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Peter Van Glabbeek (Netherlands)
7 years of bicycle touring experience (in 2009) including a 4-year long journey around the world
Cycled through 40 countriesPeter's website Time of Visit
I lived there 25 years. Visa
The Netherlands are part of the Schengen agreement. You need one visa for all the Schengen countries. See Shengen by Wikipedia Borders
You can enter and leave everywhere to Belgium or Germany. No border control. Boats to England from Hoek van Holland, also boats to Norway.Route
I cycled almost everywhere in the Netherlands. In general you can say that the country is flat. The only hills you find in the far south, near the German border and to the east of Utrecht. Highest elevation is 321m. Wind and rain are always possible. All months are equally wet, wind directions mostly north west, west or south west. Due to the nearby warm golf stream the climate is temperate.
Summer is never really hot, winter can be cold with wind from the east, but is mostly gentle. Expect 18 to 27C in July and August and -2 to 10C in January and February. Winter season is from November to April. It is a very often gray and daylight is short. With about 1000 hours of sunshine per year it is not a very sunny place anyway.
Of course the best thing about cycling in the Netherlands is the extremely extensive and well-organized system of bike lanes in all cities and the cycling routes all over the country (more than 10,000km). Mostly you will be on traffic free, paved bike lanes or on quiet roads. In my opinion stealth camping is easy, but it is not legal. Fortunately Dutch policemen are mostly friendly and will almost never fine you, that is if they find you. But in fact I never had anyone bothering me while wild camping. I mostly choose small patches of forest or ask a farmer if I can camp on there land. Groceries and water are available every few kms. On Sunday most shops are closed.
Don’t expect wild nature in the Netherlands. Absolutely everything is manmade. Rivers have dikes and not many curves, forests are planted, wild life is all introduced by men, wetlands are pumped dry and almost everywhere you will hear a highway, airplanes and other noise. That doesn’t mean it is not a beautiful country. Some of the constructions of dikes, gates and dams that keep the sea out are absolutely amazing.
The river landscapes are beautiful on a sunny or stormy day. Clouds and sunsets vary every day. Spring and summer are very green, autumn colors in October are great. You can swim almost everywhere. Rivers and lakes are becoming cleaner every year (I even drank from the Rhine without getting sick.)
But the real attraction of the Netherlands is the open-minded people. Not just the legal smoking of marihuana and prostitution, also the acceptance of homosexual men and women, abortion and euthanasia. If there is a place in the world where you are free to do and think what you like, then it is probably here. Try to visit Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam, Groningen or Maastricht and meet the people, share your ideas, discuss everything you like. The BEST routes
- LF1 (the LF routes are the long distance bike routes that cross the country) along the coast. This is part of the North Sea Cycle Route. Beautiful bike path that follows the dunes and shows you all the big dams.
- Getting lost in the hills in the far south. You will meet hundreds of cyclists that are looking for our few difficult little climbs. Some good views and lush forests.
- Cycling on the dikes of the big rivers Rhine, Waal, Maas or IJssel. Beautiful river landscapes, quiet cycling.
- Cycling in the north east (Groningen and Drenthe provinces). The quietest part of the country that still has some country side feeling.
- Join the cycling crowds in Amsterdam or Utrecht and see if you can beat the locals that cycle home from work like madmen in their best suits, dresses or high heels.The WORST Route
Many roads are extremely busy and noisy, especially around rush our. They are easy to avoid by using the bike paths.Bicycle Shops
Many bike shops everywhere in small and big towns, closed on Sunday and often on Monday.
Quality of service is good, but some are better at selling than repairing. Ask a local for the best place.
Large choice of everything.Bicycle Touring Gear Shops
Also panniers, touring tires and rims, good racks are available. Better go to the bigger cities for this.Camping Gear Shops
All camping gear is available in the bigger cities. For example the Beversport chainBest Season
May to SeptemberWorst Season
November to MarchMaps
Several brands, available in bookshops and specialized map shops in bigger cities.Languages
Almost everyone speaks English and very often German.Average for Cheap Lodging
30€Locals' Average Salary
2000€ per monthTransport your BikeBy Air
I used Schiphol (Amsterdam) and Rotterdam airport.
It is very easy to cycle in and out of the airport on a bike path. Schiphol is also easily accessible by train. (You pay 6 Euro to take a bike in the train, nothing if it is already in a box)
I flew with many companies in and out of the Netherlands with my bike. Never a problem, always for free, the never damaged my bike.By boat
: See for example: Stenaline ferry
The most common is the ferry to England from Hoek van Holland to Harwich.By bus
Long distance transport is always by train. Very good railway network, easy to take a bike.Information and map of the networkSee for tickets and prices hereTransport your BikeInformation about bike routes
(check out the pdf-file on the right)