Did you know that there are a total of 21 National Parks in the Netherlands? As an Expat I didn’t know or expect that a country so small could have easily 21 national parks. I was surprised to find out that even some locals I have spoken to didn’t know there were 21! All national parks in the Netherlands has it’s own unique features, such as sand dunes, wild animals and marshlands. This full guide has been written by travel bloggers who have visited the locations, wanting to share their insight and experience. Maybe you will become inspired by what national park you will want to visit.
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All 21 National Parks In the Netherlands
1. Dwingelderveld – Drenthe
National Park Website: Dwingelderveld
Written by Zoe at Together In Transit.
This is one of my favourite national parks in the Netherlands. National Park Dwingelderveld in Drenthe is one of the largest areas of wet heathlands in Western Europe. The large spacious park is known for it’s sheep and cows, providing the natural area to be well kept by the animals. Within a weekend you can hike the whole area or rent bikes and cycle it. We visited during May and have a full detailed post here about our weekend at the national park.
Within Dwingelderveld there is a stargazing Radio Observatory you can visit, perfect for couples and families. During our visit we enjoyed the visit and got to see Jupiter and its’ 3 moons through the space telescope. Depending on what season you visit, you may see a different planet.
The closest train station is Meppel to Dwingeloo and from there you must take a bus to one of the nearest stops to your sleeping location. With public transport it is doable, but it’s definitely not the easiest. We rented bikes and used them to cycle to the supermarket for some food for the weekend. As well as using them during the weekend for exploring the national Park.
2. Groote Peel – Limburg
National Park Website: Groote Peel
Written by a friend of Together In Transit
I loved our visit to the Groote Peel National Park during a weekend away. My partner has started watching birds as a hobby so that was the plan for our stay. He was very pleased to have checked off many new birds on his list, such as some of the water birds you can spot in the marshes. There were even some rare ones apparently that he has never seen before in any of the national parks of the Netherlands.
Hiking in the national park is gorgeous at any time of day, but we got up super early to enjoy the nature. We also spotted many deer early in the morning during our hike. There are a few routes you can follow which is easily found via their website. I believe we did them all during our weekend, taking our time to stay off our phones and immerse ourselves in the nature. The best one was the whole 11km route around the national park, which took us 4 hours including our picnic stop! We saw lots of mountain bikers too so we think it’s a good location for that too!
We visited by car and stayed close by but did hear it was accessible with public transport too.
3. De Hoge Veluwe – Gelderland
National Park Website: Hoge Veluwe
When I think about De Hoge Veluwe, I envision the purple heathlands stretching in every imaginable directions, the bicycle path snaking through the vast dunes and the beautiful sculpture garden of the Kroller-Muller Museum.
The park’s diversity is one of the biggest reasons for visiting this beautifully maintained space. It’s the perfect balance of nature and civilization for those city travellers that prefer following an existing path instead of cutting through the woods.
When it comes to observing wildlife, the variety of the park and its infrastructure make the experience literally a walk in the park. There are bird watching stations and plenty of chances to come upon animal life naturally through your exploration. My favourite activity in the park is undoubtedly deer watching, which can be done as an excursion during the September mating season or also as a solo adventure.
It’s super fun to explore the park by bike but taking a car onto the premises offers you a different perspective. While it’s entirely possible to turn De Hoge Veluwe into a day trip, I would recommend taking two days filled with nature, relaxation and a tad of culture thanks to the art collection of Kroller-Muller which features Van Gogh, Monet, and many other artists.
For those who wish to spend the night in the region to return for another day, consider staying in Arnhem, Ede or Apeldoorn. All those cities have great public transport connections to the national park and can introduce you to a completely new side of The Netherlands!
We have also been to the Hoge Veluwe for a long weekend in a tiny house – check it out here!
4. Lauwersmeer – Groningen, Friesland
National Park Website: Lauwersmeer
Lauwersmeer is a national park in the Netherlands known for its nature and its stargazing. This seaside national park is a great spot to swim in the Walden Sea, try out wadlopen, or simply go for a boat ride. Lauwersmeer is technically a lake that has been cut off from the sea by a dyke.
