Escape from Amsterdam: Zutphen

New beer launch
Reading Time: 4 minutes

This week, Amsterdam announced that the famous Dutch city is going to discourage certain males from England to come to the Netherlands because of “their wild behaviour”. I once got of the plane in Amsterdam from a flight from England and next to me was a Brit in T-shirt and pants, passport in hand. He had nothing else on him, not even a plastic bag or day pack. I shouldn’t guess, but I was pretty sure he was visiting Amsterdam for the pot and the alcohol. Amsterdam’s citizens ran out of patience with these folks.

Screenshot Daily Mirror UK

Yet, you, as a quiet, modest Canadian in an MEC windbreaker and bike helmet under your arm, whose granddad helped liberate the Netherlands, are obviously more than welcome to enjoy cycling in Amsterdam.

But if you are not that interested in an urban environment with billions of bike around you, and streetcars, and pedestrians and e-scooters and delivery vans and you just want to bike in a bike friendly country, where would you go?

Hanseatic town of Zutphen

Last year, I am embarrassed to admit, I visited the east of the Netherlands for the first time in my life and only because long time friends moved to the small Hanseatic town of Zutphen: a pretty place, walkable, intimate and a great base for exploring the area, located 25 km north east of Arnhem. (A bridge too far – Richard Attenborough)

Storks and Castles near Zutphen

Zutphen is a place steeped in history with an attractive town centre on the banks of the river IJssel and surrounded by beautiful countryside of Gelderland province. I highly recommend you take a look at the east of the Netherlands for some lovely, laid back, leisurely cycling. It is a different but original Dutch cycling experience in a way, with (advisory) bike lanes and dirt roads and forests and cattle and sleepy farms. There are windmills and castles and storks and ferries too, and a lot more horizon. There are several towns and villages nearby that warrant a visit by bike.

Coffee and road side stalls

The bicycle node system gets you to the nicest places, away from traffic and past monuments and attractive landscapes, coffee places and road side stalls. Karen spotted numerous birds such as the kievit and the snip. We both got COVID, but that didn’t stop us from cycling to other places too such as Deventer and Bronkhorst. We stumbled on the launch of a new beer at a local windmill and crossed the IJssel several times by foot ferry, had tea in castle gardens and stayed in a cabin at a campsite with a bit of an anthroposophical feel to it. Come to think of it, there is a subtle bit of an anthroposophical spirit in the entire city of Zutphen.

Images of the Eastern Netherlands

If organising such a trip sounds too much, consider the always popular boat & bike tours. There’s bound to be a tour that gets you down the IJssel river and stops during the day for day trips by bike such as the one we got a taste of last year.

I will just leave it here with a collection of photos to give you an impression of an area of the Netherlands you don’t hear much about. And when you are planning to go to the Netherlands I wholeheartedly suggest you don’t skip this lovely part of the country, which is a lot more laid back than the west.

Here are 20 images in a slideshow.


  1. Now that you are ready for rural biking, how about a pontjestoer in Friesland? The ANWB has different routes. It is amazing! Of course, this is after you have visited Bennekom.

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