Visiting The Dutch Countryside

Travelblog about The Netherlands | Exploring The Netherlands beyond the crowds

The 13 Prettiest Nature Reserves Near & Around Amsterdam: Discover The Netherlands And Its Natural Wonders

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The Loosdrechtse plassen is one of the best place to see stunning lakes in The Netherlands including a typical Dutch landscape. Discover more nature around Amsterdam in the rest of this article.

Amsterdam is a crowded city. It is filled with trams, yelling cyclists and groups of pedestrians. Every once and a while it’s time to recharge and what’s a better way than visiting the secret and hidden nature reserves near and around Amsterdam, The Netherlands? Exactly. There is no better way. Far away from the crowded city that is Amsterdam, you venture into the unknown.

You’ll discover a national park in The Netherlands, the different Dutch landscapes that you can find close to Amsterdam, and you will discover other off the beaten path places close to Amsterdam. You’ll find real The Netherlands: From a forest in The Netherlands other nature attractions.

A little information about nature in The Netherlands

The Netherlands isn’t well known for its spectacular views or enormous nature reserves. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any beautiful places to visit in The Netherlands. The entire country has 1585 areas reserved as nature, but this also included forests that are created for harvesting wood. The size and importance of the nature reserves vary immensely and just because it’s an area reserved for nature doesn’t mean it will always stay this way. There are quite a few non-profit organisations in The Netherlands that preserve a lot of nature reserves such as Natuurmonumenten and Staatsbosbeheer.

Of the 1585 natural areas in The Netherlands, there are 160 Natura 2000 areas and 21 national parks. The European Union creates these Natura 2000 areas, and 13,3% of the whole country and its waters is a Natura 2000 area. After you take away the water, around 8% of the land of The Netherlands is protected as a Natura 2000 area.

The beauty of The Netherlands exists out of wetlands, islandslakesdunestulip fields and plenty of more. But these are the best and most beautiful nature reserves you can find that are close to Amsterdam. So, if you’re overwhelmed with the crowds within Amsterdam and especially with the madness of the cyclists, go to one of these nature reserves and recharge.

If you’re thinking of visiting any of these nature reserves, keep in mind that most of them are only opened between sunrise and sunset and that dogs are often not allowed to enter. Plus, only follow the paths, don’t create your own through these nature reserves because it’s vulnerable (kwetsbaar in Dutch). Take your trash with you, as you could also bring it here. Pick up any litter that you see and follow the rules; that’s the only way we can keep enjoying these areas. If you want to rent items or want to be part of some activities, have both cash and card by hand as it differs what they accept. During the breeding season, some areas are closed off from March until June, others to July and even August, respect this.

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Nature reserves near Amsterdam: Explore The Netherlands landscape and its natural wonders at its best

1. Naardermeer

Information & things to do

You might wonder: Where should I go to in The Netherlands? I will answer that right now. The Naardermeer is a green oasis between Amsterdam and Hilversum and exists out of dense swamp forest, marshy meadows and a lot of water. There are several larger and smaller lakes that are connected by waterways. This nature reserve is managed by Natuurmonumenten and is 700 ha.

You might be able to spot rare animals such as the otter and purple heron. The otter has been back in the Naardermeer since early 2017. The return of the otter is an excellent sign of the development of the nature reserve as otters are very picky and demanding on its living environment. And rightly so. You can also find more than 75 species of birds breed in this nature reserve. If you’re interested in observing birds, there are five observation points around the Naardermeer, so bring your binoculars and enjoy. Don’t forget to spot ring snakes, roe deer, foxes, hares and badgers!

Fun fact: A century ago the municipality of Amsterdam wanted to turn this area into a landfill, but conservationists Jac. P. Thijsse and Eli Heimans disagreed with that and founded the non-profit nature organisation Natuurmonumenten. They bought the Naardermeer for 160,000 guilders.

The best ways to visit the Naardermeer is by taking a walk around the Naardermeer, and it’s surroundings (scroll down on the website I linked to ‘De Route’) or cycle along the beautiful and quiet roads. You can rent bikes in Naarden at Fietsverhuur Naarden, don’t forget to bring your id (this is something very usual in The Netherlands when you’re renting items).

Visiting the Naardermeer nature reserve is one of the best things to do near Amsterdam. When you’re walking through the nature reserve, don’t forget to walk past Molen De Onrust. This windmill dates back to 1809 and still transports the excess water to a nearby river during the windmill. You can visit the windmill every Sunday from 11:00 – 16:00.

Other things to do near the Naardermeer is visiting lake Gooimeer, which also is partly a nature reserve. And of course, you have to see this beautiful Dutch city south of Amsterdam: Naarden. This fortified town is a must-visit in The Netherlands and only a short walk away.

Where to stay near Naardermeer

The Naardermeer is located very close to the city of Naarden. That’s why I would recommend you to stay in Naarden itself, from there you can easily walk to the Naardermeer lake. There are quite a few accommodation options in Naarden, but my favourites can be found below.

Vesting Hotel: Check rates & availability on Booking.com

Design B&B Naarden Vesting: Check rates & availability on Booking.com

How to get here from Amsterdam

I would always recommend you to use 9292.nl/en to plan your current trips by public transportation in The Netherlands. This is only used to give you a quick idea on the arrival time and how you roughly can travel to Naarden.

To get to Naarden, you can take the sprinter (blue train) from Amsterdam Centraal in the direction of Amersfoort Vathorst. Get out at Naarden- Bussum. This will take you 26 minutes.

