Off the Beaten Track in the Netherlands

November 1, 2012 by

Day Trips, Free Things to Do, Sightseeing, Things To Do, Tours & Activities

Windmill in the town of Goedereede, Netherlands. Photo courtesy of hans.griep via Flickr.

Windmill in the town of Goedereede, Netherlands. Photo courtesy of hans.griep via Flickr.

Where should you visit next in the tightly packed compact country that is The Netherlands? You’ve walked the canals, visited the museums and seen the red lights of Amsterdam, visited markets in Edam and Gouda, admired pottery in Delft and bought bulbs in Keukenhof Gardens. Time to get off the beaten track in the Netherlands.

1) Art Without the Crowds

Avoid the throngs in Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum and head instead to the Kröller-Müller Museum in Hoge Veluwe National Park near Arnhem. Here, there are Van Gogh’s aplenty and a smattering of Picasso’s, as well as gardens scattered with sculpture. Afterwards take a free white bike to explore the trails of the national park.

2) Flora and Fauna

The shifting dunes at Zuid-Kennemerland National Park have sandy beaches and are home to deer, Konik ponies and protected European bison plus more than 100 species of migrating birds.

Visit northern Holland in spring for endless swathes of color in bulb fields; hire a bike to explore the flat landscape around Lieden, Flevoland and Enkhuizen on quiet, safe cycle routes.

3) Little-Known Towns

Tiny gabled Goedereede near Brielle (itself a photogenic mini-Amsterdam but packed in summer) is a happily tourist-free artists’ haven full of galleries; close by minutes, Zwartewaal offers a tiny harbor and brightly painted cottages strung along the dyke.

Further east in Overijssel on the German border, you’ll uncover ancient villages, tracts of unspoiled woodlands and Baroque castles at Singraven and Almelo. For a gentle city vibe, visit the historic regional capital for canal walks, Hanseatic architecture, 15th-century walls and quiet cafés in cobbled squares.

4) And in Amsterdam?

You can escape the crowds even in Amsterdam. During the week, head for the daily Dappermarkt in Amsterdam Oost for a real local feel and 250 multi-ethnic stalls selling exotic international cuisines as well as Turkish, Surinamese, African and Indonesian cafés lining the street.

-Sasha Heseltine

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