The large cities, touristic attractions and the famous Kinderdijk in the Netherlands are great, yes, but these are the places everybody and their mother will go to see during their stay. For this reason, we wanted to show you a few special, mostly unknown destination tips. They show the true colors of the Netherlands and the vibrant atmosphere that comes with that. At Car Rental Holland, we know what it is like to visit a country, aching to see its flora, fauna and people, its core of what makes it beautiful. For this reason we spoke, discussed, added and scrapped until we were satisfied with the result. From stunning nature to picturesque villages and one magical estate, these are the places you won’t ever find in your travel brochure! These are our favorite places to visit in Holland.
#1 Nationaal Park het Drents-Friese Wold
This massive national park lies on the border of the northern provinces of Friesland and Drenthe. The Drents-Friese Wold has over 61 square kilometers of nature. Featuring forests, planes, grasslands, shifting sands and swamps, there is a lot to discover here. Since the nature here is so well preserved, similarly to het Speulderbos, the animals do really well here. There are snakes, lizards, deer, sparrows and hawks to be seen if you watch closely enough and are patient. The best way to experience the park is by renting a bicycle and cycling through it until your legs can take you no further, which is worth every single drop of sweat.
In the park you will also find some of the oldest signs of civilization. The Hunebedden, or as they are more commonly called, Dolmen, which are megalithical burial chambers. They were built over five thousand years ago. Made by using boulders which were brought to the Netherlands by the shifts of glaciers during the previous ice age and incredibly difficult labor, using nothing more than wooden beams and manpower to move the massively heavy stones to the building sites and putting them into place. A wonder of human ingenuity and one you should certainly not miss!
#2 De Rijp
A small but very pretty village, due north of Amsterdam. Its name translates into river bank, which is curious considering it doesn’t really sit on the bank of a river. It used to be a thriving fishing town however, but its last fishing boat set sail in 1888. This happened because certain waters were milled away to claim the land for farming, cutting De Rijp off from its fishing grounds. There is still plenty of water to be found though. Small creeks run past the picturesque houses, alleys and old streets. The best way to experience De Rijp therefore is by booking a whisperboat, one that barely makes any sound, and spend the day on the water discovering the glory of the village and its surrounding nature. De Rijp will make you feel like you’re in a Dutch fairytale, making it a great place to visit in the Netherlands.
#3 De Wieden
This area is very difficult to navigate. That has to do with the large waters and small streams which meander through this area in the top of the Overijssel province. The best way to discover this area, filled with hay lands, reeds and dense swamp forests, is by canoe, whisper boat or sailing boat which you can rent in the area. Experience nature from up close. Feel the movement of the water, smell the plants and flowers and spot birds at eye level, De Wieden guarantee pure enjoyment on a sunny day.
When you go to the northern tip of the province Groningen, you will feel like you’re running out of land to travel on. At that moment, the village of Warffum will appear on the horizon. Situated on the edge of the wad sea, it is a tiny paradise. The village itself is small but hospitable and will have everything you need. What is extra special, though, is the tours you can take. During low tide you simply walk out onto the wads, headed towards the sea. An unique and, according to some, once in a lifetime experience. If you don’t want to get your feet wet, you can also visit the open air museum or the seal center of Pieterburen, where they take care of seals who are found sick or hurt along the shore, before releasing them back into the wild. Put on some comfy clothes and prepare yourself for delicious breaths of salty ocean air and wind through your hair, because Warffum is one of the best places to visit in Holland!
#5 The Speulderbos
The Speulderbos is technically a part of the celebrated Veluwe park. It is, however, a gem in its own right. Located in the northwest of the Veluwe park, the Speulderbos is protected under the European Nature2000 regulation. With good reason, too. It is one of the oldest forests in the Netherlands and equally beautiful. It even features an area with trees nicknamed ‘the dancing trees’, since the trees there are so curved and crooked that they seem to be stuck in an eternal dance. The forest is a paradise to birds of prey, deer and wild boar of which you will certainly see traces, if not the animals themselves. If you get lucky, you might even spot a weasel or a badger! The fauna does really well in this forest because there is plenty of food for them to eat and hence they grow up strong and healthy.
The forest consists mostly of oak and birch trees which grow tall and old, often giving parts of the woods a mysterious glow. Especially when mist hangs under the canopy, penetrated by a few rays of sunshine. Deep in the forest also lies Het Solse Gat. Legend has it that there was once a cursed monastery here, where all of the monks had sold their souls to the devil. They partied every night and the lights were always on in the monastery, while the devil made sure that they never ran out of food and drinks. Up until one fateful Christmas night, when the people in a nearby village heard a sound louder than thunder. When they went to see what had happened at the monastery the following morning, it was gone! Disappeared, as if it had been swallowed by the ground. Some say that you can still hear the bells of the monastery and the wailing ghosts of monks when visiting the site at night. Do you dare to go and take a look?
#6 Estate de Paltz
In the province of Utrecht, this is an easy to reach place to visit in the Netherlands. It is still quite unknown, because the estate has only been open to the public since 2014. Estate de Paltz has had many owners since it was established in the early 19th century. Around 1850, the villa, coach house and other structures were built which stand until this day. Because there were so many different owners, the estate is very diverse. Furthermore, there has been special attention for the creatures in the area. A bat cave behind the waterfall, a badger castle, many nesting boxes for birds and much more. In addition to that, the vegetation on the estate has been planned out with the fauna in mind as well. There are certain parts of the forest which are kept thick and overgrown, so that deer have a place to hide, as well as rhododendrons and other fruit bearing plants so the animals have plenty to eat. Since the animals here have such a good life, the foxes thrive as well and reside on the estate in strong numbers. Put on your walking shoes and prepare for a day of discovery and wonder at the estate de Paltz.
Arcen is a small village in the northern part of the southern Limburg province. Situated between the river Maas and the German border. It features the beautiful castle gardens of Arcen, which is the largest flower- and plant park in the area. Right next to it is the 17th century monument castle which was built for the duke of Geire. Admire the stunning gardens and enjoy a walk among them before entering the castle to dip yourself in rich history. Afterwards, you can also visit the Hertog Jan Brewery Arcen, to take yet another tour which will finish with a delightful glass of beer. What more can you want from a day?
Are you as excited as we are?
Now you know which places are our favorite places to visit in the Netherlands. Are you aching to travel already? Because we sure are! These were our destination tips. We hope you will enjoy them as much as we do!