On this cycling holiday, a quiet, one-way route takes you to explore three themes: wood- and heathlands in the National Park Veluwezoom, the lovely landscape in the meandering IJssel river valley and the well preserved medieval cities on its banks once belonging to the Hanseatic League. Opt to prolong your holiday by an extra day and with a new theme: the low-lying peat marshes surrounding Giethoorn, a village also known as “Venice of the Netherlands”.
Between 1000 and 1500 AD the Hanseatic towns were prosperous, flourishing thanks to shipping and trade. In those days, merchants in a town were united in a merchant guild that protected their common interests. After 1358, 150 merchant guilds across northern Europe united in the Hanseatic League, a network that aimed to ensure safe passage for travelling merchants such as long-distance shippers. They built trading posts and lighthouses, trained pilots, helped each other with knowledge, contacts and armed protection. Merchants from the IJssel valley who profited financially, became patrons of architecture and culture in their hometowns: The enchanting places you will visit on this cycling holiday!
About 18 of these Hanseatic cities were situated in the Netherlands, this tour visits 7 of them: Arnhem, Doesburg, Zutphen, Deventer, Hattem, Zwolle and Hasselt.
Your cycling holiday starts in Arnhem, capital of Gelderland province and City of Fashion & Design. Working-class neighbourhood Klarendal has become the place-to-be for designers, artists and artisans, clustered together in Modekwartier (the Fashion District) full of hip stores and studios. Arnhem is also loved for its city parks and green surroundings. In fact, it is known as the Gateway to Veluwe Forest.
Today you have two options. If you choose to linger in Arnhem in the morning, you may want to take the shorter route. The most famous museum in Arnhem is Openluchtmuseum, a national open-air museum of cultural history focused on the everyday lives of ordinary people and the actual buildings they lived and worked in. Another popular attraction is the fabulous Burgers Zoo. When you are ready to go, leave the city of Arnhem through lovely Sonsbeek Park. The long route makes a loop northward, through desolate heathland with Highland cattle. The route continues through the rolling hills of Veluwezoom National Park. Although never really steap, the road is almost never flat either. This area is celebrated for its fragrant pinewoods, beautiful deciduous forest and Europe’s largest sand drifts. Most spectacular are the fields of heather which light up in vibrant varieties of mauve in August. Next, watch the scenery change as you proceed from the forest toward a wide-open river landscape, the valley of the River IJssel.
The long tour passes through less known and therefore more quiet heath and woodlands as well as villages in the transition landscape between the forest and the meadows along the IJssel River.
We have three hanseatic towns lined up for you today, so lots of history. The towns each have a beautiful historical town center, surrounded by (remainders of) town walls and town gates. As for the enchanting scenery, the washlands of the River IJssel, adorned with wild flowers in summer, lead on to typical Dutch farmland, cropfields, homely farmsteads and windmills reaching for the skies. To the west, Veluwe Forest can be seen on the horizon. On the long route, you will pass the pretty town of Doesburg. It is particularly well-preserved and well worth the extra kilometers. Have a break at the lovely old inn with the red shutters. It dates to 1478 when it was a weighing hall doubling as an alehouse and has since continuously received hungry and thirsty guests looking for some company. In Zutphen, see if you can squeeze in one of the sixteen walking tours on offer. The tiny town of Bronkhorst is very picturesque. It developed 1000 years ago as a fortified farmers’ settlement. At the end of the day, check in at your hotel which has a great location on the river with a view of Deventer. In the evening, jump on the ferry to visit the beautiful town center!
Get up early to continue your sightseeing in Deventer, a lovely town known for its bookshops, art shops and special festivals. The local delicacy (from 1595) is honey and spice cake, often eaten for breakfast. The place to savour it is coffee house Bussink on beautiful Brink square.
Follow the river IJssel further downstream and find out all about modern Dutch water management in the washlands. Due to climate change, it is expected that water levels in our rivers will rise and rise. Raising the river dikes even higher is one option to prevent floods, but another is moving them back, to give the river more room. During winter high flows, the washlands are flooded and temporarily store excess water thus slowing the flow downstream and protecting the dwellings behind the dikes from floods. In contrast, in a few strategic places where it is necessary to move excess water downstream more rapidly, ground and vegetation levels in the washlands are kept low to allow the water to pass unhindered.
After visiting the small hansa town of Hattem, cross the river to Zwolle. Surrounded by four waterways, the city has always been a busy hub welcoming travelers and traders from all corners. You will find remains of a medieval town wall and listed buildings from the time the town was affiliated with the Hanseatic League.
After breakfast, it’s time to go home, unless you opted for an extra day to “the Venice of the Holland”.
Day 5 Zwolle – Giethoorn (43 km)
Leave the hustle and bustle of Zwolle behind you and follow the River “Het Zwarte Water” into the marshlands. The wide views of the marshy washlands are a world away from our every-day preoccupations. When you reach Hasselt, take your time to sightsee this charming place of pilgrimage (since 1355), boasting seventy listed buildings of national importance, silent witnesses to the time when contacts within the Hanseatic League brought prosperity. Hasselt was a transit point for goods that were shipped down the rivers and loaded onto seafaring ships that crossed the Zuiderzee to friendly Hanseatic ports on the North Sea and Baltic Sea. Subsequently, different goods made the same journey back again. Our cycling route continues to Zwartsluis, a popular port for boaters and yachters to come ashore and explore the surroundings. Proceed through the wetlands of Weerribben-Wieden National Park. It may look like natural wilderness, but it was shaped by man and is, in effect, an abandoned and overgrown peat extraction site. Note the pattern of parallel lanes of water and land. The strips of land are the “peat banks” where the extracted peat was laid out to dry. The wider “dredging channels” are where the peat was extracted from and where the workers stood on small barges wielding their dredging poles; or picking up dried peat to take to market. Dried peat was sold as turf: fuel for household heating and cooking, in towns to the west, where firewood was scarce. As the channels got wider, the water started to make waves: Narrow peat banks got washed away in storms; and lakes developed.
Your journey ends in Giethoorn. Nicknamed Venice of the Netherlands, this centuries-old farming village has waterways instead of roads. Tourists rent silent electric boats to cruise down the main canal looking at the farmhouses with thatched roofs and the lovely gardens.
If you want to book this extra night in Giethoorn, please mention this in the remark field of the booking form.
Day 6 - Return home
Today your cycling holiday comes to an end. After breakfast, it is really time to go home.
|Daily from April 1 till September 26.|
|Single room, breakfast||570.00|
|Double room, breakfast||450.00|
|Extra night (breakfast only)||70.00|
|Pillows Grand Hotel Ter Borch, Zwolle||50.00|
|Bike Breakdown pass||€ 2.75 x 4||11.00|
|Child seat||€ 5.00 x 4||20.00|
|Bike theft insurance||€ 3.00 x 4||12.00|
|E-bike theft insurance||€ 6.00 x 4||24.00|
|Theft insurance premium bike||€ 6.00 x 4||24.00|
|Add on bike||€ 6.00 x 4||24.00|
|Child trailer||€ 17.50 x 4||70.00|
Arnhem - Hotel Haarhuis****
Rheden - Sandton hotel de Roskam****
Deventer - Sandton IJsselhotel****
Zwolle - Wientjes****
4 nights included
4 Star Hotels
Breakfast included, Halfboard optional
Tourist information on all the places of interest
The possibility of renting our bikes
7-days a week service-hotline
Luggage transport to your next hotel
Arnhem (Return from Zwolle)
Parking possibilities at the hotel
Any ferry crossings are not included