There are numerous options for camping as well as reasonable restaurants, making this a great weekend trip for anyone seeking a little respite from the city. Within the park, you’ll find the dark skies park here, which makes it one of the best places to stargaze in the Netherlands.
If you’re lucky, you’ll spot some of the wild seals that live along the shores of the UNESCO-protected shoreline. Birdwatchers will be in heaven here as they look for many of the wild birds who make their home in this peaceful park in the Netherlands. It’s possible to boat, walk, and cycle around this park, depending on your preference.
Be warned that the location is quite inconvenient by public transit, so it’s best accessed by car or bike although it is possible to take one of the buses that pass through the area. There’s a ferry from the tip of Lauwersoog to Schiermonnikoog, one of the other national parks in the Netherlands.
5. Loonse en Drunense Duinen – North Brabant
National Park Website: Loonse en Drunense Duinen
Written by a friend of Together In Transit
For a day trip we wanted to burn some energy with the family and explore this national park. As for exploring, we didn’t really have a route that we wanted to follow. Since we wanted to just get out and about in the nature. Our kids love getting their hands dirty and running around. However we also take out time to see some of the monuments there, such as the Peace monument honouring the soldiers who lost their lives in 1940-1945.
For lunch we headed to the yummy De Helvoirtse Heide Pancake house. Delicious pancakes for our hungry family! It was lovely to sit outside and hear all the birds singing while we waited for our order.
We have been back multiple times now choosing random paths to walk and usually ending up at the same pancake house. It’s become our usual place to go when we have the time to go there!
6. De Maasduinen – Limburg
National Park Website: Maasduinen
Written by a friend of Together In Transit
The National Park Maasduinen wasn’t a place we had first thought of as a weekend away for cycling. However we found a perfect off season deal at a local B&B and decided to see what it was like! We took our own mountain bikes on the back of the car and parking was available at the B&B and at the national park, but we cycled between the two. We saw a few buzzards flying around during our weekend too, so its probably great for bird watchers!
As avid cyclists we swapped our typical race bikes for some mountain bikes at Maasduinen. There are two main routes we did, a red one that was 28km on Saturday and a green one that was 27km on Sunday. These routes allowed us to easily see the national parks too! We took our own food but of course stopped also at the delicious pancake house Jachthuis Op den Hamer.
During our first day we learnt that the Germans once occupied the land, with many trenches starting in this area during WW2. There is a mass grave memorial site that is free to visit. As for the landscape, the Maasduinen national Park has the longest stretch of river dunes in the Netherlands. We were glad to have found the off season deal and end up here for our weekend away. A park we would definitely return to!
7. Meinweg – Limburg
National Park Website: Meinweg
Written by a friend of Together In Transit
We joined friends on a weekend away here, so we tagged along for the fun. We stayed in a cabin that they had booked so I’m not sure where exactly now, but it was very close to walking in the Nature Park.
Enjoyed walking the specified hiking routes, spotting lots of mushrooms and wildlife. We looked it up afterwards that there is actually 266 types of mushrooms at the Meinweg! It was very interesting to see the land here as it is not flat like the rest of the Netherlands! We sat down at one of the water areas to relax and enjoy a picnic that we had prepared that morning. Very idyllic!
It was raining on our 3rd day at the Meinweg so we enjoyed a day trip to Maastricht, just south of the national park. It was nice to combine these for some nature and to explore a new city in the South of the Netherlands. Well worth a weekend away!
8. Oosterschelde – Zeeland
National Park Website: Oosterschelde
The province Zeeland learned the destructive power of water in 1953 when over 1800 people died when the land flooded. This catastrophe was the reason to speed up the construction of the Delta Works. The result: control over the water and the Deltapark Neeltje Jans in Zeeland, the largest and wettest national park in the Netherlands.
Although I already know quite a lot about the construction Deltawerken, I learn all the ins and outs in the Topshuis on Neeltje Jans, the start of my day in the park. I continue with a walk on the ‘Parelpad’, that connects indoor exhibition and tide pools and literally shows all the gems of the Oosterschelde. The path leads directly to the tide pools where you can see the underwater life. The dipstick in the water shows the difference between low tide and high tide. It is sure a most amazing landscape with the tides, creeks, birds and other animals.
- Watch the short animated film in the Topshuis.
