Round trip west of Utrecht

The present round trip is in many ways typical for the Netherlands and Belgium: First day along rivers and canals in a calm rural landscape; second day through a wetland national park; other days along quiet canals through famous cities (Antwerpen, Breda, Rotterdam, Delft, Den Haag, Leiden). Accomodations should be reserved well in advance; some of the hotels are very popular. In Utrecht, NH Hotel Utrecht Jaarbeursplein can be recommended. Rental of bicycles can be pre-ordered through Wiel-Rent.

The route can easily be shortened, by not going so far south before returning north again.

Day 1. Utrecht to Ridderkerk (72 km, map link)

Start: Fietsknooppunt 52 (1 km west of Utrecht Central Station). Bike west along Leidse Rijn (Knooppunten_52-23-1-76) and turn left (southwest) towards Montfoort and Oudewater (76-77-79-88-98-97-91-92) which is famous for its witch museum and the scale used to weigh witches in the 16th century. (If your weight is zero, you are a witch and need to be burned!)

Wiches in Oudewater

The suggested route continues west along the river Hollandsche Issel to Gouda, which is famous for its cheese production (92-14-34-35-50-47-46-42-41). Good cafés are found in the centre of the city, for example Grand Café Central.

From Gouda, the route continues south on small roads through a quiet rural landscape past Oudkerk aan der IJssel (41-40-9-10-11-13-15-12-17) to the bicycle ferry across the river Nieuwe Maas to Ridderkerk (_17-59-66-80-81-61-50), where Van der Valk Ridderkerk can be recommended for dinner and overnight stay (_50-57-51-43-42).

Canal south of Gouda

Day 2. Ridderkerk to Made (69 km, map link)

From Ridderkerk, the suggested route goes southeast to Dordrecht (42-32-56-16-15-95-89-90-48-49-12-13-14)., where for example No38 City Bakery Café may be visited for lunch.

Dordrecht

From Dordrecht, go southeast to the bicycle ferry over the river Nieuwe Merwede to Nationaal Park De Biesbosch (14-87-86-11-10-83-44-43-2), where many alternative routes can be chosen through the wetland (for example: 2-8-20-19-16-18-15-29-10-22-12-14).

After the National Park, go east to Hank and take the bridge over the river Bergsche Maas to Ramsdonkweer (_14-18-32-35-24). Continue past the beautiful old city Geertruidenberg to Made (_35-24-42-40-44-96-26), where Hotel de Korenbeurs can be recommended for dinner and overnight stay.

Day 3. Made to Bergen op Zoom (61 km, map link)

From Made, the suggested route goes west to Zevenbergen (25-68-70-61-60-56-57-40-38-37-7) and southwest to Roosendaal (7-14-13-33-31-81-70-1-2-3), where a lunch stop may be made (for example at Eetboetiek Festina Lente).

Roosendaal

From Roosendaal, go west through Wouw to Bergen op Zoom (3-69-6-7-9-14-88-82-72-79-76) which was a strong fortress, besieged four times between 1588 and 1814 but captured only once. Grand Hotel de Draak, which is claimed to be the oldest hotel in the Netherlands, can be recommended for dinner and overnight stay.

Along the canal

Staying in Bergen op Zoom for more than one night may be an opportunity to explore Zeeland, which is a popular tourist province.

Hotel de Draak

Day 4. Bergen op Zoom to Antwerpen (52 km, map link)

The best way to leave Bergen op Zoom is probably to go south along the sea, enjoying the sea view on the way to Putte (76-78-32-21-52-22-38-56-83-1). Continue on nice bicycle paths through Ekeren in Belgium (_1-84-17-85-14-13-96-78) where a lunch stop may be made (for example at Bistro Anders Dan Anders).

Then go southwest through Merksem to Antwerpen (_78-79-26-56-13), which has many good accomodations and restaurants. Radisson Blu Astrid Hotel can be recommended for dinner and overnight stay.

Antwerpen

Day 5. Antwerpen to Turnhout (52 km, map link)

From Antwerpen, go east through Merksem to Schoten (_13-56-26-79-31-30-16), and north along the beautiful Kanaal Dessel-Turnhout-Schoten. A detour for lunch can be made in one of the villages near the canal, for example to De Kothee in Brecht (_16-20-41-69-99-98).

