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Zuiderzeepad – hike around the IJsselmeer in 28 stages

Sanne Hitipeuw

Zuiderzeepad – hike around the IJsselmeer in 28 stages

Hiking Collection by Pauline van der Waal

28

Tours

128:18 h

316 mi

2,375 ft

With a total length of 492 kilometres (305 miles), the Zuiderzeepad earns the title of the longest, and probably best-known, long-distance hiking trail in the Netherlands. The Zuiderzeepad is also referred to as LAW8, which stands for long-distance walking trail number 8. Here, we guide you along the route in an anticlockwise direction, but you can walk the 28-stage route in either direction; it’s signposted both ways.

You can choose whether to walk stages in one go or select a few of your favourite sections for a day trip or weekend away. If you walk one stage every other week then you will complete the entire Zuiderzeepad within one year. Most of the stages are between 15 and 20 kilometres (9.3 and 12.4 miles) long.

The entire route makes a round trip around the IJsselmeer, the biggest lake in the Netherlands. Before the major construction of the Afsluitdijk dam and causeway, the water was not a lake, but a sea: the Zuiderzee. The first stage starts in the town of Enkhuizen on the banks of the IJsselmeer. During the Golden Age, this was the most important fishing town in the Netherlands and a trade hub. From this town, you walk to Amsterdam via other well-known harbours such as Hoorn, Volendam, and Monnickendam. Water is the focal point on every walk; as well as the former Zuidersee, the route takes you along rivers, canals, ditches, lakes, and the Wadden Sea.

In times gone by, the lives of the inhabitants living around the Zuiderzee was often hard and dangerous. Hard storms, floods, and overfishing shaped the history of the region as small fishing villages grew into large port cities. You can imagine how life would have been as you explore old cities and tiny villages, visit museums, and look over the vast waters of the IJsselmeer.

You walk to Muiderslot, Naarden, and Het Gooi before visiting the traditional towns of Bunschoten-Spakenburg, Nijkerk, Ermelo and Nunspeet during the southern part of the trip. You’ll briefly meet the Veluwe ridge of hills and catch glimpses of Flevoland, the youngest Dutch province and perhaps the strongest example of Dutch reclamation.

You continue to the Hanseatic cities of Elburg en Kampen and hike through the Noordoostpolder to the province of Friesland. Vast farmland, woodlands and many lakes characterise the landscape as you visit some of the Frisian Eleven Cities and follow the coastline from Stavoren to Hindeloopen.

Slowly but surely on the horizon, you see the Afsluitdijk dam which is the reason why we now call the Zuiderzee the IJsselmeer. In one long stage, you cross the Afsluitdijk from Zurich to Den Oever.

You walk across the Wieringermeerpolder, along a section of the dyke directly on the banks of the IJsselmeer, and visit Medemblik before arriving back where you started in Enkhuizen. A round trip around the island of Marken adds a few more kilometres should you wish.

Please note that not some starting and finishing points are easier to reach by public transport than others so you should plan in advance. Of course, you can also park your car at the end of a stage, and then take the bus or train to the starting point of one or more stages before.

Are you planning to hike several stages in one go and stay the night? If so, be sure to check if there is accommodation in the smaller villages. In the larger villages, towns and cities, you can always find a B&B or hotel. Advanced booking is recommended.

On The Map

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors
    Intermediate
    04:33
    11.3 mi
    2.5 mph
    50 ft
    50 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The Zuiderzeepad starts in the historic core of Enkhuizen. The imposing Zuiderkerk is one of the most striking old buildings in this place. Moreover, Enkhuizen was a fortress, which you will see at the start of your walk when you walk along the Vest with the old Water Gates.Via the Broekerhaven you walk to the Zuiderdijk, which you follow …

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  • Intermediate
    04:05
    10.1 mi
    2.5 mph
    50 ft
    50 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The second stage of the Zuiderzeepad runs from Wijdenes via Schellinkhout and the picturesque Hoorn to Scharwoude. In Hoorn you walk along the old harbor and the Oostereiland, an artificial island that was already created in the fifteenth century to increase the harbor capacity of the ever-expanding Hoorn. While it was first warehouses and some houses that were built on the island, later a shipyard, beggar's houses and a prison were set up.

