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The Best Cycling Holiday for Beginners: The Netherlands

… This is a guest post by Mike McLeish of the bicycle blog Pinch-Flat …

A phrase that struggles to strum up images of adventure is “health and safety.” Instead, the words conjure up images of rules, regulations and high visibility.

None of that sounds particularly inspiring, except when talking about cycling. A country that has placed more importance on cycling than any other is the Netherlands. The land of the tall is towering above the rest of the world as the safest place on the planet to ride a bike.

What Makes The Netherlands So Safe

Anyone who’s ever attempted to make their way through a busy city center on a bicycle will know the dangers that they’re likely to face. Pedestrians and unforgiving motorists mean life for cyclists consists of car door dodging and close shaves.

This is not the case in the Netherlands, as roads are designed so that conflicts between different modes of transport are eliminated wherever possible. With the needs of cyclists taken into account at all stages of urban planning, it often prioritizes cyclists and pedestrians over motorized traffic.

They’ve even invented something called the Dutch Reach which is about road safety issues instead of questionable google searches!

Intelligent urban planning means that the country is equipped with an elaborate network of cycle-paths so safe and comfortable, that even toddlers and older adults use bikes as the easiest mode of transport.

An Amsterdam Cycling holiday is a great idea for beginners

Just How Much Do The Dutch Cycle?

The mentality and facilities of the Dutch have made for some impressive stats with 36% of people having listed the bicycle as their most frequent mode of transport on a typical day.

The average person cycles a total of 1000km a year, which is not surprising as they have over 35,000km of cycle paths to choose!

Read: Road Trip Hacks – 14 tips you need to know

All of this makes the Netherlands one excellent place to visit for a cycling holiday. All you need to do is tune up your bike and get going.

You can also have fun dressing for the part with a stylish bike messenger bag filled with all the things you’ll want for your day out on two wheels.

The Top Spots

On Your Bike in Amsterdam

One of the top spots is none other than Holland’s capital. Amsterdam is so great because virtually every street can be cycled and every major road has a dedicated cycle path.

In total there are 400,000 cyclists making use of the 250miles of cycle lanes every day. Making it one of the most commutable cites in the world.

Where to stay: The Bicycle Hotel has affordable yet comfortable rooms, is close to the Van Gogh Museum and City Museum of Modern Art and has city bikes available to rent on the spot.

Cycling in Groningen

Following the 1977 redesign, all cars are barred from the city center. Thanks to this it has been described as the “world’s most bike-friendly city.”

There are so many cyclists here that there is space for 10,000 bicycles at the railway station alone. Groningen is one of the rare cities where the bicycle is king.

Where to stay: Set in a former 15th century monastery Prinsenhof Groningen has towering ceilings and light filled spaces and is centrally located for easy exploring.

Follow Famous Cyclists

If the idea of cycling a stage of the famous Tour de France creates images of grueling accents, think again. The city of Utrecht’s 2015 time trail can be cycled without the need of gritted teeth.

The 9-mile sprint starts at Truus van Lierlaan in Transwijk-Noord and ends on Croeslaan avenue.

Where to stay: Part of the Cyclists Welcome scheme which includes the use of bicycle repair kits and recharging electric bikes free of charge,  Stayokay Utrecht-Bunnik is 5km out of Utrecht in the forest on the banks of a river, and offers private and shared room options.

Tour de France Utrecht

The Windmills and the Wind

Away from the cities is the windmill filled countryside. The best windmill ride is at  UNESCO World Heritage Kinerdijk, but Rottemeren will do an excellent job as well. It’s popular with the locals and provides roughly 6kms of superb scenery

The one thing that may hold you back with Holland is the wind, as it can whip across the flat land. The wind requires that you pedal a little harder on windy days, but this just means an extra helping of Stroopwafels when you stop!

Where to stay: The ART Hotel Rotterdam  is stylish and great value for money with views over the River Maas.

Mike McLeish is the owner of the bicycle blog Pinch-Flat. You can find him cycling through traffic in Kuala Lumpur, attempting to drink coffee from a plastic bag, or eating Nasi Lemak at a local corner shop. Follow him on Twitter at @Pinch_Flat.

Riding past Windmills in the Netherlands is one of the treats of a cycling holiday

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