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.
- Alphen aan den Rijn — founded by the Romans, a theme park about prehistoric and roman era is now located here.
- Gorinchem — fortified town with cycling through the surrounding flat polder landscape
- Gouda — beautiful city famous for its Gouda Cheese, stroopwafels and the cheese market
- Oudewater — known for its witch's stool, where they issue certificates proving people aren't witches
- Woerden — commuter town with a modern commercial cheese market
- Kinderdijk — traveler-favorite for its large network of windmills
- Vechtstreek — castles, estates, buitenplaatsen, gardens, tea houses and other remnants from the Dutch Golden Age
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.
- Tulip Inn, Goudseweg 32, 2411HL, Bodegraven (6km outside Gouda, just off the A12. Take bus 178 from Gouda.), ☎ +31 172-650003, e-mail: 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.
- Le Bon Apart, Eind 16, ☎ +31 0183 666 211. Hotel located in the historical town centre.
- Best Western City Hotel Gouda, Hoge Gouwe 201 (Western corner of the city centre, in the 'Bolwerk' area.), ☎ +31 182-860086, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Modern hotel with 101 rooms, part of the Best Western chain, but conveniently and nicely located in the historic centre.
- Hotel De Keizerskroon, Keizerstraat 11-13, ☎ +31 182-528096, fax: 0182-511777, e-mail: 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.
- Hotel De Utrechtsche Dom, Geuzenstraat 6 (In the centre), ☎ +31 182 528833, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Characteristic family hotel in the centre of Gouda. Breakfast included. Ensuite: Suite €125, double €85. Shared bathroom: Double €65..
- Hotel Over de Brug, Ad en Vic Versteeg, Veerlaan 1, 2851 BV, Haastrecht (Take Provincialeweg West (N288) from Gouda), ☎ +31 182 501210, +31 182 501415. 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.
- Hotel Abrona, Broeckerstraat 20, ☎ +31 348 567466. This cosy hotel is run by people with mental disabilities, offering them a chance to learn skills that might allow them to work in the regular hotel world. Rooms are simple but well-maintained and the staff is very friendly. The hotel has 24 double rooms, all with private bathrooms and free wifi. There's also an on-site restaurant and room rates include breakfast. €72/90 for a single/double.
- Hotel Belvedère, Lekdijk West 4, ☎ +31 182 325222. Located in the historic city centre of Schoonhoven. €80 for a single room, €110 for a double room.
- Best Western Hotel, Utrechtsestraatweg 25, ☎ +31 348 412515. The only hotel in Woerden, 62 rooms. Situated on the bank of the Old Rhine river, less than 500 m from the city centre and 350 m from the train station. €87-103 for a standard double room, incl. breakfast.
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.
The Groene Hart is surrounded by the largest Dutch cities: