Cycling in the province of Noord-Holland
Noord-Holland is Dutch through and through. Centuries of land reclamation have resulted in a polder landscape with grazing cows, ring dykes, streams and traditional Dutch farmhouses. Without dykes, most of Noord-Holland would be submerged under water. Only the dunes and Het Gooi would have been high and dry.
For centuries, people here have battled the sea. Dykes protect the area from flooding. The most famous is the 126-kilometre circular dyke Westfriese Omringdijk. Water was pumped off by hundreds of mills which resulted in the creation of polders such as Beemster, Purmer, Wormer and Schermer. The ‘s-Graveland country estates in Het Gooi are completely different in character: small-scale, enclosed, woody. These country estates were built in the 17th century for rich Amsterdam merchants.
A visit to Zaanse Schans is a must. Museums, mills, shops and wooden houses give you an idea of what the area known as the Zaanstreek – the first industrial area in the Netherlands – would have looked like. More than a thousand mills used to make paper, grind mustard and oil here. Most foreign tourists visit the Netherlands for its capital Amsterdam. The canals and old warehouses are a reminder of the Golden Age when Amsterdam was one of the biggest commercial centres in the world.
Those who prefer tranquillity and space should take the ferry to Texel. With shell pathways through the dunes, green dykes and idyllic villages, this island is perfect for cycling!