If you thought that the Netherlands is lacking in nature, you are mistaken. Our country may be densely populated, but it has no less than 20 official national parks. So why does this Collection contain 21 parks, I hear you ask? Let me introduce you to a brand new national park: the Dutch Dunes National Park (Nationaal Park Hollandse Duinen).
You will find unique Dutch landscapes in the national parks: dunes, forests, heathland, low moors, tidal landscapes, brook valleys, fens and much more. Together, the parks cover some 120,000 hectares, which is almost 3 percent of the Netherlands. That may not sound like much, but in this Collection I present no less than 200 miles (323 km) of walking routes.
One of the largest parks is the Hoge Veluwe National Park. With 5,400 hectares of forests, heathland and sand dunes, it’s easy to understand why this is one of the most popular national parks in the Netherlands. One of my personal favorites is the Drentsche Aa National Park. Here, you will find flowery hay meadows and beautiful valleys as well as a huge number of prehistoric remains such as dolmens and burial mounds.
Another personal favourite is the Schiermonnikoog National Park, located on the Wadden Island of the same name. Despite its small size, you will find a wide variety of landscapes and more than 300 bird species here. The endless sandy plains of the Loonse and Drunense Dunes and the grasslands of the Nieuwland National Park, also known as Oostvaardersplassen, are also wonderful places to explore.
Instead of giving a top 10 list, I present 21 hikes in this Collection that showcase each of the national parks. Each park has its own uniqueness. I myself can tick off seven of the national parks from this list and I definitely plan to visit the other parks in the future. You can use this Collection as a guide to the most beautiful spots in the Netherlands.
These hikes are a diverse mix of challenging, multi-day trips for keen hikers to beautiful day trips for the whole family. Hopefully after reading it you will be inspired by the beauty that the Netherlands has to offer. Whether you complete the list in a season, a decade or a lifetime is entirely up to you. Time to put on your hiking boots and have fun walking!
I always thought that the Biesbosch was only worth visiting by boat, but this walk is an adventure in itself. You go at a wonderfully slow pace. This way you can admire nature even better.By the way, put on your waterproof walkers. Thanks to the unique up and down fresh water, the hiking trails still want to flood with water. Great fun, this is how it becomes a real stroll. Tip: don't put on white socks.
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This 14-kilometer hiking trail passes through swamps, heaths and large open ponds of De Groote Peel National Park. Despite the name, this is the smallest national park in the Netherlands, but no less beautiful. Waterproof walkers are also recommended. The walk starts at the De Pelen outdoor center. Here you will find an information center, a health food store and catering.
The Hoge Veluwe National Park consists of undulating grass plains, colorful moors and dense forest. The route starts with a two-kilometer-long avenue: a straight stretch of beautiful oak that is one of the most monumental avenues in the Netherlands.The Hoge Veluwe is a beautiful nature reserve in the middle of the Netherlands. The walking route is about 15 kilometers long and starts and ends in Hoenderloo.
The walking route through the National Park De Maasduinen starts at the visitor center, located in a lock complex. The starting point of the route is easiest to reach by car. In about 16 kilometers you walk counterclockwise around the beautiful Reindersmeer and along sandy heaths. The Maasduinen is the longest river dune belt in the Netherlands. The park is located in North Limburg right next to the German border.
National Park De Meinweg is located in the centrally located part of Limburg. This park is a unique area thanks to its terraces of different heights. In a distant past, the Maas and Rhine deposited sediment and shifted land in the earth's crust. This has created three different terraces with a total height difference of 50 meters. Today you will also make the necessary - for Dutch standards - altimeters.
The Hollandse Duinen National Park is a bit of an odd man out. The park is still in full development. Sandwiched between the beaches of the North Sea and the dunes of South Holland are beach walls and mainland dunes. Governments are busy giving the area the official title of National Park. Special in this part of the park are the many defenses from the Second World War. This route passes a number of bunkers and fortresses.
Right on the border with our southern neighbors is a beautiful nature reserve, Grenspark De Zoom. On this part of the Belgian-Dutch border you will find heather, fens, forests and land dunes.This walk starts in Belgium in the forests that grow on the dune landscape. Here you will find many maritime pines, recognizable by the extra long needles and large pinecones.
The Oosterschelde is a unique place where the water really brings life. You can see it directly along the Havenkanaal. At the Kiekuut you can study all birds in the area from a height.You continue the path to the very tip of the Harbor Head. The best spot for porpoises. Did you know that porpoises are not dolphins at all? They are related to the cetaceans.
You don't walk this route of more than 40 kilometers in one day, maybe not even in two if you want to take a bit more time. However, two to three days should be enough depending on your fitness. You walk through beautiful forest, through the polders, along ditches and beautiful estates. Many parts are unpaved and sometimes not even a real path, but just the ditch side!