Aug 7 - Sun, Aug 15, 2021

From
$3,195

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Mon, Aug 9 - Sat, Aug 14, 2021

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$2,195

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Sat, Aug 14 - Sun, Aug 22, 2021

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$3,195

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Mon, Aug 16 - Sat, Aug 21, 2021

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$2,195

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Sat, Sep 4 - Sun, Sep 12, 2021

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$3,195

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Mon, Sep 6 - Sat, Sep 11, 2021

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$2,195

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Sat, Sep 11 - Sun, Sep 19, 2021

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$3,195

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Mon, Sep 13 - Sat, Sep 18, 2021

From
$2,195

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Sat, Sep 18 - Sun, Sep 26, 2021

From
$2,745

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Mon, Sep 20 - Sat, Sep 25, 2021

From
$1,845

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For more information, call: 800-245-3868

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