In the far north of the Netherlands, in a vast and flat landscape, lie eleven historical towns linked by canals. They set the stage for a phenomenal ice skating event that is held just as soon as the canals freeze over and the ice is solid enough: The Eleven Towns Tour. The 200 km marathon is so popular with the Dutch people that the route is often cycled in warmer months with a feeling of nostalgia as cyclists pass familiar waymarks. What a lovely route it is!
Your Frisian adventure kicks off in Leeuwarden, the vibrant capital of Friesland province. If the spoken language sounds different to you here, you are absolutely right. The Frisian language differs from Dutch and is an important aspect of local culture.
We have three of the eleven towns lined up for you today. Bolsward is a lovely historical Hanseatic town that captures the hearts of many tourists.
You will stay the night in the lively town of Sneek, popular with water sports enthusiasts and daytrippers. Everybody loves the canals that adorn the centre. Waterpoort (1613) is the town’s pride and joy. It’s a water gate. Way back when the town was surrounded by a defensive wall, this was one of the town gates through which boats were permitted to enter and leave town. If you have a sweet tooth, try to get hold of the local brittle buckwheat cookies: “drabbelkoeken”. Why not crown your evening in one of the many bars and cafes that liven up the town?
Leaving behind the hustle and bustle of Sneek, you will dive into the peace and quiet of the Frisian Lake District. Comprising nearly thirty inland lakes, it is said to be the largest lake district in western Europe. With water all around, experience a feeling of calm and forget about time for a while. Further on, you will reach a geologically interesting wooded area called Gaasterland that is suddenly not so typical of the Netherlands. You will find meandering creeks, slightly rolling terrain and deciduous woods directly on the coast of what used to be Zuiderzee. Even more unexpectedly, a wall of boulder clay called Rode Klif rises up from Lake IJsselmeer, offering endless views.
There’s more Frisian cultural heritage in store for you today. In Hindeloopen, wooden bridges, houses with characteristic façades, narrow streets and even an ice skating museum hold great appeal. But there’s more. You may have heard of Hindelooper painted furniture and traditional fabrics used for the local costume. The people of this town had a style all of their own, influenced by trading connections with Scandinavia and the Baltic. Feast your eyes on fantastic floral patterns and find out about the town’s history and traditions at Atelier Glashouwer or Museum Hindeloopen. Next up is Workum which was once a town of potters famed for their grooved ceramics (clay is readily available around here). At Koch’s workshop you can still see them at work. At the town hall get a glimpse of the town’s rich history. Inside, visitors can see an original wooden prison cell where tramps, drunkards and criminals were locked up in times of old. Round off the day in historical Makkum, famous for producing Frisian pottery. The Tichelaar factory of tiles and ceramics has been going strong since 1594. To see Frisian pottery we recommend the ceramics museums in Harlingen and Leeuwarden.
We will pass the borders of Lake IJssel once again on the way to the next of our eleven towns, Franeker, a small but impressive town. It houses not only the Netherlands’ second oldest university, the oldest student bar “Bogt van Guné” but also the country’s oldest working planetarium: Eisinga Planetarium. From Franeker it’s only a very short ride to Harlingen, smell the briny sea air as you approach this friendly harbour town. As you amble up and down the Wadden Promenade on the sea front, consider what a special place the shallow Wadden Sea is. It is even listed as Unesco World Heritage. At low tide the mudflats and tidal creeks are revealed and shore birds arrive to forage. During a walk through the centre of town you will discover a great number of monumental warehouses, buildings of architectural or historical interest and picturesque canals.
Tip: if you want to spend a day cycling on the Wadden Island of Vlieland or Terschelling, then we can book an extra night in Harlingen for you with a ferry ticket included.
