Think of Holland and you will no doubt think of cycling, You are probably wondering why you are even carrying on reading. It’s true. The Netherlands is a Mecca for bikes with a largely flat landscape and fantastic cycle path provision making for an amazing family holiday experience. It’s the perfect place to introduce the kids safely to cycling. I won’t try to persuade you not to give it a go.
As a result of the popularity of cycling in Holland though cycle paths can be busy places. To truly escape why not head off by foot instead, taking some of the smaller paths that bikes find tricky and enjoying some real seclusion. Plus, if you need to take a pushchair, all those flat paths will come in handy!
You won’t need special hiking shoes to tackle the walks either – just comfy, weather-appropriate sports footwear should do. You can find walking paths in many areas of the country, with long distance routes (LAWs) and regional routes marked by red and white and red and yellow markers respectively. There is also a list of walking routes that start and finish at train stations (NS Routes) produced by Wandelnet although most of these cover distances of around 10km or more so may not be suitable for younger children.
You can plan most short walks by using Google maps and taking a print out although of course, a proper terrain map is always advised on longer outings.
The Netherlands is a wonderful place to take an outdoor family holiday. The sandy beaches seem to stretch on forever, the tulips in spring bring the fields into glorious, multicolour life and the endless peace of the waterways and rural landscape makes for a lovely landscape to enjoy camping and outdoor recreation in.
We have only just begun our adventures in Holland so I won’t pretend to be an expert on where or when to walk. Here are a few ideas and websites though to get you started as well as some for cycling too. You kind find those routes we have tried out and mapped down below.
- Dutch Tourist Board – a great place to start holiday planning with some useful sections on cycling and outdoor activities. Includes a handy route planner for finding your own cycle route.
- Wandelnet – a really useful site for all things hiking in The Netherlands. Includes details of the 30+ long distance hiking routes in Holland as well as shorter and regional routes and a route planner. It’s in Dutch though so unless you speak the lingo, you’ll need Google Translate to get the most out of it. Also has a really handy section on fun walks for kids – I particularly like the sound of the leprechaun route!
- Holland Hiking website is another handy resource covering cycling and walking, with lots of useful practical information on where and how you can safely access the trails.
- NS website provides everything you need to know about train travel in The Netherlands, including time tables and tickets.
- For general journey planning in Holland use this route planner, which provides integrated information on all public transport modes to get you from A to B.