It’s straightforward to get to the Naardermeer nature reserve from Naarden. Just set your Google Maps to Gasterij Stadzigt (this is a restaurant). You will reach the beginning of the nature reserve in 24 minutes walking from the centre of Naarden or 7 minutes cycling. From there, you can follow the route I linked to in the information part, which both starts and ends at this restaurant. To get from Amsterdam to Naardermeer nature reserve will take you around 50 minutes.

Oldest nature reserve of The Netherlands: Naardermeer. Here you see a walking path made of wood in the middle of blooming trees and grass
Photo by: Gertjan van Noord / Flickr

2. Zuid- Kennemerland

Information & things to do

This is one of the National Parks you can find in The Netherlands, where you will see Dutch nature at its best. And the best part? It’s one of the closest places to see around Amsterdam, and this national park is also located near the city of Haarlem. If you don’t know what there’s to see around Amsterdam, then you’ll be in for a treat with this Dutch national park.

This is one of the nice places you have to visit in The Netherlands. The ever-changing landscape because of the influence of the sea and wind is spectacular to see. This national park houses 40% of all plants and animals species in The Netherlands, which makes it one of the sites you must see for yourself. Zuid-Kennemerland is a national park in The Netherlands since 1995 and is 38km2 big.

There are many things you have to do in Zuid-Kennemerland. One of those things is cycling. There are many cycling paths throughout the national park, and you can rent a bike close to the visitors centre. There are also unique excursions you can go on to learn more about nature in this impressive park. For more information on bike rental and tours within this Dutch national park, click here.

Hiking and walking through this area is a must-do! If you’re looking for a hiking trail and walking path in this reserve in The Netherlands, then I would recommend you to go to this website of Zuid-Kennemerland national park for some extra information about the routes. But honestly, no matter which way you end up following or wherever you’re walking to, it’ll be worth it.

Spot the largest living land mammals in Europe! Wisents, or the European bison, were almost extinct. But since 2007, a herd of wisents has been living in the area called ‘Kraansvlak’ in the park of the national park Zuid-Kennemerland in The Netherlands. You can spot wisents from a special Wisent viewpoint, which also gives you a brilliant view on the biggest dune lake of that area. You can follow a route to the viewpoint straight from the visitors centre of this national park. There is also a walking route called ‘Wisentenpad’. This is a yellow route that is opened from the 1st of September until the 1st of March (closed the rest of the year because of breeding season). It’s a route of 4km and starts from the Duinpieperpad.

Guide dogs for the blind and assistance dogs are generally welcome in most of the National Parks and nature reserve in The Netherlands, but they have to be recognisable by harness or vest. For information about taking your regular dog into parts of the national park click here.

If you’re less mobile or a wheelchair user, then this information is useful for you. Almost all cycling paths throughout the national park are very accessible. The average walking paths are not accessible, as there’s a lot of loose sand. You can also rent a sand wheelchair for 5 euros a day (bring an id for the rental), but you’d have to contact the visitors centre of the Zuid-Kennemerland national park in advance to reserve one.

Where to stay near Zuid-Kennemerland 

Around this Dutch national park near Haarlem and Amsterdam, you can find quite some places to stay. From there, you only need to walk some minutes to walk straight into one of The Netherlands most spectacular natural areas.

Landgoed Duin & Kruidberg: Check rates & availability on Booking.com

Loetje Overveen: Check rates & availability on Booking.com

How to get here from Amsterdam

I would always recommend you to use 9292.nl/en to plan your current trips by public transportation in The Netherlands. This is only used to give you a quick idea on the arrival time and how you roughly can travel to Zuid Kennemerland.

To get to this national park in The Netherlands, you’d have to take the train from Amsterdam Centraal Station in the direction of Hoorn. Get out at Santpoort- Noord. This station is closest to Zuid-Kennemerland national park. From the station, it’s a 10-minute walk to the national park. Keep in mind that there is no visitors centre in this part of the park. Walk to this address: Duin- en Kruidbergerweg, 2071 LE Santpoort-Noord. And you will find the entrance of Midden – Herenduin, which is the start of a dune.

If you want to visit the visitors centre of the Zuid-Kennemerland national park first, then I would suggest you take a train from Amsterdam Centraal in the direction of Zandvoort aan Zee. Get out at Overveen, from here you will reach the visitors centre with a 17-minute walk. Walk to Zeeweg 12, 2051 EC Overveen, and you will arrive at the visitors centre.

To get from Amsterdam Centraal to Zuid-Kennemerland national park will take you anywhere from 40 to 50 minutes.

You see National park Kennemerland near Haarlem in The Netherlands. Dunes surround a dune lake.
Photo by: Eric De Redelijkheid / Flickr

3. Eilandspolder

Information & things to do

The Eilandspolder is an extremely water-rich area and is located in the middle of the province of Noord- Holland. It’s sandwiched between both De Beemster (Unesco World Heritage Site) and Schermer, which are land reclamations. And the Eilandspolder is the perfect trip if you’re looking for things to do outside Amsterdam.

The Eilandspolder was diked in the 13th century. It was surrounded by the big (at the time) lakes of Schermer and Beemster and the Eilandspolder was located not too far from the sea. Initially, the Eilandspolder is a light salty, low peat area. As of now, the entire island polder is open and expansive for you to see from a boat. Small islands, a high number of meadow birds, natural lakes and plenty of more beautiful nature to see. It’s one of the places you have to visit around The Netherlands.

