Dive into the rich history of the former Zuiderzee, a shallow bay in the north of the Netherlands which is now the country’s largest lake. During the Golden Age and the heyday of the Dutch East India shipping company, Amsterdam and Hoorn harbours were important trading places and towns like Volendam and Lemmer would once have been thriving fishing villages. However, when humans finally won their battle against the water with the completion of the Afsluitdijk causeway, the towns and landscapes around the Zuiderzee changed forever. Covering 440 kilometres (273 miles) in 8 stages, you cycle back in time through cosy fishing villages, centuries-old trading towns and beautiful nature.
The route begins in the Zeeburg district of Amsterdam. As parking in the Dutch capital is notoriously difficult, it’s easier to arrive by train. The start of the route is just a short distance from the central station. In this Collection, I cycle the circular in a clockwise direction, but you can also choose to ride it the other way. Have a look at the weather forecast, especially the direction of the wind, before deciding which way to ride the loop.
With a relatively short average daily distance of 50 kilometres (30 miles), the route is an ideal relaxed cycling adventure. The longest stage is when you cross the 32-kilometre (18.8-mile) long Afsluitdijk causeway. In the coming years, you will travel this section with a special bus whilst Rijkswaterstaat conducts work on the dam. But, you’ll be able to ride over it in the future. Each stage finishes in a town or city with everything you need: a cup of coffee, lunch, or a hotel is never far away. You can also find campsites on the outskirts of town.
Enjoy the vast polder landscapes, characteristic farms, impressive Hanseatic towns, sleepy fishing villages, lofty warehouses, mighty waterworks and much, much more. Have fun!
Today's ride starts from the most easterly part of Amsterdam: IJburg. You can almost touch the waters of the former Zuiderzee. But before that happens you first have to cross the Schellingwouderbrug. After less than three kilometers it is already that far: water in sight.The first village along the Waterlandse Zeedijk is Durgerdam. Before the Zuiderzee was closed, the village was an important port. The island of Pampus is close by. This used to be a sandbank that caused a lot of nuisance for heavily loaded ships. The captains had to wait until the high tide, this waiting was called lying in front of Pampus.The part of the route to Monnickendam continues inland. Here you can clearly see why the area is called Waterland. Everywhere you look you see ditches, lakes, canals, water and land. The historic harbor of Monnickendam of this former fishing village is the perfect place to bite a fresh herring.The route winds its way further north. On your right you see the former island - and now peninsula - Marken. You cycle into Volendam about halfway along the route. Volendam is quite touristy. Volendam was founded later than the surrounding villages as a luxury suburb for wealthy people. The splendor is reflected in the stately streets and stately canal houses.
The route continues north. With more than 50 kilometers in the legs, Hoorn is the final destination. This former trading city has no fewer than 420 national monuments. Enough to see. You will find hotels in every price range. Camping is also possible, but campsites are located just outside the center.
In the ride between Hoorn and Medemblik you imagine yourself back in the Golden Age for a while. You cycle west on a beautiful road along the historic harbors of Hoorn. Navigating is easy during the next few kilometers. All you have to do is follow the shore of the Markermeer.The cycle path leads you to Enkhuizen. Here the history and wealth of the Gouw Eeuw is still clearly visible. Enkhuizen was one of the most prosperous cities of the heyday between 1575 and 1675. This was the location of the United East India Company (VOC). This company had a monopoly on trade with Asia. You can see the prosperity on almost every corner of the street.Another place where this can be clearly seen is the Zuiderzee Museum. A nice stop on the route. Here you will learn everything about the cultural history of the former life on the Zuiderzee. With the exhibition 'Journey around the Zuiderzee' you prepare a little bit for your journey along this sea.You continue your way towards the final destination Medemblik. The oldest city in West Friesland is a lot more relaxed than Volendam, Hoorn and Enkhuizen. Settle down on one of the terraces for a drink before checking into a hotel. The nicest accommodations are located north of the Westerhaven. There are several campsites around Medemblik.
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This Tour between Medemblik and Workum largely runs over one of the Netherlands' most impressive buildings: the 32-kilometer-long Afsluitdijk. Via the flood defense that has turned the Zuiderzee into the IJsselmeer, you cycle to the province of Friesland.But before it gets that far, you still have a few kilometers through Noord-Holland too well. Continue straight on on the Zuiderdijkweg. After 16 kilometers you will arrive at a special place. The Robbenoordbos and adjacent Dijkgatbos are one of the few places where you will find a cluster of alders and birches. This is one of the few forests in the North Holland polder landscape.On the other side of the Zuiderhaven lies "ie: the Afsluitdijk. In 1916 a violent flooding of the Zuiderzee took place. It was then decided to implement this mega project. In 1932 the dike was completed and the area behind it was protected against flooding. Not only was the Zuiderzee closed, but it is also faster and easier to travel from North Holland to Friesland.One of the first Frisian towns you reach is Makkum. This historic fishing and water sports village has many protected village views. Especially around the lock you will find many stately houses and buildings. Makkum used to be called the "Gateway to the Zuiderzee". You will find plenty of campsites and hotels in the area. Finding a place to sleep should not be a problem.
