Stories & experiences

Island hopping: ‘the alternative Afsluitdijk’

The cycle path on the Afsluitdijk looks deserted these days. The bike path across the dyke is expected to remain closed until the end of 2022. Cyclists who want to make the crossing are dependent on the free bicycle bus. If you’re in for an adventure and don't like to sit on a bus there’s an alternative, though. You can bypass the Afsluitdijk by travelling via the islands of Texel, Vlieland and, if you like, Terschelling. Once you’re back on the mainland in Harlingen you can pick up the route again.

Take your time
If you’re riding the LF Zuiderzeeroute you leave the route at Den Oever and head for Den Helder via Hippolytushoef. If you’ve been following the LF Kustroute, don’t turn towards Oudesluis past Sint Maartenszee. Instead, ignore the signs and continue on via Callantsoog and Julianadorp. In the distance you can already see the ships of the Texels Eigen Stoomboot Onderneming. This summer, Menno van der Meer rode the LF Ronde van Nederland with his brother Koert van der Meer and his sister-in-law Ans van der Meer. Because they were ahead of schedule they could take it easy and decided to go island hopping. “You definitely shouldn’t be in a hurry”, says Menno. In the morning the trio set course from Egmond to their accommodation for the night on the island of Vlieland. “The ferry crossing from Den Helder to Texel is easy. You simply ride onto the boat and before you know it you’re on the other side of the water.”

Ferry service Den Helder - Texel
During high season, the ferry between Den Helder and Texel departs every half an hour. So, as a cyclist you’ll never have to wait very long. You can buy a € 5 ticket online or at the ferry terminal. Taking your bike with you is free and there’s no need to make a reservation.  

On Texel, Menno, Ans and Koert choose to cycle via the junctions to the jetty of the Waddenveer (Wadden ferry) in De Cocksdorp. There, quite an experience awaits them. “To board the ferry ‘De Vriendschap’ you have to take your bicycle through the dunes and across the beach. The soft sand isn’t really doing the components of your bike any favours, so you have to lift it and carry it. Once you’re on the jetty you can put down your bike again. The boat trip itself consists of an hour long enjoying beautiful views, the Wadden Sea and the seals. They even offer you a glass of bitter.”

Ferry service Texel - Vlieland
The ferry crossing is season-bound and the passenger boat between Texel and Vlieland doesn’t sail on a daily basis. You can easily check the current ferry schedule on the website. That’s also the place to make your online booking (recommended) and buy your ticket. For children under the age of 3 it’s free, you pay € 14 for older children and € 21.50 per person for anyone of 10 years and over. For bikes there’s an additional fee of € 11. The impressive trip with the Vliehors Expres is included in the price.

Largest sand plain in Northwestern Europe
After an unforgettable crossing you’ll arrive at Vliehors, also known as the Sahara of the North. The Vliehors Expres is already waiting for you on what is Northwestern Europe’s largest sand area. “You’ll have to do some serious lifting again, but that will soon be forgotten.” Once all passengers, bicycles and luggage are on board, you’ll embark on a 12-kilometre-long journey through the wilderness to the Posthuys. Those who pay close attention will see a poem appear in the sand behind the Vliehors Expres. Each year a new text is cut into the rear tyres. “From the Posthuys it’s another few kilometres by bike before you reach the village. It’s a unique experience that we wouldn’t have wanted to miss.” If it’s not too late in the day you can opt to return to the mainland by taking the ferry to Harlingen. The brothers and sister-in-law choose to spend the night on Vlieland and take the first boat to Harlingen the next morning, at 08:30 am. Then they continue their LF Ronde van Nederland on Frisian soil.

Ferry service Vlieland - Terschelling - Harlingen
The fast ferry service takes you to Harlingen in 45 minutes. The regular ferry service from Vlieland takes a little longer, at 1 hour and 35 minutes. The ferry sails between 4 and 9 times a day. During high season children under the age of 3 can make the crossing free of charge, tickets for older children are € 8.35 and you pay € 16.75 per person for anyone of 11 years and over. At age 65 or over you pay € 15.05. You’ll be charged an additional € 9.35 if you want to bring your bike. Would you like to do a bit more island hopping? You can also take the ferry from Vlieland to Terschelling and then to Harlingen. On the website of Rederij Doeksen you can find more information about this option and about the additional Waddentaxi service that operates from Vlieland.