The Eilandspolder is owned and managed by different organisations. Landschap Noord-Holland owns 350ha, 700 ha by Staatsbosbeheer and Eilandspolder is also another Natura 2000 site in The Netherlands, which measures 1416 ha.

One of the things you have to do in the Eilandspolder is renting a small boat. You can rent a boat from one of the two boat rental places in De Rijp. When you’re using a small boat to experience the Eilandspolder from the water, remember that you are not allowed to enter the little islands and the meadows, except for a few specific places. But it’s one of the best places to go in The Netherlands to experience this typical Dutch national landscape.

Another thing that you can do here is cycling or walking on the paths that can be found on the dikes that surround the area, such as the Schermer ringdijk. But you won’t be able to come inside the Eilandspolder without a boat. What more is there to do around Amsterdam you ask me? Well, don’t forget to visit the beautiful village of De Rijp as well. It will be your starting point to the Eilandspolder anyway, so you can kill two birds with one stone (not literally though). It’s also located near the city of Alkmaar, which makes it very easy to spend a long weekend in this part of the Holland region.

Where to stay near Eilandspolder

As the Eilandspolder natural area is found next to the village of De Rijp, there are quite a few places to stay. Spend the night in De Rijp, and when you wake up, you can head into this Dutch nature reserve straight away.

B&B Het Pakhuys: Check rates & availability on Booking.com

Oude Postkantoor De Rijp: Check rates & availability on Booking.com

How to get here

I would always recommend you to use 9292.nl/en to plan your current trips by public transportation in The Netherlands. This is only used to give you a quick idea on the arrival time and how you roughly can travel to De Rijp.

To get to the Eilandspolder nature reserve from Amsterdam, you first have to go to the beautiful village of De Rijp. Take bus 305 in the direction of De Rijp, Purmerend. Get out at De Rijp Wollandje. This will take you around 50 minutes, and the bus runs twice an hour. To get from De Rijp to the Eilandspolder, you only have to walk for approximately 10 minutes to the boat at one of the rental places I stated above, as De Rijp is located on the edge of the nature reserve. So, it takes you around one hour to get to the Eilandspolder nature reserve from Amsterdam.

Eilandspolder nature reserve in Noord- Holland, The Netherlands. You see trees on the right side in the beginning of their bloom and water in the fore and background.

4. Loosdrechtse Plassen

Information & things to do

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The Loosdrechtse Plassen, or Loosdrecht lakes, are a large lake region between the cities of Amsterdam and Utrecht. It’s found almost entirely in the province of Noord (North)- Holland, but a small part of this nature reserve is located in the Utrecht region. These lakes are part of a Natura 2000 area, called ‘Oostelijke Vechtplassen’.

It’s pretty interesting to know how this lake region in The Netherlands has been formed. There used to be peat everywhere, but when this was extracted, water flowed into the open parts. Peat extraction mainly happened from the 16th until the 18th century in Loosdrecht. The peat was laid to dry on small strips of land, but due to the stormy Dutch weather and people who did whatever they wanted, only a small area still has those Dutch islands. While in the beginning, all the lakes weren’t lakes back then and were filled with islands instead.

In the South-Western part of the Loosdrechtse Plassen, you can find the Kievitsbuurten, where you can find many islands (cannot be visited by motorboat). These neighbourhoods in the Loosdrechtse Plassen are separated from the lakes by the ‘Kalverstraat’, which is one of the busiest and most important waterways in the Loosdrechtse Lakes. 

The Loosdrechtse plassen are the best example for the typical Noord- Holland scenery. There are endless things to do in the lakes of Loosdrecht: from canoeing to swimming and from sailing to waterskiing. And from relaxing on a few recreational islands in the lakes of Loosdrecht to supping into silence areas that can’t be visited by motorboat. Loosdrecht is one of the places around Amsterdam that is so worth visiting, and when you’re looking for what to do in the Holland region, this has to be on your bucket list.

Where to stay at the Lakes of Loosdrecht

One of the things that I love about the Loosdrecht area is that while it’s a pretty popular place to visit during the summer in The Netherlands, there is a lot of accommodation to be found. So, whether you’re looking for a hotel in Loosdrecht, or a vacation home, the perfect place to stay is located in Loosdrecht.

Fletcher Hotel Restaurant Loosdrecht-Amsterdam: Check rates & availability on Booking.com

Tiny Loft Boat Loosdrecht: Check rates & availability on Booking.com

Najade Resort: Check rates & availability on Booking.com

How to get here

I would always recommend you to use 9292.nl/en to plan your current trips by public transportation in The Netherlands. This is only used to give you a quick idea on the arrival time and how you roughly can travel to Loosdrecht.

To get to Loosdrecht and the Loosdrechtse plassen from Amsterdam, you have to take a train to Hilversum first. This will take you around 21 minutes. From Hilversum train station you have to take bus 121 Mijdrecht via Loenen. Get out at Oud-Loosdrecht, Hotel Loosdrecht. This will take you around 17 minutes. To get from Amsterdam to Loosdrecht, it will take you about 40 minutes.

5. Bussumerheide & Westerheide

Information & things to do

The Bussumerheide is a heathland in The Netherlands, found in Het Gooi region, of around 160 hectares. This Dutch heather field is found in the province of Noord (North)- Holland, south of the town of Bussum (hence the name) and mainly located inside the municipality of Hilversum.

