Are you planning a tour of the Netherlands on a motorcycle? There are some important things to know before you travel, including important paperwork and what gear to take with you. Here you will find everything you need to know about motorcycling in the Netherlands.
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- Motorcycling in the Netherlands or is it the Netherlands?
- Motorcycling in the Netherlands: why you should ride!
- When to go motorcycle touring in the Netherlands?
- Motorbike holidays in the Netherlands – where to go
- Planning a riding route from the UK to the Netherlands
- Through the Euro Tunnel
- Ferry from Harwich to Holland
- Ferry from Hull to Rotterdam
- Motorbike rental in Holland
- Motorcycling in the Netherlands: what equipment to bring?
- Things you need to travel to the Netherlands: Safety equipment
- Lighting of motorcycle helmets and clothing in the Netherlands: what is required by law?
- Recommended bike accessories that you MUST need when riding a motorbike in the Netherlands
- What documents do you need for road traffic in the Netherlands?
- Do I need an international driving license to drive in the Netherlands?
- Motorcycling in Holland: where to stay
- Dutch motorcycle tours in school holidays or not?
- Driving tips for Dutch motorcycle tours
- Speed limits in the Netherlands
- Filtering in Holland: is it legal to split lanes?
- Driving in the Netherlands: what to do in a traffic accident
- What to do on site:
- Motorcycling in the Netherlands - safety
- Other useful things to know about motorcycling in the Netherlands
- With a dog through the Netherlands
Motorcycling in the Netherlands or is it the Netherlands?
Ok, let's start with the obvious: What is the difference between the designation "Holland" and the designation "Netherlands"?
It's a bit like the difference between Great Britain and GB: "Holland" refers to only part of the country (and a small part), while "Netherlands" refers to the whole Kingdom (yes, it's still the Kingdom of the Netherlands).
So if you are planning a trip across the country, you need to say "Netherlands". Despite this, many people (including us sometimes!) still mistakenly refer to the Netherlands as Holland, so I will use the terms interchangeably in this post.
Motorcycling in the Netherlands: why you should ride!
The Netherlands is known for several things: canals, clogs, tulips, windmills and for being flat. Oh, and you've probably heard of Amsterdam, especially the Red Light District. If you follow the news, you've probably heard of The Hague.
But the country has so much more to offer: it is full of beautiful landscapes, incredibly pretty cities, delicious food and a lot of history. Not all roads pass through a dike or windmill; There are also forests and although the land is flat there are some wide roads with big turns that are fun to drive on.
This is also the place to bring your bikes if you aretour the Netherlands with a motorhome or motorhome– Most of the country is perfect for enjoying on 2 wheels.
I have Dutch godparents so I grew up visiting the country and exploring it on road trips with my family. I'll be honest, many of my memories of the country include poffertjes (small Dutch pancakes served warm with butter and powdered sugar) and kibberling. We'll get to that shortly!
It's also not a big country and it's easy to see a lot in a week, especially if you're on a motorbike.
When to go motorcycle touring in the Netherlands?
The Netherlands has a very similar climate to Great Britain: it is roughly on the same latitude as Norwich or Wales. The best time to plan a motorcycle trip is from spring (mid-April) to autumn (probably mid-October), but it can rain at any time.
If you want to see the tulips, go between mid-March and mid-May (exact times vary of course), but this time is also very popular with tourists.
A national holiday called King's Day is celebrated on April 27th. Expect plenty of orange clothing, orange hair, and events across the country. The Dutch royal family is known for making surprise visits to unexpected places, so keep your eyes peeled! (Although, let's be honest, would you recognize them?)
July and August are the busiest months for tourists and there can be long lines at the main attractions, so avoid them if you can. That being said, it's the best time to enjoy the beautiful sandy beaches along the north coast. There is a party on “Flag Day” (when the first pegs are hauled in). There is also the North Sea Regatta, the largest sailing race in the Netherlands, and the Scheveningen International Fireworks Festival, which takes place in August and is well worth a visit.
In the fall, the weather is perfect for road trips without having to contend with the worst of tourists. Make time to visit the art festival Nijmegen Kunstnacht, a huge gathering of artists of all kinds.
