My Favourite Nature Spots #1 | The Netherlands

Topic for another time, but long distance relationships come with their perks. Discovering more of the Dutch land every other month is just one of them!

It seems that disconnecting and plunging into nature isn’t hard to do in NL, with the abundance of parks and forests. Do you wonder where to bask in the tranquility, even if only dropping by Amsterdam? Here’s a word or two about some of my favourite places I’ve visited the past year.

Speaking of Amsterdam… Visiting for the second time, done with all the tourist hot-spots? Why not go a step beyond and try out the Dutch lifestyle for a day. Hire a bike, hop on it, and get ready for a day trip.

Zuid-Kennemerland National ParkDSC_0728

Spend 10 minutes on the train to Haarlem, hire a bike and cycle West to reach Zuid-Kennemerland National Park, where the sea, sand, grassland, lakes and forests meet. I visited the park in October, and the sun was still as hot as an English July (or a single weekend in July, to be more precise!).

Lay at the lake and look up the trees.
Feel the cold ocean water crash at your feet.
Admire the Scottish Cow’s fluffy fur from a short distance.
(I can tell the third point is your favourite isn’t it… 😉 ) 

I remember cycling through the park, almost forgetting it wasn’t actually Spain (the sand dunes!). It was the first verge out of Amsterdam I ever had, and still my favourite place out of the whole lot (okay, there is one more ABSOLUTE favourite, but it involves white fluffy animals, so I might be biased…) – read on!

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Where: 25 km west of Amsterdam
Cost: free
Best for: a dip in the sea or lake, wild animals and variety of landscapes
Time of my visit: mid October

Elswout1

Staying in the area just a little longer? Then Elswout calls your name. Also located 25km West of Amsterdam, it’s best visited right after waking up, still sleepy, on the back of someone’s bike. That was the scenario I’ve had the privilege of experiencing BUT in all seriousness, Elswout in the morning is just glorious. Leave the means of transport at the gates and embark on a walk through this eerie park.

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Home to the Elswout Orangerie, the fairytale vibe is the realest in Fall. Stare at the mirror reflection in the water, admire the the luxurious estate (which is popular with weddings!) and lay on hills of golden leaves as nature prepares for Winter.

Where: 25km west of Amsterdam.
Cost: free
Best for: eerie, fairytale vibes
Time of my visit: mid October

De VeluwezoomDSC_0147

NOW. THIS IS THE PLACE I WILL ALWAYS CALL MY FAVOURITE. PERIOD.

Can you blame me?! The most magical of all experiences in the Netherlands has happened in De Veluwezoom National Park. Although beautiful, to be quite frank it is not my favourite place for its surroundings. BUT, on a magical day in October, after a random, unplanned walk, a herd of sheep were spotted.

Mind you, I have never lived on a farm. So, naturally, my child-like animal-contact cravings have suddenly taken over. To my Dutch partner’s surprise, I was instantly drawn and excited by them – he however, saw this occurrence as the norm. I ended up cuddling some very curious sheep before a male specimen appeared to protect his ladies.

P.S. They were the most cuddly, calm sheep ever! We later found out the reason for that could have been the fact they were – wait for it – famous. They starred in a movie – Sheep Hero!

Where: central, 105km east of Amsterdam.
Cost: free
Best for: friendly sheep (let’s hope it’s their permanent home!) and open horizon
Time of my visit: mid October

De Hoge VeluweDSC_0102

Aaand the cycle trips continue. Dedicate at least half a day to De Hoge Veluwe, and witness sunset beams peaking through the trees on the horizon. Enjoy the tranquility at the lake, while getting a glimpse of an occasional deer passing through. The bicycles are available for rent on site (€9.99 entry fee), so you’re absolutely covered.

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Do you prefer climbing-on or hugging trees?
Have you ever felt the energy trees exude when you hug them?

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Where: central, 105km east of Amsterdam.
Cost: €9.99 entry fee, includes bike hire
Best for: bike rides, lakes and epic sunsets
Time of my visit: February

De Sallandse HeuvelrugDSC_1403

I visited this park before heading to a star-gazing seminar hosted by Sterrenwacht Hellendoorn, which is also a night I won’t forget (and costs a mere £5!). Can you tell I have a thing for sunsets? Maybe it’s something about those Dutch sunets however… they never seem to disappoint!

Where: north-east, 141 km east of Amsterdam.
Cost: free
Best for: short walks
Time of my visit: November

Kasteel de Schaffelaar5

Having spent only about an hour in this area, the free roaming geese automatically put it into my pile of favourites nonetheless. Again, Kasteel de Schaffelaar’s focal point of interest is mainly the wedding venue, but is a perfect spot to hang out especially when coated with Autumn colours.

Where: central, 63 km east of Amsterdam.
Cost: free
Best for: short walks, animals
Time of my visit: November

KinderboerderijDSC_0227

Continuing on with the child-like cuddle cravings, I’ve got a perfect place for you. I truly believe there is a child in all of us, no matter of your status, office job or even the thought of someone else’s opinion casted on you – it’s THERE. But if you’re shy and need a ‘cover up’ – invite a younger family member over for a treat! Kinderboederij, children’s animal farm is perfect for observing baby goats, horses, puppies, guinea pigs and different types of birds. A fun day out even if it rains (you’ll most likely get a free entry, allowing you to spend those €2 on a hot bevy instead!.. remember about the reusable cup).

Warning: the goats will tempt you with their cute little mouths… You WILL end up with a licked finger or two but be careful before they bite you with their back teeth – NOT pleasant. But you are probably a little less naive than I am haha!

Where: De Glind, 60km east of Amsterdam
Cost: €2 per person
Best for: cuddles with puppies, baby goats and visiting with kids!
Time of my visit: February


As a travel enthusiast with a desire to see so much of the world in so little time (aged 22 at the time of writing this, with 26 countries scratched off my map) I’ve seen a considerable difference in my travel behaviour.

I tend to value more slow, mindful travel with a heightened appreciation for nature. I love my life, but these type of visits completely take me away. I sometimes catch myself and think – ‘hey! you know you’ve got this whole world in London, waiting for you?’ to which I say ‘really? I literally almost have forgotten… this is so weird’.

•  Here’s to a new chapter of leaving FOMO behind and travelling a little bit slower  •


•  Let’s get social!  •

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