A round trip to the IJsselmeer, also known as Lake Ijssel, is a classic Dutch route. You'll cycle past Holland's quaintest villages and cities and through beautiful nature reserves in Noord-Holland, Friesland and Flevoland. This six-day adventure will take you through the wonderful towns of Volendam, Hoorn, Monnickendam, and Muiden, and not forgetting, of course, Amsterdam.
This route largely follows the coastline of the former Zuiderzee, a bay that was reclaimed from the sea. In good weather, you can zip along the route, visiting historic villages along the way. However, beware that strong winds can slow you down and make the 218-mile (351-km) route feel like double the distance. Afterall, wind farms in the region are here for a reason. Tip: take a look at the wind direction before setting off and consider cycling the route in the opposite direction if you’ll have tailwind.
You set off on your adventure from the heart of Amsterdam, which is very easy to reach by train. Of course you can also start at the beginning of another stage. If you are travelling by car, parking in Amsterdam is very expensive. You could consider starting in Lelystad instead, where you can park for free in carpool parking spots. As the route is a circular, you will find your way back to where you started.
The route takes you over beautiful Dutch dikes and polders, stretches of land reclaimed for the sea. You’ll also ride over the spectacular Afsluitdijk dam and causeway which created the IJsselmeer. As you cycle, you'll learn about the history of the former Zuiderzee and the clever constructions that were used to tame the sea. We recommend temporarily hopping on the bus over the Afsluitdijk. The extreme headwind here makes it almost impossible to ride.
Bring your camping gear along if you head here in summer as there are lots of nice campsites along the route which nearly always have space. However in the high season from July to August, calling in advance may be wise. You will find accommodation options to suit any budget en route, as well as a huge choice of restaurants and shops. Your next coffee is never more than 12 miles (20 km) away.
Each ride in this Collection varies in length from 18 to 34 miles (30 to 55 km), so make sure your bike is comfortable enough for four to five hours of riding per day. You could also consider riding an e-bike as there are plenty of charging stations en route. In the towns and cities, you will share the roads with busy traffic, but quiet cycle paths through nature are never far.
Experience a different perspective of nature in the Netherlands as you watch birds circling above lakes, ride through peat meadows, and explore vast dikes. Oh, and don’t forget to check the wind conditions. I wish you a great trip with a tailwind all the way.
From the heart of Amsterdam you cycle past monuments and canals to the ferry across the IJ. This way you will be out of the busy city in no time and you can cycle through the quiet peat area of Waterland. It is a short day in terms of distance, but keep in mind that cycling in the city is a bit slower. Waiting for and sailing with the ferry also takes extra time!For lunch, grab a fish in the historic harbor of Monnickendam. Afterwards, stroll through the picturesque inner harbor of this former fishing village. Very worthwhile and a nice preview of the somewhat busier Volendam.Volendam is a lot of tourist and also busier. Super fun nonetheless. Of course I took a picture here in traditional costume. That's just what a real tourist should do. Volendam offers a lot of fun and entertainment. Interesting museums, cozy restaurants and nice cafes.You cycle over the dike along the old Zuiderzee to the fishing port of Hoorn. A perfect place to recover from the first 56 kilometers of this round around the IJsselmeer. Settle down on the lively De Roode Steen square in the center of Hoorn or find a spot at one of the many campsites nearby.
Today's bike ride seems to come straight from a history book. The V.O.C. still alive. The Golden Age has clearly left its mark.Along the coast of the Hoornse Hop you cycle on good cycle paths on the waterfront to Enkhuizen, home of the Zuiderzeemuseum. A nice stop on the route. In this special outdoor museum you will experience life around the Zuiderzee before it was closed by the Afsluitdijk. Enkhuizen is also a good place for lunch, especially around the old harbor you will find nice restaurants.With a lot of new knowledge in your pocket, you cycle over the old Zuiderzeedijk. Today's final destination is Medemblik, again a historic city. Castle Radboud is especially recommended for those who cannot get enough of our Dutch history.The route is easy to cycle with 46 kilometers. Medemblik is already a lot quieter than the tourist Amsterdam and Hoorn. You will find the nicest hotels and restaurants north of the Westerhaven. There are several campsites around Medemblik.
