The Groene Hart (literally "Green Heart") is a scenic agricultural zone between the four biggest cities of the country. The flat polders and canals, considered typical for the country, can be explored by hiking or cycling.
Most of the area lies beneath sea level, and is protected by numerous dikes and windmills. The area is very flat and offers great cycling opportunities. At the tourist offices in the towns of the Groene Hart, you will be able to find some brochures or leaflets detailing scenic routes.
The Groene Hart is a relatively sparsely populated area, its landscape considered archetypically Dutch. Nevertheless, there are some larger and smaller towns worth visiting in Alphen aan de Rijn and Gouda. The surrounding area is rich in lakes, which lend themselves perfectly to water sports and other forms of recreation.
|Alphen aan den Rijn (1 Alphen aan den Rijn, 2 Boskoop, 3 Hazerswoude)|
Founded in Roman times, a theme park about prehistoric and the Roman era is now one of the many attractions located here.
|Bodegraven-Reeuwijk (4 Bodegraven, 5 Reeuwijk)|
Found at the intersection of the A20 and N11, this municipality is mostly known for the thirteen Reeuwijkse plassen (Reeuwijk lakes).
|Gouda (6 Gouda)|
Beautiful city famous for its Gouda Cheese, stroopwafels and the cheese market.
|Kaag en Braassem (7 Roelofarendsveen, 8 Woubrugge)|
Central in this municipality is Roelofarendsveen, which is surrounded by rural land on the one, and water used for recreation on the other end.
|Krimpenerwaard (9 Lekkerkerk, 10 Schoonhoven)|
Island within the Dutch river delta and generally a rural area. Schoonhoven specifically features beautiful preserved medieval buildings.
|Nieuwkoop (11 Nieuwkoop, 12 Zevenhoven)|
Home to the Nieuwkoopse plassen (Nieuwkoop lakes), which are defined as a national nature monument.
|Waddinxveen (13 Waddinxveen)|
Historically known for its stroopwafel bakeries and furniture shops, Waddinxveen is nowadays best known within the Netherlands for its 1936 lifting bridge.
|Zuidplas (14 Nieuwerkerk aan den IJssel, 15 Moerkapelle, 16 Moordrecht)|
Named for the Zuidplaspolder, which is largely contained within the municipality, you'll find the counterpoint to the Vaalserberg here, that being the lowest point of the Netherlands at 6,76 metres below sea level.
There are several highways running through the area, the most important one is the A12 which runs from The Hague to Utrecht.
There are countless B&Bs in the area, many of them situated in the countryside. If you are looking for a hotel, there's a list below.
- 1 Tulip Inn, Goudseweg 32, 2411HL, Bodegraven (6km outside Gouda, just off the A12. Take bus 178 from Gouda.), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 64 rooms all with balcony. Renovated in Aug 2007. There are two restaurants and a bar. €65.50-95.50, Breakfast €12.50.
- 2 Best Western City Hotel Gouda, Hoge Gouwe 201 (Western corner of the city centre, in the 'Bolwerk' area.), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Modern hotel with 101 rooms, part of the Best Western chain, but conveniently and nicely located in the historic centre.
- 3 Hotel De Keizerskroon, Keizerstraat 11-13, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Budget hotel, right in the centre of town. Ensuite: Double €79.50, triple €95. Shared bathroom: Single €50, double €60, triple €69.50.
- 4 Hotel De Utrechtsche Dom, Geuzenstraat 6 (In the centre), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Characteristic family hotel in the centre of Gouda. Breakfast included. Ensuite: Suite €125, double €85. Shared bathroom: Double €65..
- 5 Hotel Over de Brug, Ad en Vic Versteeg, Veerlaan 1, 2851 BV, Haastrecht (Take Provincialeweg West (N288) from Gouda), ☏ , . This traditional hotel on the River IJssel, is about 5km from Gouda, in the small town of Haastrecht. It's an easy cycle to Gouda. There is a pub/restaurant. Free Wi-fi and parking. Double €67, Single €40.
The Groene Hart is a very safe area. Be aware that some roads are not wide enough for two cars to pass each other. If you are on a small road and there is a car approaching from a distance, make sure to stop at a wider spot until the other car has passed.