Crossing the major rivers by bike is quite a nice trip on a summer holiday in Holland. This way you do reduce your ecological footprint on Dutch soil as well. In Amsterdam, I and my bike jumped on a train to Den Bosch and from there set off on a bike trip to Utrecht. Staying, whenever possible, on roads over river dikes up to 4 meters high. Taking four ferries crossing the significant rivers; eating pie (Bossche Bol) in Den Bosch; visiting castles and fortresses and bathing on the sandy shores of the river Merwede: it was a magnificent day.
Cycling along the river Meuse out of the city of Den Bosch.
When the Dutch think of Den Bosch they lick their lips because of a famous local pastry called the “Bossche Bol”. Moreover, the world-famous painter Hieronymus Bosch was born here. But today I am not interested in his hellish pictures. However, the local pastry might originate from one of his paradisiacal paintings: “De tuin der lusten” (The garden of pleasure). Well to get some pastry I get off the train and go straight to the baker Jan de Groot. His bakery, on Stationsweg 24, is right in front of the Railway Station
Cycling through Holland on the dike of the river Meuse to the city of Heusden
From Den Bosch Central Station I followed the dike along the river “Dieze” to the River Meuse. I passed the village of Bokhoven and planned a route over the dike to the ferry service between Herpt and Bern where I crossed the river Meuse. Before you cross the Meuse you have to visit the fortified city of Heusden, it is so beautiful. Although the retreating German troops destroyed the 16th-century town hall at the end of the Second World War – killing dozens of locals locked up in the cellars – the city has retained all of its former glory. Although there are no more fish auctions in the restored Fish Bank. These auctions started in the year 1357 when the Dutch Count Willem of Bavaria determined that all fish, fresh or salted, transported upstream the river had to be traded in Heusden. Close to the Fish Bank you can catch a boat and explore the fortified city from the waters surrounding it.
Cycling holidays in Holland: taking four ferries
Between the river Maas and the Merwede lies a dead branch of the Maas: the “Afgedamde Maas”. From the ferry, in Herpt/Bern you continue to the ferry Nederhemert and then you pinpoint your route on your map to the ferry in Brakel. This route takes you to a breathtaking domain. Picture yourself on a bike on a dike under tangerine trees and marmalade skies. You are in a land of poets. Houses rest against an endless dyke. And cycling is quiet on weekdays. You can spend the night at campsites, in hotels or in a B&B.
➔ Check out Booking.com for a nice rural hotel or B&B in this area.
Cycling from the ferry Bern to the ferry Nederhemert you will pass Nederhemert Castle. Castle Nederhemert is one of the largest medieval castles in the Netherlands. The castle is about 700 years old and was totally burned in 1945. The castle is completely restored to its full glory and is only open to the public for a limited time.
Cycling holidays in Holland: crossing the major rivers
From Brakel with its medieval castle ruin in the park near the church, you take a ferry across the River Waal. On the riverside near where the ferry moors you find some lovely beaches. But watch out these waters stream fast and are utterly treacherous. But it is safe to bathe your feet between the breakwaters. To get to Leerdam, famous for the glass produced by Royal Leerdam Crystal, you follow the N848 for ten kilometers.
Cycling from Leerdam to Vreeswijk
Cycling route from Vreeswijk to Utrecht