From 1 April 2019 the Afsluitdijk will be closed for cyclists for three years due to large-scale maintenance work. This will affect all cyclists doing the Dutch Coastal Route (Dutch section of the North Sea Cycle Route) and the Zuiderzee Route. A free bus service for cyclists and their bikes will be provided. We also offer alternative routes which are well worthwhile.
The Afsluitdijk before the maintenance work. Photo © Holland-Cycling.com
The 32-km long Afsluitdijk was built in 1932 to protect the Zuiderzee region from flooding. Now, with the prospect of rising sea levels, the Afsluitdijk is no longer considered adequate protection against the sea. To comply with what is known as the ‘new Delta norms’, over the coming three years the dam will be raised two metres and the existing sluices will be improved and two new sluices built.
Besides some other general maintenance work and a new cycle path with views over the Wadden Sea, there are also to be some environmentally friendly additions, such as a 4-km fish migration river - the only permanent opening in the dyke that will allow fish migrate from the salty waters of the Wadden Sea to the sweet waters of the IJsselmeer.
April Fools' Day joke
The three-year closure of the Afsluitdijk for cyclists from 1 April 2019 came as a bit of a surprise. When the spokesman of the Dutch Cyclists' Union (Fietsersbond) Wim Bot heard about it a few weeks ago, he first thought it was an April Fools' Days joke. So far a petition against the closure of the Afsluitdijk for cyclists initiated by the Dutch Cyclists' Union hasn't been successful. Negotiations about the closure for cyclists are still ongoing.*
Not all of the Afsluitdijk will be closed for cyclists for the full three years - during this period you just won't be able to cross the whole of the dam by bike. You will still be able to cycle some sections. For the sections that are closed (see schedule below) you can make use of a free bus service.
Schedule for closure sections of cycle path in 2019:
April - June 2019
June - December 2019
December 2019 - January 2020
Schedule for 2020-2022:
From 2020 to April 2022 the cycle path will be completely or partially closed. We will update this page when the information has become available.
Free Bus service
The free bus service will run once an hour, 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. There will be room for 30 passengers and a maximum of 15 bikes. For timetable, got to the website of the Afsluitdijk (only in Dutch).
We would love to hear about your experiences with the free bus service, so we can share this with other cyclists. Were there enough bike spaces, or did you have to wait for the next bus? Was it easy to arrange alternative transport for your non-standard bike? Please let us know us via our contact form.
Alternative cycle routes
Two long distance cycle routes take you over the Afsluitdijk: the Dutch Coastal Route (Dutch section of the North Sea Cycle Route) and the Zuiderzee Route. If you are planning to do one of these routes, it is obviously disappointing to find out that you won't be able to cycle the whole 32-km Afsluitdijk. It is also an opportunity to consider other alternative routes you otherwise might not have thought of.
Alternative Dutch Coastal Route:
To avoid the Afsluitdijk, you could do the Den Helder - Harlingen section of the Dutch Coastal Route via the Wadden Islands of Texel and Vlieland which are well worth a visit. There are regular ferry services from Den Helder to Texel and from Harlingen to Vlieland. During the high season there is an island hopping ferry service from Texel to Vlieland. For more information go to our Getting around Holland by ferry page. You can use our combined Texel South Cycle Route and Texel North Cycle Route to get from the island hopping ferry to Vlieland which departs from the north of the Texel to the ferry to Den Helder in the south.
Alternative Zuiderzee Route:
To avoid the Afsluitdijk, you could do the shorter option of the Zuiderzee Route via the ferry Enkhuizen - Stavoren which has a limited service from April - October (only in Dutch).