If the sun is shining, you should stop reading this article and go enjoy it before the rain returns. Don’t know where to go? Here’s a look at some easy-to-access outdoor spots where you can make the most of the summer.
Let’s start with the one that’s in your backyard. Literally. A simple bike ride outside the city centre brings you to beautiful farmlands and polder landscapes. There are camping grounds, jogging paths, cycling lanes and countless picnic spots. You can get a real sense of Dutch polders as you cycle along and the greenery merges seamlessly with water bodies. The bike paths are carefully marked, and you can even cycle along farmlands to Pijnacker and Zoetermeer. Horse riders, bikers, cyclists, bird watchers and picnic parties all come together at the central crossing where an ice cream van is parked during the day. Make sure to stop, the ice cream is delicious. Around the main lake there are a number of activities you can choose from, nature walks, sporting activities and a host of restaurants.
It’s likely that you’ve already been here. After all, the Scheveningen Beach has reportedly has one million visitors annually. But, if you haven’t, here’s some incentive. Bungee jumping. A sea museum. Sand sculptures. The beach itself can be divided into four parts – Boulevard, harbour, Northern beach and nude beach. And each section has its own attractions. ‘No beach resort is complete without a tourist train. The Boulevard Train… takes you past the famous Seinpostduin along the harbours and past the old village of Scheveningen,’ says denhaag.nl. For the thrill seekers, there’s a permanent jump location at the pier which goes 60 metres down! Besides the hustle bustle of beach vendors, there are also 35 beach clubs to choose from, so we suggest you start planning. Some other popular beaches near Scheveningen are Kijkduin, Noordwijk and Katwijk. Katwijk is home to the oldest lighthouse on the Dutch coast and you can glimpse some old fishing cottages while Noordwijk is among the longest beaches in the country.
A free beach festival, travelling theatre by the sea and a Grand Prix parade of historic cars. This summer, the Zandvoort beach in North Holland has all this and more to over. One of the major beaches of the country, it has 30 beach clubs and a line-up of events all through summer. “The star attraction is the beach itself. 9 kilometres long and 100 meters broad, it is known as one of the cleanest and safest beaches in the Netherlands. It carries the Blue flag (International symbol for safe and clean beaches) and the Quality Coast flag (European flag for sustainable tourism),” says Pim Huijsmans, team leader marketing and promotion, VVV Zandvoort. The numbers are staggering too. Huijsmans says that approximately 4,500,000 people visit Zandvoort aan Zee annually and the area has 950,000 overnight visitors. “Furthermore, it is the only beach in the Netherlands that can be reached by train. The Zandvoort train station is approximately 100 metres from the beach, so visitors can hop of the train, onto the beach,” he adds.
Beaches and other getaways
It may all be flatland, but the Dutch coastline is fascinating nevertheless. Divided into three groups, the Wadden Islands, the coastline of North-Holland and South-Holland and Zeeland, the beaches and islands along the coast are a must-visit for anyone lucky enough to catch some sunshine in the Netherlands. In Wadden Islands, the must-visits include the island Texel where you can go camping, sailing, river rafting etc. Zeeland, which has a coastline 650 kilometres long, also sees the longest hours of sunshine in the country, 140 hours more than the rest of the country.
First published in the Survival Guide series in TU Delta on May 21. Read it online here