This autumn, I will be sharing some of my favorite forest hikes in Holland with you. In this third blog in the series I’ll explain why hiking in Oosterbeek is a brilliant idea. Oosterbeek is about one and a half hour by train east of Amsterdam. The main attractions of this area are the forests with their awesome autumn colors, the country estates and the views of the river Rhine. You can easily combine your hike near Oosterbeek with a visit to Arnhem, the capital of Gelderland province.
Where is Oosterbeek and what’s up there?
You’ve probably never heard of Oosterbeek. Not so strange as this is a village of only about 11.000 inhabitants. It is located just west of Arnhem, the provincial capital of Gelderland. There is not that much to see here: Oosterbeek is a predominantly residential village. It’s easy to understand why people would want to live here: the houses are nice, it’s green, close to the forest and close to Arnhem.
There are two reasons to visit Oosterbeek. One is that it offers many hiking opportunities. Oosterbeek is kind of wedged in between the river Rhine and the forests of the Veluwe region and there are many hiking routes surrounding it.
The second reason is that Oosterbeek played a major role in the Battle of Arnhem in 1944. Allied forces tried to liberate The Netherlands, but didn’t manage to pass the river Rhine. The village of Oosterbeek was heavily damaged during this episode, and many soldiers died here. If you are interested to learn more about this, visit the Airborne cemetery or the Airborne Museum in Oosterbeek. Having said that, this museum is closed at the moment for a renovation. It will reopen in March 2020.
Hiking near Oosterbeek
The main reason to go to Oosterbeek, in my opinion, is to go hiking. This is a good idea year round. In autumn it’s an extra good idea as the autumn colors make the forest look like the background of a fairy tale. You might just run into Little Red Riding Hood, or the wolf. What makes this area extra attractive (especially to Dutch people) is that it has considerable height differences. For a Dutch landscape, that is. It’s hilly and there are some nice viewpoints.
Things you can expect to see when hiking around Oosterbeek:
- Southbound from the Oosterbeek railway station you’ll be hiking mostly downhill until you reach the Rhine river. There are some amazing viewpoints from which you see the river Rhine down under the hill. On a bright day you can even see Germany from here!
- Eastbound is the city of Arnhem. Oosterbeek is more or less attached to Arnhem. Hiking towards Arnhem by the southbound route will take you through the flood plains of the river Rhine (bring good hiking boots). The northern route towards Arnhem will take you past country estates and their park-like gardens.
- Westbound are hilly forests with winding food paths. The same goes for the northbound direction, but here you’ll need to cross some bigger highways.
Suggestions for hikes around Oosterbeek
- Hemelse Berg, a 15 km trail from railway station Oosterbeek to railway station Arnhem. It passes through the forests of Oosterbeek and through the flood plains of the river Rhine. There are possibilities to shorten the trail and jump on a bus along the way. (GPS track is available here)
- Groene Wissel Oosterbeek, a 14 km round trip starting and ending at the railway station of Oosterbeek. It passes by the airborne cemetery and through the forests west of Oosterbeek.
- Trage tocht Oosterbeek, a 13 km round trip starting and ending at the railway station of Oosterbeek. It follows more or less the same route as the first half of the Hemelse berg trail, but winds back towards Oosterbeek instead of following the flood plains towards Arnhem.
- Trage tocht Oosterbeek landgoederen, a 12 km round trip starting and ending at the railway station of Oosterbeek. This trail passes through several estates with country houses and landscape gardens in the area north of Oosterbeek.
How to reach Oosterbeek by public transport?
Oosterbeek has a train station, so it is quite easy to reach. Intercity trains don’t stop there though, so you will have to travel via Arnhem. Arnhem station has good connections to Utrecht, Nijmegen and Zwolle. From Arnhem change to the regional train or catch a trolleybus towards Oosterbeek.
What to do after hiking in Oosterbeek?
Oosterbeek is close to Arnhem, the provincial capital of Gelderland. It’s easy to combine your hike in Oosterbeek with a visit to Arnhem. One of the routes I mentioned above even ends there. Arnhem was heavily damaged during World War II and didn’t have much of a historical center to speak of anymore. So for a long time this wasn’t an interesting town form a touristic point of view. Things are changing though. There is a lot going on in Arnhem, from its fashion district to the bars along the Rhine quay and from its forest like parks to the multicultural and lively Spijkerkwartier. It’s worth a visit!
If you stay in Arnhem, you could easily do some more hiking the next day. There are good hiking opportunities in the area east of Arnhem, roughly between Velp and Dieren. Or you could move on towards National Park De Hoge Veluwe.
Other nearby cities to visit are Nijmegen, Deventer and Zutphen.