The Netherlands, a country in northwestern Europe is known for having over 1000 windmills, canals, tulips, and bike-friendly cities. The term ‘Dutch Style’ is one that automatically makes a person think of the cycling culture of the Netherlands. Almost 90% of the Netherlands’ population cycles regularly and just under half the population uses their bikes every day. However, when we look back to the 19th century, we see that Britain, Belgium, and Germany had more citizens that owned bicycles than the Dutch did. So how did the Netherlands become the country of bikes as of late?
Cycling in the Netherlands became popular in the 1870s- a little later than it did in Great Britain and Germany. It was only when the penny-farthing (also known as high-wheel) bicycle came to the Netherlands in the 1870s that bicycles became more visible on the streets. Throughout most of the 19th century, cycling was most popular among the young and wealthy and was seen as a leisure-time activity. In the 1880s, the Royal Dutch Touring Club (ANWB) — which was founded in 1883 by members of the velocipede clubs in The Hague and Haarlem presented the bicycle in its advertisements as a means of everyday transportation at the beginning of the 20th century, resulting in its increasing popularity in the Netherlands.
During World War II, the Dutch Army Forces as well as the German Army used bikes as its main form of transportation daily. Even the general public desperately needed their bikes during the war. This is because the bicycle remained one of the few possible means of transportation as there was extreme scarcity of fuel. Later on in 1975, the ENWB (Eerste Enige Echte Nederlandse Wielrijdersbond) was founded. This organisation rethought the city design and added more bicycle lanes to free the highways of the annoying cyclist.
Furthermore, cycling is a symbol of Dutch culture. It has been considered a national symbol since 1920 and a very patriotic means of transportation since 1938. Cycling is presented in Dutch qualities and civil virtues of independence, self-control, modesty, and stability.
Now, let’s check out the most bike-friendly cities in the Netherlands:
The capital city of the Netherlands has tons of great places for bicycling and good bike lanes for safe overtaking. There are cycle routes for not only the main roads but also urban forests, beaches, polders, parks and waterways. If you like 17th century Dutch village vibes, you should put Waterland in your route. Waterland comprises historic fishing villages and picturesque open countryside built on polders. Otherwise, if you prefer natural scenes it would be amazing to see the Amstel River, the quintessential Dutch countryside, and picturesque towns like Ouderkerk aan de Amstel.
The fourth-largest city in the Netherlands is known as the medieval center and has hidden beauty places with Christian monuments and a venerable university. Utrecht boasts of its beautiful canals with extraordinary wharf cellars housing cafés and terraces by the water. This city would be the perfect choice for you who desire travelling to a vibrant city. The starting point is from the De Haar Castle then to Julianapark and Wijkpark Maarssenbroek and apart from that, you can spend time at Hoog Catharijne, the largest modern shopping mall in Holland. All of these spectacular experiences are possible by using just the cycle routes to travel.
Last but not least, the fifth-largest city, in the south of the country. Eindhoven is the capital of design in the Netherlands. The combination of modern metropolis and Brabantse ambiance makes Eindhoven one of the most exciting cities in Holland. One must definitely add The Eindhovensch Kanaal to their trip, which is a canal in the Dutch province of North Brabant. It connects the center of Eindhoven with the Zuid-Willemsvaart. It is surrounded by glass modern buildings, typical Dutch houses, flowers, and small urban forests. This city is highly recommended for those who love serene locations and fresh air.
March has arrived and flowers are starting to bloom. The Netherlands might be the best way to beat the winter blues. They offer good food, good weather, and endless entertainment at affordable costs. Planning spring break in the Netherlands is definitely worth considering and is entirely possible without breaking the bank.
Coggins,Tom. “The Best Cycling Route in Utrecht”. https://theculturetrip.co. 17 July 2017.
NL Netherlands. “Eindhoven”. https://www.holland.com/. 07 March 2022.
I Amsterdam. “Cycle Routes”. www.iamsterdam.com. 2020
Nwanazia, Chuka. “How the Netherlands became a cycling country”.https://dutchreview.com/. 29 June 2021.
Jahns, Martin. “Most bike-friendly cities in the world”. https://www.ispo.com/. 08 September 2021