Staying in spring (late April) for a couple of days in Schagen, we decided to make a bike trip through the bulb fields in this part of the Netherlands. In the Top of North Holland (Kop van Noord-Holland) they are proud having the world’s largest area of blooming bulb fields. It is less well known as the so called Bollenstreek (nearby the Keukenhof), which means it is less touristy and much more authentic.
We did this trip on April 22 and were very lucky with the weather: blue skies and almost no wind. We passed a couple of nice quaint villages like Schagerbrug and ‘t Zand (with its typical ‘vlotbrug’ / floated bridge over the Noord-Hollands canal; there are just a couple of these bridges in the world, all in this area), but most of the time we were biking through the flat Dutch countryside with vast fields of blooming colorful tulips and hyacinths. But we saw also grazing cows, sheep, ditches and canals, farmhouses and a lot of water birds.
Callantsoog, with a church dating back to the 16th century, is a nice place for a stop for a drink or lunch. Just south of the village lies the ‘Zwanenwater’, a wildlife sanctuary in the dunes. You even could stay for a while on the beach.
Of course you can bike around and find the way by yourself, but we used the easy ‘Knooppuntenroute’ (numbered intersections) along the numbers:
45 (Schagen) > 35 > 44 > 32 > 79 > 31 > 26 (Callantsoog) > 84 > 13 > 81 > 34 and from there we followed the ANWB signs for Schagen. See for this (or another) itinerary: http://www.fietsersbond.net/fietsrouteplanner/fietsroutes-noordholland/knooppunten/
The trip is about 30 km’s long and will take 2 hours of biking.
We rented our bikes from our hotel in Schagen (Slothotel Igesz); in town is also a bike shop with rental bikes, called Westenenk Profile Tweewielers. They both charge € 8,- for one day rental.
For more info about activities during 'tulip season' see:
Perhaps not necessary, but we bought a booklet at the Tourist Information to make an unguided town walk. The one we had was (of course) in Dutch and I really don’t know if they do have them in other languages, which I hope; otherwise you will miss a lot of information about the buildings/houses and history of Schagen.
We started our walk right from the VVV-office, which is located in the rebuilt castle. The former castle dates back to the 15th century and the two towers in front of the main building are still original ones. They both do house a museum: Region Museum 1940-1945 and Museum Battle of the Somme.
The impressive Dutch Reformed Church with its decorated renaissance tower was (re)built in 1895 - 1897. Just a pity it was always closed, so we couldn’t visit the interior. The church is surrounded by a lot of cafes and restaurants. Some of them have stepped gables.
The ‘Loet’ was an important canal for shipping traffic, but was filled in in 1935. Nowadays there is a clear difference in height between the sides of the road. At the end (coming from the city) is a row of nice old (farm)houses. One of the nicest farmhouses nowadays houses the regional Museum Vreeburg.
Schagen had in the older days a lot of canals. The only remaining (as far as we saw) is a short and narrow part along the ‘Rapenpad’; on one side a row nicely restored working-class houses.
‘Gedempte Gracht (Filled Canal) was also a canal and nowadays is the main shopping street of the town. During our walk there was a large market and that made it more or less impossible to view the architecture of the façades.
The Roman Catholic St. Christopher Church with its more than 60 meters high spire tower can not be missed, but was also closed. We just got a glimpse of the interior from behind a window in the entrance portal.
Through a neighbourhood with sober early 20th century working-class houses we came to the area around the railway station with houses and buildings with a strange mixture of architecture. One of the most remarkable buildings is the former Hotel De Landbouw.
We walked back along the Dorpen (a former dike) with an traditional North Holland’s farmhouse and the Laan with a number of monumental mansions and the modern new town hall of Schagen
This town walk took about 90 minutes and we got a good impression of the Schagen and its architecture; always a nice way to explore a city.
(It is also possible to take part in a guided town walk, which goes along the sites and places of historical interest.)
During our town walk we stopped at the (former) farmhouse Vreeburg, dating back to the 17th century. We were making a picture of one of the nicest buildings along the road, which is nowadays a regional museum. A volunteer stopped and asked if she could help. I told her my other was born in Schagen and - although the museum was still closed - she invited us to take a (short) look inside
We were able to see the rooms on the ground floor, which has completely furnished rooms and a kitchen with authentic (nostalgic) furniture, crockery and utilities. Rooms do have original stoves or fireplaces and the living room a so called ‘bedstee’; t is almost unbelievable people could sleep in this small ‘closet’.
Although just a short visit it felt like stepping back in time and seeing some of the ‘heritage’ of my mother. Just a pity we couldn’t stay longer.
Once outside again we walked around the museum buildings and could see beautiful old carriages in a barn, which belong to the museum since a couple of years.
The museum is open from April till the end of October, but only during afternoon.
See for exact opening hours and the admission fee their website.
Immediately after leaving the last houses of Schagen behind us, we were cycling through a typical polder landscape of vast flat green pastureland, water of ditches and canals, waving reed, water birds, grazing cows and farm houses.
Soon we reached the ‘city’ of Barsingerhorn, a cute village which became city rights in the year of 1415. Barsingerhorn has a ribbon development of about 3 km’s along a ditch, called the Mient. With the many small bridges over the water, it looks a little bit like more well known Giethoorn,.
The ‘center’ of the village lies round ‘’t Raedthuys’ with its wooden spire. It was already built in 1622, originally it was court of justice called ‘Regthuys; later it was used as town hall. Nowadays you still can get married in the council chamber. Otherwise it only can be visited during summer season.
Just outside the village we passed the restored remainder of an octagonal flourmill, now obviously a clubhouse of a golf court. We were lucky doing this bike trip in late April because we were surprised by some blooming bulb fields.
The second village we visited during our bike trip was Kolhorn, a small village beneath a huge dike. This once was the dike of the former Zuiderzee (South Sea). Till 1844 ‘Colhorn’ was a fishermen village, but in the meantime it is surrounded by land.
We walked around the old ‘Laurenskerk’ and along the narrow streets along two canals with green and white wooden - sometimes gabled - houses.
In the meantime the wind had become a gale and we still had to bike back to Schagen with the wind against us, which was quite a job. But nevertheless we enjoyed our trip to the polder very much.
We used for this bike trip the ‘Knooppuntenroute’ (numbered intersections) along the numbers:
45 (Schagen) > follow the signs for Barsingerhorn = 52 > 53 > 77 (Kolhorn) > 36 > 45.
See for this (or another) itinerary: http://www.fietsersbond.net/fietsrouteplanner/fietsroutes-noordholland/knooppunten/
The trip is about 15 km’s long and will take 75 minutes of biking (without wind !!).
We rented the bikes from our hotel in Schagen; in town is also a bike shop with rental bikes Westenenk Profile Tweewielers.
Vreeburg is the name of a former inner city farm at Schagen.
The exhibition inside shows the history and objets of the West Frisian area.
April - October:
We-Sa: 1.30PM - 4.30PM
Also at Su: 1.30PM - 4.30PM
and on Th: 9.30AM - 4.30PM
Admission: Euro 4.00 (adult)
Folkloristic "Schagen ":
from July untill september
10 whole weeks
start from 9.00 a.m.