This is a story about a bike ride, I took out to the North Sea beach, located about 25km from Amsterdam. If you visiting Amsterdam, you can rent a bike and ride out to Zandvoort or you can take the easy option, taking the train. What will you miss if you take the train, read on.
Start KM 0
From here the ride, went along the Ma Braunpad towards Haarlemmerweg. Biking along the Ma Braunpad, I passed by the De 1100 Roe a windmill standing amongst sport fields.
Km 1 to 6
De 1100 Roe
The sports fields are used by different sport organizations in the evening, during daytime you can play golf here. Yes real golf swings on fields that are used for soccer, baseball. If my memory serves me correctly, I think that the De 1100 Roe windmill acts as the clubhouse for the golf.
After reaching Haarlemmerweg, I take a left run on the the bike path that follows the Haarlemmerweg road.
The first part of the bike path is shielded against the road, that ends further up the road. This part is very straight and when getting onto the bike path, you barely see Halfweg in the horizon.
At Halfweg, I cross over the Haarlemmerweg to crossover the railroad tracks, at the Haarlem Spaarnwoude. Before that I have to tell a little about Halfweg.
Halfweg is a town approximately halfway between Haarlem and Amsterdam, the name derives the “halfway”. In 1632, the Haarlemmertrekvaart, a canal from Amsterdam to Haarlem, opened for passenger traffic by trekschuit (towed barges). At the halfway point the passengers needed to disembark and change boats. A towpath was laid along the canal, and this route has become the Haarlemmerweg (A200).
A sugar factory built in the 19th century was run by CSM Suiker fabriek from 1919 onwards. It closed in the 1990s, but the complex with its sugar silos still dominates the city skyline and is called “Sugar City” today.
Until 1876, Halfweg was right on the southern shores of the IJ Bay. With the construction of the North Sea Canal, a channel was dug through the IJ and lined with dikes, after which the remaining portions of the IJ Bay were reclaimed and turned into polders. As a result, the village of Ruigoord, formerly an island of the same name, borders Halfweg in the north, as does the town of Zwanenburg in the south.
After crossing over the railways track at Haarlem Spaarnwoude, I headed on to the Haarlemmerliede en Spaarnwoude a flat area with a few farms far apart.
Km 7 to 11
On my way along the Spaarndammerdijk, I can see the church in the hamlet of Spaarnwoude, you can see it from far away as it towering over the flat land around and you know you are on the right road.
Spaarndammerdijk can be busy we all kind of traffic, it’s popular amongst competitive cyclist, you also run into people walking horses, as there are several horse farms around.
Km 12 to 17
At the end of the Spaarndammerdijk, I reach the small village of Spaarndam, that was created around a dam where the river Spaarne flows into the IJ. The oldest part of the village, on the western side of the Spaarne, belongs to the municipality of Haarlem; the newer part on the eastern side is a part of the municipality of Haarlemmerliede en Spaarnwoude.
This dam was built by count Floris V of Holland in 1285. The village collected toll at this dam, and people made their living from fishing. Besides the river and the fishing, Spaarndam is also famous because of a story in the 1865 American novel, Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates. The story is about a Dutch boy, “The Hero of Haarlem,” who stuck his finger in a dike to prevent the town from flooding.
The story became a popular legend in America, and in 1950 the local tourist bureau put a statue of this character in Spaarndam. Spaarndam is also a great place to stop and have something to drink or eat, my favorite place is Café Spaarndam.
From Spaarndam it’s an easy ride in to the village of Santpoort-Noord, Santpoort-Noord is part of the municipality of Velsen, and lies to the west of North-Haarlem (Schoten). In Santpoort-Noord you can visit the Korenmolen de Zandhaas wind mill.
Korenmolen de Zandhaas – Store selling bakery products, housed in a working 18th-century windmill (tours by appointment).
Shortly after Korenmolen de Zandhaas, I turn left into Santpoort-Zuid that is bordered by the village of Bloemendaal to the south and the village of Santpoort-Noord to the north.