Set off along the coast, with vast polders to your right, and consider how the people of Friesland might have might have kept their feet dry in a flood before sea dikes were invented. In fact, they built “terps”, or raised dwelling mounds, and their churches and (farm)houses perched on top. At Hegebeintum, your first stop of the day, you can see one that has been partly preserved. At nearly nine meters it’s the highest terp in Friesland. Today’s journey ends in Dokkum. Once upon a time the town was orientated towards the sea to which it had an open connection. It became strategically important and was fortified with defensive earthworks and moats in 1582, the outlines of which can clearly be seen to this day. Later the harbour silted up and the town became land orientated. It has long attracted pilgrims who come to pay homage to St. Boniface, a missionary from England who came to convert pagan Frisians to Christianity. He was murdered here in Dokkum in the year 754. Outside the chapel, there’s a well that Boniface was said to have discovered and blessed. The clear water has healing properties or so some say.
Today’s scenery is the typically Frisian open, green landscape with water, meadows and cows. The Dokkumer Ee canal (which features prominently in the skating marathon) leads the way to the capital of Friesland. The unassuming bridge at Bartlehiem is most famous perhaps for surviving the crowds of supporters jumping up and down and cheering the skaters on. From here it’s only a short stretch to Leeuwarden. Only a total of 26 km for you today, leaving plenty of time to look around this gem of the north. Feel like going shopping for a souvenir? Kleine Kerkstraat is one of the best-loved shopping streets in the country. The town has over six hundred monuments and boasts charming harbours. If it’s action you want, climb the Frisian tower of Pisa called Oldenhove. The bronze statue “Us Mem” (meaning Our Mother) is a good place to start exploring.
You can also choose a shorter cycling route today of 27 km.
Today your cycling holiday comes to an end. After enjoying a hearty hotel breakfast, it’s time to pack your bags and return home.
Daily from April 1 till September 23.
|Double room, breakfast||735.00|
|Single room, breakfast||945.00|
|Extra night, breakfast only||70.00|
|Hotel de Abdij, Dokkum||40.00|
|Van der Valk Hotel Sneek, Sneek||25.00|
|Child seat||€ 5.00 x 7||35.00|
|Bike theft insurance||€ 3.00 x 7||21.00|
|E-bike theft insurance||€ 6.00 x 7||42.00|
|Extra luggage||€ 5.00 x 7||35.00|
|Tag-along bike||€ 6.00 x 7||42.00|
|Child trailer||€ 17.50 x 7||122.50|
|Bike helmet||per piece||10.00|
|Boat tickets||per piece||120.00|
The hotels on this trip have been carefully selected for their location, atmosphere and/or unique services. All rooms are en-suite. A list of the hotels we work with appears below. If a certain hotel is unable to confirm due to lack of availability, we will try to request a comparable alternative if possible.
If you don’t bring your own bike, you can rent one from us. Our touring bikes are 24-speed gear. You can find all the information regarding our rental bikes below.
You will find your rental bike waiting for you at your first hotel. The hotel reception staff will give you the keys for your bikes and direct you to the bicycle shed. All bikes are provided with chain locks.
A standard hybrid bike is €13,00 a day.
Our hybrid bikes have 24-gears with hand brakes.
The hybrid bikes are circa 16,5 KG.
An electric bike is €27,00 a day.
The e-bikes have a small electric engine and battery, which can be charged at the hotels. You still have to pedal: it just makes pedaling much easier. Some experience with e-bikes is recommended, as the bikes accelerate faster and are heavier than regular bikes because of the electric engine. The weight of the e-bike is ca. 25 KG. We recommend a minimum height of 160 cm for the e-bike.
A child’s bike is € 11,00 a day.
For children who are at least 125 cm, we can also arrange bikes (these are 24”or 26” for children that are bigger than 140 cm).
The child bikes come with at least 7-gears and hand brakes.
The maximum body height for a child’s bike is 155 cm.
24" child bike:
26" child bike:
All our rental bikes come with a bell.
All our adult bikes come with hand brakes.
For children up to 30 months old (max. 15 KG) it is possible to rent a front child seat. This is not possible with e-bikes, due to the display.
For children older than 30 months (max. 22KG) it is possible to rent a rear child seat. This is also possible with e-bikes.
Both front- and rear child seats are €5,- per day.
It is possible to rent a GPS device when you start your tour in Amsterdam, Bruges, Utrecht, Huizen or Bunnik for €20,-.
Helmets are not mandatory in the Netherlands, but can be rented for €10,- per piece.
