A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
The Netherlands has beautiful nature and terrains varying from dunes to forests, lakes to rivers. This leads to rich flora and fauna for the country with countless species. To see all this beauty, natural parks with preserved ecosystems are the perfect locations. There are over 20 national parks spread around the country. Each park, occupying a minimum size of 1.000 hectares, has its own unique flora and fauna and hosts wildlife.
The more I witnessed the beautiful nature, my idea of a perfect weekend has been slowly shifting towards going to a natural park and wander around or cycle there all day, which is pretty usual for Dutch people from all ages. You will see many families with their small children spending their weekend in one of these. You can easily have a day trip or turn it into a weekend-away activity with staying at a hotel close to the parks. Today, I will share my favourite national park in the country.
Hoge Veluwe – Gelderland
Located in the south-east of the country, it probably is one of the most popular national parks. It holds the title of being the largest privately-owned nature reserve in the Netherlands with a 5,400-hectare region of woodland, dunes and heathland. Veluwe, giving the name of the park and consisting its 5%, is the largest lowland natural terrain in Northwest Europe. Having these various terrains, the park hosts many animal species, including the threatened ones. If you are lucky enough, you can see deer, hogs, snakes, rabbits and butterflies while walking around.
The best part is: Veluwe has its own free bicycle system. You can pick one a bike at any entrance (Otterlo, Schaarsbergen and Hoenderloo) and drop it anywhere within the park. Thus, you don’t need to bring your own or rent an OV one and pay (which would still be a good option as the rate is less than 4 EURs daily). It has 40 kilometres of trails to cycle with points where you can take a break and eat.
But: if you are looking for something more than just nature, Veluwe got that covered too. It hosts the Kröller-Müller Museum, named after the couple who used to own the land where Veluwe now stands on. Now the park and museum, even though administered separately, work closely. It is a perfect spot to have a break and see wonderful paintings. Lucky for us, we have seen a Van Gogh exhibition with paintings collected from various museums across the country. It was an eye-opener for me to see his early works.
It takes 2,5 hours to get there via NS. You need to get off at the station Ede-Wageningen. After that, you can again use an OV bike to get to the park. As the area is known for its gorgeous nature, there are many many hotels in the surrounding area.
I enjoyed it greatly despite going there in the middle of the winter, the end of December. Being able to see so many different landscapes all of which are gorgeous was an unforgettable experience. Now that the heide apparently turns to purple, I am looking forward to visiting Veluwe again in the upcoming weeks.
Have you been to a Dutch national park? Which ones you would suggest? Share in the comments!