Top five must-sees for bikers in the Netherlands
If there's one thing that bikers love more than being on their bike, it's the places that they see when they're out there.
Many areas and destinations are trumpeted as being heaven for anyone with a passion for life on two wheels: Italy and France are two that spring to mind. But if you're looking for motorcycle heaven combined with a vibrant cultural and social environment, the Netherlands could be the answer to your biking trip question.
The Netherlands is more than just a country, it's a kingdom that stretches all the way from north-west Europe to the Caribbean. But when we're talking about taking a biking trip, it's best to focus on mainland Europe (unless you have a particularly large budget and adventurous mind).
The country borders the North Sea to its north and west, with Belgium to the south and Germany to the east. Its main language is Dutch and it boasts some beautiful landscape – and excellent roads.
Before you start enjoying the roads of the Netherlands, you need to know how to conduct yourself. In terms of speed limits, it's 50 km/h (31 mph) in urban spaces; 80 km/h (49 mph) on less built-up roads, 100 km/h (62 mph) on 'autowegen', marked by a square blue sign with a car on it, and 120 km/h (74 mph) on motorways, signposted by a blue sign with a motorway sign on it (similar to British motorway signs).
Where to go – city break
You can't say 'Netherlands' without thinking 'Amsterdam'. The biggest city in the country, Amsterdam is the capital in many respects. It has long been a favourite for people traveling from the UK for a long weekend, owing to its establish ferry links. Many people go as day-trippers using public transport, but there are many opportunities to take your bike over.
Anyone heading to Amsterdam is spoilt for choice in terms of restaurants, bars, cafes and nightclubs. Its architecture and canal system provides an amazing riding backdrop. The city also has one of the most unique traffic systems, combining wide use of pedestrianism, cycling and motorised vehicles, meaning there are plenty of challenges and pleasures for a rider who is quick on their toes.
Where to go – country retreat
Many people refer to the Netherlands as Holland. They're part right – it is actually a large western region of the Netherlands. Holland is a beautifully picturesque part of the country, stretching from the western coast to the central regions, including a huge area that incorporates lakes, rivers and canals.
Amsterdam is in Holland, as is Rotterdam and The Hague. All three cities boast beautiful scenery – and the areas connecting them are a joy to ride through. The landscape is largely flat, providing stunning horizons and acting as the setting for the iconic wind farms that characterise must of the country.
Whether you choose city highway or country retreat, here are some suggestions of the things you should do and see on your trip to the Netherlands:
1. Madurodam, The Hague
Some will tell you it's all about size – the miniature city as Madurodam proves it's simply not true. Full of beautifully constructed miniature versions of railways, bridges and town buildings, this town will make you feel like Gulliver – without any of the danger.
2. Cube Houses, Rotterdam
Anyone who enjoys creative, modern architecture should take a trip out to the Cubic Houses (known as Kubus woningen) at Rotterdam. The quirky frontage makes it stand out, and there's a hostel within the complex – as well as some pretty fun bars nearby.
3. St Pietrsberg Caves, Maastricht
Maastricht is a stunning city in itself – but the caves demonstrate some amazing historical significance. They're a little out of town but are a joy to tour. There are a limited number of tours in English and the drawings are fairly recent, but the atmosphere of the caves is wonderful to experience.
4. Canal boat tours, Amsterdam
One of the things that sets the Netherlands apart from its neighbouring countries is its extensive canal system. And one of the best ways to experience them is a canal boat tour through Amsterdam. The tour allows you to access areas you wouldn't by foot, as well as the chance to explore the waterways of the country.
5. Markt Square, Delft
A traditional Dutch market square, this is area is rich in history and culture. Small independent shops and cafes allow you to get a feel of a traditional Dutch town.