Pauline van der Waal

Escape the city – Fantastic beach hikes close to Amsterdam

Michael Gehnen

Escape the city – Fantastic beach hikes close to Amsterdam

Hiking Collection by Pauline van der Waal

It’s easy to forget how close Amsterdam is to the dunes or the beach. For this reason, I've lined up six surprising walks along the coast which are all easily accessible by public transport. As most Amsterdammers don’t have a car, you can travel by train or bus to the starting point of every hike.

The walks in this Collection are between 9.3 to 12.3 miles (15 to 20 km) long. You should have a good fitness level as walking across sand can be hard going. You will also gain a fair amount of elevation as you follow sloping paths through the dunes.

With undulating landscapes, forests, and wide views, the dunes are beautiful. However, there is lots to discover beyond the beaches too. You can visit the Kunstbunker (Art Bunker) in the North Holland Dune Reserve near Castricum. The Rijksmuseum also has many cultural treasures, such as the famous painting Night Watch by Rembrandt, which have been stored in the museum since WWII.

In the same area, you may spot the Kwal. The water is pumped here via a 32-mile (52-km) pipeline all the way from Ijsselmeer Lake. In the dunes, the water is then purified and made into drinking water.

Be sure to pack your swimsuit in sunny weather as you will have plenty of opportunities to take a dip in the sea as many of the walks run along the beach. You can also swim in the various dune lakes, such as 't Wed near Bloemendaal.

The nature reserves along the coast are brimming with diverse flora and fauna. Look out for species of water birds, as well as larger animals such as Konik horses, Scottish Highlanders and Wisents. Don't forget your camera!

You can reach the starting points of the hikes from Amsterdam Central Station in roughly half an hour by train. All you have to do is lace up your walking shoes and bring a bottle of water.

All the routes have plenty of opportunities to stop for a snack or drink on the way. You could also bring your own packed lunch and find a quiet spot with a beautiful view, of which there are plenty.

On The Map

Tours & Highlights

    Intermediate
    04:04
    9.87 mi
    2.4 mph
    200 ft
    175 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This walk runs from Castricum station to Egmond aan Zee, straight through the North Holland Dune Reserve. Along the route you will find all kinds of markings, but it is not the case that the entire tour is marked with one kind of posts. That's why I recommend using navigation.

    Make sure you have an entrance ticket for the Noordhollands Duinreservaat at the start of your walk. This ticket costs less than two euros and can be bought at the ticket machine that you will automatically encounter after about a kilometer.

    The walk is very varied. From the station of Castricum you walk towards the forest. You will come across the Papenberg, where you walk via a staircase to the top at an altitude of 31 meters. From the top you have a good view of the route that you will still walk through the dunes.

    Impressive is the Art Bunker that you soon encounter. During the Second World War, all kinds of art treasures were hidden here on the outskirts of Castricum from the Rijksmuseum and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Can you imagine that even the life-sized Night Watch was stored here?

    In the open field lies the Wei van Brasser, a dune lake. Chances are you will encounter all kinds of waterfowl here. More noticeable are the wild horses and Scottish Highlanders. You often see them drinking from the lake. Always keep sufficient distance from the animals, especially if there are foals or calves.

    Eventually you will see the lighthouse of Egmond aan Zee, the end point of this route. Enjoy with a drink and a view over the beach and the sea. Or take a refreshing dip before boarding the bus later to return home.

    Egmond has no train station. From Egmond aan Zee you take the bus to Alkmaar or Heiloo station. You can also walk this walk the other way around, so that you end right at Castricum station.

    There are plenty of restaurants and cafes in both Castricum and Egmond. Along the way you can also visit a few places, such as Hof van Kijk Uit and Johanna´s Hof. Of course you can also bring your own lunch and eat it in a quiet place with a beautiful view of the dunes.

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    Intermediate
    04:41
    11.4 mi
    2.4 mph
    225 ft
    225 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Start your hike at the climbing dune and ascend a little further towards the viewpoint Papenberg. This gives you a nice overview of the area in which you are walking. Like most coastal walks, you start in a wooded area. Only when you walk further towards the beach does the vegetation become thinner.You first walk to the south and when the trees give way there, you will see the bulb fields on the edge of the village. If you walk in the right season, of course.After about 6.5 kilometers you will arrive at Gasterij Kruisberg, in the middle of the dune area. This restaurant has a beautiful terrace for a short break. You can also walk through for a drink. After a nice detour over the Valleiweg you walk towards the beach at beach stroke 40. There are several beach bars for a coffee with a view of the sea.Do you think the route is 18 kilometers too long? You can also shorten your way and skip the beach. After Gasterij Kruisberg, keep right and follow the Hollands Kustpad towards the glider airfield. You will then arrive at a total of approximately 14.5 kilometers.You leave again towards the dunes on nice days you see small planes departing in the distance and landing again. These are the gliders of the Zaanse Gliding Club.A must-see is the Jellyfish. The Kwal is the water inlet of the dunes. Water pumped from the IJsselmeer is transported to this location via a long pipe. The water is then purified here into drinking water.The walking route starts and ends at Castricum station. From the station you walk straight into nature and your walk starts. Please note that you need a dune map to walk in the area. If you cannot show it on request, you will be fined. You can buy the card at the station, but it can also be easily done online on the PWN website.

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  • Intermediate
    04:12
    10.2 mi
    2.4 mph
    250 ft
    225 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This walking route starts at Santpoort-Noord station and ends in Overveen, where you board the train again. I always like it when your start and end points are far apart. Then you really have a goal. So this route is one of my favorites. There are also quite a few height differences in this path through the dunes. Good training for the legs!