To make a more significant natural area and increase the biodiversity, a bridge was created to connect this nature reserve to others. The Bussumerheide borders the Westerheide moorland in The Netherlands directly. The Westerheide is a nature reserve with heather fields in The Netherlands, with a size of 344 hectares. What people mainly love about this area (which isn’t a surprise), is the fact that this heather area near Amsterdam is a bit hilly.

So, if you were looking for an answer to the question ‘Where can I find heather in The Netherlands?’, then the Bussumerheide is the place to be. Remember that the heather fields in The Netherlands usually bloom in August and the beginning of September.

If you have a bike, which you can rent in Hilversum here (they prefer it if you call in advance), or if you want to walk by foot, there are a few paths that you can follow. For cyclists, there is one dirt road of around three kilometres long found in this Dutch nature reserve, called Nieuwe Crailoseweg. There is another bike rental spot in Hilversum that can be found here.

The Bussumerheide is, in my humble opinion, one of the best places to visit in the Holland region. This part of The Netherlands is filled with incredible scenery and will be one of the places near Amsterdam that you want to see.

Where to stay near Bussumerheide

Both Bussum and Hilversum are two great places to stay if you’re planning on exploring one of the interesting places in The Netherlands. Whether you’re looking for a good hotel in Bussum or Hilversum, there’s something for you.

Bastion Hotel Bussum: Check rates & availability on Booking.com

Hotel Villa Trompenberg: Check rates & availability on Booking.com

How to get here

I would always recommend you to use 9292.nl/en to plan your current trips by public transportation in The Netherlands. This is only used to give you a quick idea on the arrival time and how you roughly can travel to Bussum.

To get to the Bussumerheide from Amsterdam, you have to take the sprinter train in the direction of Amersfoort Vathorst. Get out at Bussum-Zuid. This will take you around 29 minutes. From Bussum- Zuid it’s only a 15-minute walk to the Bussumerheide. Walk to Doodweg, and you will find the paths. In total, it takes you around 45 minutes to get to the Dutch moorlands at the Bussumerheide from Amsterdam.

Heather in nature reserve bussummerheide. In the background there are green trees which makes a beautiful contrast.
Photo by: Jpmm / Flickr

6. – 9. Twiske, Oostzanerveld, Ilperveld & Varkensland

6. Twiske

Information & things to do

Yes, these are four nature reserves that can be found nearby Zaandam and Amsterdam, some call parts of it even the Amsterdam wetlands as it’s so close to Amsterdam. But the reason why I have placed these underrated places in The Netherlands all together is that they are part of one of the Natura 2000 areas in The Netherlands. The only things that separate these national landscapes in The Netherlands from each other are small roads and rivers. These places in The Netherlands are filled with sights, plus it’s almost exactly what people have in mind when you tell them how beautiful the Holland region is, but just better in real life.

So, it’s effortless to get from one nature reserve into the other. I will divide these four nature reserves into short paragraphs so you can discover some history and things to do in these nature reserves on its own. You could also make it one day in the Twiske region to explore this beautiful Dutch nature at its best. In this area, you can also go on a wetlands tour from Amsterdam. Now, we’re going to explore some more of the secret places and things the Holland region has to offer.

Twiske is both a recreational and natural area in the Zaan region. It’s found north of Amsterdam- Noord, between villages such as Oostzaan, Landsmeer and Den Ilp. The reason why it’s so unique is that it’s a marshland area, which mostly exists out of bogs and lakes. It is named after the little river called ‘Het Twiske’, and this region was already drawn on a map in the 13th century. Around the villages I’ve told you about, peat was extracted for centuries. During the 1930s, reclamation of land started in this region, but luckily for us, the quality of the reclaimed land wasn’t great, so they stopped this process in the 1950s. It’s part of a Natura 2000 region due to its essential flora and fauna (wet meadows, marshes, etc.) since 2012. It’s 650 hectares big and exists for a third out of water.

There are many things to do in the Twiske area. Think of exploring the walking routes in Twiske, go diving, rent a boat in Twiske, etc. If you’re looking for the most calming spots in this part of The Netherlands, then you’d love the northern part of Twiske. At this company, you can rent boats, rowing boats, sailboats, canoes, kayaks and paddleboats in Twiske. As the Twiske nature reserve is only 5 kilometres found from Amsterdam, you can easily rent a bike on the outskirts of Amsterdam and cycle to this nature around the city. It’s also home to one of the great lakes in The Netherlands.

Don’t forget to visit the farm shop De Marsen near Amsterdam and Twiske either. It has meat, eggs and vegetables all from their farm. Plus, there are countless of other organic local products that you can buy here as well.

Where to stay near Twiske

The Twiske is the most popular of these four nature reserves, so that’s why you will find more accommodation options here. These places to stay near Twiske are perfect for relaxing and recharging, before going on a new adventure in the beautiful Dutch nature.

Amsterdam Countryside: Check rates & availability on Booking.com

Amsterdam Twiskehouse: Check rates & availability on Booking.com

Het Zwanennest: Check rates & availability on Booking.com

Traditional family apartment with garden: Check rates & availability on Booking.com

Magnifique apartment Amsterdam: Check rates & availability on Booking.com

How to get here

I would always recommend you to use 9292.nl/en to plan your current trips by public transportation in The Netherlands. This is only used to give you a quick idea on the arrival time and how you roughly can travel to these places.