- In total, the storm surge barrier has 65 pillars and 62 sliders. You can literally go into the spare pillar or, when you are a die-hard, climb the pillar. I went down and found that descent in the pillar the highlight of the day.
- Take a trip with the tour boat.
- Fancy a refreshing dive? This can be done in the water playground and, perhaps less desirable, by a stroll over the wobbly path.
- Study the fish in the aquarium and stroke a ray.
- Let yourself be blown away by the hurricane machine.
- Experience the night of January 31, 1953 in the 4D animation ‘The Delta Experience’
Please note that not all attractions are included in the (rather high) entrance fee. For some things you have to pay extra and this can make it a pricey day.
In the self-service restaurant in the main building you can have lunch (not cheap). There is also a snack kiosk at the Aquasplash. Oysters and mussels are cultivated in the fresh/salty water. Oysters I’m not fond of, but the mussels at Proef Zeeland at Neeltje Jans Mosselen at the Faelweg 1, 4354 RB Vrouwenpolder were fantastic.
Zeeland has no shortage of hotels, guest houses and holiday parks, although you definitely have to book early for holiday periods because it runs full quickly. We visited Zeeland with our camper. We stayed at a small farm camp between Middelburg and Vlissingen which was a nice home base for day trips.
9. De Sallandse Heuvelrug – Overijssel
National Park Website: Sallandse Heuvelrug,
Coming to The Netherlands and wanting to explore its nature you have to come to the Sallandse Heuvelrug. The best part of it is between the villages of Nijverdal and Holten. There are multiple walking paths, mountain bike paths and the famous tourist way for cars or motorbikes. It will show you almost the most mountainous part of The Netherlands. If you come in autumn it will turn purple because of the heather and give you some of the best views!!
But coming early morning will give you the chance to see some of the wildlife. This picture was taken from the tourist way in the park while cycling there with my nephew in search for deers!! In all seasons it is great to come here, after the purple we get snow if we are lucky!
There are train stations in both Nijverdal and Holten. There is a hike that will bring you in 12K from Nijverdal station to Holten Station. It will give you a good feeling of the area. I can recommend this hike! From Amsterdam it is a 1.5 hours drive to Holten
10. Schiermonnikoog – Friesland
National Park Website: Schiermonnikoog
The National Park of Schiermonnikoog is one of my favourite places in The Netherlands. The island is really small, but has the widest beach in Europe. You are not allowed to bring your car on the Island, so there isn’t a lot of traffic. Schiermonnikoog is for people who want to escape the daily life and experience the nature in one of the nature areas.
It’s my favourite place because there are no cars, so waking and cycling around the island makes you active and healthy. Even though I’ve been on the Island for many years, I still find new places every time. You can visit Schiermonnikoog in every season of the year, no matter what the weather forecast will be.
Most of the time I sleep in It Aude Kolonyhus, the former residence for ‘bleekneusjes’. It has accommodations for two people but also for groups. I’d love to go to Strand Paviljoen Marlijn near the Badstrand. It is one of my favourite places to eat or drink. If you visit the village, you have more options. For example, you can get a cup of coffee for 80 cents at Hotel Van der Werff, the oldest hotel on the Island. If you want a cheaper meal or a dance in the evening, The Toxbar is the place to be.
11. Utrechtse Heuvelrug – Utrecht
National Park Website: Utrechtse Heuvelrug
If you’re looking for peace and serenity, visit the National Park Utrechtse Heuvelrug in the Netherlands. Here you can find the biggest forest of the Randstad with gorgeous views everywhere. After the Veluwe it’s actually the biggest forest area in the Netherlands! As you probably know, the Netherlands is a very flat country, so don’t expect any mountains here. The hills at the Utrechtse Heuvelrug exceed the 50 meters though, which is pretty high in our country.
Explore the beautiful nature at this national park with its forests and heathlands, but you can also find plenty of interesting history sites with beautiful castles, estates and burial mounds. It’s a wonderful place where you can relax, go for a walk, a bike ride and you can even go horseback riding!
