A trip around the IJsselmeer (Lake IJssel) in Holland

Circumnavigate the IJsselmeer by car in 8 days

Just plan your own trip
... and become independent of large travel groups!

You feel like a relaxed vacation? On windmills and on cozy cities crisscrossed by canals? On an incredible selection of beers for every taste and perhaps also on delicious fries? Then let our itinerary inspire you.

On our vacation, we admired sheep in the front yard, bicyclists holding each other's arms for better storytelling, and relaxed people everywhere. In general, we have come to know Holland as a hospitable country, which is very suitable for vacation and probably also to live here.

We skipped the extremely worth seeing capital Amsterdam on this round trip, because we had already visited Amsterdam before as part of a short trip. If you haven't seen Amsterdam yet, you should also plan 2 to 3 nights here.

A note in advance: Holland is not cheap. Rarely have we had to spend so much on accommodations in Europe. Calculate for a double room with at least 100 euros per night.

At a glance
Some facts about the proposed trip

Recommended duration of the trip: 8 Tage

Number of places to stay: 7

Start in Utrecht and final stop in Nijmegen

Travel time: We made the trip in early July. We had warm days, however, also windy and quite cool. So pack best also clothes for windy and fresh weather.

Here you can find a suggestion for your trip around Lake IJssel. My name is 'Thorsten' and together with my girlfriend I made this wonderful trip.
Last edited: 04.06.2022

Trip overview

Click on map for opening the interactive Google Maps version

The stations of the trip

The stations in detail

Station 1: Utrecht, founded by the Romans and more alive than ever

Leave your car

The sights in Utrecht are close together - so it's best to leave your car and move around the city on foot or by bike.

A tornado brought down the cathedral

A special feature of the Old Town is that the tower and the hull of the cathedral are separated by the cathedral square, since a tornado brought the cathedral down in 1674. //TIP: It is worth climbing the tower as part of a guided tour. There are several platforms on which to see a chapel and the largest bells in Europe after Cologne!

Stroll along the Oudegracht

The Oudegracht, which winds through the heart of the Old Town, is a wonderful place to stroll. The Dutch simply know a thing or two about design and décor, and as individually designed as the stores are, even notorious shopaholics like me get excited - and the cheese stores where you can sample the various goudas...hm yummy. //TIP: Reserve a table for dinner on the Oudegracht as early as noon at one of the lovely outdoor seating areas.

A residential house as a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Another special mention deserves the Rietveld Schröderhuis, the house built in 1924 in the style of 'De Stijl' is a Unesco World Heritage Site //TIP: The house is located outside the old town and tickets must be reserved in advance via the Internet or by phone.

Station 2: Alkmaar, cozy town with cheese market on Friday

Cheese market on Friday

The old town of Alkmaar has the shape of an oval and is framed by canals. Alkmaar's landmark is 'De Waag' (the scales) - the tower with the clock can be seen and heard from everywhere in the city center. On the busiest square of the whole city 'Het Waagplein' the famous cheese market takes place. Unfortunately we missed this during our trip, but even without the cheese market Alkmaar is worth an overnight stay.

Hollands Kaasmusuem

I would like to recommend the Hollands Kaasmuseum, a small but nice museum where you can learn everything about the production of the famous Gouda. //TIP: In Alkmaar is also the Nationaal Biermuseum De Boom, here you can learn how to brew beer. Afterwards, a visit to the beer café downstairs in the museum is recommended.

Moated Castle Kasteel de Haar

A stop should be made at the De Haar Castle, shown in picture 1, not far from Utrecht. The castle is surrounded by water and has an incredible 200 bedrooms and 30 bathrooms. A cozy, expansive garden invites you to take a stroll.

Station 3: Enkhuizen, the Holland of the 18th century to touch and experience

The herring town with the dromedary towers

Enkhuizen is known as the 'Herring Town' and not only because it has three herrings in its coat of arms. Rather, the city owes its wealth to herring fishing and trade. In the city center you will find the cultural center with the distinctive and photogenic dromedary towers. The origins of the structure date back to the 16th century.

The Zuiderzeemuseum is 'the' open-air museum of Holland

However, Enkhuizen's main attraction is the Zuiderzeemuseum, an open-air museum where 18th century Holland comes to life through showmen. So you can look over the shoulders of craftsmen such as rope makers, blacksmiths, clog makers, but also housewives at their activities. Also the work in the bakery, the cheese dairy and the fish smokehouse can be observed live.
In addition to the open-air museum there is also an attached indoor museum, the main attraction here is the huge ship hall with an exhibition of historic boats.

European Museum of the Year

//TIP: The museum is definitely worth a visit, it was already awarded European Museum of the Year in 1984. For each historic house, the story of the inhabitants is told. I found particularly exciting the story of Klaas Boording, who drifted with his sons in the winter of 1849, 14 days on an ice floe in the Zuidersee and was finally rescued.

Station 4: Texel, the Frisian island with mudflats, dunes and seals

Mudflat hikes

At the Center for Wadden Sea and North Sea Ecomare you can book guided mudflat walks. I can only recommend this to everyone. The ecosystem of the mudflats is fascinating and to experience the different animals up close and also to hold a lugworm in your hand is something special.

Whale skeletons and seal breeding station

//TIP: At Ecomare, the hall with whale skeletons impresses small and large and is fantastically illuminated (second photo). Attached is also a seal breeding station. Feedings are offered daily.

Thousands of pieces of jetsam in the Kaap Skil Museum

//TIP: A must-see on Texel is the Kaap Skil Museum (also called Maritiem en Juttersmuseum, Sea and Jetsam Museum in some guidebooks), located on the east coast in Oudeschild. The unusual wave-inspired building features a model of the Texel Reede, the largest maritime model in the world. In addition, in a large barn here you can admire thousands of pieces of washed up and lovingly prepared flotsam (third photo).

The journey to Texel

Getting to Texel is not a problem even in the tourist summer months. Every hour the ferry from the Dutch mainland departs from 'Den Helder'.

Station 5: Groningen, lively student city in the north of Holland

World's best city for cycling

Like most cities in the Netherlands, downtown Groningen is framed by canals. And the center of this city is also almost car-free and best explored on foot or by bicycle. On average, there are 1.4 bicycles per Groningen resident. Groningen is also called the world's best city for cycling.

The world-famous Groninger Museum

The Groninger Museum, located across from the train/bus station impresses with spectacular architecture from the outside. Inside is the most modern contemporary art in the world. As one of the five most advanced collections of modern and contemporary art in the world, the museum regularly attracts visitors from all over the world with its changing exhibitions.

Spectacular view of the old town

The most visited attraction in the old town is without a doubt the 'Martinitoren/Martini Tower'. From the top you have a spectacular view of the surrounding area of Groningen.

Station 6: Giethorn, explore the water channels as the captain of your electric boat

The Venice of the Netherlands

The next overnight stop is Urk, a cozy town on the east coast of the IJsselmeer. The highlight of the day, however, is a detour en route to Giethorn, the Venice of the Netherlands, where you can rent an electric boat from one of the many boat rental companies to explore the waterways of Giethorn on your own. //TIP: The whole thing is already very touristy and is probably on the must-see list for Asian tour groups. Nevertheless, if the weather is nice, you shouldn't miss out on this great fun.

Giethorn is mostly car-free

Giethorn also offers walking and biking trails to admire the centuries-old thatched houses. Besides a few restaurants, there is a small museum farming village that tells the history of the region.

We spend the night in cozy Urk

Our overnight stop 'Urk' offers a lighthouse, a fishing museum and the nice authentic old town invites you to stroll around.

Station 7: By bike through the National Park to the world famous Kröller-Müller Museum

Museum even for museum buffs

...And the next day's highlight is also on the way to the overnight destination, namely the Kröller-Müller Museum in the Hoge Veluwe Nationaal Park. The museum offers the world's second largest number of works by Van Gogh. There are also many other works by other masters such as Picaso. There are hundreds of white bicycles at the entrance of the national park. Their use is included in the entrance fee to the park. And so you cycle through beautiful nature to the museum, which contains world-famous paintings as well as a sculpture park worth seeing.//TIP: Even if you are not very interested in art, you should not miss this museum. And if possible, plan a whole day for a visit to the park and the museum.

Bicycle Museum in the overnight destination of Nijmegen.

In our overnight destination of Nijmegen, we found the National Bicycle Museum 'Nationaal Fietsmuseum Velorama' particularly worth seeing, with hundreds of models ranging from draisines to modern road bikes.

Some more tips

What could be done differently

The station Groningen is on this round already a bit off and no longer close to the Ijsselmeer. Instead of Groningen you could also make a stop in the nice town of 'Sneek', a center for water sports.

If you have one day more available, I would advise you to spend 3 days in Texel. The island is simply stunning.

What else is newsworthy

Funny thing is that the Dutch have their living rooms on the first floor facing the street and no curtains restrict the view inside. As a tourist, you're tempted to peek in there everywhere. But as a Dutchman told me, the locals are discreet and just don't do that.

In the city centers, parking the cars is often not very easy. We often had to go to a parking garage that was a bit away from the center and then walk the one kilometer to the hotel. The parking fees of up to 25 EUR per day also make you swallow hard sometimes.

And finally
we wish you

... many great impressions and experiences during your trip around the Dutch Ijsselmeer: Kirsten & Thorsten