In the stage between Workum and Lemmer you descend deeper through Fryslân and you pass no less than three of the eleven Frisian Eleven Cities - starting location Workum included.From Workum you cycle a little further inland. You only cycle along the water again from Hindeloopen. Hindeloopen is the next in a series of three Frisian Eleven Cities that you visit. Making a short stop is recommended. Hindeloopen dates back to the 13th century and has been awarded in the category "most beautiful villages in Europe". You will find many sights from the rich shipping history.You cycle along the eastern shore of the IJsselmeer via a series of dikes. In some cases the cycle path is on top of the dike. Here you have a beautiful view over the open water and polders. Stavoren is the next stop of the Frisian Eleven Cities. This beautiful former Hanseatic city is the perfect place for a short break.From Stavoren, the route bends and you cycle east. The route winds through a water-rich environment and beautiful nature. Another nice stop is De Sondeler Leijen. This centuries-old nature reserve was created by a flooding of the Zuiderzee. From the bird hide you look out over lakes and reed beds. You see different bird species here in every season. Bring the binoculars!Today's finish is in picturesque and cozy Lemmer. A must-see is the UNESCO Woudagemaal. Hotel, bed & breakfast or camping, it is all one of the options in Lemmer. It can be quite busy here in the summer months. You should therefore preferably book an accommodation in advance during this period.
Today's route, the one between Lemmer and Kraggenburg, will be a special one. For the first time in the Collection, you will leave the banks of the IJsselmeer. The route follows the old contours of the Zuiderzee and, as strange as that may sound, it runs across land.Take a good look at the water from Lemmer, because you will not see this again for the time being. Nevertheless, the route leads on or over dikes for large parts. How could this make you wonder? You cycle over the old dikes that used to provide protection against the Zuiderzee, even before the Noordoostpolder was created. This piece of land is completely man-made and reclaimed.A funny phenomenon on the route where you can see this well is the port of Kuinre. This used to be a busy port where skippers came from all over the world to trade. Now the harbor is located in the middle of the Kuinderbos. To view the remains of the harbor, you have to deviate a few hundred meters from the route. The harbor is signposted.The cycle path leads through extensive meadows and a sea of green grass. You cycle close to the provincial border between Flevoland and Overijssel. Every now and then you jump from one province to another, and back again.After approximately 40 kilometers you arrive in Vollenhoven. The port is a bit reminiscent of the Zuiderzee. In the 19th century, fishermen left the harbor to hunt for herring. Today's finish is a little further on - in Kraggenburg. There are a number of hotels and campsites in and around this village.
In stage number six you will zigzag from Kraggenburg to Elburg. The route continues through the Noordoostpolder. The landscape is flat as a dime and some impressive sights await along the way.Via a loop from the starting location you will quickly arrive at the first Highlight. The former Schokland peninsula is located after more than 17 kilometers. Before the Noordoostpolder was reclaimed, this island was located in the Zuiderzee. During storms and high water, the island suffered a lot. In 1859 the original inhabitants even had to evacuate permanently. The reason this place is so interesting is because of the many archaeological discoveries that are made there. And don't forget, the site is one of the few UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Netherlands.At the Ramspol Storm Surge Barrier you not only cycle into Overijssel, you also go here to a surface that has not ever been built by humans, for example by building new land. You reach Kampen via the Ganzendiep. This nautical city on the IJssel has been bursting with activity since the 13th century. The Medieval Hanseatic city was a popular place for fishermen, craftsmen and merchants. Many old buildings - such as the city gates and the old town hall - remind us of the power and prosperity of the past.The cycle path over the Zomerdijk takes you along the Drontermeer. You finish in Elburg. This is also a beautiful old Hanseatic city that once looked out over the Zuiderzee. If you check in on time, you will have time to explore this historic city.
The ride between Elburg and Spakenburg runs from start to finish along the Veluwerandmeren. You will cycle most of the stage along the former coastline of the Zuiderzee. But in some places you take a short trip to the "new land".You start from the city walls of the square fortified town of Elburg. A round of sightseeing is very worthwhile. It looks like you are cycling through a large museum. Fun fact: the town used to be in a different place and has moved completely. In 1392, the then Duke ordered the relocation of the town. Elburg is one of the few cities where the church is not central, but on the outskirts.The first half of the route runs via the south side of the Veluwerandmeren. The lakes were created after the draining of Flevoland. Harderwijk is located approximately halfway along the route. This old Hanseatic city contains no fewer than a hundred national monuments. The walled part of the city is definitely worth a visit!At Harderwijk South you take a trip to Flevoland. With the ferry between Zeewolde and Horst you hop to the other side of the water. The cycle path leads through a wooded area. The Horsterwold is the largest continuous deciduous forest in the Netherlands.Not much later you will be back on the familiar southern shore of the Veluwerandmeren. The remainder of the route is on a beautiful cycle path right along the Nijkerkernauw. The final destination is close to the Oude Haven of Spakenburg. You will find the fish auction at the end of the harbor. Time for a fresh fish while enjoying the view of the harbor! Hotels are a little further from the harbor, and campsites can be found outside the center.
In the last leg of your journey around the Zuiderzee, you still have a number of nice kilometers to spare. The highlights you pass today are perhaps the most beautiful of the entire route. The best for last, isn't it?The route runs along the edge of the Eemmeer & Gooimeer. At Huizen you will find a number of city beaches. In good weather you can take a refreshing dip. The Oud Naarden estate is located just outside Huizen. The cycle path cuts right through a wooded area on the banks of the Gooimeer Zuidoever.Shortly after you have crossed Rijksweg A1, the fortress of Naarden looms. Viewed from the air, but also from a bicycle, you immediately notice the shape of a star. This fortified city has six so-called bastions. Park the bike for a while and walk around the double city walls.When you have passed Muiderberg, you can almost touch the water of IJsselmeer again. The cycle path between Muiderberg and Muiden runs along the water and so the round Zuiderzee route is almost complete. But one more spectacular sight awaits: the Muiderslot. This is perhaps the most famous castle in the Netherlands, precisely because it has been so well preserved.Another ten kilometers and then the round is really over. The finish is in Amsterdam IJburg, the place where you started 440 kilometers earlier. Hopefully you enjoyed the dive into the past of the Zuiderzee.