Twiske: Make sure to use the app and set it to ‘Het Twiske, Oostzaan’, then you will get the right route.

7. Oostzanerveld

The Oostzanerveld consists of meadows on islands. It’s a typical Dutch peat meadow area and home to many birds. Local farmers have maintained the islands of the Oostzanerveld for decades. The farmer brings its cattle to the islands by boat (yes, you read that correctly). You will see sheep, cows, goats or horses filling their bellies on the islands with fresh and crunchy grass. If you’re lucky you might even spot a farmer transporting his animals by boat, it’s an impressive view! It’s one of the places you need to visit around Amsterdam.

I would recommend you to cycle to Stationsstraat, Oostzaan. Keep cycling until you’re passing a bridge (you’re cycling next to the railway), and then you will arrive on a smaller path. Keep cycling, and don’t forget to look to your left as this is a part of the magical area of the Oostzanerveld. At the Coentunnel you’re going underneath a big highway and will enter the city of Zaandam.

The entire cycling route is 20 kilometres (if you rent a bike in the North of Amsterdam) and will look like this:

NDSM Werf – Molenwijk – Zuideinde – Oostzaan – Noordeinde – De Haal – Stationsstraat – De Watering, Zaandam – Tuindorp – NDSM Werf

Where to stay near Oostzanerveld

As it’s one of the areas that isn’t filled with recreation (for a good reason), you won’t find many places to stay in Oostzaan, but the ones that can be found here, are pretty darn good.

Guesthouse De Haal: Check rates & availability on Booking.com

Bed en Breakfast De Heul: Check rates & availability on Booking.com

How to get here

I would always recommend you to use 9292.nl/en to plan your current trips by public transportation in The Netherlands. This is only used to give you a quick idea on the arrival time and how you roughly can travel to these places.

Oostzanerveld: It is tough to get here by public transportation (without walking a ton), but it’s very easy to ride a bike to this area and to the places where you’re staying.

8. Ilperveld

They also call Ilperveld, and its area, the Amsterdam wetlands for foreign tourists, however, it’s not Amsterdam. It’s above Amsterdam. Ilperveld exists out of hundreds of islands of meadows on peat soil. There are endless canals, thousands of birds (especially during the migration time) and mesmerising surroundings. It’s certainly one of The Netherlands natural wonders.

From April until September there’s usually a boat excursion every Sunday from 13:30 – 15:30. You will go on a particular boat, that doesn’t make a lot of noise and sail to a little island with a group of other visitors. Here you will search for eatable plants and plants that have a healing effect. Ilperveld has a lot of those plants, so depending on what you find, you will make a salad or soup from the harvest.

A few tips: wear waterproof shoes and suitable clothing (it can be chilly on the water), and if you’re a wheelchair user you’d have to contact them in advance. The Meeting point is the visitors centre of Ilperveld: Kanaaldijk 32A, 1121 NX Landsmeer.

There are many things you have to do in Ilperveld. You can enter by bike a boat and go through the area (usually) every Saturday of May – September from 10:30 or 13:30. You can go aboard a vessel with a standard one-person bike and get dropped at the other side of the area to continue your cycling journey (it ends at Weegbreesingel, Landsmeer). This tour lasts one hour. You’d have to reserve a spot in advance. But I can recommend you to do one of these activities in the Ilperveld. The starting point is the visitors centre of Ilperveld.

Another thing or activity that you have to do in Ilperveld is walking. There are so many great walking routes through this nature reserve near Amsterdam. I would recommend you to go to the visitors centre first to have a look at some routes. The visitors centre of Ilperveld nature reserve is Kanaaldijk 32A, 1121 NX Landsmeer.

The last thing you must do is either rent a whisper boat, rowing boat, canoe or a kayak in Ilperveld.

Opening times rental:

Sunday = April until September: 10:00 – 16:30

Saturday = May until September: 10:00 – 16:30

Wednesday: June until August: 12:00 – 16:30

You have to reserve a boat, rowing boat, kayak or canoe upfront via phone or e-mail. Go to this website to reserve it for your trip through Ilperveld. Scroll down and click on ‘reserveer per e-mail’.

Where to stay near Ilperveld

The Ilperveld is one of The Netherlands best places to visit and also found in an area with not much tourists, which is excellent if you ask me. So, enjoy the calm Dutch countryside to the max, in these accommodations.

Appartement De Molshoop: Check rates & availability on Booking.com

Guesthouse Boom: Check rates & availability on Booking.com

Loft aan het water: Check rates & availability on Booking.com

How to get here

I would always recommend you to use 9292.nl/en to plan your current trips by public transportation in The Netherlands. This is only used to give you a quick idea on the arrival time and how you roughly can travel to these places.

Ilperveld: To get here I would recommend you to go to ‘Bushalte Dorp, Watergang’.

9. Varkensland

Varkensland is also named Watergangse veld sometimes, as it’s found very near the Dutch village of Watergang. Together with the Ilperveld and Oostzanerveld, Varkensland forms the most significant low moor polder area where peat was harvested North of Amsterdam. The water in this area is slightly brackish, but it’s suspected that it slowly becomes sweeter. The peat and brackish water make Varkensland an incredible natural reserve in The Netherlands to explore.

The best way to explore Varkensland is by canoe (that you can use/ rent when you stay at one of the places to stay in Watergang below), but you can also walk through little paths outside the breeding season (so roughly from July until February). You can start in Watergang, walk to Broek in Waterland and back, you can find this walking route in The Netherlands here. It’s recommended to wear good shoes for this walking route, as it can get a bit muddy. Also, you should follow the red arrows, the white poles in the land warn you for bridges and such.