In winter it rains a lot more and it can be cold, wet and dreary. Again, like the south of England, there are no mountains (although there are hills), so don't expect much snow (although it does occasionally).
But there are several light festivals taking place across the country including the Amsterdam Light Festival (one of the largest in the world) and also Glow Eindhoven and Candle Night, Gouda. Also, many of the canals freeze over in winter and it's possible to skate in them (but only with permission if the ice isn't as thick as you thought!)
Motorbike holidays in the Netherlands – where to go
Before we dive into planning your motorcycle tour of the Netherlands, let's take a look at some of the best places to visit.
Highlights of a road trip to the Netherlands include:
- Giethoorn: the city without streets. Yes, I know it's weird for a road trip destination, but it's magical.
- Keukenhof Gardens to see the tulips and hyacinths
- Volendam - one of our favorite cities in the Netherlands
- Nijmegen, the oldest city in the Netherlands
- Amsterdam, but DO NOT drive into the city!
- Madurodam - a model village in the Netherlands and worth a stop
- Windmills in Kinderdjik
Of course there are also many other places to discover. Definitely bring it with youMotorcycle camera or fuselage camera– The landscape is spectacular.
Planning a riding route from the UK to the Netherlands
So how do you get from the UK to the Netherlands by motorbike?
Through the Euro Tunnel
By far the easiest way is the Eurotunnel. I'm usually interested in the pros and cons of the deal versus the tunnel, but in this case the tunnel is a better option UNLESS you're from the north. There is also a ferry from Dover to Calais if you can't use the tunnel, but the crossing takes longer.
Once in France, you can drive from Calais through Belgium to the Netherlands in just 3 hours (that's about 280 km).
Ferry from Harwich to Holland
There is also a ferry from Harwich with Stena Line that goes direct to Hook of Holland (which is where a lot of the name confusion comes from I think!). You can take your motorcycle (or a vehicle with a trailer if you are) with youtowing your motorcycle) on board and takes about 7 hours.
If you are traveling with a dog or cat, there are kennels on board where you can reserve them, but they are not allowed in your cabin.
Ferry from Hull to Rotterdam
For those in Scotland from the north of England there is also a ferry from Hull to Rotterdam with P&O Ferries. This takes around 12 hours and again has cabins and kennels on board.
If you come to the Netherlands by land, there are no border controls, just walk in!
Motorbike rental in Holland
If you don't have your own bike or don't want to take it with you, you can simply fly to the Netherlands and rent one. Just ask how to get from the airport to the car rental; not all are at the airport and you may need to book a taxi.
To rent a motorbike in the Netherlands most places expect you to:
- 25 years or older depending on the company's rental policy; (18 years old for scooters and some very small bikes)
- Possess a valid driver's license with at least 2 years experience
- Show ID (ID card for EU citizens or valid passport for other nationalities)
Make sure you have proof that you can get the vehicle across the border if you plan to do so.
Please remember that it is YOUR responsibility to ensure the vehicle has the required safety equipment. Local fines apply to you as a passenger, not the company. Check with the company beforehand what equipment they will provide you with the vehicle and what you need to bring with you. If you areSolo-Motorradtour, remember that you must bring everything yourself, including motorcycle camping gear.
Take a list of legal requirements with you and check them off one at a time when you are given the transfer. Do not drive until you are sure you are complying with local laws.
Depending on the model, you have to reckon with costs between 80 and 180 €/day. Make sure you ask the right questions to find out what your rental includes, such as:
- Mileage limit/surcharge
- kit included
- Luggage included
- Hull rental available
- approved passenger
- Breakdown/Insurance Coverage
- Opening times and location of collection/delivery
- Necessary documents
Motorcycling in the Netherlands: what equipment to bring?
As in most European countries, there are certain things that you MUST take with you on a motorcycle trip to the Netherlands.
Don't forget that if you're going to the Netherlands through France, you'll need all the gear that France needs, plus any extras that the destination country asks for.
Things you need to travel to the Netherlands: Safety equipment
You MUST take these things with you on a motorcycle tour in the Netherlands.
