Finding natural gems in a densely populated country like the Netherlands can be difficult. You can find another world if you wander between the busy cities and highways.
This tiny nation has 20 national parks, but we chose 6 favorites. Mark these reserves on a Dutch map and prepare for a breathtaking journey through diverse ecosystems.
Hoge Veluwe National Park
Hoge Veluwe National Park, the oldest and largest in the Netherlands, deserves more than superlatives. The park has pine forests, deciduous woodlands, drifting sand, and grasslands. You can explore on foot or by bike. Deer, wild boar, fox, and badger populate this national park, making biking feel like a safari. The park has snakes, lizards, and many birds.
Purple heathlands in September and October make Hoge Veluwe National Park a beautiful sight. Colorful fungi emerge from forest floors this season.
National Park De Weerribben-Wieden
Compared to other Dutch national parks, this Overijssel reserve is unique. Weerribben-Wieden National Park has vast moss and plant floating mats. You can take a ‘blubbery’ walk in thick layers to see orchids and colorful mosses that only grow in this rare and moist place.
Most of the national park is water. Rental kayaks or summer cruises on ‘whisper boats’ let you explore the waterways. You may see otters and aquatic birds from this quiet boat.
Luonse en Drunense Duinen National Park
One of Europe’s largest drift-sand reserves is this national park, known as ‘Duinen’ in Dutch. Winds constantly change the landscapes here, and only the toughest flora and fauna survive due to the lack of fertile soil.
Forests and heathlands with well-marked walking and mountain biking trails make up Loonse en Drunense Duinen National Park. Go to the viewpoint to see the sand, purple heathlands, and forests.
Day and nighttime nature organization excursions bring you closer to shy or nocturnal animals like owls, nightjars, and badgers.
National Park De Biesbosch
Jungles are rare in the Netherlands, but De Biesbosch National Park is the closest you get. You can canoe through these tidal wetlands’ smallest creeks and walk to the many small islands.
De Biesbosch sprawls 90 square kilometres across Zuid-Holland and Noord-Brabant provinces. This protected area is famous for birdwatching. Your land or water adventures may reveal nightingales, kingfishers, spoonbills, and eagles in these marshlands.
The Great Peel National Park
Despite its 13.4-square-kilometer size, De Groote Peel National Park is known for its diversity. Waterfowl, reeds, and moss thrive in swamps, small lakes, and boglands. The common crane visits De Groote Peel National Park in October and November. Many insect species, butterflies, carnivorous plants, and other plants thrive in peatlands, delighting macro-lovers. Bats, polecats, and deer inhabit this natural treasure.
The park can only be explored by walking the three trails from Buitencentrum De Pelen (Dutch website).
Schiermonnikoog is a UNESCO World Heritage site in the Wadden Sea in northern Netherlands. This captivating protected reserve is the only national park on our list with beaches. Island lovers should visit. The Kobbeduinen, south of Schiermonnikoog, has bird-rich wetlands. A hidden viewing platform and spoonbill and bluethroat residents make the Westerplas a great place for birdwatching.
Schiermonnikoog National Park beaches are best at low tide when seals rest on mudflats.
From the mainland, Schiermonnikoog is accessible by ferry.