Culture, art, and city nightlife are not all there is to The Netherlands. There are many good reasons to get out of the city and explore the country more deeply and the island of Texel is one. Pronounced locally as Tessel, Texel is the largest and most populated of the Frisian Islands and the closest to Amsterdam. It’s a popular holiday and tourist destination, indicated by the fact it has 46,000 holiday rental beds available on the island!
Some of its main attractions are the long sandy beaches which contrast to the dark forest on the interior of the island. The western coastline is a national park, Duinen van Texel National Park, including large areas of bird sanctuary, which you can walk through. The Ecomare nature center is located here and a must-visit source of information about the local wildlife, in particular porpoises and seals. You can get up close to watch them or go out on a shrimp fishing boat to both catch shrimp and see seals in nature. The island is great for cycling, horse-riding, walking, and in spring there are thousands of lambs. You can hug a lamb at Rozenhout Farm, or follow the special Lamb Cycle Route through the farmland. There is also a Spring Bulb Cycle Route (maps available from the Texel Tourist Office). The island caters well to kids with many free activities including a pirate ship at Oudeschild marina, De Bonte Belevenis craft and art activity center, Kinder Speelparadijs Texel, which is an indoor playground, and children’s theatre, plus guided seagull and beachcomber walks. Texel is easy to reach from Amsterdam by train and then a ferry crossing of only 20 minutes.