Couple bike along the Lauwersmeer
© Marleen Annema via Visit Wadden

Cycling in the Netherlands

Iconic mode of transport

Cycling in the city

Extraordinarily ordinary

Living on pedals

Young woman bicycle on a wind blown dike in Holland, wind turbines in the background

Cycling is a common, everyday thing in the Netherlands. Almost everyone does it. In fact, we don't really understand why anyone would make a big deal about jumping on a bicycle and using pedal power to reach your destination. Any self-respecting Dutch person has been riding a bike since early childhood. Many people from other countries are often surprised by our cycling culture.

Beijing might have Nine Million Bicycles, but the Netherlands is the ultimate cycling country. We’re not going to give a history lesson on how this came about - that’s been covered many times, including here at So how can you best experience the true cycling culture in the Netherlands?

1,094 the average number of kilometres a Dutch person cycles each year

Seldom by car

Our story naturally begins with our main way of getting around in the big city. If you want to get the true experience of cycling in the Netherlands, you need to cruise through the streets and charming lanes of cities like Amsterdam, Utrecht, The Hague and Maastricht. The Netherlands is a small country and our cities are quite compact, so we seldom use a car or taxi for travelling in or around the city.

Magere Brug Amsterdam

Many people love the feeling of freedom while cycling in the city and exploring the vibrant city centre like a local. This is also facilitated to a large extent by our safe and comfortable cycling infrastructure. Every major city has wide bicycle paths and there is a growing number of bike-only roads reserved solely for cyclists. You are free to go (or rather, cycle) wherever you want. Another added benefit of this green mode of transport is that you don’t have to worry about traffic jams or finding a place to park. Cycling really is the best way to see everything the Netherlands has to offer.


Ultimate cycling city: Utrecht

Utrecht is one of the most progressive cities in the world in terms of cycling and boasts the world's largest indoor bicycle parking facility, which has space for at least 12,500 bicycles! It’s no wonder that the Tour de France and the Vuelta were once held here. Utrecht is very centrally located and a perfect base for an extended cycling holiday. Fun fact: Utrecht even has a bicycle mayor.

From top-of-the-line racing bicycles to sturdy Gazelles and from e-bikes to vintage granny bikes: you’ll see them all in the Netherlands. In fact, our country has more bicycles than people. On average, every person owns 1.3 bikes. The bicycle has been fully adopted as a legitimate mode of transportation, which creates a feeling of safety because motorists, tram drivers and bus drivers are used to looking out for cyclists.

Jelle Bakker on a bike in Utrecht over rainbow bike path
Cyclists crossing at Tivoli Vredenburg

Cycling holiday

Exploring by bicycle

Bicycles are everywhere

Young couple puts bikes on car's bike rack

If you are planning a cycling holiday, it is easy to bring your own bike with you. You can bring it on the train, for example, or transport it on the back of your (electric) car and then spend your holiday cycling around the entire country. The Netherlands is a relatively small country and it’s possible travel from one side to the other in a full day of cycling. An added bonus is that the majority of accommodation options happily cater to cyclists.

Every city has several bicycle hire businesses where you can easily rent standard or electric bicycles. These rentals can often be found near the train station. You can even find them in relatively small villages, as we really (really!) do cycle everywhere. The prices are generally quite low - depending on the type of bicycle choose, of course.

37,000 kilometres of cycle paths in the Netherlands

Little cycling experience required

Travelling by bicycle gives you the freedom to travel to different regions and cities or to discover nature areas. Even less experienced cyclists can confidently enjoy our quintessentially Dutch mode of transport, as the flat landscape and mild climate mean easy cycling conditions. It is safe, easy and a wonderful way to experience life as a true local. And, last but not least, it is the most sustainable form of transport.

Sporty cycling through the forest

Popular routes include the tour around IJsselmeer Lake, the North Sea Coast, the Veluwe and the tour of the eleven cities in Friesland. Another spectacular attraction is the Van Gogh-Roosegaarde cycle path near Eindhoven, which is lit up like a Van Gogh painting. Or head out on a tour of the Veluwe to enjoy nature in the Netherlands even more. After your adventure, treat yourself to a delicious, traditional Dutch pancake!

Cycling through the dunes

A passion for cycling

Want to feel the burn?

Bicycle racing in the Netherlands

Give it a try, it's so easy

Cycling has gained tremendous popularity in the Netherlands. We not only have a number of professional cycling teams, but the number of amateur cyclists is growing rapidly as well. The ease of taking up cycling plays a major role: you don’t have to be in great shape to still enjoy a pleasant cycling tour in the Netherlands because our country is generally quite flat and easy to navigate.

Cyclist on Col du VAM

We also have plenty to offer for experienced cyclists. Knock yourself out and cycle the windy Oosterschelde Storm Surge barrier. Climb the hills of the Veluwe or take on the forests of Drenthe and Gelderland. In short: if you are in the mood to feel the burn, the Netherlands is the perfect place for it. Even if we’re short on mountains or endless cobbled roads.

Cyclist on Col du VAM, Drenthe

Tips for all levels

No idea where to start? The Netherlands recently introduced the cool Bikepacking-concept. They will help you find fun and original routes, bike-friendly (overnight) accommodation and a variety of comfort levels ranging from easy to challenging.

The ultimate cycling tip for mountain goats? The hills (or are they mountains?) of South Limburg. The most southern edge of the country boasts a number of historic leg killers, such as Cauberg, Keutenberg or Gulperberg. They may not be tall, but boy are they steep! Former cycling champion Tom Dumoulin shares his training route with die-hard fans. Good luck and get climbing!

Cyclists with panniers in Zuid-Limburg

The Cauberg is very special, it exudes cycling
(Former cycling champion Michael Boogerd)

Mud in your face

On a mountain bike

Get off the beaten track

Group of mountain bikers on the road in a green trail near the Sint Pietersberg Mountains

The Netherlands may not have the most rugged of landscapes, but it does boast a number of provinces that will please mountain bike enthusiasts. What are the most popular areas for a great mountain bike experience? The provinces of Gelderland, Drenthe and Limburg are great suggestions as there are so many wooded areas, but don't forget Friesland.

It doesn't really matter where you want to go because you can find trails all over the country. You can even drag yourself through the mud near cities such as Rotterdam and Enschede. There are more than 260 trails and that number is increasing each month. Many local initiatives turn old, abandoned industrial sites into pristine mountain bike terrains.

260 Mountain bike trails in the Netherlands

Riding a mountain bike in Limburg