Available sizes: Adult: 54-61 cm, Child: 50-55 cm.
All our bikes come with both front- and rear lights. You need to push the button on the lamp and it will flash three times. This means that the lights will automatically start working when it gets dark.
When you push again, the lamp will flash one time and the lights will be turned off.
Our bikes come with a defender lock with plug in chain (cable lock that is attached to the regular lock, see picture).
You need to turn the key a bit, take out the pin from the cable lock and attach it to a pole/other bike/fence etc.
When you push the pin back into the regular lock, you need to lock the regular lock as you always do, and both locks will be secured.
1 pannier is included at the 'standard' bikes and the e-bikes.
Height: 42 cm
Depth front to the side: 17 cm
Wide top: 32 cm
Wide down: 23 cm
Volume: 20 liters
It has an easy click-on/click-off system. The panniers are water resistant, so everything will stay dry.
The rental bikes come with regular pedals, so no click-in/SPD pedals.
All our bikes come with a quick release system, which makes it very easy to adjust the height of the saddle and the handle bars.
There is one small puncture kit included, which can be found in the pannier. In case a rental bike has another problem, we always advise you to go to a bike repair shop or call the bike breakdown emergency number which is provided in the travel documents when you book this extra service.
Saddles can be adjusted in height without using any tools, see ‘Quick Release’.
Our saddles don’t come with a gel cover.
Dutch Biketours does not provide water bottles. We can also not guarantee that there are bottle holders on the bikes. You will always receive 1x pannier, so you can always store your water bottle in your pannier.
A Tandem bike is € 20,00 a day.
We have a limited amount of tandem bikes available on request.
Tandem bikes are suitable for two adults only.
The tandem bikes have a frame size of 48 cm.
We mostly use the Victoria Spezial 8.7.
This tandem bike comes with 24-derailleur gears or nuvinci gears.
The height of the handle bars on a tandem bike cannot be adjusted.
A family tandem is €20,00 a day.
We have limited family tandem bikes available on request.
The family tandems have 7-gears and can be used for one adult and one child with a minimum body height of 125 cm.
A Tag-along bike is €6,00 a day.
A tag-along bike is a good option for children between approx. 100 cm and 125 cm, as they can pedal themselves and on their own pace but don’t have to worry about other traffic.
A child trailer is €17,50 a day.
Child trailers can be rented for a maximum of two children who are up to 100 cm (max. 35 KG in total).
We mostly use the XLC Duo 2 child trailer.
Child trailers are not possible in combination with e-bikes.
Do you wish to insure your bike against theft? The cost is € 3,- per day per standard hybrid bicycle.
For an electric bicycle, premium bike or racing bike: € 6,00 per day per bicycle.
Please see the General Terms and Conditions for Bicycle Hire and Insurance.
If a rental bike gets stolen or damaged, we will hold the client responsible.
If your insurance does not cover this event, you will have to pay the costs yourself.
Article 1 Bike Rental Price
The bike rental price is determined by the rates mentioned on the Dutch Bike Tours website at the time of the booking; or as subsequently agreed.
Article 2 Payment
a. The rental price and any other due sums regarding the rental agreement must be paid before the bike is handed over to you.
b. If, for whatever reason, you cannot make use of the bike(s) you have rented, Dutch Bike Tours will not be held responsible for any resulting expenses or damage.
c. In the case of the article 2b, the client remains obliged to pay the full rental price and any other amounts mentioned in the invoice, in accordance with our General Terms and Conditions of Booking, unless the client can prove that his not being able to use the bike was the consequence of a defect that was already present at the beginning of the rental period.
Article 3 Rental Period
a. The rental period runs from the morning of the first cycling day (day 2) to the end of the holiday (the departure day), as stated in the booking confirmation.
b. Extension of the rental period is possible only after approval by us and according to the (extension) rates as mentioned in article 1.
c. No refunds are possible after the rental period begins. If you return the bike(s) to us before the end of your holiday, the rental agreement will automatically be terminated and you will not get any of your money back.
d. At the end of the last cycling day of your holiday, the bike(s) must be returned to the hotel from where it was/they were issued, no later than the time stated in the booking confirmation.
