10 hikes in and around Amsterdam

While many tourists visit Amsterdam as a city trip, only a few know that there are some amazing hiking opportunities in and closely around this city. So if you feel like hiking and discovering some off the beaten track places, read on. In this blog I’ll shortly introduce 10 hikes that start in or close by Amsterdam, show you where to find route information and tell you how to get to the starting point and back.

Travel advice during the COVID-19 or corona virus outbreak
Read more about the situation in Holland and what this means to you as a tourist.

OVERVIEW
Hiking within the city borders of Amsterdam
* Central Station to Amsterdam forest (19 km)
* Amsterdam Noord and Zeeburg (15 km)
Hiking in the polders north of Amsterdam
* Het Twiske recreational area (15 km)
* Marken island (11 km)
* Around Zaanse Schans (13 km)
Hiking in the dunes west of Amsterdam
* Santpoort to Parnassia and back (16 km)
* The Bison trail near Zandvoort (7 km)
* Amsterdam Water Supply Dunes (17 km)
Hiking in the forests east of Amsterdam
* Baarn to Hilversum Mediapark (15 km)
* Around Naarden (12 km)


Hiking in Amsterdam

You may think of Amsterdam as a crowded city. And it is, in some areas. There are plenty of possibilities to escape the crowds though. Underneath suggestions for 2 hikes that will take you to the less touristic neighborhoods of Amsterdam and to parks that are popular with the locals.


1. Hiking from Amsterdam Central station to the Amsterdam forest

Route

Perhaps the easiest trail to hike, because it simply starts right in font of Amsterdam Central station. This 18.8 kilometer hike passes through the oldest parts of Amsterdam, along canals, through Vondelpark and then onward through residential areas and past high rise office buildings towards the Amsterdam forest (Amsterdamse Bos). The Amsterdam forest was planted in the 1930’s and (almost) looks like a serious forest by now. People from Amsterdam go there to run and to relax. This trail will give you a new perspective on Amsterdam and takes you to places that you wouldn’t normally visit as a tourist.

Getting back to Amsterdam

This hike officially ends just behind the Amsterdam forest. The closest bus stop is called “Rietwijkeroordweg, Aalsmeer” From here you can catch a bus to Schiphol airport and from there catch a train back to Amsterdam.

Another option would be to skip the final part of this trail and head towards Amstelveen instead. Amstelveen is a residential town just south of Amsterdam. It has a nice brewery, an interesting modern art museum and good connections back to Amsterdam by public transport.

Along the way there are many opportunities to end your hike early and catch a tram or bus back to the center of Amsterdam.

Check your schedule on the public transport website 9292.nl and read my tips about using public transport in Holland. Mind that there are extra rules for users of public transport during the COVID-19 pandemic. For example: you have to wear a face mask when using public transport.


2. Hiking in Amsterdam Noord and Zeeburg

Route

This 15 kilometer hiking trail starts at the Amsterdam subway station Noorderpark. From here it passes through the northern part of Amsterdam, a mainly residential area and a small forest. You’ll be surprised to find an old dike with cute wooden houses hidden behind a rather busy road. The trail follows the old dike all the way up to the locks that protect Amsterdam from the wild waters of the IJsselmeer. Pedestrians are allowed to walk across the locks to the southern (main) part of Amsterdam.

Once on the other side of the IJ-river there is a small detour through Flevopark before you head towards modern Zeeburg. This is a new part of town with interesting modern architecture and lots of water. Here you’ll find a free ferry that crosses back to Amsterdam Noord.

Getting to the starting point and back

This hike starts and ends at subway station Noorderpark. That’s just one stop north of Amsterdam Central Station. If you want to stop hiking early, there are many opportunities to head back downtown along the way. Just catch any bus or tram back to Amsterdam Central.


Hiking north of Amsterdam

If you head north from Amsterdam you’ll quickly understand why Holland is called the Netherlands, or the low lands. The country is flat here, with canals and ditches that drain the water from the polders. Traditionally houses were made of wood in this area and you’ll certainly come across several of those during your hike. Underneath three suggestions for hikes not too far north of Amsterdam.


