Netherlands - Food, cycling, etc.
August 10, 2018 6:16 AM   Subscribe

We're headed to the Netherlands and would like some recommendations for places to go, places to eat, and bikes to ride.

We've booked flights for the Netherlands (28 September to 8 October) and have a couple of vague ideas about itinerary but need to flesh things out some more. Right now, we'll spending some time in Amsterdam and Utrecht (numbers of days fungible at the moment). We're thinking about doing some bike touring (or "touring" - day trips out to interesting things and returning to the city). We're looking for some recommendations for:

-Interesting food and drink: restaurants, yes, but food halls, markets, beer gardens, and the like. If we can grab some excellent bread, cheese, and beer, and go have a picnic in a park that would be great.
-Outdoors: nice parks, nice scenery, interesting bike routes?
-Biking: tour companies/outfitters that will rent bikes (a tandem would be great) and either a) have touring bikes that we can haul large panniers on or b) provide luggage forwarding services. Self-guided tour packages would be fine but probably not completely necessary as long as we can get our stuff from Point A to Point B.

Stuff we've really liked in the past: biking the Loire, visiting Mercados and wine bars in Madrid, Borough Market, quaint small towns up the New England coast.
posted by backseatpilot to Travel & Transportation around Netherlands (9 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I was in Amsterdam recently, and although my AskMe was more family-focused there's still some recommendations for interesting places to visit/eat.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:27 AM on August 10, 2018

The Foodhallen in Amsterdam-West is okay but always crowded; I actually think MOUT in Hilversum is better (and it will be full of locals), but it's a bit out of your way. Amsterdam Foodie is a useful blog for restaurant reviews.

For beer, the magic word in Dutch is proeflokaal. ;) In Amsterdam, In de Wildeman is a must-visit spot, Arendsnest is also nice, and any of the Gollem locations would also be a good choice. You should also check out De Bierkoning beer shop. In Utrecht, Cafe DeRat has a great atmosphere, as does Cafe Ledig Erf; Ledig Erf is also right next to a nice outdoor area. Sitting inside Cafe Olivier is pretty neat (it's in an old church), and they have good food.

You can pick up good bread and cheese at any Dutch supermarket, but there will also be cheese shops and bakeries pretty much everywhere. Bakker Bart is a chain bakery but their bread is good.

For outdoors stuff, there's obviously the Vondelpark in Amsterdam, and the very large Amsterdamse Bos. In Utrecht, I really like Park Servaasbolwerk Sonnenborgh, which is close to the Centraal Museum. There are some cool cycling routes in the Oostvaardersplassen, a nature reserve north of Amsterdam, but it will probably take you an hour to get there with the train (you can take bikes on the train during off-peak hours).
posted by neushoorn at 6:54 AM on August 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

Much more towards the fine dining end of things than the picnic in the park end, but I highly recommend Restaurant Breda in Amsterdam for a splurge. When I was there, we did the wine pairing, and they came up with some really interesting and unexpected combinations as well.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 7:18 AM on August 10, 2018

I'm partial to the Beatrixpark - it's beautiful, and much less crowded than the Vondelpark. Plenty of places for a lovely picnic. Good bread can be found many places, but if you want a real treat stop by Le Fournil de Sébastien.
posted by lomes at 7:35 AM on August 10, 2018

We had two great meals on our last trip to Amsterdam. The first was a rijsstaffel (Dutch Indonesian rice table) at Kantjil & de Tigjer. The second (way more spendy, but really really good) was at De Gouden Reale.
posted by Happy Dave at 9:45 AM on August 10, 2018

The Hogue Veluwe National Park is only an hour from Utrecht by train/bus. They have a free 'white bike' system with 40 km of bike paths running through a surprising variety of ecosystems (marshland to desert to forest). The Kröller-Müller Museum inside the park is great too, with a sculpture garden and huge van Gogh collection.

For bike rental in Amsterdam, Star Bikes Rental near Centraal Station has a good variety of bikes including tandem. I've used them on multiple trips with no complaints.
posted by Gortuk at 10:43 AM on August 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

get a copy of the nl Michelin guide even if you don't read Dutch.
posted by brujita at 1:57 PM on August 10, 2018

I did a bicycle tour of the Netherlands back in 2011. My journal of the trip has photos, though the maps that had been there are no longer available. If you're interested in the routes, you can see them here: Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 6Day 7

I liked Amersfoort, Hoorn, and Enkhuizen best of the places we visited. I've also spent several weeks doing research in Leiden, which is a charming town. I've visited Haarlem only once but would love to go back; Teylers Museum there is the oldest public museum in the Netherlands.
posted by brianogilvie at 2:07 PM on August 10, 2018

Lots of cycling resources online (here is a good place to start). Google Maps is great for bike directions.

One of my favorite easy weekend rides from Amsterdam is to head southeast towards Amstel park (nice park) all the way to Ouderkerk aan de Amstel (cute little town). We'd have lunch and an ice cream by the river, watch some boats and people on the pontje, then ride back. The ride is fairly short (maybe 40 min each way), but it takes you along the Amstel river through some farmland. Always feels quintessentially Dutch to me.

For a longer day trip, you could ride to Haarlem (which is beautiful and worth the time to stop and see, about an hour's ride west from Amsterdam), then on to the beach at Zandvoort (another 30 minutes). That will take you by the dunes at Zuid-Kennemerland National Park, which is also part of the Noordzee route (and a possibility for a longer trek another day).

The Amsterdamse Bos (another great park) is huge and great for just riding around before relaxing with a picnic (which is ambitious for September/October, but you never's been an unpredictable weather year).
posted by PosterGirlwithNoPoster at 6:40 AM on August 14, 2018

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