If you book a one way tour tour you can leave the bike at the last hotel of the trip.
e. If the bike(s) is /are not returned by the return time stated in the booking confirmation, we will continue to charge you rent until such time as the bike(s) is/are returned to us or is/are received by us. In the event of late return, the rates as mentioned in article 1 will continue to apply, plus a fine of €25 per day. We also reserve the right to demand payment for any costs and/or damages suffered by us due to late return of our rental bike(s).
f. Notwithstanding the preceding paragraph, in the event of late return of our rental bikes, we reserve the right to dissolve the rental agreement without judicial intervention and immediately claim back our bicycles where ever they may be and from whomever has them. Dutch Bike Tours also holds this right in the event that the client does not comply with any of the other conditions stated in this rental agreement.
Article 4 Improper Use
a. The bicycle(s) may only be used for its/their intended purpose and only by the cyclists listed in the rental agreement.
b. The bike(s) must be returned to us in the same (clean!) state in which you received it/them.
c. You must take excellent care of the bicycle(s), as if it/they were your own. You must take every precaution against damage, loss or theft.
d. The bicycle may not be used on the beach; or on sandy paths in the dunes unless a paved path is unavailable.
Article 5 Damage, Loss and Theft
The renter will be held responsible for damages to or loss of the bicycle(s) or parts of it, as well as bicycle keys and chains and locks, for such an amount as is determined by us according to standard market prices. You must understand that you are not insured for damage to the bicycle(s) or for any damages to third parties.
Article 6 Theft Insurance
It is possible to purchase Bicycle Theft Insurance. Covered are: damages arising out of the theft of the bicycle; and damages to the bicycle as a consequence of the theft. Not covered are: theft of bicycle parts; and damages arising out of attempted theft.
Article 7 Theft Insurance Premium
a. The premium for Bicycle Theft Insurance is € 3,00 per day per standard hybrid bicycle. For an electric bicycle € 6,00 per day as well for a Premium bike and racing bike.
The number of insurance days is the same as the number of cycling days as stated in our booking confirmation.
Article 8 Liability in the Event of Theft
a. If you did not purchase Bicycle Theft Insurance from us before the start of the holiday, you will be held fully accountable for the sum determined by us according to standard prices.
b. If you did purchase Bicycle Theft Insurance from us, but you failed to lock the wheel lock and failed to produce the original wheel lock key and failed to produce an official theft report drawn up by the police, you will still be held fully accountable for the sum determined by us according to standard prices.
Article 9 Costs During the Rental Period
Any charges and taxes regarding the rental bicycle(s), such as fines and ferry tickets, are to be paid by you. You will also be required to pay all costs ensuing from the use of the bicycle(s) such as parking fees, maintenance and repairs.
7 Nights included
3/4 Star Hotels
Tourist tax included
Detailed roadbooks with maps and tourist information
The possibility of renting our bikes
7-days a week service-hotline
Luggage transport to your next hotel
Parking possibilities at the hotel
Any ferry crossings are not included
Nearest Airport is Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS)
We found Dutch people so warm and welcoming and it’s such a bike friendly country with wonderful infrastructure . It makes cycling a real pleasure . We enjoyed learning about the landscape and history and saw so much wildlife . We are a group of 4 in our 70s enjoying our 2nd Dutch Bike Tours holiday .
...What a wonderful stop over our bike group had in Stavoren on July 4th. Our group of American bikers celebrating our Independence Day in the Netherlands at dinner in Stavoren at a Scottish WhiskeyBar Restaurant, De Koeburg. What a wonderful town and restaurant! The meal, bike ride and experience this particular day was outstanding!...
...Bikes were a bit tired. Mudguards were either loose or broken. This was our first trip with Dutch Bike Tours. We shall be back and hope that the bike issues are resolved...
...I think we also thought there would be opportunities to swim in the sea but the beaches we came to were not really right for swimming. I liked the towns of harlingam and dokkum and freneker where we stopped and enjoyed the planetarium. The route was good but not very varied and the distances manageable...
...It was very well organized and that I enjoyed my vacation...
....Our holiday was very nice. All the hotels were great. All the routes were interesting....