Where to stay near Varkensland

Whether you want to spend the night on a Dutch farm in the countryside, or at the edge of the water, Watergang is one of the towns near Amsterdam you must visit and spend the night in. It’s dreamy, quiet and breathtaking. There’s not much more than you can ask for when you’re going on an off the beaten path trip to The Netherlands.

Farm Overleekerhoeve: Check rates & availability on Booking.com

Guesthouse Boom: Check rates & availability on Booking.com

Loft aan het water: Check rates & availability on Booking.com

How to get here

I would always recommend you to use 9292.nl/en to plan your current trips by public transportation in The Netherlands. This is only used to give you a quick idea on the arrival time and how you roughly can travel to these places.

Varkensland: To get here I would recommend you to go to ‘Bushalte Dorp, Watergang’.

10. Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen

Information & things to do

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This dune region in The Netherlands can be found between the Dutch beach town of Zandvoort (Noord- Holland) and the municipality of Noordwijk (Zuid- Holland). So no, this is not found in Amsterdam. The reason why it’s called the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen, or Amsterdam Waterpipe dune, is because this region is where the city of Amsterdam gets its drinking water from. Plus, it’s owned by the municipality of Amsterdam, while it’s found in the municipalities of Zandvoort, Bloemendaal and Noordwijk.

Every year, there is around 50 million cubic metres of drinking water that flows through this nature reserve that is approximately 3400 hectares. Since 1853, drinking water has been extracted here, which makes this the oldest area in The Netherlands when it comes to extracting drinking water.

And to make sure the fragile nature stays protected, you’re only allowed to walk here. With its 3400 hectares, this is one of the largest continuous walking regions in The Netherlands. But, that still makes it incredibly worth to visit. It’s a really popular area to visit, with around 1 million visitors a year. I would recommend you to head here during the weekdays, especially if you’re looking for a peace of mind. But, don’t worry about insane crowds, because that won’t happen here.

‘What’s so special about one of the best places to visit in The Netherlands?’, you might ask me. Well, it’s everything from the landscape to the fantastic viewpoints in this part of The Netherlands to the beautiful sounds of nature. Walking here is a dream. Fun fact, since 2009, there are plans to create an eco duct to connect this region with other dune areas in the north. It is also home to the most significant fallow deer population in The Netherlands.

You do need to get an entry ticket to be able to enjoy one of the best places to visit in the Holland region. You can buy those at the visitor’s centre De Oranjekom, but also at the paying machines at the four entrances. Plus, at Koffiehuis’ t Panneland, Uitspanning De Oase and Restaurant De Duinrand. 

Where to stay near the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen

Whether you’re an early bird or not, spending the night near nature and seeing the sunrise (or set) in one of the most incredible places in The Netherlands is always a great idea.

Stayokay Noordwijk: Check rates & availability on Booking.com

Gasterij Leyduin: Check rates & availability on Booking.com

De Vogelensangh: Check rates & availability on Booking.com

How to get here

I would always recommend you to use 9292.nl/en to plan your current trips by public transportation in The Netherlands. This is only used to give you a quick idea on the arrival time and how you roughly can travel to Waterleidingduinen.

Take the train from Amsterdam Centraal in the direction of Vlissingen. Get out at Heemstede Aerdenhout. This takes you around 20 minutes. From here you have to take bus 9 in the direction of Vogelenzang Dorp. Get out at Vogelenzang, Waterleiding. From here it’s a 10-minute walk to the nature reserve. Walk to this address: 1e Leijweg 6, 2114 BH Vogelenzang. This one of the entrance points of the nature reserve. In total it will take you around 40 minutes to reach this nature around Amsterdam.

The dunes of the Amsterdamse waterleidingduinen nature reserve. You see the yellow grass covering the dunes and a small light path walking between the dunes and fields
Photo by: Tom Roeleveld/ Flickr

11. Kalverpolder

Information & things to do

The Kalverpolder is found in the region of the Zaanstreek. The Zaanstreek is the oldest industrial area in The Netherlands, which was once homes to thousands of Dutch windmills. Here you can find meadows that are located just above, or below, the water level. It’s not exactly strange that this is a real paradise for the amazing meadow birds.

Nowadays, you can visit the windmills at the Zaanse Schans, walk further into the area, see endless creeks, admire the cows on little islands, discover (from a distance) tons of meadow birds and so much more. This makes you understand why this is one of the scenic places in The Netherlands.

While you cannot walk through most of the area (as it’s a resting place for the meadow birds), the walking route that you can follow is more than worth it. The reason that cows are grazing on these fields is that this is the only way to keep the islands the way they are. Otherwise, they will become forests, which in turn drives meadow birds away as predatory birds hide there.

The Kalverpolder starts behind the Zaanse Schans windmills, so it’s very easy to get here. While most of the visitors only keep their focus on the windmills, you will dive further into the area. The walking path in the Kalverpolder is closed from March until June, due to breeding season. If you want to admire one of the beautiful places near Amsterdam, then you can click on this website and go to ‘Naar startpunt’, this is where you can find the starting point of the walking route. It starts at the viewing tower at the Zaanse Schans (Uitzichttoren Zaanse Schans), but having the exact coordinates can be useful sometimes.