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The highlight of this cycling route will be slightly different than usual until the end of 2021. Instead of cycling 30 kilometers on the dike, you get on the bicycle bus today. The ride is therefore not 60 but 30 kilometers. Mazzel if you had actually had headwind, this will save you a lot of hours of toil.Before you reach the Afsluitdijk you cycle through the Robbenoordbos, the last part of North Holland. At the end of the dike you get on your bike again and it is only 5 kilometers to Makkum. Plenty of time for lunch.But first Cornwerd, a small, sleepy village with only 80 inhabitants. I thought it was a wonderful contrast to the big and busy Amsterdam where you started this round around the IJsselmeer. And I am not the only one who finds this place special. Cornwerd has received the status of protected village view with the beautiful church and the cozy mill.Early birds and fit cyclists may be able to combine days 3 and 4. Then today it is not Makkum but Lemmer, which is 55 kilometers away, the final destination. Should you stay overnight in Makkum? You will find a real beach resort.
From Makkum you cycle through three of the eleven Frisian cities: Workum, Hindeloopen and Stavoren. Hindeloopen and Stavoren in particular are worth a stop in my opinion. Hindeloopen used to be a flourishing trading place. Wealthy skippers built stately skippers' houses in the 17th and 18th centuries. Stavoren has also experienced times of wealth. Times change and wealth fades. The Lady of Stavoren (except a statue) is a well-known legend and symbolizes the demise of this Hanseatic city.After the lunch stop in Stavoren, a short climb follows to the Red Cliff. A beautiful viewpoint over the IJsselmeer with an impressive history. The Frisians fought here for their independence. "Leaver dea as slaef" (rather dead than slave) you can read on the big boulder on the cliff.This ride is a long day with 57 kilometers. But because of the polders and the good paths along the IJsselmeer, the kilometers fly under your wheels. The Lemmer campsite is on the beach, very nice. You can walk to the center to join one of the nice, but especially good restaurants on the Langestreek at the inner harbor.
The road continues along the IJsselmeer. History meets here with new land. After all, Flevoland is the largest man-made country in the world. The former island of Urk was included in the new land during the reclamation.Opinions on the Urk wind farm are divided. Is it landscape pollution or a beautiful example of clean energy? The gigantic windmills are doing very well in my photo. Incidentally, I will give you a thumbs up for this piece.And those sheep on the dike, they are not just here for their wool. These grazers serve as dike protectors. They kick the ground and graze the dike so that there are no bushes and trees. They can damage the dike with their roots.The day ends in the youngest capital of the Netherlands, Lelystad. The city is named after Cornelis Lely, the founder of the Zuiderzee Works. There is a lot to do and see in this city. There are several museums and there is a wide range of good restaurants, hotels and nice campsites around the city.
The Oostvaardersplassen are for me the most special part of the Flevopolder. Once the polder had been drained, this part remained wet and unused. Nature soon made its appearance and became a breeding ground for many bird species. The reed marsh is an ideal place to shelter.Once past the wilderness you reach Muiden with the famous medieval Muiderslot. The castle now serves as a national museum. Especially the castle gardens with its forgotten vegetables and medicinal herbs are worth a visit. Stop here for lunch or find a restaurant (or supermarket) in Muiden itself.From the Muiderslot you cycle in 15 kilometers to the center of Amsterdam. You have now completely cycled the IJsselmeer. I think you should celebrate that at the tasting room of Brouwerij het IJ, located next to the Gooyer Molen.A nice alternative to the often expensive hotels in the center of Amsterdam is Camping Het Amsterdamse Bos. This campsite has a lot of nice hiker huts, lodges, cottages and of course tent pitches.
For this route of 15 kilometers through the historic center of Amsterdam I prefer to go all day. The bike-friendly route takes you along Mokum's most beautiful and best known and lesser known monuments. Do like the people of Amsterdam and discover the city by bicycle. Beware of the tram rails!Bring a good lock, the Amsterdam bicycle thieves are notorious. You definitely want to get off for a walk through the beautiful Hortus Botanicus, a visit to the impressive Anne Frank house and a browse around on the Waterlooplein. Extra fun in Amsterdam? Picnics in the Vondelpark!