Gouda is famous for its cheese and candles, but what many don’t know, is that it’s also a great place for a short getaway. The old city center is packed with heritage and culture, while its neighboring village Reeuwijk with its lakes and nature reserve is a sanctuary to escape city life. Find the tranquility of the countryside and immerse into nature, water activities and the quaint countryside villages. Better yet, combine the two and you have the perfect mini break as there is so much to explore. In this post I take you to the nature reserve of the Reeuwijkse Plassen (Reeuwijk Lakes).
Cycling or walking
From Gouda’s old city center it’s only a 10 min cycle ride to the Reeuwijkse Plassen (Reeuwijk Lakes) and the countryside. A network of cycle and walking paths on dikes and around the 13 lakes treats you to shady cycle paths hugged by weeping willows, green expansive pastures and farms and picturesque drawbridges. You’ll be amazed by the idyllic lake houses with flowery gardens while waterlilies and clattering water fountains adorn the front yard ponds. Bird watchers can truly indulge themselves in this nature reserve where various sanctuaries are a safe haven for flocks of birds, so don’t forget to bring your binoculars!
Swimming and sunbathing
Take your bathing suit with you to partake in a refreshing dive of one of the many wooden docks. Or visit the Reeuwijkse Hout, a man-made sandy beach on the lake shore with restaurant and amenities (also plenty of car parking available).
Rent a boat and have a great day on the water, fishing, swimming or exploring the lakeside villages from the water. You don’t have to be an experienced captain to navigate the rental boat but be prepared for some thrilling maneuvers past narrow waterways and low bridges that connect the different islands and lakes. A must-go on either your cycle route or to moor at with your rental boat is Restaurant ‘t Vaantje where you can indulge in a delicious lunch, lakeside high tea or al fresco dinner. Another popular lakeside restaurant is Bistro Het Wapen van Reeuwijk which also provides take-out lunchboxes for your boat ride. Both restaurants rent out boats by the hour or per day.
The many cycling loops and walking trails vary in distance and scenery, so there’s something for every age and level of stamina. There are themed as well as junction routes with clear signage and numbering. You can pack your lunch or picnic basket and stop at one of the many picnic tables or wooden docks along the routes. On the crossing of the four dikes; Lecksdijk, Hortemansdijk, Ree and Nieuwenbroeksedijk you’ll be welcomed by Grandpa Antonio who’s been selling his Italian gelato to cyclists and hikers for over 30 years.
Find out more about interesting cycle routes: