Considering Holland’s fondness of bicycles, it’s no surprise that a great deal of effort has gone in to making roads both safe and accessible to cycling commuters, as well as thousands of tourists and leisure cyclists.
South Holland is connected by an overwhelming number of cycling routes. As of 2011, a person could cycle between The Hague and Rotterdam by way of a completely dedicated bike path. This 26.8 km scenic route cuts through a good portion of the green polders which separates Zuid-Holland’s two largest cities, crossing 40 bridges along the way. It is a scenic bike route, one that passes a number of historic sites and notable landmarks including (from north to south) The Hague’s Binnenhof (built 1229) and Galge windmill (built 1699), Delft’s Oostpoort (an original city gate built around 1400) and Kruithouse (built 1660), Overschie’s Hoge Bridge (built 1662), Delfshaven’s Pilgrim Father’s Church (built 1620) and Rotterdam’s Euromast Tower (built 1958) and World Museum.
You can download the handy route map which has information on about each historic landmark you happen to pass. It is only available in Dutch and can be accessed here.
Additional South Holland sightseeing bicycle routes worth checking out…
Schiedam Windmill Tour Bike Route
There are actually two routes available with this cycle tour: the full 43 km route (which courses through Schiedam – Vlaardingen – Maassluis – Maassland – Schipluiden – Schiedam) and a shorter 28 km route (which does not include Maassluis or Maassland).
Along this route you pass no less than 12 windmills; among these are the world’s tallest historic mill (Windmill De Noord built in 1803 and standing 33.3 meters high) and the oldest windmill in Schiedam (Windmill De Drie Koornbloemen built in 1770). Others include Windmill De Aeolus (30 meters tall, built in 1790, located in Vlaardingen), Wippersmolen (built in 1726, located in Maassluis) and Windmill Korpershoek (built in the 1950’s, located in Schipluiden).
To plan your Schiedam windmill bike tour route, click here.
Leiden Windmill Tour Bike Route
A 35 km bicycle route that starts at the Leiden Centraal train station, winds its way through the historic city centre, then continues onto Warmond, around the Kagerplassen, through Rijpwetering before returning to Leiden. The nice thing about this bike route is the mix of historic city landmarks, along with an assortment of windmill constructions (ground sailers, hollow post mills, stage mills) combined with the natural lake-like beauty of the Kagerplassen.
Find out more about bike routes in the Leiden area here.
Albasserdam (Kinderdijk) Windmill Tour Bike Route
This full cycle route is 50 km, but a shortcut is also available which can bring the trip down to 40 km. Alblasserdam is the village adjacent to the Kinderdijk park, and is the starting point for this route. This tour takes you through Kinderdijk, Nieuw Lekkerland, Streefkerk, Groot Ammers, Nieuwpoort, Langerak, Oud Alblas and ends back in Alblasserdam. The shorter bike route dispenses with Nieuwpoort and Langerak.
The highlight of this route is without a doubt the 19 beautifully maintained, original polder windmills which are now a protected UNESCO historic site, of Kinderdijk, built from 1738-1740. This cycle route keeps from getting boring by changing course a couple of times as it runs through green polders, then along the river bank, and back and forth two more times before the optional shortcut at Groot Ammers is reached.
You can download the Kinderdijk Windmill Bike Tour map, which has descriptions of the windmills and other historic landmarks along the route (in English), here.
To find more South Holland sightseeing or “themed” bicycle routes, visit the website of Fietsersbond, which gives you over 20 pre-planned scenic bike routes in Zuid-Holland. You can also have the route planner provide you with a suggested bike route if you insert two points.
In today’s modern world, one can find many available phone applications with bike routes through Holland. They are often geo-location driven so that you see your progression along the route and make sure you are following the route correctly. Unfortunately, most of these apps are only available in Dutch. But one website with an accompanying phone app available in English I highly recommend is called MapMyRide. It is not a website exclusively about cycling, by the way. Its subject matter is fitness and health and diet, so in addition to MapMyRide you can access their other websites/apps like MapMyWalk and MapMyRun.
What I love about the MapMyRide app (besides being in English), is the advanced features it offers over most other bike apps. The geo-sensor is tracks your position as well as your speed. At the end of the trip not only does it give you distance traveled, average speed and calories burned, but it has recorded the entire route you biked along. Using Google Earth technology, you are able to watch your exact trip as a video. You can even add music to it, and share it on Facebook. How cool is that?
Another benefit is identifying a landmark that you may have taken a photo of from a distance. You can fast-forward to that exact point where you took the shot, change the video from satellite imaging to a regular Google map which shows your landmark with name and website for more info. It is a great app and a great website!
TOPS is short for Tourist Stopover Points and is a joint initiative between the Zuid-Holland Tourist Board and South Holland municipalities mostly located in the Groene Hart (green heart) region of the province. TOPS are specific transfer locations which offer parking, vending machines, an area map and access to a walking/cycling path. They can be recognized by the tall green metal blade of grass sculpture such as the one in the photo below. On each of the three bike route maps mentioned above, TOPs are clearly denoted by the circular green icon.
Construction of these Tourist Stopover Points only began in the past year but already there are more than 20 TOPs located throughout the Groene Hart areas of South Holland. You can access the map of TOP locations in South Holland here.
Has all this talk of sightseeing bicycle routes in South Holland, the many features offered by websites/apps like MapMyRide, and the easy access to cycling paths via the new Tourist Stopover Points (TOPS) made you want to drop what you’re doing and cruise on out here?! If so, have fun (and take lots of pictures).