3. Hiking in het Twiske recreational area

Route

Het Twiske is a recreational area just north of the city of Amsterdam. It looks typically Dutch: low lands, lots of water and bridges, a windmill and many birds. In summer you’ll find a lot of bikers, swimmers and sun tanners in this area too. It has a couple of cafĂ©’s and a restaurant. In other seasons it’s way more quiet. This 15 kilometer hiking trail circles through het Twiske along sometimes rather muddy footpaths, across narrow bridges and along a lake. It’s the closest opportunity to Amsterdam to feel the quietude of the Dutch countryside.

Getting to the starting point and back

This trail starts and ends in a village called Den Ilp. Use the address “Polderweg, Den Ilp” as your destination when looking up your travel schedule. Buses to Den Ilp depart from Amsterdam Sloterdijk (railway) station. Travel time is about 30 minutes by public transport.

Check your schedule on the public transport website 9292.nl and read my tips about using public transport in Holland. Mind that there are extra rules for users of public transport during the COVID-19 pandemic. For example: you have to wear a face mask when using public transport.


4. Hiking on Marken island

Route

  • This 11 kilometer hiking track is available on the route.nl website (route 410063). You can download the GPX track from there or download the route to the route.nl-app on your mobile phone.
  • This trail doesn’t include the 4 km detour up and down Bukdijk. This is a 2 km dike that stretches straight into the IJsselmeer lake. You can head up and down this dike, which is pretty special as you’ll have water on both sides. This is easy to find.

The village of Marken is a popular day trip destination for tourists. Marken has cute green wooden houses, a harbor with historical boats and fish restaurants. What most people don’t know is that it offers great hiking possibilities as well. Marken is, apart from being a village, also an island. You can hike all around the island on a dike, with lovely views of the waters of the IJsselmeer. As soon as you leave Marken village behind you all will be quiet. Read more about this hike and the island in my previous blog on Marken.

Hiking on Marken

Getting to Marken and back to Amsterdam

Take a bus to Marken from Amsterdam Noord subway station. Get out at the village of Marken, which is also the final destination for this bus. Travel time to Marken from Amsterdam Central Station is about 45 minutes.


5. Hiking around Zaanse Schans

Route

This 13 kilometer hiking trail starts in a suburb of Zaandam and ends at the Zaandijk Zaanse Schans railway station. Note that in the official route description this latter station is called Koog Zaandijk. It was renamed recently. It is the same station though.

The hiking trail passes by Bartelsluis, a village with traditional green wooden houses and by the Zaanse Schans open air museum. The traditional windmills here attract busloads full of tourists. The tourist crowds stay in a small area though; during most of this hike all will be quiet. This is an opportunity to see typical Dutch polders, windmills and canals while doing your daily workout! Read more about Zaanse Schans and its hiking possibilities in my previous blog.

Zaanse Schans windmill

Getting to Zaandam and back to Amsterdam

This hiking trail starts at the Zaandam Kogerveld railway station. There are direct trains towards Zaandam Kogerveld from Amsterdam Sloterdijk railway station. This trip lasts only 10 minutes.

The trail ends at Zaandijk Zaanse Schans railway station. There are direct trains from this station back to Amsterdam Central and Amsterdam Sloterdijk station.


Hiking in the dunes west of Amsterdam

Amsterdam is quite close to the North Sea coast and National Park Kennemerduinen. There are good train connections to the beach and dune towns such as Santpoort and Zandvoort (sometimes called Amsterdam Beach). The dunes of the Dutch North Sea coast offer great hiking possibilities, lots of fresh air, and perhaps you’ll spot a deer or two.


6. Hiking in the dunes around Santpoort

Route

Santpoort is a quiet town right next to the dunes. It is a residential town, quite contrary to nearby Zandvoort which is a busy beach resort. Santpoort offers access to the northern part of National Park Kennemerduinen. This is the quiet part of the park.

This 16 kilometer hiking trail passes through the forest and then into the dunes and along several viewpoints and dune lakes. There are many opportunities to spot birds here. The trail hits the North Sea coast at a place called Parnassia, which is nothing more than a restaurant and a good place to have a coffee or lunch halfway your hike. This place is welcoming to hikers. It has a nice fireplace in winter and a lovely terrace overlooking the sea in summer (both make it perhaps a bit too attractive to hang on…).