- The use of a helmet is mandatory for pilots and passengers.
- You may not use the bike lanes with anything larger than a scooter.
- High visibility reflective jackets– It is NOT mandatory but highly recommended if you break down at night
- You don't need headlight converters on a motorcycle in Europe unless your headlight is dramatically left facing.
- Country sticker (UK)affixed to the back of bikeon license plates. (NO MORE the EU or UK sticker!)
- If you wear glasses, you MUST bring a spare pair of glasses
Lighting of motorcycle helmets and clothing in the Netherlands: what is required by law?
In the Netherlands it was illegal to add additional lighting to both clothing and a motorcycle helmet. As it turns out, that law was apparently reversed in 2021, and if you'd like to have some lighting on your clothing/helmet to make it more visible, you can.
BUT your bike lights need to be clearly visible and understandable, so don't turn yourself into a Christmas tree!
Recommended bike accessories that you MUST need when riding a motorbike in the Netherlands
The following kits are things you may need to carry in your kit.
- Dangerous Triangle
- First aid kit
- Spare bulbs: not required, but useful
- Snacks and water, just in case!
Don't forget to do yoursmotorcycle maintenanceCheck before you ride: Claim your motorcycle maintenance for FREEchecklist here
What documents do you need for road traffic in the Netherlands?
When you travel to the Netherlands, you must bring the following documents with you:
- Passport (or identity document)
- Driving license (check that it is up-to-date!)
- Motorcycle Insurance Documents: Check if you are covered for travel in Europe
- puncture protection
- V5 vehicle registration document (which must contain your correct address)
- The vehicle must be legally taxed and ITV
- International driver's license if required
- personal travel insurance
Do I need an international driving license to drive in the Netherlands?
Most UK citizens do not need an IDP to travel or drive in the Netherlands as long as you have a UK-issued driving license (up-to-date of course!).
You may need one if you have:
- just a paper license
- a license issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man
Motorcycling in Holland: where to stay
In the Netherlands there are several types of scales that you can use.
All camps we have visited so far have been extremely clean and well equipped. as usual
Similar to the UK, campsites in the Netherlands vary in quality and price. Some campsites have excellent facilities such as swimming pools or a beach on a lake, water sports, playground, restaurants, fresh bread delivery, shop, etc.
Others are more rustic and not much more than an air with a companion. Expect the facilities at the cheaper campsites to have much lower hygiene standards than you might be used to!
They work like in the UK: you arrive, check in (and usually have to show a passport), you are given or can choose a pitch with or without electricity (depending on what you have booked) and that's it.
Expect some campsites to keep your passport with you for the duration of your stay. This is often the case in places where you have not paid in advance. I always try to prepay and keep my passport where I know it's safe!
Dogs are usually always welcome at campsites, but there isn't always an off-leash walk or run.
As we rarely plan a route when traveling and therefore never know where we will be, we book campsites at the last minute or just drop by. This doesn't always work (especially in August or between October and March when many campsites close), but something always seems to work.
Dutch motorcycle tours in school holidays or not?
If you are traveling during the school holidays, you should book a camp (if you are using one) as soon as possible; The best are reserved months in advance.
If you are NOT traveling during the school holidays, you might want to consider an ACSI camping card - you'll save a ton of money on camping fees by using a camper van or camper to tow your bikes.
Driving tips for Dutch motorcycle tours
The Netherlands aren't all that bad for drivers in general (at least not compared toMotorcycling in ItalyPortugal!)
Some quick tips for driving or traveling in the Netherlands:
- In the Netherlands, as in large parts of Europe, traffic is driven on the right.
- You must avoid traffic coming from the right unless otherwise noted.
- You may see a red and white inverted triangle, which means you must give way to other traffic at the intersection.
- A square orange/white sign means you have the right of way.
- Bicycles have the right of way. Always. Even if they shouldn't.
- A red round sign with a car means cars are forbidden but motorbikes are allowed to enter. If it shows a bike and a car, you can't enter.
- Switch back to the slow lane when overtaking.
- Helmets are mandatory.
- Using headphones or buttons is frowned upon (unclear if illegal or not), howeverMotorcycle Intercoms / Bluetooth Systemsare not.