Where to stay in the Zaanstreek 

While you’re enjoying one of the things to see in the Holland region, it’s a nice thought to be able to relax after a beautiful day of exploring The Netherlands natural beauty. And the perfect way to relax, even more, is to stay at one of the small B&B’s near the Zaanse Schans, these places to stay will make your dreams come true.

Heerlijck Slaapen op de Zaanse Schans: Check rates & availability on Booking.com

B&B Boterton: Check rates & availability on Booking.com

How to get here

I would always recommend you to use 9292.nl/en to plan your current trips by public transportation in The Netherlands. This is only used to give you a quick idea on the arrival time and how you roughly can travel to Zaandijk.

It’s effortless to get to this part of the Zaanstreek natural area. There are two options. Either you take the sprinter train from Amsterdam Centraal to Zaandijk- Zaanse Schans and walk the final 15 minutes. Or you take bus 891 in the direction of Zaanse Schans and get out at Zaanse Schans. Both take you around the same amount of time. From here, you have to walk to the Kalverpolderpad to get started on your little adventure. It will take you roughly 50 minutes to get from Amsterdam to one of the top destinations in The Netherlands.

The area of Zaanstreek is a typical Dutch area with scenery. Here you see flowers in the foreground with a river flowing between meadows. In the middle of the background there is an old Dutch windmill that is placed before typical Dutch houses
Photo by: Gerard Mengerink / Flickr

12. Guisveld

Information & things to do

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Guisveld is one of those typical Dutch landscapes. Little islands, little rivers and bridges. It’s one of the places that is found in the province of Noord (North) – Holland and is one of the places to see in Holland. It is around 153 hectares and is mostly owned by Staatsbosbeheer.

Ever since the last century, there were people (from the region of Amsterdam) who wanted to build a big part of 26.000 houses, that were supposed to be built in the Zaanstreek, in Guisveld. Luckily, thus far this hasn’t happened yet due to protests of inhabitants and the local council of Zaanstad and provincial council disagreed with building houses on such a special piece of land. Hopefully, this will never happen because this region is extraordinary.

It’s one big bog where people also let their cattle graze for centuries. These bogs in The Netherlands used to cover significant parts of the Holland and Utrecht region, but are very rare nowadays. Guisveld is one of the only areas in The Netherlands where this is still found and, what makes it even more special, is that it still has the characteristics of brackish peat. This is the reason why very rare plants can be found here that aren’t found in the rest of The Netherlands anymore. Plus, there are countless of meadow birds here. It’s genuinely one of the unique places to visit in The Netherlands.

You cannot do a lot in Guisveld, except for walking around on dedicated routes. The reason for that is that they don’t want to disturb the very fragile Dutch nature that you can find here, which is very logical. Walking around the Guisveld nature reserve is already worth it, so you don’t need much more.

There are two walking routes that you can follow in Guisveld and they each start and finish in a different area of the Zaanstreek. Here you will discover some of The Netherlands best points of interest.

From the Wormerveer train station, you can follow the Frans Marspad and then head to the town of Zaandijk, but this is only possible from September until February. Click on ‘Naar startpunt’ to see the starting point of this route. From March to August, you have to walk another path.

The Riettoppad, which has to be followed during the breeding season, shows you the incredible Dutch landscape of 1000 years ago. See islands, creeks, endless meadow birds, and so much more. It completely transforms any idea you’ve had so far over the landscape in The Netherlands, in a good way. Click on ‘Naar startpunt’, and it will take you to the starting point of the route via Google Maps. When you walk in this part of The Netherlands, you understand why this is one of the destinations to visit.

If you’re walking the latter route, then I can also recommend you to visit a Dutch windmill, called: Papiermolen De Schoolmeester. This windmill in the Zaan region dates back to 1692 and was used to create paper, as sometime during history the best paper came from this region in The Netherlands. When you visit The Netherlands, exploring a Dutch windmill is always a good idea.

Where to stay near Guisveld 

There aren’t a lot of options to stay near Guisveld, but the few options that are here are pretty good. Especially B&B’s are very popular in this region, so you can eat a tasty breakfast and then head into the beautiful Dutch nature.

Bed and Breakfast Het Pulletje: Check rates & availability on Booking.com

Heerlijck Slaapen op de Zaanse Schans: Check rates & availability on Booking.com

B&B Boterton: Check rates & availability on Booking.com

How to get here

I would always recommend you to use 9292.nl/en to plan your current trips by public transportation in The Netherlands. This is only used to give you a quick idea on the arrival time and how you roughly can travel to Guisveld.

It’s quite easy to get from Amsterdam Centraal to the nature reserve Guisveld. Take a train in the direction of Uitgeest and get out at Wormerveer. From here it’s only a short walk to the beginning of the path that leads you into Guisveld when it’s not breeding season. With breeding season you need to head to the beginning of the Riettoppad (link can be found above) It will take you around 30 minutes to get from Amsterdam to Guisveld. You have to follow the Frans Marspad to get into Guisveld.

Discover nature reserve Guisveld in The Netherlands. Water is surrounded by little islands and reed.
Photo by: Edwin1710 / Flickr

13. Amsterdamse Bos/ Amsterdam forest

Information & things to do

The Amsterdamse Bos, or Amsterdam Forest, is almost wholly found in the municipality of Amstelveen. However, the municipality of Amsterdam owns most of this forest and maintains it. The Amsterdam Forest has been created between 1934 and 1970 and is around 935 hectares. This makes the Amsterdamse Bos three times the size of New York’s Central Park, and it’s one of the largest city parks in Europe. So, if you were looking for things to do near Amsterdam, then visiting this forest is an absolute must.