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  • Intermediate
    04:20
    10.7 mi
    2.5 mph
    50 ft
    50 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Stage 3 of the Zuiderzeepad starts in the cute little town of Scharwoude. The village is now safe behind the high dike that protects the residents from the water, but when the Markermeer was still the Zuiderzee, the sea regularly brought misery. For example, you come across the memorial stones where the dike broke in 1675 and the cold salt water drowned the hinterland.

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  • Intermediate
    03:30
    8.66 mi
    2.5 mph
    50 ft
    50 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The fourth stage runs from Edam via Volendam to Monnickendam. Volendam is of course best known for its fish trade, traditional costume and eel sound. Yet it is also just a cute place with authentic wooden houses and an amazing view over the water.You leave Volendam via the old harbor and marina and continue on the Hoogedijk. You can …

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  • Intermediate
    04:35
    11.3 mi
    2.5 mph
    75 ft
    75 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    In this fifth stage of the Zuiderzeepad, you not only follow the dike along the water, but you also regularly walk a bit more inland. From Monnickendam you first follow the Zeedijk, but before it changes into the Waterlandse Zeedijk, turn right onto the Dijkeinde. You keep walking parallel to the Molensloot.
    Then you walk into the Opperwoudpad and you understand why the municipality is called Waterland here. You walk along really countless ditches.

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  • Intermediate
    04:34
    11.2 mi
    2.4 mph
    150 ft
    150 ft
    Ferry
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels. The Tour includes a crossing by ferry.

    The sixth stage of the Zuiderzeepad starts in Landelijk Noord, in Durgerdam. Because of the church, the chapel and the typical houses Durgerdam has a protected village view. You can see from here Vuurtoreneiland, but also the Buiten-IJ, Amsterdam-Noord and Zeeburg.You follow the route via the Durgerdammerdijk towards Schellingwoude. Schellingwoude also seems to come from a postcard with the characteristic and authentic houses.

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  • Intermediate
    04:12
    10.3 mi
    2.5 mph
    75 ft
    75 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Stage number 7 of the Zuiderzeepad runs along the Muiderslot. Allow enough time for a visit to this medieval castle that was already on this site in 1285. But before that happens you first walk a bit through Amsterdam. You start with a crossing of the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal and walk through the Diemerpark towards Muiden. You will see the IJburg district on your left.

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  • Difficult
    05:07
    12.4 mi
    2.4 mph
    250 ft
    250 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    From Muiderberg you walk under the A6 via the IJsselmeerweg. Flevoland is connected to the mainland via the Hollandse Brug and thousands and thousands of commuters drive back and forth every day.You walk along the golf course and marina of Naarden, clear signs that you are in Het Gooi. In this stage you can see the beautiful fortified city …

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  • Difficult
    05:05
    12.5 mi
    2.5 mph
    75 ft
    100 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    In stage 9 of the Zuiderzeepad you usually follow the water, just like in the other stages. Only this time it is not the coastline of the IJsselmeer, but canals, canals and rivers.You leave Blaricum and walk along Laren and through Eemnes. Then you follow the dead straight Eemnesservaart, until you reach the Eemnes pumping station. You cross the water and follow the winding path until you can cross the Eem.

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  • Intermediate
    03:14
    7.99 mi
    2.5 mph
    50 ft
    50 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The tenth stage of the Zuiderzeepad is only a short one compared to the rest. Less than 12.5 kilometers long, from Bunschoten-Spakenburg via the Zeedijk to Nijkerk. Just over half the route you walk directly on the water and you see Flevoland on the other side.Be sure to stop at the museum harbor of Bunschoten-Spakenburg at the start of the walk. You feast your eyes on the old ships.

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  • Intermediate
    03:54
    9.60 mi
    2.5 mph
    100 ft
    75 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The eleventh stage of the Zuiderzeepad starts at Nijkerk station. The first part you follow the course of the track. After about five kilometers you will arrive at Castle Oldenaller. Oldenaller Castle is an estate, manor and former castle from 1655, although a castle probably already existed on this site before that time. The castle is not open to visitors, but fortunately you can admire the outside from the public road.

