When you think of Netherlands’ nature, what do you envision?
Tulips, windmills, canals, and rolling fields of agriculture? I did not imagine National Parks and wild spaces. But if you have followed this blog for any amount of time, you will know that I almost always try to visit national parks in the countries that I travel to. The Netherlands was no exception.
There are 20 national parks throughout Holland, and I would be surprised if you didn’t enjoy visiting any one of them, but here are my three favorites.
De Hoge Veluwe
If you only have time to visit one national park in the Netherlands, this one should be it, because it exemplifies Netherlands’ nature. It has just about everything you could want to do in a day. De Hoge Veluwe has it all, from hiking and biking, to art and natural history museums! We went early on a cold, foggy morning. After paying for our tickets, we picked up some free bikes at the entrance. For there we went to De Hoge Veluwe art museum, which has the second largest collection of Van Gogh in the country. I found this to be a relaxing place to enjoy the art, because this museum lacked the crowds of Amsterdam’s Van Gogh museum.
In the middle of De Hoge Veluwe is another museum where you can go underground, and learn about the history and ecology of the park. The museum is also right next to a little cafeteria that has really delicious food. Once we had our fill of museums, we spent a few hours pedaling around. The trails here are very nice and paved, and there was a whole suite of different landscape types that we got to enjoy while exploring.
When we were exhausted from biking and exploring all day, we stopped by a food truck for some ice cream, and when we finally got back to our car we were shocked to see that all the bikes were out for the day and the parking lot was full. Due to this, if you visit on the weekend, be sure to get in early so you don’t have any issue parking and getting a bike.
De Loonse en Drunense Duiden
This little park is a great place to take a relaxing walk through a flatland forest, but the center of the park is where the real surprise is. We took a stroll through the trees and found ourselves in the middle of little sea of sand dunes. Even when I didn’t know a thing about the Netherlands, I never would have associated anything desert-ish with the country. The dunes here are even more special, due to the beautiful forest that surrounds the sand. In the shadow of the trees, small green plants and flowers carpet the sides of the dunes.
If you are planning on visiting the “little Venice” of the Netherlands, Giethoorn, I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you to make some time to stop by Weerribben. The best way to see the park is to rent a boat in Giethoorn. Just be sure to get a map from your rental company, and give yourself enough time to see the park.
Despite being in the middle of a developed European country, Weerribben has the magic that made me feel like I was on an adventure in the wild. There is beautiful, calming water and a seemingly endless expanse of green in all directions. Cows graze along the shore, and people tend verdant fields. And there is a little tower that we climbed up to get a bird’s eye view of all this. Finally, we ended our beautiful journey by coming back to Giethoorn and floating through the village.
So, if you are planning a trip to Holland, be sure to break up your cultural experience with a little bit of Netherlands’ nature in some of the country’s beautiful national parks.