- Buses and trams have the right of way.
- Traffic Camera Detectors andSatellite navigation systems for motorcyclesSpeed camera warnings are illegal (regardless of whether they are operational or not!)
- Using a mobile phone while driving is illegal, but you can use a hands-free kit
- Minor traffic violations can result in on-the-spot fines.
- UK driving licenses are perfectly acceptable and you are unlikely to need an IDP
Speed limits in the Netherlands
Road safety is very important in the Netherlands and they don't take speed into account, especially near residential or school areas. The pace of life is slower and it is common for many people to drive well below the speed limit.
- 130 km/h (80 mph) on motorways (Autosnelweg) (minimum speed 60 km/h)
- 100 km/h (62 mph) on federal roads and motorways (Autoweg)
- 60-80 km/h on country roads (extra-urban)
- 50 mph inner orts
When entering a city (past the yellow sign) the speed limit of 50 km/h applies (unless otherwise stated) until you exit the city and pass a yellow sign with a red line.
Filtering in Holland: is it legal to split lanes?
Lane splitting is allowed in the Netherlands, but please stick to these rules:
- Use the leftmost lane (the "slow" lane).
- Do not drive faster than cars or other vehicles at more than 10 km/h (6 mph).
Driving in the Netherlands: what to do in a traffic accident
You must receive a European claim form from your insurer before your departure. In the event of an accident, all parties complete and sign the form on site and then submit a copy to their insurer for verification. Don't sign anything if you're not happy with what it says.
What to do on site:
- Stop your vehicle immediately but safely, out of the way of traffic if possible.
- If a vehicle is blocking the road, use your hazard lights and place the red warning triangle 30 meters from the scene to warn oncoming traffic.
- Exchange your data with the other participants. Make sure:
- Name and address of all persons involved in the accident
- Vehicle registration number of all parties
- Data of the insurance company of all parties
- Take photos of the damage with a camera, GoPro, or phone
Motorcycling in the Netherlands - safety
We strongly recommend that you pay particular attention to the safety of your motorcycle when traveling in the Netherlands, as motorcycle theft, petty theft and pickpocketing are more common in larger cities. I know it's not always possible, but try not to leave your bike unattended in an unsecured area and use a strong lock. If possible, leave your bike in a garage overnight.
Other useful things to know about motorcycling in the Netherlands
Emergency numbers:112 will give you everything you need.
language– Dutch, but English is widely spoken at an excellent level (as are Flemish and German). The Dutch will love it when you try to speak their language, but they also know that we English mortals can't make those sounds!
cards– Most major credit and debit cards are accepted. American Express is only accepted at major department stores (not at toll booths and often not at gas stations)
time zone– GMT+1 (or one more hour in BST)
training costs– The service is usually included in a restaurant, but check it. It is customary to tip other services such as taxi drivers.
Shops– Unlike much of Europe, shops in the Netherlands do not usually close for lunch. Most are open daily from 9am to 5pm. to 5:30 p.m. Monday morning, shops may not open until midday.
Many cities have a shopping night when the shops stay open until around 9pm. This is often on a Thursday. Many large supermarkets are open until 10 p.m.
Every Dutch city has its own rules for Sunday business hours. In most major cities, supermarkets are open until 5:30 p.m. on Sundays.
Visa requirements: The Netherlands is in the Schengen zone, so you probably have a maximum of 90 days if you are not an EU citizen.
Limits:When you drive into the Netherlands there are no formal border crossings
country code: +31
With a dog through the Netherlands
Holland is very pet friendly. They are allowed almost everywhere, including on public transport and in many bars, cafes and restaurants. They are often not allowed in museums.
Now that BREXIT has happened and the UK pet passport system is no longer in force, you will need to obtain an animal health certificate before leaving the UK.
They must be dewormed by a licensed veterinarian before leaving the Netherlands, or between 24 hours and 5 days before re-entering the UK.
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DISCLAIMER: This post was last updated in April 2022. We try to keep it as up to date as possible, but cannot be held responsible for any changes in the law since the last update. If you find any discrepancies, please let us know. Many Thanks.