If you like the idea of cycling, but would rather cut off both arms and legs than bike up a mountain, then perhaps The Netherlands is the perfect place for you – especially if you’re also scared of traffic. The most cycle-friendly country in the world, Holland has a fantastically well-integrated network of cycle paths that make it simple for even the rawest cycling greenhorns to get around by bike, and to enjoy its under-rated and sometimes swooningly beautiful vast skies, flat pastures and huge expanses of water. If you don’t want to go far, get hold of a Dutch-style bike, gearless and with back pedal brakes or bring your own and follow the country’s network of 26 well-signposted, long-distance or LF (landelijke fietroutes) paths, which connect up the whole country so you never have to go near a main road. The Netherlands is a small country and it’s easy to cover 50km or so a day, maybe more if you’re fit enough and have a decent bike – the sit-up-and-beg Dutch variety are only really suitable for short distances. The one thing holding you back may be the wind, which can whip across the Dutch dykes and polders. But there’s nothing quite like the feeling of your first Heineken of the evening after a long day’s cycle. Tot ziens!
The Dutch motoring organization, the ANWB, publishes a series of cycle maps that covers the whole country. Bike rental costs around €32 a week.