What do do during you stay in the Netherlands?
This blog was published earlier on iamexpat.nl
Some expats think that Amsterdam is the be-all and end-all of the Netherlands. But this country is so much more than its well-known capital city. Due to the country’s relatively small size, you can get to any destination in just a few hours. This makes exploring the Netherlands a breeze!
If you really want to immerse yourself in Dutch culture, be sure to do some of that exploring by bicycle. The country is mostly flat, so cycling is a great way to get around in the Netherlands. Here are 10 things you simply must do before you leave the country:
1. Explore Veluwe National Park
The Netherlands is home to incredibly beautiful national parks. Veluwe National Park is one of these parks. It is also the most famous and largest (13,800 acres) one. The park is forest-rich, but you can also find Europe’s largest sand drifts. Among the park's inhabitants are badgers, rabbits, mouflons and various unique bird species. Try and see if you can spot the Big Five of the Veluwe:
- Highland cattle
- Red deer
- Wild boar
- Roe Deer
2. Enjoy the village of Marken
One of the prettiest spots in the Netherlands is Marken, a peninsula in the Markermeer. Previously an island, you will be able to admire old wooden houses built in traditional style as well as old fishing boats. During the summer, there are several festivals which showcase the traditional way of life in Marken. People dress in period clothing and show off traditional crafts like clog making and weaving wicker baskets. Some Dutch consider Marken to be a living link to the past.
3. Get enchanted by Efteling
Efteling is a little bit like the Dutch Disneyland, as its main focus is fairy tales. The park is 67 years old, which makes it one of the oldest theme parks in the world. It features beautiful gardens and many fun attractions, such as seven roller coasters and several water rides. Young or old, everyone will enjoy spending a day there.
4. Visit historic Valkenburg
Situated a two-hour drive away from Amsterdam, Valkenburg offers a completely different landscape compared to most of the Netherlands, it actually has some hills! Known for its chalk houses, the city offers plenty to see and do. Visit the ruin of Valkenburg Castle, take a guided cave tour, relax at Thermae 2000 and admire the landscape from the 30-metre-high viewing tower, which is reachable by aerial lift.
5. Go on a wildlife safari in Safaripark Beekse Bergen
Situated in Hilvarenbeek, Safaripark Beekse Bergen is the largest wildlife zoo of the Benelux, and therefore well worth a visit. There are numerous safaris you can take: a car safari (your own car!), a bus safari, a boat safari and a walking safari. All safaris are included in your ticket, so you can combine them and create the perfect adventure! The park is home to more than 1.250 animals from over 150 species, including giraffes, leopards, lions, elephants, rhinos and zebras. All animals are kept in large, natural enclosures.
6. Explore Zeeland’s Delta Works
The Delta Works, consisting of 13 parts, forms the largest flood barrier in the world and is certainly worth a visit. This impressive project, also called one of the Seven Wonders of the World, gives you a glimpse into how the Dutch deal with water. Moreover, it is located in a beautiful area with wonderful beaches and beautiful nature.
Wadlopen or mudflat hiking is a popular thing to do near the Frisian islands. With the aid of a tide table and a tour guide, you can walk on the watershed of the mudflats. It’s even possible to walk all the way to the Frisian islands without losing contact with the ground. One tip if you plan on doing this though, make sure you wear shoes or boots that you don't mind getting muddy. Very, very muddy.
8. Visit the Ridderzaal
The Ridderzaal, or Hall of Knights, is a medieval hall and building in the middle of the Binnenhof in The Hague. The hall is used on Prinsjesdag for the state opening of Parliament, as well as official royal receptions and interparliamentary conferences.
9. Pretend to be royalty at Castle De Haar
Located in the Utrecht village Haarzuilens, Castle De Haar is the largest castle in the Netherlands. Built on the ruins of an old castle in 1892, the neo-gothic castle was regularly visited by the international jet setters of the previous century. From Coco Chanel to Roger Moore, they left their mark on the luxurious rooms of the most lavish place in Utrecht.
10. Admire the dolmens in Drenthe
A dolmen is a megalithic burial chamber from the Neolithic period that consists of at least three, but often more, standing supporting stones, covered by a capstone. According to the latest theory, dolmens are remnants of prehistoric burial chambers. The dolmens in the Netherlands were built between 3350 and 3050 BC and almost all of them can be found in the province of Drenthe.