Stretching over nearly 2000km, The Netherlands‘ coastline is a breathtaking expanse of tranquil beaches, picturesque greenery and rolling, wild sand dunes. In the summer months, some of the country’s most famous coastal areas come to life with the bustle of water sports enthusiasts, walkers and holiday makers. Starting your journey at the port of Rotterdam, we take a look at a few of the seaside highlights spanning the North Sea coast.
With The Hague city centre just a stone’s throw away, this wide, sandy beach is unsurprisingly one of the nation’s most popular. A sunbather’s haven, Scheveningen is the perfect place to while away the hours with a good book, with the many seafront bars offering a variety of thirst-quenching beverages. As you arrive, take a walk along the Strandweg to find the SprookjesBeelden aan Zee, a series of humorous bronze figures inspired by tales of the sea, created by American sculptor Tom Otterness.
Standing 30 metres tall, the striking red Vuurtoren van Scheveningen lighthouse can be seen from miles away, and the nearby pier makes for an impressive sight in the evening, its façade sparkling with lights. If the weather isn’t at its best, you can still enjoy views of the beach at the Panorama Mesdag, Europe’s largest circular canvas. Created by 19th century artist Hendrik Willem Mesdag, the pavilion offers a 360-degree view of Scheveningen as it was in the prime maritime era.
Just a 30-minute drive up the coast is the floral seaside resort of Noordwijk, which lies at the heart of the bulb growing region. To the north of the main boulevard is the quieter area of Duindamseslag and to the south, Langevelderslag – both unspoilt nature hubs accessible on foot or by bike. Back in the centre of this charming fishing village, there is an abundance of fresh seafood on offer at the exquisite restaurants sitting just back from the coastline. Other must-see sights include the towering lighthouse and Space Expo, one of Europe’s first permanent space exhibitions. Noordwijk is also the start of the flower bulb route, a 60-kilometre stretch through Hillegom, Lisse and Sassenheim – a scenic drive or the perfect trip for avid cyclists.
Continuing up the coast, Nationaal Park Zuid-Kennemerland is a beautiful seaside resort with a rich history. Empress Elisabeth of Bavaria visited twice in the late 19th century, and it’s easy to see why European royalty would be drawn there. The 9km stretch of soft golden sand is lined with thirty beach clubs offering kit for a range of activities, including kitesurfing, windsurfing and sailing, along with delicious food and drink. As well as being the perfect place to try out some watersports fun, the sky atop the beach is often adorned with a flurry of colourful kites, providing a perfect holiday activity for all ages.
De Koog – Texel Island
North of the city of Den Helder is a small chain of islands. The largest, Texel, is accessible via a short ferry ride from the mainland, and is a true hotspot for surfers, who come from far and wide to ride the waves. In the height of summer, sun seekers flock to the resort’s sweeping beaches too, lined with pretty blue-shuttered huts. Feel the sea breeze on your face as you enjoy a leisurely stroll down the beach, or if you’re a keener walker, head to the borders of the village to discover De Nederlanden, a nature reserve part of Nationaal Park Duinen van Texel. The nightlife on the island is great too, with regular live music events scheduled throughout the year. One highlight is the Tropical Street Festival in late August, where you can dance the night away to a fusion of salsa, reggae, funk and more.
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