    From the station you can walk in a few minutes to the estates Duin- en Kruidberg and Midden Herenduin. You wind through the dune area towards the sea. Along the way you pick up pieces of forest, a viewpoint and a dune lake.

    You arrive at the beach of Bloemendaal aan Zee and follow the beach to beach pavilion Parnassia aan Zee. You are already well over half of your walk. A drink on the terrace should therefore be possible.

    You walk back into the dunes from the beach and encounter several viewpoints along the way, such as the Hazenberg and the Holy Land.

    Bird lovers make an extensive stop at Bird Lake. Different types of birds have their home here and horses or Scottish Highlanders also come here to drink.

    If you want, you can take a refreshing dip in 't Wed, a dune lake where you can swim. Dried up again, continue the last kilometers to Overveen.

    Are you more ready for a day at the beach? Then you can also choose not to cross the dunes towards Overveen near Parnassia beach pavilion, but to stay on the beach. After all, you can already see the high-rise buildings of Zandvoort in the distance. If you get on the train in Zandvoort, you have covered a total of about 15 kilometers.

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    Intermediate
    04:01
    9.67 mi
    2.4 mph
    250 ft
    250 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    For this walk you take the train to Santpoort-Zuid station. You walk a short distance through the village and enter the dune area at the Bleek en Berg entrance.After a kilometer or two you will come to the Oosterplas, a swimming lake in the Kennemerduin. You may take a quick dip here, otherwise continue the path along the lake shore.You notice that you slowly start to climb and before you know it you are on the Starreberg. From here you have a beautiful view of the lake, but also of the continuation of the route you will walk. Can you already see the Bird Lake?The Vogelmeer is a landscaped lake, where all kinds of birds live. There is also a colony of cormorants, which you can see sitting on bare branches or stones in their characteristic posture. Cormorants do not have a protective layer of fat on their feathers like other waterfowl. Therefore, these birds should dry their plumage in the wind and sun. To do that, they spread their wings wide.After the viewpoint Hazenberg you walk further towards the sea. Soon you will see Beach Pavilion Parnassia standing on top of the dune. This is exactly halfway through your walk and a good time for a break.You walk a bit via the beach, after which you continue at the next beach crossing towards the dunes.Via a winding and sloping path you walk back through the National Park Zuid-Kennemerland to Santpoort-Zuid. Time to get on the train back home.

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    Intermediate
    03:46
    9.00 mi
    2.4 mph
    300 ft
    325 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The dunes around Overveen near Haarlem are known for the beautiful houses that are there. Wealthy families owned and owned huge estates here. From the station you can walk into the dunes in a few minutes. If you are lucky, you will see bison in the nature reserve, or the European Bison.From the station you are almost directly in nature. You first set course towards the bison viewpoint. The bison live in the Kraansvlak, a 300 hectare area with natural vegetation. The viewpoint is near the largest dune lake in the Kraansvlak. Especially when it is warm, the bison regularly come here to drink.Impressed by the European Bison? Then walk the Wisentenpad another time, right through the Kraansvlak. Please note that the path is closed during the breeding season (March 1 to September 1). You can find this route here: komoot.nl/tour/204691555After a little more than five kilometers of walking you pass Kraantje Lek. A lovely place for a short break. The restaurant is a monument of more than 400 years old. Coffee with apple pie on the terrace then?Then you head for the Koningshof estate. You walk around the estate via an idyllic and winding path. This allows you to view the beautiful house. Especially from the somewhat higher Appelberg along the path.A little further is the Elswoud estate, which with an equally impressive house is not inferior to the Koningshof. A pack of deer hops on the grounds.After the estates we slowly but surely enter Overveen again. At the station our tour ends and we take the train home.

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    Intermediate
    02:59
    7.20 mi
    2.4 mph
    175 ft
    175 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    During your walk through the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen, it is almost impossible not to encounter deer. The largest fallow deer population in the Netherlands lives here. In addition, the nature reserve is beautiful.

    You start at the entrance of the Waterleidingduinen on the Zandvoortseweg. You follow a large part of the green route that is indicated. You occasionally take a different path and do not return to the starting point. At the end you walk back to Zandvoort via a dune path. So you end your walk with a drink and sea view.

    Shortly after the entrance you cross the Noordooster Kanaal. Don't forget to stop and look left and right for a special view. In the distance you can see the "skyline" of Zandvoort above the dunes.

    You turn left into the forest and walk along a sloping path towards the Tonneblink. Climb this dune for all-round views. Also look carefully between the trees, because you can now encounter the first deer at any time.

    Several packs of deer walk in the wooded area. You really can't miss them. The deer are not afraid, so it is best to get close. I therefore recommend that you keep your camera ready.

    After you turn east, the forest disappears. It looks more like a vast African steppe here. The benches along the route invite you to take a short break.

    You walk back to the entrance via a long path along a smaller channel. Just before that, turn left towards Zandvoort. You now walk on a paved path around the dunes and you can bend to the sea via a small path. You leave the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen via a gate and continue to the beach.

    Zandvoort beach is dotted with beach bars. One even more beautiful or hip than the other. Choose a nice one for a closing drink. From here you can walk to Zandvoort station in about fifteen minutes.

    The entrance to the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen can be reached by car, but also by bus from Zandvoort, Haarlem or Amsterdam.

    Make sure to buy an entrance ticket before entering the area. This can be done at the machines at the entrance, but you can also buy your ticket online on the PWN website. You will receive your ticket directly in your email box.

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    6
  • Distance
    57.3 mi
  • Duration
    23:42 h
  • Elevation
    1,375 ft

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Pauline van der Waal

Escape the city – Fantastic beach hikes close to Amsterdam