National Parks in the Netherlands

Information on Dutch National parks and typical outdoor sports in the Netherlands: in-line skating, cycling, hiking and sailing...

  • Half of the surface of the Netherlands is less than one metre above sea level
  • The Netherlands is home to Flevoland, the largest man-made island in the world
  • Many parts of the Netherlands have been reclaimed from the sea and are known as polders
  • The Netherlands is home to the world's largest gardens, the Keukenhof

National Parks

There are a number of national parks in the Netherlands. See the National Parks website.

The Hoge Veluwe National Park

The 14,000-acre Hoge Veluwe National Park is located at the heart of the Southern Veluwe and on the western slope of the Veluwe, only one hour out of Amsterdam and reachable via Arnhem. The park has 25 miles of trails to explore, as well as woodland, heath land, lakes and drift sand. Free white bicycles are provided within the park.

The park is home to the Kroller-Muller museum which has the second largest collection of van Goghs in the world. Just outside the museum is Europe's largest sculpture garden. Near the museum there is a visitor centre with information on the park's flora and fauna which includes wild flowers, beech trees, wild boar, roe deer, red deer and moufflon.

Getting there: the park is located between Arnhem and Apeldoorn and can be reached from the A12 motorway. There are entrances at Schaarsbergen to the south, Otterlo (northwest) and Hoenderloo (northeast).

Oosterschelde National Park

This is the Netherlands' largest national park with 37,000 hectares. The park, in the south east of the country, is an immense area of mud flats, salt meadows, gullies and shoals as well as boasting an internationally recognised wetland. Flora and fauna include sea lavender, spartina grass, seals, porpoises, migrating birds, mussels, flat fish and crab. The natural park is scattered with bird watching hides and footpaths are provided for walkers. The area is particularly good for sailing and cycling, and there are also fishing opportunities, museums and information centres dotted along the banks of the Oosterschelde.

Schiermonnikoog National Park

The most northern of the Netherland's national parks, Schiermonnikoog Island, is made up of dunes and salt marshes and cars are prohibited. Flora and fauna include foxes, natterjack toads, mink, seals, mushrooms, orchids and many lichens and mosses. The landscape is varied, comprising beaches, dunes, woods, marshes, polders and tidal flats and the area is a haven for cyclists and walkers.

Outdoor Sports

Walking (wandelsport)

This is a very popular pastime in the Netherlands where many wooded areas and heath lands are now being scrupulously conserved. Good walking areas can be found in Drenthe and North Brabant provinces. The Netherlands have a 6,000 Km network of long-distance footpaths. The walks, known as Lange-Afstand-Wandelpaden are marked with white and red stripes.

Mud flat walking

The Wadden sea natural reserve is the perfect place for mud flat walking. At low tide the mud flats, made up of sand banks, are left uncovered allowing this demanding pursuit to be practised.

Sailing (zeilend) and other water sports

Sailing and yachting are very popular on the Friesland Lakes, Loosdrechtse Plassen, Veerse Meer and Ijsselmeer - a man-made shallow lake created by a dam.

There are opportunities to go windsurfing or catamaran sailing from spring to autumn all over the coast but worthy of note are Zandvoort, Vlieland and Terschelling. The lake on the west side of Wieringen is also ideal for freestyle and slalom windsurfing.

Lake Grevelingenmeer is a sizable saltwater lake offering a whole array of water sports and yachts can be docked either at a marina or on the water sport island located in the lake. Permission is required to sail in the Westerschelde estuary.

In-line skating (schaatsen):

Due to the Netherlands' predominantly flat landscape, it is perfectly suited to in-line skating. There are tracks marked out for skaters in Schoorl, Monster, Wassenaar and Domburg along the coast.

There are also in-line skating tours of Amsterdam available as well as Friday night skates, all organised by Skate-a-round, a local skating club.

Further Information