Ruin of Brederode
Santpoort-Zuid is one of the rare coastal forested areas protected by large dunes.Near the village is the ruin of the 13th century Castle Brederode.
Castle Brederode was founded in the second half of the 13th century by William I van Brederode (1215–1285). The name Brederode is a reference to a wooded area called Brede Roede (literally: broad wood), that was cleared and on which the castle was built. You can read more about the Castle Brederode here.
Km 18 to 27
Passing by Castle Brederode, I riding into the Nationaal Park Zuid-Kennemerland with forest and dunes and lies between IJmuiden, Haarlem and Zandvoort. The Park is full of trails, which you can bike or hike on, I just biking through the outskirt, on a path that leads me into Bloemendaal.
The town of Bloemendaal is one of the wealthiest place in the Netherlands, it also have the highest hill that you can climb with your bike near Amsterdam. The Hoge Duin en Daalseweg is popular amongst competitive cyclist to climb a hill – you have a climb on both end of the road.
Hoge Duin en Daalseweg
The Hoge Duin en Daalseweg is not only popular with cyclist, you will also find skateboarders that found their way out to have some fun on the hill.
Skate Hoge Duin en Daalseweg
Getting a good run down the other end of the Hoge Duin En Daalseweg, I reach the Zeeweg that will take me to the beach at Bloemendaal aan Zee.
Km 28 to 32
Bloemendaal aan Zee is a seaside resort, located between the beaches of IJmuiden to the north and Zandvoort to the south and surrounded by the dunes of the Zuid-Kennemerland National Park.
Bloemendaal aan Zee it is a popular beach destination, the road out Bloemendaal aan Zee was very busy when there is a sunny day, even in March.
Going along the bike path that follows the Boulevard Barnaart i reach the town of Zandvoort. Zandvoort is one of the major beach resorts of the Netherlands; it has a long sandy beach, bordered by coastal dunes.
Zandvoort is known to have existed in 1100, called Sandevoerde (a combination of “sand” and “voorde“, meaning ford). Until 1722 the area was under the control of the Lords of Brederode. You can find more history about Zandvoort here.
Between Bloemendaal aan Zee and Zandvoort are some fast food places to stop at to eat some dutch specialities. My favorite is Dutch Soused herring, the soused herring is an especially mild salt herring, which is made from young immature herrings. The herrings are ripened for a couple of days in oak barrels in a salty solution, or brine. The pancreatic enzymes which support the ripening make this version of salt herring especially mild and soft. You have to try it.
Reaching Zandvoort I turn back towards Amsterdam, next month I will do longer rides and I will use the traffic-free bike path across the extensive Dutch sand dune systems between Zandvoort and The Hague. It’s one of the very best cycle paths in the world with fantastic scenery to take in. Every so often, there is access to the beach for cyclists and hikers only.
I will tell you more about that in a future story, on this ride I headed towards the town of Aerdenhout on my way back to Amsterdam.
Km 33 to 40
Aerdenhout is a small town located in the dunes between Haarlem and Zandvoort. The name “Aerdenhout” means Andere hout, Dutch for “the other wood”, and was given it to distinguish this other wood from the Haarlemmerhout, just south of the city Haarlem.
Aerdenhout is dominated by many stately homes and villas, each with a unique style or architecture, and mostly built in the period 1920-1930. A much older building is the “Haringbuys“, an old pub along the Zandvoorterweg.
It does not take long to bike through Aerdenhout to reach Haarlem.
Haarlem is the capital city of the province of North Holland and is situated at the northern edge of the Randstad, one of the most populated metropolitan areas in Europe. Haarlem was granted city status or stadsrechten in 1245, although the first city walls were not built until 1270. More history about Haarlem can be found here.
Km 41 to 55
Out of Haarlem, I cross over the Ringvaart, and If you have not read my story about Cycling the Ringvaart do that now.
Continue on my way back to Amsterdam, I pass by the North West Runway of Schiphol Airport, biking through the village of Boesingheliede, the village of Lijnden and the town of Badhoevedorp to reach back to Amsterdam.