Continue along the canal to Turnhout (98-38-85-71-72-49-68-1-45), which is a nice city with some old and beautiful buildings, a Speelkartenmuseum and several accomodations and restaurants. Hotel Corsendonk Turnova may be recommended for overnight stay.

Staying in Turnhout for more than one night may be an opportunity to extend the canal trip to Dessel and Kanaal Bocholt-Herentals.

Day 6. Turnhout to Breda (44 km, map link)

From Oud Turnhout, go through Turnhout (_64-20-47-62-46-45-1) to Bels Lijntje, which is an idyllic bicycle path along a previous railway north into the Netherlands (1-2-3-5-87-82-91-92-93). Baarle-Nassau and Baarle-Hertog, with their complex borders between Belgium and the Netherlands, are conveniently placed for a visit to a lunch café (for example Het Smokkelbroodje).

Nice bike paths around Breda

Continue northeast through charming rural villages into Breda (93-79-24-46-45-93-92-44-40-67-66-36-83-82), where the old city centre is worth a visit. Breda is a nice city with many accomodations and restaurants. Hotel Van der Valk Princeville can be recommended for dinner and overnight stay (_82-30-31-32-35).

Day 7. Breda to Zwijndrecht (58 km, map link)

The suggested route goes east through the centre of Breda (_35-33-47-80) and north through a rural landscape to the river Hollandsch Diep (80-78-79-77-21-22-72-71-70-61-65-62-22-21-90). Take the bicycle ferry to Nationaal Park De Biesbosch (90-8-2) where a lunch stop can be made at the Biesbosch MuseumEiland. Then take the ferry across the river Nieuwe Merwede towards Dordrecht (2-43-44-83-10-11-86-87-14-13), and cross the bridge over the river Oude Maas to Zwijndrecht (13-90).

Along Oude Maas near Zwijndrecht

Alternatively, Hollandsch Diep can be crossed on a bridge further west (90-12-41-85-81-82-47-48-90), which is also a nice route, but not quite as nice as the route through Biesbosch and Dordrecht.

In a beautiful river landscape near Zwijndrecht, Van der Valk Hotel Ara can be recommended for dinner and overnight stay (90-24-91)

Day 8. Zwijndrecht to Den Haag (42 km, map link)

From Van der Valk Hotel Ara, the suggested route goes north through Barendrecht to Rotterdam, over the famous Erasmusbrug (91-25-29-28-16-33-34-40-46-47-62-61-60). A stop at a lunch café can be made before going west to the canal Delfthavensche Schie (_60-70-35-71). Go north along the canal to Delft (71-87-12-2-3-70-80-64-58-57-1-52), where the suggested route goes through the old city centre (52-51-2). To use some time to see Rotterdam and Delft may be a good idea.

Delft

Going further north from Delft towards Den Haag, there are many accomodation and restaurant options. Hotel Van der Valk Den Haag Nootdorp can be recommended for dinner and overnight stay (_2-62-63-64-20-21-22-25).

To stay more than one day near Den Haag may be a good idea, to see the city and museums, and possibly visit beaches at the coast.

Day 9. Den Haag to Leiden (21 km, map link)

The suggested route goes back to the Vliet canal at Leidschendam (25-75), continuing northeast through a calm and beautiful lake landscape towards Voorschoten and Leiden (75-77-79-81-94-92-91-3-9-16-70-11). Many accomodations and restaurants are found in Leiden. Hotel Golden Tulip Leiden Centre may be recommended for dinner and overnight stay (11-86-16).

The distance between Den Haag and Leiden is short, leaving some time for sightseeing. At spring time, a visit to the flower exhibition in Keukenhof at Lisse near Leiden is a must. Staying overnight at Lisse may then be an alternative.

Day 10. Leiden to Utrecht (56 km, map link)

Leiden

The suggested route from Leiden back to Utrecht goes along the river Oude Rijn through a calm and rural landscape, via Alphen aan den Rijn (75-14-13-85-69-18-71-8-7-86-37-64-23-63), Bodegraven (63-83-85-4-10-3-88-89-94-33) and Woerden (_33-31-67-28-70-71). The cities are worth a visit, having an old history back to the Roman Empire. A lunch stop may for example be made at Restaurant Anders in Bodegraven.

From Woerden, the distance back to Utrecht is relatively short (71-72-73-74-36-32-76-1-23-52).

Returning to Utrecht