The location of the Utrechtse Heuvelrug is perfect, as it’s in the middle of the country, which makes it easily accessible from various cities. You can visit the park from sunrise to sunset. One more things: it’s important to stay inside of the marked roads and paths, as you could damage the nature if you go wander off these paths…
12. Veluwezoom – Gelderland
National Park Website: Veluwezoom
Written by Yvonne from her website Yvonne Van Der Laan. You can find her facebook here!
I am so lucky, to live literally around the corner of National Park Veluwezoom. This means I can go there for a walk as often as I wish, to enjoy its beauty year-round. The most magical moment for a visit is the late summer, when the heathlands of Posbank, a hilly part of the national park, have its purple colour. Especially in the foggy, early mornings, when most people are still asleep, it’s gorgeous.
A great place to start your walk around the national park is the visitors centre near the village of Rheden. You can choose for simple walks as short as 5 kilometres, but also go for a 3 or 4 hour hike. My personal favourite is the black route. It’s just 5 kilometres long, but so diverse! You will see different kinds of forest, pass the sheep sheepfold and walk over The Posbank, with amazing views as far away as Germany.
When you’re lucky you can might even encounter some of the cattle usually grazing around here. Wild horses, Scottish Highland Cows or the sheep herd are never very far away. There is even a restaurant at the side of The Posbank, but at the visitors centre you can have drinks and snacks too.
TIP: If you visiting the Netherlands for the first time, check out this Lonely Planet Netherlands guide that is great for all up to date information and recommendations for the country! Else they have a brand new Lonely Planet Amsterdam guide book for the capital, as well as a pocket-sized Lonely Planet Pocket Rotterdam for Rotterdam, which I also own and can highly recommend.
13. De Weerribben-Wieden – Overijssel
National Park Website: Weerribben
You may not know it, but if you have seen pictures of the fantastical city of Giethoorn you have likely also seen a little something of De Weerribben-Wieden National Park. That’s because Weerribben is right next door to everyone’s favorite, fairytale village and if you rent a boat to explore the canals you’d be silly to not go explore the park as well.
De Weerribben-Wieden National Parks in the Netherlands is a totally unique experience, because it is a mixed landscape of natural plant growth and farmlands, which you can explore from the water. I honestly never realized that exploration via small motor boat was something that I needed in my life, but when I visited Giethoorn and realized that Weerribben was around the corner, I could not have been more excited. There is just something really special about tooling around in what feels to be a wild, watery landscape, complete with cows and windmills.
I think that you can stay just about anywhere in the Netherlands and still visit here. However, if you’d like to stay closer by, check out places to stay near Giethoorn. More importantly, I would suggest trying to visit this area in a shoulder season and/or early in the morning. Giethoorn is VERY popular with Chinese tour companies and it is getting more and more attention in Western markets now too. So, while I think De Weerribben-Wieden national park is a must-see in the Netherlands, it has the potential to be a very crowded place. To get the full, enjoyable experience, try to avoid the crowds as best you can. Otherwise, just head into Giethoorn, rent a boat from a small business near town, and head into the unique landscape.
14. Grenspark de Zoom-Kalmthoutse Heide – North Brabant
National Park Website: Grenspark de Zoom-Kalmthoutse Heide
Written by a friend of Together In Transit
During a visit to this national park we actually stayed on the Belgium side, as this national park is split over the boarder with the Netherlands. We took our two dogs with us and loved that we could take them on a special dog walking route. You have to stay on the path but no need for the leads on this route. For the rest they were on the lead and following the other walking routes through the national park.
Most of their walking routes are named after animals, and we had chosen a few that were long such as the “Mier” meaning ant and the “Eekhoorn” meaning squirrel.
The landscape has lots on offer, but we enjoyed walking through the forests the most. Especially when its so peaceful that you can only hear yours and your dogs footsteps on the route. We loved this and definitely recommend it for others to visit this as one of the national parks in the Netherlands.
15. Zuid Kennemerland – North Holland
National Park Website: Zuid Kennemerland
National Park Zuid-Kennemerland is a perfect place for a day trip from Amsterdam. It’s only 25 minutes by train to station Overveen, from where you can walk to the main entrance of the park in 10 minutes. If you like hiking, this a perfect place for you. There are several trails to choose from, just follow one of the colourful arrows at the visitor center.
