Utrecht‘s historical charms are almost unmatched within the Netherlands and the city’s Medieval architecture easily rivals Amsterdam’s iconic town center. Its outer limits actually border Amsterdam’s suburbs and traveling to Utrecht takes around two hours by bike. This journey is almost due south and runs past a beautiful park called Ronde Hoep, that was originally submerged in swampland before being excavated by Dutch engineers in the 19th century. It is worth dismounting in Utrecht in order to explore the city’s narrow, winding lanes and glorious central canal rings.
Marken is a tiny fishing village that appears to be frozen in time. The area is completely surrounded by sea and can only be accessed by a long causeway that connects it to Noord-Holland’s mainland. All of its houses are built from wood and painted in vibrant primary colors that recall 18th century Dutch design. Riding to Marken from Amsterdam takes cyclists through Noord-Holland’s fertile hinterlands and crosses a rustic farming village called Broek in Waterland.
Naarden‘s distinctive town walls were built as part of a massive defense line that surrounded Amsterdam until the early 20th century. This citadel follows a star-shaped pattern that is framed within a deep moat, creating a beautiful structure that is completely unique inside the Netherlands. To reach Naarden, cyclists can also stop off at Muiden – another ancient fortified town that looks onto the the IJmeer sea. This trail between Amsterdam, Muiden and Naarden parallels a picturesque canal lined with thick woodland.