When looking at a map of Holland, you may think that the province of Zeeland is pretty centrally located between the larger Dutch cities in the north and the Belgian cities Antwerp and Bruges in the south. But if you travel by public transport, Zeeland is not that easy to reach. Still, it is an amazing province to visit, for hikers as well as for those interested in historical cities and for beach bums. I think that this may well be the prettiest province of the Netherlands, especially on a sunny day. If you don’t have much time to explore, hiking between Vlissingen and Zoutelande is a good and relatively easy to reach option.
Hiking from Vlissingen to Zoutelande
If you want to go hiking in Zeeland and you are travelling by public transport, the easiest area to visit is the peninsula of Zuid Beveland and Walcheren. Though this is one peninsula now, Walcheren was an island up to 1871, hence the two names. The larger towns Middelburg, Vlissingen and Goes are situated on this peninsula as well as the pretty tourist towns Domburg and Veere. This is the only peninsula of Zeeland that is accessible by train. So if you have only a limited amount of time, a hike from Vlissingen to Zoutelande is just perfect!
Finding hiking trails in Zeeland
- Zoutelande-Vlissingen/Souburg (GPS track available), a 19 km hike from Vlissingen Souburg to Zoutelande, or vice versa. If you want to shorten this trail a little, skip the Souburg part and start (or end) at Vlissingen railway station. Walk directly from the railway station to Vlissingen harbor via the locks and along the dike. Just follow the signs.
- Vlissingen – Westkapelle (19 km), follows more or less the same trail as above. It skips Souburg and goes on past Zoutelande to the village of Westkapelle
- Or find your own (shorter) route via the website of the Walcheren Tourist Information. These will cost you about 2 to 5 euro per route description.
Vlissingen (Flushing in English) is a town that dates back to the 13th century. During the Golden Age (17th century) this was an important harbor, even though not nearly as important as nearby Middelburg, the capital of the province of Zeeland. Though Vlissingen has over 300 historical monuments, my first impression was that it s a modern town with a lot of modern high rise buildings.
I would not call Vlissingen one of the prettiest towns of the Netherlands. The best thing about it is its location along the Westerschelde (waterway), the main entrance to the harbor of Antwerp in Belgium. From the boulevard and beach of Vlissingen you can see the big ships passing by towards Antwerp harbor. This – in combination with its accessibility by public transport – makes it a cool and convenient starting point for your hike. If you want to read more about Vlissingen, visit the website of the Vlissingen Tourist Information.
Between Vlissingen and Zoutelande
Coming from Vlissingen your hike will first take you to the old harbor, an area with historical houses, boats, many bars and restaurants and the Vlissingen Museum. This is a pleasant area to hang out on a sunny day. If you want to make it all the way to Zoutelande, don’t chill out for too long!
Moving on you will pass by the statue of Michiel de Ruyter, a Vlissingen native and one of the 17th century naval heroes of the Netherlands. From here onward the trail follows the boulevard of Vlissingen. This is not the prettiest part of town. Still, you’ll have lovely views of the Westerschelde river and the big ships on their way to and from Antwerp harbor. Also, you’ll pass by the former prison, an old tower that is now a restaurant (De Gevangenentoren).
From the end of the boulevard the hiking trail crosses one of the beaches of Vlissingen before it sets off into the dunes. In the provinces of Noord-and Zuid Holland, dunes are a landscape of several kilometers wide with sandy dunes, forests and lakes, but in this part of Zeeland, there is just one row of dunes between the beach and sea on the one side and the agricultural areas on the other. Your hiking trail happens to be situated right on top of that one row of dunes. The sights are pretty: yellow and blue on your left hand side and green and red on the right hand side. The views are awesome!
Your trail may or may not end in Zoutelande. This is a small and quite touristy village. There is not that much to see in Zoutelande: a windmill, an old church, a lighthouse. The most important attraction of Zoutelande is its beach. The place has become better known since a song was written about it by the Dutch band BLØF. This song totally confirms that there is not that much to do here. Watch the video for the song and some visuals of Zoutelande village and beach.
Despite the fact that there is not that much to do here Zoutelande is an excellent place for relaxation. There are some nice beach restaurants to relax and enjoy the sound of the waves. You may want to go for a swim to cool down. Or you could decide to keep on walking towards Westkapelle (just follow the coastline).
Getting to Zeeland, and away
Reaching Vlissingen by public transport
You can easily reach Vlissingen by train. There are two direct trains every hour from Amsterdam to Vlissingen, passing by Haarlem, Leiden, Den Haag/The Hague, Delft, Rotterdam and Middelburg. It is quite a lengthy trip though. Travel time from Amsterdam to Vlissingen is almost 3 hours, from Rotterdam it is 1,5 hours.
I hiked this trail when I still lived in Amsterdam. We left quite early in the morning and came back in the evening, so it is definitely possible to do this as a (long) day trip.
If you have the possibility to stay in Zeeland for the night I would certainly advise you to do so. Middelburg is the best place to stay if you are a city dwelling kind of person. If you prefer the beach, you may consider Zoutelande, Westkapelle or Domburg and do some more swimming or hiking the day after.
Getting away from Zoutelande by public transport
Buses connect Zoutelande to both Middelburg and Domburg. If you plan to return in the direction of Amsterdam or Rotterdam, you can catch a direct train from Middelburg railway station. If you want to return to Vlissingen, you’ll have to catch a train from Middelburg back to Vlissingen.
In case you want to start your hike in Zoutelande, and hike back towards Vlissingen, make sure you get off the train in Middelburg, and catch a bus to Zoutelande from there.
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.
The best time of the year to go hiking in Zeeland
In my opinion, hiking in Zeeland is best done on a sunny day, preferably outside of the tourist season. In summer – especially in July and August – the province of Zeeland is pretty much overrun by tourists, especially Germans. My guess is that they would typically stay in and around tourist resorts and you won’t be bothered by them too much on this hike. If you’d like to spend the night, your chances of finding nice and affordable accommodation will be a lot higher outside of the summer months, especially when booking last minute.
More important however is the weather, which is quite unpredictable in the Netherlands. On a windy and rainy day, this will be a rough hike, and unless you like that kind of thing I would advice against visiting this area on such a day. There aren’t many trees in this province so it can get very windy and grey. So be warned, keep an eye on the weather forecast and try to decide if you want to go for this hike last minute!
What to do after your hike in Zeeland?
Hang on in Zeeland
Would you like to see some more of Zeeland province? The best place to stay is Middelburg, the capital of Zeeland. Middelburg is the public transport hub for Zeeland, specifically for the peninsula of Walcheren/Zuid Beveland. Besides it is a pretty and historical city with loads of monuments and some interesting museums.
Go on more hikes in Zeeland
For example the hike from Neeltje Jans to Vrouwenpolder, combining beaches and dunes with the most impressive dam in the Netherlands, the Oosterscheldekering, part of the Delta Plan.
Visit the Zeeland beaches
If you’d like to spend some days on the beach, try to find inspiration on the Zeeland Tourist Information website. I’ve only seen the beaches of Zoutelande, Domburg and Breezand. They were nice, but I can’t compare them to others.
Return to Amsterdam or Rotterdam
You could also return to the Rotterdam or Amsterdam areas if that is where you are staying. It is possible to visit Zeeland and do this hike as a (long) day trip.
Visit Noord Brabant province
Move on towards Belgium
Or for a Belgian adventure: take the ferry from Vlissingen to Breskens, and catch a bus from Breskens to the Belgian city of Bruges.