During your hike, the landscape chances constantly. One moment, you will hike between the tall trees in a forest, and the next moment you’re chilling at the shore next to a small lake. There are also lots of beautiful dunes to climb. You will probably end up at the beach, which is really big, so you’ll have plenty of space to relax. Make sure to bring a picnic basket! If you’re lucky you will see some wildlife in Zuid-Kennemerland, like wild horses or European bison.
16. Alde Feanen – Friesland
National Park Website: Alde Feanen
De Alde Feanen is one of the national parks that you can find in the province of Friesland, The Netherlands. Located nearby the stunning city of Leeuwarden you get to discover the 2,000 hectares area of wetlands. This national park in The Netherlands is an area that is the result of peat excavations of hundreds of years ago and is, in my humble opinion, one of the most beautiful and special wetlands of North Western Europe. De Alde Feanen exists out of flooded areas, swamp forests, reed beds and much more. Nowadays this area is home to more than 450 plant species and more than 100 species of nesting birds. There are plenty of things you can do in national park De Alde Feanen, such as hiking, cycling, sailing and plenty of more.
But being active is not the only thing that you can and should do in De Alde Feanen. This national park in The Netherlands is a perfect place for artists as water is a massive inspiration to them. In the small villages that surround the park, you can find quite some galleries, such as Galerie Koopmans in Earnewald. After you’ve discovered the most beautiful art, it’s time to get yourself some food. In the towns of Earnewald and Grou, you can find the most restaurants to end a perfect day in De Alde Feanen.
If you’re interested in visiting stunning nature while you’re exploring the province of Friesland, then visiting national park De Alde Feanen is a must do.
17. De Biesbosch – North Brabant
National Park Website: Biesbosch
Written by a friend of Together In Transit
We recently visit the Biesbosch National Park to hopefully see the otters. We’ve had some cold nights and so they have been more active in the last 2 weeks than usual during this time of year.
We cycled to the Kop van ‘t Land in Dordrecht to get the small boat to the Biesbosch. Its only a couple of euros to get across and it didn’t take that long. Once there we took a route my husband had chosen as he knows directions better. In the end we never saw any otters but plenty of birds instead.
You could truly spend a whole week exploring what the Biesbosch has on offer, such as a boat excursion or even renting a canoe yourself! If your more into fishing, this is also possible you but you need a special fishing pass from the Sportvisserij Nederland before you go.
Before cycling back and catching the boat we stopped at the lovely Hotel De Brabantse Biesbosch for a nice cup of coffee. We had taken a picnic with us so it was no need for food, but they seem to have a good menu.
We’ve been to a few parks now but think that this is one of our favourite national parks in the Netherlands!
18. Drents-Friese Wold – Drenthe, Friesland
National Park Website: Drents-Friese Wold
National Park Drents-Friese Wold is a beautiful area located in the provinces of Drenthe and Friesland. Covering over 6000 acres it’s one of the biggest national parks in the Netherlands and not to mention one of the prettiest (in my opinion). Drents-Friese Wold contains lush green forests, impressive heathlands and beautiful Aeckingerzand; a big sandy area with beautiful sand dunes.
The park is very popular for hikes, cycling and birdwatching as it has over 30 marked hiking trails and a lot of paved and unpaved cycling routes. There are even multiple trails for horseback riding. There are a lot of options to stay in the area, for example in cute town of Diever or Appelscha.
19. Nieuw Land – Flevoland
National Park Website: Nieuw Land
Written by Zoe at Together In Transit
As of 2018 this location has been recognised as one of the new National Parks in the Netherlands. I could not yet find anyone to submit some text for this collaboration so we have done some research ourselves.
The national park is in Flevoland, close to Oostvaardersplassen. This is a nature reserve area where migrating birds flock to, many protected in the EU. This area is included in the Natura 2000 status, with over 200 species of birds that have been spotted here. It is also a breeding area for many marsh birds, grassland birds and ducks.
This beautiful area also has cowes, deer and wild horses. It is advertised as a place to walk and cycle. I assume there are some good bike paths like the Dutch are well known for.
The water in the area is man made, making it unique compared to the other national parks in the Netherlands. The website is still in development so we can’t wait to hear more about the park. If you have been to this area, reach out to us with what you liked about this latest national Parks in the Netherlands!
