Beaches in Holland

The beach in the Netherlands


* A DAY BY THE LAKE -- Ijsselmeer is Holland's vast central lake, but it actually started life as the famous Zuider Zee (Zuider Sea) during the Dutch Golden Age; then 1930s land reclamation projects cut it off from the North Sea to turn it into a giant freshwater lake. The trading ships have been replaced by pleasure craft and the towns become a mix of old merchant towns, modern resorts, and some unfortunate creeping industrialization from Amsterdam. Much of this area is pretty touristy (escorted bus tours make stops in many of the villages), where the women dress in traditional Dutch costume not because they love it but because they know it brings in the tourists. But it's still scenic, and some charm manages to hang on amid the onslaught of modern tourism.
Voldendam is a fishing town prettied up for tourism (though little fishing is done these days), with a fish auction and plenty of foreigners wandering about with camera in hand, looking (and finding) quaint things to photograph. Marken is perhaps more rewarding, basically an island (though now linked to land by a causeway), with tiny farmsteads and a pretty lighthouse for a landmark. The local clog maker is one of the best in the region. Lunch here at De Tanderij on Havenbuurt--high quality Dutch and French dishes, seafood, and terrific desserts. Monnickendam is perhaps the least touristy (or at least the one that pays least attention to the tourists who do come), preferring to try and continue eking out its existence as a fishing town (and, therefore, is a tad more authentic than its neighbors).

* ZANDVOORT -- Not the number one choice, but if all you want is a taste of the seashore, head to the beach closest to Amsterdam and Haarlem, with a long, wide stretch of clean sand--and lots of Amsterdammers out for a quickie day at the shore! There is also a pleasant extensive are of sand dunes--called the Kennemer Duinen and the Amsterdamse Waterleidin Duinen--for strolling amid the dunes and woods toward the seaside.

* TEXEL ISLAND -- Texel is the biggest (and only car-accessible) of the Wadden Islands that arc across northwest Holland, protecting the mainland from the North Sea. It's as popular as Zandvoort, but more for nature lovers and birders (300 species make their homes here or pass through on migration). If you want to visit the nature preserves, check with the VVV tourist office (tel. 0222/312-847) in main town Den Burg, or contact the company that actually leads the requisite guided tours, Natuurmonumenten, at Polderweg 2 in Den Waal (tel. 022/312-590). To get to Texel, take the half-hour car ferry from Den Helder at the tip of Noord Holland privince. There are dozens of hotels; just ask the tourist office.

* SCHVENINGEN -- A tram ride (take trams 1 or 9, or 7 or 8) from downtown Den Hauge, this former fishing village has since 1813 been developed as a seaside resort, striking an odd balance between classy hotels and casinos and a harbor still bobbing with fishing boats. There's the 1200-foot pier with its carnival-like attractions, a Sea Life Center with an underwater tunnel in the aquarium, a funky museum of modern sculptures of the human body tucked amid natural sand dunes (called Beelden aan Zee), and, of course, beaches. Its nearby sister resort of Kijkduin is a bit more of a low-key, family-oriented beach town.
You can splurge on the top hotel in town, the Kurhaus (tel. 070/416-2636), for just under $200 per double ($425 to $725 if you go for the suites favored by visiting dignitaries and rock stars). Or go with something more modest like the modern Carlton Beach Hotel (tel. 070/354-1414) with $150 doubles. To save your guilder, check into the Ibis den Haag/Scheveningen (tel. 070/354-3300), a block from the water, unfortunately, but many balconies do have a sea view--and doubles are only $80 to $100. The Restaurant Bali, Badhuisweg 1, serves up one of the best Indonesian rijsttafel in Holland for $30.

* ZEELAND-- This semi-island is the biggest of the three that make up the southernmost province of the Netherlands, and it's my choice for best waterside vacation-though only if you're willing to set aside a coupe of days to truly relax and enjoy the area. Dutch charm, hospitality, and tranquility reign, and there are virtual no foreign tourists; it's a place were the Dutch go for vacation. The capital of Middelburg is alive on its Thursday market day


From here, it's just not far over the Belgium border to Bruges.


Tours Under $995 G Adventures

Related Articles



Unless otherwise indicated, all photographs ©Amsterdam Tourism & Convention Board

This article was by Reid Bramblett and last updated in June 2011.
All information was accurate at the time.

about | contact | faq

Copyright © 1998–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.