Try to arrange for an early arrival! You’ll want an entire day just to wander the 17th-century canal district, gazing up at the beautiful old townhouses and taking in the beauty of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Select your favourite museum, get lost in the red-light district or soak up the sun on the Rembrandtplein and watch the world go by. When you leave the capital early this afternoon, the urban buzz will soon give way to rural peace and quiet. Cycle the peat landscape of Zuid-Kennemerland, where low-lying clouds reflect in the water and reeds sway in the wind. Top off your day roaming downtown Haarlem, from the impressive Grote Markt square to the white drawbridge on the River Spaarne. Idyllic ‘hofje’ courtyards will set your heart aflutter. In April and early May, extend your route to 53 km to cycle the tulip fields.
Start the day in historic Haarlem and get a glimpse of Golden Age painting at the Frans Hals Museum. Or try the exquisite Teylers Museum, the Netherlands’ oldest, open since 1784! At midday, jump back on your bike and ride the banks of the River Spaarne to pretty Spaarndam and the IJdijk. Tiny ancient houses perch atop the dike, high and dry, while others sit safe and snug behind it. Reputedly the oldest lock in the world, Kolksluis is still in working order, standing at its breath-taking location. Pause to honour dear little Hans Brinker, the brave boy who -according to legend- stuck his finger in a hole the dike thus avoiding a great flood and certain doom.
Pedalling onward along the River Zaan you come upon adorable green wooden houses, with white lace curtains in the windows. Several prime windmills stand in gorgeous rows at picture-perfect Zaanse Schans. Stop to take pictures, visit the wooden shoe workshops and find out how to make Dutch cheese. Then take a break and nibble on a well-deserved pancake.
A few cranks of the shaft cover the short stretch to Het Twiske recreational park, a favourite spot for summer get-aways. On hot days, city dwellers flee Amsterdam and cycle out to the lake for a dip. Next, a varied landscape of woods, meadows and lakes accompanies you to Monnickendam and today’s cycling route concludes in the festive fishing port of Volendam. Browse decorating boutiques, shop for great finds and relax at an outdoor cafe overlooking the water.
Volendam’s red brick houses and quaint old quarter lead to an intriguing museum depicting the history, culture and folklore of this close-knit community. The permanent exhibit includes inspiring period rooms, traditional costumes and jewellery and a section on eel fishery, complete with model boats. Delight in the art collection with its mind-boggling cigar band mosaics. Circling back to the city via the isle of Marken, you’ll be in Amsterdam in time for a bit more sight-seeing.
Your cycling holiday draws to a close this morning after breakfast and it is time to go home.