After Parnassia the trail leads back through the dunes to the Santpoort Zuid railway station. You could also decide to head south instead and follow the beach towards Zandvoort.

Dunescape between Haarlem and Zandvoort

Getting to Santpoort Zuid and back to Amsterdam

To get to the beginning of this trail head towards Santpoort Zuid railway station. There are two trains every hour to Santpoort Zuid from Amsterdam Central and Amsterdam Sloterdijk stations. Getting there should take you less than half an hour. If you should decide to head to Zandvoort instead of returning to Santpoort: there are 2 trains an hour from Zandvoort back to Amsterdam as well.


7. Hiking in Kraansvlak (to spot European bison)

Route

Close to Zandvoort there is a protected area in the dunes that houses European bison. Note that during the bird breeding season this area is closed off for hikers. Check the website to find out the exact dates.

There is a 3 kilometer hiking trail right through this area. If you are lucky you may spot European bison or a herd of Konik horses. To get to the start of the trail follow the railroad track back in the direction of Amsterdam for a bit. Keep to the north of the railroad track. You can either choose to hike up and down the official trail or to head back towards Zandvoort town along the beach. All together both options will add up to about 7 kilometers.

Getting to Zandvoort and back to Amsterdam

There are 2 direct trains per hour from Amsterdam Central and Amsterdam Sloterdijk to Zandvoort station. The trip lasts about half an hour.


8. Hiking in the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen

Route

This is a varied and refreshing 17 kilometer hike through forests, dunes and along the beach. It passes through the beach town of Zandvoort for a bit and then enters the dunes south of Zandvoort. This area is called Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen (Amsterdam water supply dunes) because the drinking water in Amsterdam comes from here. Note that you have to pay a small entrance fee of EUR 1,50 per person for this area. There are vending machines at the entrance or buy them online, in advance.

What makes this area especially attractive is that there are many deer to be seen here and that these deer are not shy at all. The last part of the hike passes along the beach back to Zandvoort, where many bars and restaurants are waiting for you. Note that Zandvoort beach may be packed with sun tanners on hot summer days. Read more about Dutch beach culture in my previous blog on Zandvoort.

Getting to Zandvoort and back to Amsterdam

There are 2 direct trains per hour from Amsterdam Central and Amsterdam Sloterdijk to Zandvoort station. The trip lasts about half an hour.


Hiking in the forests east of Amsterdam

The area east of Amsterdam is the area where rich people used to escape to. There are forests and moors here and small towns with huge houses, palaces and gardens.


9. Hiking from Baarn to Hilversum

Route

Baarn is a small town east of Amsterdam. It is a great starting point for hikes in the forest. You can read more about this area in my previous blog on hiking around Baarn.

This specific 15 kilometer hiking trail leads you from Baarn railway station through the parks of Kasteel Groenendaal (a palace with landscape gardens), forests and moors to Hilversum Mediapark railway station. (In older descriptions this station may be called Hilversum Noord).

Forest near Baarn (Holland)

Getting to Baarn and back to Amsterdam

From Amsterdam Central station catch the sprinter train to Amersfoort. This train will stop in Baarn. (Don’t take the intercity train!). The trip should take you about 45 minutes.

From Hilversum Mediapark railway station there are direct trains back to Amsterdam Central. This trip takes about 30 minutes.


10. Hiking in Naarden

Route

  • Wandelen door Naarden en omgeving, an 11,7 kilometer hike through the fortified town of Naarden and the forests east of it. GPX track available on the Route.nl website. You can also download the route to the app.

Naarden is a fortified and rather quaint little town east of Amsterdam. It’s one of the few Dutch towns that still have their original fortifications. Naarden was once part of the defense line of Amsterdam. It’s a very peaceful and scenic place now with lots of monuments. Check out the website of the local tourist information for more details. There is a lake west of Naarden and a forest east of it. The hiking trail that I suggest here combines the fortified town with the forest.


Getting to Naarden and back to Amsterdam

There are direct buses to Naarden from Amsterdam Bijlmer ArenA station. The trip takes about 40 minutes. When looking up your travel schedule use Naarden Vesting as your destination. That should get you right into the fortified part of Naarden.

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