20. Drentse Aa – Drenthe
National Park Website: Drentse Aa
Written by a friend of Together In Transit
Arriving by car we stopped here for a day trip for some walking on a Sunday. With out picnic bag packed and walking shoes on we were ready. There are many starting areas that you can park at and enter the park, but we picked one that was closest to our home. We are not so much ones for following one route, and since we had been many times, we walked different routes combined.
It’s always good to bring lots of water and snacks with you when walking longer distances. Luckily my wife had packed lots of Dutch treats as well as our picnic sandwiches. We have a special backpack suitable for hiking too which is great when carrying lots of those treats!
It’s good to get our in the nature every once in a while, rather than visiting cities and busy touristic locations. The nature takes us back to ourselves, able to think ahead for the week. This national park is well worth your thinking time! We didn’t do it, but there is also horse riding activities within the Drentse Aa National Park.
21. Duinen van Texel – North Holland
National Park Website: Texel Dunes
Located just a 1,5-hour drive and 20-minute ferry ride from Amsterdam, you find Dunes of Texel National Park in the Netherlands. It is located on Texel, the largest of Holland’s West Frisian Islands and a natural barrier between North Sea and Wadden Sea. Since 2002, the entire west coast and southern tip, covering about one third of the island, form the Dunes of Texel National Park.
The landscape consists of dunes, marshland and creeks, fed by the North Sea at high tide. It’s a bird lover’s paradise. Especially during the migration in spring and fall, you can see many birds resting and feeding. Many hiking and biking trails cross the landscape, allowing you to enjoy this pristine environment. Make sure to bring your binoculars and take into account that some areas of the park may be closed during the breeding period. Spring is also a good period to admire the unique plants such as sea-lavender and the many wild orchids.
The panoramas are what makes this park so unique. Standing on top of a dune allows you to enjoy the unspoilt views over the natural reserve as well as the North Sea.
Apart from the vast nature, you’ll find sleepy towns and more sheep than inhabitants. Accommodation-wise, Texel is worlds apart from hip Amsterdam. So, don’t expect a string of boutique hotels and most certainly no fancy resorts. It’s all about enjoying the simple life. That shouldn’t bother the not-so-fussy traveller looking to unwind and be one with nature. In the main towns on the island you’ll find plenty of restaurants.
EXTRA! Hollandse Duinen – South Holland
National Park Website: Hollandse Duinen
Hollandse Duinen is not officially a National Park yet, but it is a foundation. Since 2018 there is an agreement between the province of South Holland, Staatsbosbeheer (the Dutch Forrestry Commission) and Dunea to work intensively together in this new foundation National Park Hollandse Duinen in order to achieve the official status of National Park in future.
I was happy to hear so as this is my favourite place to be when I want to get away from it all or when I want to enjoy nature with my kids. For us it’s just a bike ride away.
Hollandse Duinen is a long stretch of coastal area in South Holland, situated between North Holland province and Hoek van Holland. It’s a unique landscape and an ideal place for people who love sea views, sandy beaches, nature and beautiful dunes, wether you want to walk, bike or swim. There are several walking and biking paths and you can even spot Galloway cattle and Scottish Highland cows grazing. You can see them in the dunes near the Zuiderstrand, south of Scheveningen harbour.
But that’s not all! Even the famous Dutch bulb fields and the Haagse Bos are part of the area. Personally I prefer the dunes and long beaches with hardly any people, but from April till October certain parts of the coast can be a bit crowded, like Scheveningen.
I think Hollandse Duinen is a beautiful ‘nature reserve’ in Holland with not only natural but also cultural highlights and historical value that definitely deserves National Park status.
We loved making this collaboration with other travel bloggers and friends who have visited these national parks. We have lots of national parks in the Netherlands to visit ourselves and hope their stories inspires you to visit too!
- Always take your rubbish from picnics with you
- Follow the routes provided at each national park, unless advertised that you can walk off route
- If visiting with dogs, keep them on their leads when required
- Be kind to nature – take photos and don’t disturb any wildlife
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Have you visited some or all of the National Parks in the Netherlands? We still need to visit many! Let us know in the comments any suggestions and tips!