Star tour – North Holland
Discovery tours Alkmaar, Polderland and Zaanse Schans

5 days / 4 nights | Star-route with self-guided cycling tours

Go on a journey of discovery through North Holland, the land of picturesque cottages, mills and bridges. As you cycle through the flat polder landscape, over historic dykes and through idyllic villages, you will see many sights from past centuries. During this cycle tour, you will pass through towns from the 17th century, the heyday of the Dutch economy and culture. As youstay overnight in a hotel, you can change the order of the day trips as you wish.
You can extend the tour by one or more days and take a day trip to Amsterdam or plan a day at the beach, which is only 10 kilometres away.Highlights of this bike trip

Highlights of this bike tour

✔ Zaanse Schans Open Air Museum

✔ Cheese town Alkmaar

✔ North Holland dune reserve

✔ Water-rich nature areas, polder landscapes, dikes and mills

✔ Sandy beaches and North Sea coast

✔ historic town of De Rijp

✔ De Beemster: UNESCO World Heritage Site

Tour profile

Level 1 (On a scale from 1 to 5)
The cycle tours can be categorised as easy, both in terms of fitness requirements and orientation. The region is flat and leads along almost continuously paved cycle paths, partly along quiet side roads.
Occasionally you cycle onto a dyke or over a bridge, but no further climbs are to be expected. The map material also allows you to organise the day‘s route flexibly


Day 1: Individual journey to Akersloot

Individual journey to Akersloot. Arrival and check-in at the hotel from 15:00. Pick up your hire bikes, if booked. You can go on your first short taster tour through the wide landscape to the Alkmaardermeer, the polder mill or Uitgeest and have dinner in the evening at the hotel or in one of the towns in the area.

Day 2: Polderland and Zaanse Schans (Cycle tour approx. 49 km)

Today‘s destination is the Zaanse Schans, probably the most famous open-air museum in Holland. You cycle along the water for about half of the route: along canals, the banks of the Zaan and the Alkmaarder Meer. Via Uitgeest, you first cycle to Krommeniedijk with its small village church and fort, which was part of the defence line of Amsterdam (UNESCO World Heritage Site). You cycle through the extensive polder to Zaandam. From here you cycle along the Zaan and soon the windmills of the Zaanse Schans come into view. Here you can immerse yourself in village life on the Zaan in the 17th century Watch the clog maker, taste cheese specialities and smell the aroma of freshly smoked eel. Workshops, houses, shops and historic mills can be visited. In an oil mill, sawmill, grain mill or polder mill, you can see how the Dutch utilised wind and water in many different ways with the help of mills. The return journey continues along the Zaan to the south bank of theAlkmaardermeer and back to Akersloot.

Day 3: Tulip fields, dunes and the sea (Cycle tour approx. 58 km)

Today you cycle through the tulip fields around Castricum to Egmond an Zee. Tulips make the landscape glow in bright colours in spring. You can experience the magnificent sight up
close on your bike. But this route is also a highlight outside the tulip season: you then cycle along excellent cycle paths through the beautiful dune landscape parallel to the sea to the seaside resort of Egmond an Zee. The North Holland Dune Reserve is one of the largest nature reserves in the Netherlands. Beautiful picnic spots and access points to the beach are ideal for stops. At the De Hoep visitor centre in Bakkum, you can learn all about the diverse nature of the region.

Day 4: Historic cheese town of Alkmaar (Cycle tour approx. 52 km)

The destination of today‘s tour is the old Dutch town of Alkmaar. If you take the tour on a Friday, a special highlight awaits you: at the traditional cheese market. (Fri. from 10
a.m. to 1 p.m.) the cheese trading ceremony of the 17th/18th century is demonstrated. The actors examine, taste, weigh and load the mighty wheels of cheese on the Waagplein in front of numerous visitors. In addition to the historic market, the small alleyways along the canals, the cheese museum and De Boom beer museum are also worth a visit in Alkmaar. You can discover the city from the water on a canal cruise or browse and shop in the historic and trendy alleyways of the d‘oude Stad neighbourhood.
On the way back, you will sail through the Eilandspolder, a nature reserve to take a deep breath and enjoy: wide views, beautiful light moods and, with a bit of luck, rare bird species
on the water. Along the way, you will pass Fort Spijkerboor, part of the fortress belt around Amsterdam. From here you cycle almost always along the water to Akersloot.

Day 5: Departure after breakfast or extension day(s)

Extra tour/extension day

Day 5: UNESCO World Heritage Site „De Beemster“ and De Rijp (Cycle tour approx. 39 km or 55 km)

Today‘s cycle tour takes you through the polder landscape with its old dykes, mills, canals and water-rich natural areas. Along the northern shore of the Alkmaardermeer, the route takes you into the UNESCO World Heritage region of Schermer and Beemster, a masterpiece of land reclamation in the 17th century and at the same time an enchanting landscape that lies 3.5 metres below sea level. The cycle paths lead over the protective dykes and offer a beautiful view of the geometrically designed waterways. At the Schermerhorn museum mill, you can learn more about the drainage measures and the poldering of the Schermer. Now you cycle a Beemster loop via Avenhorn, Oudendijk and Middenbeemster (23 km). If you want to shorten the route, cycle directly to de Rijp on the Oostdijk (16 km shorter), which is also a beautiful section of the route. A tour through the town of De Rijp takes you back to the 17th century: houses with magnificent wooden gables characterise the image of this historic town. The town hall dating back to 1630 is well worth a visit, and a number of pretty cafés and restaurants with views of the old drawbridge make for a lovely stopover. On the way back via Westgraftdijk, you soon reach the Alkmaardermeer and cover the last few kilometres to the hotel.

Please note: All cycling distances stated above are approximate only.