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Cycling in Noord Holland

Cycling in Noord Holland (North Holland) doesn't mean and south Holland doesn't mean you will cycle in north Netherlands. Noord and Zuid Holland (north and south) are two provinces along the coast of the North Sea. In these two provinces you will find many of the Netherlands historical cities.

It's also the area which is most populated which doesn't sound good but it's not as bad as you may think.


View from near Scharwoude to Hoorn
Scharwoude with a view towards Hoorn.

There are plenty of great areas outside the cities to cycle and, if you like, you can even avoid the cities.

When we start the journey in Amsterdam, there is a really nice loop to make to the north of North Holland province, cycling first to the Flevomeer to Broek in Waterland and then Monnikendam, a little old fishing town at the lake side.


Volendam harbor

Your next stop will be the famous Volendam, another old fishing town. Volendam and Edam (it's basically one town) are famous for several things: the fish, cheese!, and the 16th and 17th century town centers.

Both towns were important trading centers in the Dutch Golden Age, the 17th century. And although very commercial nowadays, busloads of tourists come and go, both towns are worth a visit.

The next destination will be Hoorn, you can reach this by cycling through the wide open country side. Hoorn, at about 50km from Amsterdam is worth all the effort.


Town center of Hoorn
Town center of Hoorn

The town center breaths much of the 17th century, more (in my opinion) then Volendam and Edam.

Although the harbor of Hoorn (and most towns around the Flevomeer) host nowadays many yachts, there is still a fishing fleet. There's several small hotels in town, and it's worth to stay a night before cycling to Enkhuizen. There are some small roads away from the main road and certainly worth to use.

After Enkhuizen you should visit Medemblik in the Wieringermeer polder, another little town which history goes back to the 13th century. If you follow the road north and passing Anna Palowna, you will reach Den Holder, the most northern point of North Holland province. Should you decide to cycle to Friesland, follow directions to Den Oever and cross the Afsluitdijk.

The Afsluitdijk can be a serious challenge, as I once found out. With windforce 10, the 32 km can be as difficult as climbing a mountain. And there's no shelter so make sure you know the wind direction. Hard tailwind can easily blow you in hour or less to Friesland, headwinds can make the ride to over 2 hours.

The harbor of Hoorn
The harbor of Hoorn

Den Helder can be the moment to decide to visit Texel island. There are ferries all day and Texel is nice enough to spend a few days.

Going south from Den Helder leads you to another old town: Schagen, then Bergen and Alkmaar (famous for the cheese market). From here I would recommend to take the road to Heiloo and Uitgeest but follow the route further to Wormerveer and the Zaanse Schans with the famous windmills. Do NOT go into Zaanstad, there's nothing to make you happy here.

Zaanse Schans in the late autumn afternoon
Cycling in Noord Holland, you can't ignore Zaanse Schans, here in the late autumn afternoon

Instead follow directions to Oostzaan, Landsmeer further back to Amsterdam (ferry). This loop can be done in one day, if you cycle fast (I did it once in a day) but it's nicer to have stops in Hoorn and Den Helder.

Alternative you can cycle to Beverwijk and Haarlem before going back to Amsterdam. You will have to use the ferry in Velsen. I can recommend to use the road to Spaarndam on the way to Haarlem.

Japanese tourists at the Zaanse Schans
Japanese tourists at the Zaanse Schans.

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