It is said that between 1934 and 1940 alone, around 20.000 people have worked to create the forest. Children planted the last trees during National Tree Planting Day in 1970. The water level in the forest lays at -5,50 metres below normal Amsterdam water level, which is due to the extraction of peat.

It was partly designed in the English landscaping style, as well as the style of public parks in Germany. So, that’s why you’ll see thick forests, open grasslands and plenty of more combined. Over the years, it has become even more of a forest, where even Scottish Highland cows graze, but remember that not every area is open for visitors as nature needs to thrive. There are also quite some sports fields and playing areas in the Amsterdam Forest, but those are all found in a straight line, which means that most of the forest is where you can relax and sit back to enjoy a calm day in Amsterdam and its surroundings.

Some interesting facts about the Amsterdam Forest:

  • It is said that the Amsterdamse Bos attracts 6 million visitors a year.
  • The forest has around 137 kilometres of pedestrian paths, 51 kilometres of bike paths, 16 kilometres of bridle paths and 116 bridges.
  • There are approximately 150 different tree species, 200 different kind of birds and about 700 beetle species.
  • Of the 935 hectares, there is 420 hectares forest, 215 hectares grassland, 165 hectares water, 70 hectares of river banks and the last 65 hectares are roads, sports fields etc.
  • This beautiful Dutch forest is found on clay soil, which is very rare in The Netherlands.

There are quite some things that you can do in the Amsterdam Forest, which makes it one of the places to visit near Amsterdam. Think of visiting this park in Amsterdam during spring, for instance. Why? Well, you can find the most cherry blossom trees in The Netherlands in this Amsterdam Forest. The trees were a gift of the Japanese women’s group in The Netherlands.

If you want to know more about the Amsterdam Forest, then I can recommend you to visit the Amsterdamse Bos Visitors’ Centre ‘De Boswinkel’. Not only can they tell you everything you want to know about this forest in Noord (North)- Holland, but you can also reserve tickets for a boat tour through the woods (only from May – September). You can also visit a goat farm in the Amsterdam Forest, rent a bike, go for beautiful long walks, swim, visit a Dutch outdoor theatre in Amsterdam and so much more.

Don’t forget to visit the ‘Grote Vijver’ (near the Grote Speelweide) if you want to rent a canoe or paddleboat in this giant forest in Amsterdam. If you’re looking for sites to see in Amsterdam, then the Amsterdamse Bos is it. Don’t forget to visit the Bosbaan either, this rowing track in the Amsterdamse Bos is worlds oldest rowing track and was opened in 1937. It has been the used for several Rowing World Championships, last in 2014.

Where to stay near the Amsterdam Forest/ Amsterdamse Bos

As this natural area is found on the outskirts of Amsterdam, mainly in Amstelveen, there are plenty of places to stay. From hotels to B&B’s and so much more. This makes exploring the Amsterdamse Bos so much easier.

Amsterdam Forest Hotel: Check rates & availability on Booking.com

Station Amstelveen: Check rates & availability on Booking.com

How to get here

I would always recommend you to use 9292.nl/en to plan your current trips by public transportation in The Netherlands. This is only used to give you a quick idea on the arrival time and how you roughly can travel to Amsterdamse Bos.

If you have a bike in your possession, I would recommend you to ride your way to the Amsterdamse Bos. However, if you are not so lucky, then using public transport is the best way to use it.

Although the Amsterdamse Bos translates to the Amsterdam forest, it’s located in Amstelveen. Amstelveen is a city that has grown onto the city of Amsterdam or the other way around, so it takes you around one hour to get to the Amsterdams forest from Amsterdam Centraal train station. It involves a metro or tram ride, busses and a short walk.

If you are coming from the city of Amsterdam, I would recommend you to have a look at 9292.nl for the best routes and form or transport for your specific time as there are many options. It’s around 40 minutes to the Amsterdam forest by bike from Amsterdam Centraal train station.

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Other The Netherlands travel blogs and guides to places to visit near Amsterdam

One day in Hoorn

Best beaches to visit near Amsterdam

One day in Alkmaar

One day in Muiden

 

Seeing Dutch tulip fields without tourists

One day in Haarlem

One day in De Rijp

Discover the magic of the Loosdrechtse Plassen

One day in Naarden

 

One day in Amersfoort

Stay at the prettiest castle hotels in The Netherlands

One day in Rotterdam

One day in Enkhuizen

I hope you’ve discovered what to visit in The Netherlands, and especially where to find nature around Amsterdam. It’s so close, yet so many people don’t know about it. Hopefully, this changes it a bit, and you’ve learned about these places to go in The Netherlands, that you will place on your travel bucket list. It’s so worth it.

There are beautiful places in The Netherlands to explore, honestly, no matter where you are in the country. The Netherlands is more than tourist spots and places; it’s filled with secrets and magic. And it’s waiting for you to discover it. I hope that you’ve enjoyed this article on nature reserves to visit around and near Amsterdam and that you will love them even more in real life. Because, trust me, everything is better when you can see it for yourself.

Don’t forget to click around on the other best places to see in The Netherlands, near Amsterdam, that I’ve linked to here below. You now definitely know what to do in The Netherlands and where to visit in The Netherlands, and I hope you will enjoy your future vacation in The Netherlands. Share this post!

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