The North Sea Cycle Route in the Netherlands is remarkable for its scenery – not so much the coastal views, but the dunes. This remarkable area is traversed only by cycleways and footpaths, so you get a unique view of the Dutch landscape denied to drivers. The only sound is that of the swish of bicycle tyres and the click of gears on this popular cycle route.
It’s signposted as both the LF Kustroute and EuroVelo 12 with, of course, the Dutch cycle points (“knooppunten”) to mark your progress. As a popular tourist route, it’s studded with cafés and campsites, though be aware that these can get booked up at holiday times: you may need to detour inland if they’re full. Resort towns have sprung up along the route for holidaying Netherlanders, lively places with much to see.
The cycle infrastructure is predictably excellent, but don’t overestimate how much progress you’ll make: the route has its twists and turns, and is usually busy with other cyclists.
Wind is the main challenge: ride south-to-north to have the best chance of a tailwind, but even then it’s not guaranteed. You’re at your most exposed on the long 32km of the Afsluitdijk, the embankment over the mouth of the Ijsselmeer. Note that at present the dyke is under reconstruction and you may need to catch the free bike bus instead.
North of the Afsluitdijk, the route takes on a different character with more quiet road riding past arable fields inland. It’s not always as classically pretty as the dunes and beaches, but has a quiet, unhurried character which is blissful on a sunny day.