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  • Intermediate
    02:11
    5.34 mi
    2.5 mph
    50 ft
    75 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Stage number 12 of the Zuiderzeepad starts on the outskirts of Ermelo. You walk through agricultural landscape towards Horst and you soon reach the city limits of Harderwijk.As soon as you have crossed the Rijksweg via the Botterbrug, you are almost immediately at the water. You meander along the coastline via the Zeepad, with the buildings of Harderwijk on your right and the Wolderwijd on your left, as the water between Harderwijk and Zeewolde is called.

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  • Difficult
    05:24
    13.2 mi
    2.4 mph
    250 ft
    200 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Stage 13 of the Zuiderzeepad starts in Harderwijk and you first walk a bit through the city before you visit the countryside. You walk through farmland until you come to Kasteel de Essenburgh. Today this is a hotel, but the surrounding estate is freely accessible. Nice to have a look.The next part of your route you walk through farmlands …

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  • Intermediate
    04:53
    12.0 mi
    2.5 mph
    100 ft
    150 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The fourteenth stage of the Zuiderzeepad starts in Nunspeet. Before you actually set off, you can climb the viewing tower at the parking lot on the south side of the station. This is also where the Veluwe visitor center is located.
    The first part is almost parallel to the track. You walk through the forest, but sometimes you see a piece of the golf course on your right.

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  • Difficult
    05:30
    13.6 mi
    2.5 mph
    100 ft
    100 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The stage starts at the Oosterwolde cemetery. It is not known exactly why, but probably because there is also a bus stop there. You will in any case find the first recognizable marking of stage 15 of the Zuiderzeepad here.After a few hundred meters you will barely come across any buildings and you only see the dead straight meadows with - ahead - the occasional farm.

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  • Intermediate
    04:41
    11.6 mi
    2.5 mph
    50 ft
    75 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    From the starting point of this stage you look over the IJssel and the IJssel bridge. The inland vessels sail back and forth here. But we leave the water behind us for a while and walk north via Kampen.At Grafhorst you will find the water again and walk along the Ganzendiep through the Zuiderzeepolder. If you feel like coffee …

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  • Intermediate
    04:03
    9.98 mi
    2.5 mph
    75 ft
    75 ft
    Ferry
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels. The Tour includes a crossing by ferry.

    You start today's stage from Genemuiden with the ferry. Cross the Zwarte Water and turn left, after which you keep following the Zwarte Water. First you walk along the floodplains of the river and more inland along a wetland and swampy area.Via the village of Sint Jansklooster you continue with a wide view and follow the course of the …

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  • Difficult
    05:17
    13.0 mi
    2.5 mph
    75 ft
    75 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Stage 18 is another long one. In about 21 kilometers you walk from Vollenhove to Ossenzijl. From the starting point you walk along the Vollenhovermeer towards Blokzijl. Blokzijl is a cute little village, which, due to its winding streets and façade buildings, looks a bit like Amsterdam.Then you walk into the Weerribben National Park, the largest peat bog in …

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  • Difficult
    05:44
    14.2 mi
    2.5 mph
    50 ft
    50 ft
    Ferry
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels. The Tour includes a crossing by ferry.

    Today you walk in less than 23 kilometers from Ossenzijl to Delfstrahuizen / Echtenerbrug. You get to this quite a lot of kilometers because you can only cross De Tsjonger with the pull ferry, so that you first walk along the right bank in a northern direction and then on the other side again to the south. But that is absolutely no punishment, it is beautiful.

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  • Intermediate
    04:00
    9.85 mi
    2.5 mph
    75 ft
    75 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Stage 20 of the Zuiderzeepad starts with a beautiful stretch along the Tjeukemeer. In Frisian, this largest inland lake in Friesland is called the Tsjûkemar. About halfway through you come across the Echten pumping station and a statue of Tsjûke en March. These were two Frisian sisters who, in good faith, took care of the name of the Tjeukemeer.That …

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    28
  • Distance
    316 mi
  • Duration
    128:18 h
  • Elevation
    2,375 ft

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Zuiderzeepad – hike around the IJsselmeer in 28 stages

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