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From the Atlantic to Aachen — bikepacking in the Southern Netherlands

Jesko von Werthern

From the Atlantic to Aachen — bikepacking in the Southern Netherlands

Bike Touring Collection by Jesko

4-7

days

3-5 h

/ day

219 mi

3,400 ft

2,800 ft

We pine for adventure, long days on the bike and, above all, the sea. The last bikepacking trip was far too long ago. So, in May 2021, we spontaneously planned a route with komoot, packed our bikes and got on the train to Middelburg in Zeeland late on Thursday afternoon.

We sat on the train for three hours and would have three days for the return journey. In the dark, we cycled to a rural campsite and pitched our small tent. What awaited us for the next three days was an unforgettable adventure in the beautiful and diverse border area between the Netherlands and Belgium.

The next morning, we stood on the beach and took a deep breath. With great views of the endless blue of the sea, we rolled over dykes, through small harbour towns and were greeted with beaches, lighthouses and lots of sheep. In the evening, we reached the Belgian border and made ourselves comfortable at the next rural campsite. By the second day, the scenery had changed completely. Now we were riding through the sandy forests of Brabant and across huge heath landscapes. Finally, in Limburg, the landscape was dominated by dead-straight canals, cows and rolling hills.

Rarely have I experienced so many different landscapes in three days. The area is incredibly diverse. We wanted an adventure and that's exactly what we got. Happy and with a multitude of new memories, we reached our destination in Aachen on Sunday afternoon. We had only been away for a long weekend, but the multitude of sights made it feel like a much longer holiday that we still look back on fondly. It can be so easy to get away from it all for a few days.

This route is perfect for a gravel bike or even a classic touring bike. Asphalted, mostly traffic-free paths alternate with gravel sections. The first stage is mostly on paved roads. On the second stage, in addition to many gravel sections, there are also short sections on sandy paths. Depending on the weather, the sand is deep and can be difficult to ride if you’re not used to it; you have to stay loose and let the front wheel find its way. The surfaces of the third stage are about two-thirds asphalt and one-third solid gravel. Except for the last 40 kilometres (25 mi) before Aachen, it is flat throughout. Last but not least, some hills await you in Heuvelland in southern Limburg.

You can easily reach Middelburg by train from Aachen, Maastricht, Eindhoven or Antwerp in Belgium. It’s worth noting that bicycles can only be taken on Dutch trains outside peak times. You don't have to worry about food on the way, as you will regularly pass villages with small shops and restaurants. There are also many campsites. We used the so-called ‘Natuurkampeerterreinen’ (nature campsites). These are particularly close to nature, quiet and uncomplicated. We had pre-booked the overnight stays at the nature campsites, but it’s not at all difficult to find spontaneous overnight places along the route. You can find more information about the Dutch nature campsites at natuurkampeerterreinen.nl/?lang=en.

On The Map

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors
    Easy
    00:37
    6.15 mi
    9.9 mph
    50 ft
    50 ft
    Easy bike ride. Great for any fitness level. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The journey via Eindhoven and Roosendaal is uncomplicated. The bikes have a lot of space and we can make ourselves comfortable right next to them. When we arrive in Middelburg, it is already dark. It is only a few kilometers to the natural camping site where we want to spend the night. Nevertheless, we take a short detour to the …

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  • Difficult
    07:33
    75.9 mi
    10.1 mph
    575 ft
    575 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    When we open our eyes it is slowly getting light. The birds in the trees above are doing their best to drown each other out. This is how quickly you can escape from everyday life. After we showered, we pack our bikes again and start looking for breakfast. The landscape is exactly as I had imagined: windmills, seagulls, small canals …

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  • Difficult
    07:31
    70.2 mi
    9.3 mph
    850 ft
    775 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    The night was cold. There is a thin layer of ice on the bikes. It's good that there is the option of a hot shower here. We find the first bakery after two kilometers in Nispen. A few kilometers further we pass a farm that sells homemade ice cream. It is still too early for us, but next time I …

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  • Difficult
    07:16
    66.9 mi
    9.2 mph
    1,925 ft
    1,400 ft
    Ferry
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike. The Tour includes a crossing by ferry.

    The third and final day of our mini-adventure begins. We strap our seven things to the bikes one last time and set off. It is always fascinating how you perceive the landscape on a bike tour. Since we started driving in Zeeland, we have seen a constantly changing environment. The wide fields and beaches of Zeeland, the deep forests and …

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    4
  • Distance
    219 mi
  • Duration
    22:58 h
  • Elevation
    3,400 ft2,800 ft

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From the Atlantic to Aachen — bikepacking in the Southern Netherlands