Summer time is the season that my family and I always look forward to. There are many beautiful things to do in the Netherlands no matter where you are in this country. If you are in a city, you can enjoy the shopping, dining in or drinking beer under the sun. If you are at a beach, you can relax while reading a book or just lay down in the sand. If you are in the nature area, you can walk and bike around and do picnics. We live in Wageningen, a city in the region of Gelderland in The Netherlands. Part of our summer tradition is to tour villages along Nederrijn river (the Dutch name for a part of the Rhine flowing in this country) during summer. There are many nature areas to explore, which may quite easily be overlooked when traveling by car, and many things to enjoy in the nearby villages of Wageningen. In addition, biking around the villages in Nederrijn allow you to discover the rich history of the region. On our last biking tour, we learned about the local history on how Romans came a few hundreds year BC to the region, and influenced the local culture and language before being driven out of the Rhine region to the South after 400 years. Interestingly this is the origin of the differences in language between Dutch who were influenced only for roughly 400 of years by Romans and the Belgians who was much longer under the influence of the Roman Empire. You can also see how cities or villages along the Nederrijn are connected by bridges such as those in Arnhem, Rhenen, and Heteren, or by ferries such as in Wageningen, Opheusden, Elst, Doorwerth and Amerongen.
Tour villages along Nederrijn by bike. Biking is the best mode of transportation since it is very sustainable, involves minimal costs, and provides the best experience due to many small biking roads that are not accessible by car. The ferries are our favourite way of crossing the Nederrijn in order to hop from one villages to another. Not only do the ferries provide the best view of the river, but in addition most ferry points are accommodated by restaurants. In this blog, I will discuss how to tour villages along Nederrijn river by bike during summer. An example of a nice one day biking tour of the region is shown in map below.
Seven villages to tour along Nederrijn
In my previous blog Seven reasons that make Wageningen special, you’ll discover that Wageningen is a city rich in nature areas and history and is considered as a sustainable city. It has a ferry station, where you can have an opportunity to board the ship and tour around the Rhine river. Be warned though that such a trip is best planned well in advance. The river tours are available a few times per year. There is also a barge leaving from “Pont van Lekskesveer” that operate several times a day in Wageningen. The pont allows cars, bikes, and people to cross the river and go to cities such as Heteren and Nijmegen. If you are already in Wageningen, it is nice to visit the Belmonte Arboretum which provides a beautiful view of the Nederrijn. Near the Arboretum is the Wageningse Berg Fletcher Hotel-Restaurant, where you can have a nice stay in the middle of the mountain. From there you can enjoy dining in, drinking beer, or having high tea with the beautiful view of Nederrijn. Other alternatives to do is to visit the city centre of Wageningen and find many shops and restaurants. A stay of 2-3 days will let you discover further the city.
Rhenen is a city in the West of Wageningen. On your bike route to Rhenen you can find fruit farms and shops offering cherries, blue berries, and strawberries during summer. Although of good quality, be warned that the prices might be higher than when you buy the same product in the supermarket. If you bike from Wageningen to Rhenen, you will pass by the Grebbeberg and the Ouwehands Dierenpark (zoo). If you have kids, you may spend a day-out here and see lots of animal species including tow giant pandas. If you continue your bike tour, you will reach the city centre, where you will find plenty of restaurants and cafeteria facing the Rhine river. The number one ice cream shop in the Netherlands is also located in Rhenen so you can always have a break and have a scoop of ice cream. To continue biking on the other side of the Rhine, you must go to Restaurant Moeke (previous Tante Loes). From there you can find a barge (only for bikes and riders are allowed) to cross to the other side in Opheusden.
3. Fort de Spees, Opheusden (Grebbelinie)
The Grebbelinie is a long defence line that passes through many cities and villages along the Nederrijn. After crossing the river in Rhenen, when you tour villages along Nederrijn, you will find a bike path that will lead you to you to the beautiful view of Grebbelinie in De Spees, Ophesuden. This place is rich in history dated back from the time the Romans discover The Netherlands. Due to the strategic position of this area – a high region with the Nederrijn below, it became a defence area against enemies. The influence of the Romans in terms of religions and language were still visible when The Netherlands was still part of the Roman Empire. However, when other tribes such as Germans and Scandinavians drove Romans from The Netherlands, these influences were also driven away in most parts of The Netherlands. Therefore, you will see that the Dutch language is not part of Latin but a wider German language. Interestingly the river also marks the separation in religion between the Noth and South of The Netherlands – The Southern half of The Netherlands is Catholic, while the Northern half is Protestant.
4. De Blauwe Kamer, Opheusden
From De Spees, you can continue biking until you reach Restaurant ‘T Veerhuis Opheusden. In front of this restaurant you can ride a barge together with your bike to cross the Rhine and to visit the nature area of the Blauwe Kamer. The Blauwe Kamer provides excellent bird viewing points as it is natural resting place for migrating birds like wild geese. You can also find restaurant Panorama where you can enjoy dining in after a tiring biking escapade. To continue biking without immediately going back to Wageningen, you have to take again a barge going back to Restaurant ‘T Veerhuis Opheusden, and from there you can reach your next route, which is Heteren.
Heteren is a small village in the Nederrijn and is located Southeast of Wageningen. This village was born when the Romans and Batavians inhabited this place including Elst, Hemmen, Zetten and Hoge Woerd near Kesteren. You can find in Heteren the remains of one out of three churches that were built in Heteren. This is a thick tower that is called by the locals as Peperbus (Pepperbox). Heteren also suffered from the bombing of the Germans during World War II, together with other nearby places in the region. Nowadays, Heteren is a peaceful village that was shaped throughout the history.
Renkum is a town situated along the Nederrijn. From Wageningen, you can reach Renkum by bike in just 20-25 minutes. Renkum is both rich in nature and industrial areas. There is an area where you can simply pass by the forests, and sit relaxly in front of the elderly home Oranje Nassau Oord, a former estate belonging to the Dutch Royal family. Renkum is a home to many factories, such as paper mills, water-cornmills and water-oil mill. Other factories include treacle and potato starch-flour factories. Some of these factories can be seen from the other side of the Nederrijn. From Renkum, either you can go back to Wageningen or you can take further biking and explore the city of Arnhem (not on the map above).
Arnhem is 20 km away from Wageningen and it takes at least an hour to reach by bike. It is also possible to reach Arnhem by sailing from Wageningen to Arnhem via the Nederrijn. Arnhem is a bigger city to explore as compared to Wageningen. Therefore, you may need at a couple of days to discover every corner of Arnhem. It has a number of applied universities, companies, train stations, bus connections with route to many major cities in The Netherlands.