(Editor’s note: It’s suddenly summer, with temperatures topping 30 degrees Celsius. So we’re updating our list of the 5 best beaches in the Netherlands into the 7 best beaches. Terry Boyd also contributed to this post.)
Amsterdam, canals, tulips, cheese, soccer and … beaches?
Endlessly long gorgeous beaches are probably not what you think of when you think of the Netherlands, but you will be pleasantly surprised to find out that we do have lots of beautiful beaches.
In fact, the three beach zones are Zeelands on the southeast, which alone has 650 kilometers of coast line, the central area around Den Haag including Sheveningen and the Frisian Islands on the north.
We recommend these seven spots as the Netherlands best beaches for spending a sunny summer day!
Wander through small beach towns, do some window-shopping at the touristy stores, go swimming or kitesurfing at the beach and watch the sun set below the waves at the end of a long summer day.
Sounds like a perfect day?
It’s how you spend your time during your vacation in Zeeuws-Vlaanderen.
This area in the South of the Netherlands is one of our country’s most popular holiday destinations. Small beach towns such as Cadzand, Breskens and Nieuwvliet are located along the coast.
If you want to spend a few nights in the area, you can sleep right on the beach!
In recent years, a series of cottages were built on the beach, at just a short walk from the sea.
Wake up with a view of the North Sea and watch the sunset from your own little house on the beach!
Vlissingen is one of the biggest cities in the province of Zeeland … a vibrant, lively town next to the beach.
Go for a long walk on the beach or along the boardwalk which is always filled with people on a good summer night.
You can eat and drink the night away at the many restaurants and bars on the boardwalk, many of which offer a sea-side view.
Vlissingen is also home to lots of festivals and events in spring and summer. Bevrijdingsdag, Dutch Independence day.
Music festivals are held all across the country in each of the twelve provinces.
Vlissingen is one of the twelve Dutch cities to host the national festivities with a fun line-up of our country’s best-known artists.
Another fun-filled event is the yearly Color Run, which is held on a Friday night in June and which turns the city centre and beach into a colorful festival.
Scheveningen is just on the northern edge of Den Haag (The Hague), our country’s political heart.
The beach in Scheveningen is the perfect place to relax and unwind after a sightseeing trip to Den Haag. Go for a stroll on the boardwalk and the pier, take a ride on the Ferris wheel and make sure to pay a visit to the Grand Hotel Amrath Kurhaus.
This grand, impressive hotel was built early on in the 19th century and has since hosted several famous guests. Winston Churchill, Audrey Hepburn and Bon Jovi are among the people who have stayed at the hotel.
Eleven million people visit Scheveningen each year, but if it is up to the city council this number will rise to new heights in the years to come.
City officials are spending 25 million euros to improve the boardwalk and the access to the beach over the next three years.
Scheveningen is totally commercial, with shops and restaurants. Keep walking toward the expat center of Wassenaar, and you’re in the unspoiled dunes of Meijendel.
Which is in every way the opposite of Scheveningen.
Meijendel is the largest interconnected dune area in South Holland and is primarily open dunes, lakes, forests and kilometers of long, sandy beaches.
In the centre of the nature reserve is a visitor center owned by drinking water company Dunea, Meyendel pancake house and Monkeybos playground.
Biking, hiking and riding paths make the dunes at Meijendel the perfect place to escape, and you’ll forget major cities are just a few kilometers away.
Do you love the island life?
Head over to Terschelling, one of the small West Frisian islands in the Waddenzee in far northern Netherlands almost to the German border.
The white, clean and spacious beaches on Terschelling cover a length of 30 kilometres across the island. Terschelling lives off tourism; there are three times as many people living on the island in summer compared to other months of the year.
To get to the Island, catch one of the ferries from Harlingen. In just under two hours you will reach the beautiful island.
If you like, you can bring your own bike or car, or hire one when you get to Terschelling.
Cycling is a great way to explore all the island has to offer.
There are bike lanes all across the island. If you like being active, you can even bike more than 70 kilometres across Terschelling!
The beaches on this small island, which is also situated in the Waddenzee, are some of the cleanest and whitest in the country and are among the widest sand beaches in all of Europe.
Thanks to the shallow waters, it is a perfect and safe area for swimming.
Other fun activities on the island include yoga lessons on the beach, horse riding through the dunes and the sea and kitesurfing.
On top of that, the entire island has since 1989 been listed as a National Park because of the endless beaches, green forests, sand dunes filled with colourful flowers, and the more than three hundred birds living on and around the island.
Zandvoort is one of the Netherlands most famous beaches for several reasons including its auto racing history and its proximity to Amsterdam and Haarlem.
This is a mass tourism destination more akin to Scheveningen, with lots and lots of activities, shops, cafes and restaurants. And you can camp next to the sea.
There’s always something going on, from go-kart racing to pop-up American-style drive-in movies.
Circuit Zandvoort, where the Netherlands’ Formula One race used to be held, is just off the beach. Though Formula One is gone, there are still races nearly every weekend throughout the summer.
All the activities make this a top vacation destination for the Dutch themselves.
About the author: Willeke van Doorn is a journalism student at Fontys University of Applied Sciences in Tilburg.
Her experience includes an internship at National Geographic Traveler in Amsterdam.