Sandwiched between Belgium and Germany, Holland is a country bursting with adventure; a land that was seemingly created for exploration, whether travelers are using two wheels, four wheels, a boat, or two feet to make their way from A to B. A country occupied by quirky architecture, flower-filled fields, wonderful windmills, and vast open spaces, Holland offers visitors numerous routes by which to traverse its treasures – it’s simply up to travelers how they wish to make the most of the riches on offer.
Driving the Flower Route
Holland is a country renowned for its very successful flower industry. Tulip blooms stretch out as far as the eye can see in roadside fields, gather in rows beside the waterways, and nestle in the window boxes of quaint towns and bustling cities. Since 1593, on the day that first tulip was planted, Holland’s love affair with these flowers has blossomed, and its horticultural industry is now a major contributor to the country’s economy.
Holland’s landscape comes alive with color during the spring and early summer months, and a trip along the aptly-named Flower Route is the very best way to take in the tulips, gladioli, daffodils, irises, hyacinths, lilies, and narcissi that have been planted along the way. Those taking the trip will be rewarded with magnificent blossoms, heady scents, and the gorgeous scenery that western Holland is so famous for.
Beginning in Haarlem the Flower Route, or Bollenstreek/Bloemen Route, stretches over 25-miles, passing some of the country’s most densely populated flower fields, as well as public gardens, museums, picture-perfect villages, and other notable parts of the horticultural industry. Coming to a stop in the elegant city of Leiden, the Flower Route takes tourists on a journey across some of Holland’s most beautiful landscapes, while introducing them to the industry that has made the country famous.
Cycling Amsterdam and beyond
Forgetting tulips, windmills, and effortlessly graceful waterways for a moment, Holland is perhaps most famous for its flat landscape, and for the ease with which cyclists can navigate this gorgeous country. Indeed, the scenery is best experienced when travelers take their time on two wheels, while the fresh air can be fully appreciated without the trappings of a motor vehicle. For the Dutch cycling is a way of life, and some of the best routes through Holland have been designed with bikes in mind; the country’s cycle network is a veritable collection of veins that scatter its landscape and always head back to its heart, Amsterdam.
Some of the gorgeous cycle routes to be found in Holland include the 400-or-so miles of cycle paths and roads located in the coastal province of Zeeland, a 120-mile tour between eleven towns that once formed part of a traditional, and competitive, skating route, and the 250-mile adventure around the IJsselmeer lake, which takes in the beauty of Northern Holland. Each route has something very different to offer cyclists, regardless of their age or experience.
It’s in Amsterdam itself where the pastime of cycling really comes into its own though, following a determination in the 1960s and 70s to make the city safer for everyone; there are an estimated 881,000 bikes in Amsterdam, with some 477-miles of cycle paths and bike lanes available for use. Today Amsterdam is the bicycling capital of the world, nestled at the heart of many of the routes to be found across the country; for those choosing to reside, stay apartments in Amsterdam offer the freedom to explore the city and surrounding countryside – taking to two wheels whenever they feel like it. A vibrant, characterful city, Amsterdam is the perfect base from which to set off in any direction.
Cruising Holland’s waterways
If cycling offers a convenient way for travelers to explore Holland, then cruising any of the country’s inland waterways is a far more relaxed way of life; indeed, next to cycling boating is incredibly popular with tourists and locals alike, affording travelers the opportunity to watch the world go, by quite literally, while spotting numerous historical sites, attractions, and corners of great beauty that may otherwise be passed without a second glance. Again, Amsterdam plays and important role in many of the cruises and routes on offer; its historic streets and lively culture can be found at the start or finish of numerous cruises, and this tempting destination is too good to simply pass by.
Popular routes across Holland include the Central Ring, which traverses the center of the country taking in a myriad of important, and attractive sites; the IJsselmeer to Ijmuiden route, which affords its cruisers visits to some of Holland’s more traditional harbors; and the South Holland Loop, which takes smaller vessels on a journey beneath some of the lower bridges in Central Utrecht. Any of these routes, or those that travel further afield, are ideal for introducing travelers to Holland’s softer side, while taking in so much more of what the country has to offer.
Holland is a destination for anyone that likes to travel, and for those who enjoy wending their way from one place to the next, taking in the sights as they go. With numerous cycle routes, scenic roads, and gorgeous waterways to choose from, a traveler’s only dilemma is how they wish to see everything that’s on offer.