Are you an enthusiastic hiker? Then perhaps a long distance hike in Holland is just the thing for you. Going on a hiking holiday will get you off the beaten track. Especially in these times of COVID-19 this may be the perfect activity. After all, you’ll avoid the crowds (most of the time). There are several well documented long distance hiking trails in Holland offering you an insight in the diversity of Dutch nature. In this blog I’ll explain where to find the route descriptions and I’ll give some suggestions for cool long distance hikes in Holland.
Where to find route descriptions for long distance hikes in Holland?
If you really want to go for it, go on a hiking holiday in Holland. As an independent traveler you may want to organize this yourself. This is easy, as there are several well documented long distance hiking trails in the Netherlands. An overview of all long distance hikes in Holland is available at wandelnet.nl.
Unfortunately, the Wandelnet website is completely in Dutch! On the other hand, it is easy to use and in the end the things that you really need are language independent: maps and/or GPS-tracks.
On the overview page of Wandelnet you’ll see buttons linking to the different trails. Note that for some inexplicable reason some trails have been split in 2 or 3 parts.
Click on the button of a trail and you’ll get to a page with a map of that particular trail. At the left hand side you’ll note links to the descriptions of the separate sections of about 20 to 30 km each (in Dutch: “etappes“). On the mobile version you’ll have to switch between “toon kaart” (show map) and “toon lijst” (show list, of the sections). Each section has its own description, map and GPS track. All of these you can download for free!
The trails are also signposted with white/red marks that you will spot along the way. However, I would advice against depending completely on the signposts. You may miss one and get completely off track.
Suggestions for long distance hikes in Holland
Pieterpad (the southern half of Pieterpad has its own page at the Wandelnet website) is the most famous long distance hiking trail among the Dutch. It connects the village of Pieterburen in Groningen province up north to the St Pietersberg near Maastricht all the way down south in 26 day hikes. It passes through the extremely flat landscapes of Groningen province, the moors and desolate flats of Drenthe province and the forests and hills of Overijssel, Gelderland and Limburg provinces. You’ll see some of the diversity of Dutch nature. Not the coast though.
Pieterpad is very popular among Dutch people, due to the fact, I guess, that it passes through atypical Dutch landscapes, such as hills and forests. This may not be what you are looking for as a tourist. But the fun thing probably is that you will meet up with Dutch hikers, and that there is plenty of accommodation along the route. The flip side is of course that it is probably wise to book your accommodation in advance.
Zuiderzeepad is a round trip of 28 days around the former Zuiderzee, now IJsselmeer. You will pass by some of the famous historical harbor towns and fishing villages such as Monnickendam, Volendam, Marken, Hoorn, Enkhuizen, Kampen, Harderwijk, Elburg and Amsterdam, and cross the 32 kilometer long Afsluitdijk (or just take the bus if you don’t fancy hiking on a dam all day) .
From a touristic point of view this is an interesting long distance hike, as you’ll pass by many quaint old harbor towns. On the other hand, you may find it lacks diversity. Perhaps you should consider hiking part of this trail, for example the part from Amsterdam up to Den Oever.
Trekvogelpad is a long distance hike that starts on the beach in Bergen aan Zee, close to Alkmaar. Via Amsterdam, it crosses all the way east towards Enschede in 23 days. It crosses 2 National Parks: Utrechtse Heuvelrug NP and Hoge Veluwe NP. This is I guess the most diverse of the long distance hikes in Holland, passing through dunes, polders, cities, forests, sandy soils and peat areas.
4. Nederlands kustpad
Nederlands Kustpad is a trail along the North Sea coast (and links to part 2 and a part 3), starting in Sluis, close to the Belgian border and terminating 725 kilometers further in Kostverloren, a village near the German border in the very northeast of Holland. You’ll pass by many dikes, the famous Delta Works, dunes, harbors and historical fishing villages.
This may be a tough one, as hiking along the beach and through the dunes is extra strenuous. Also, on a hot day there may be no shadow around. On the other hand, lots of fresh air!
Where to stay during your long distance hike in Holland?
The official hiking trails are designed in such a way that you’ll always end your day in a (small) town or near some sort of accommodation. I advice you to prepare well and book your accommodations ahead. Some smaller towns may not have too many places to stay.
You might also consider camping. That will make you a little more flexible and it is cheaper. On the other hand you’ll have to carry a lot of extra weight. Check the overview of Dutch campsites. In summer you may need to book ahead too.
Is it safe to hike in Holland?
Yes, in general it is safe. As we don’t have truly wild nature or wild animals (though a few wolves have been spotted in recent years) , hiking is safer in Holland than in many other countries. You can’t slide down a mountain as we don’t have any mountains. Or get completely lost, as Holland is a densely populated country. Sooner or later you’ll run into another person or find a signpost. The most extreme weather we get is a long rainstorm with some thunder. So nothing to worry about.
In the eastern part of the country be aware of dogs. They live on farms and may behave aggressively. Usually they won’t attack though, but they may give you a scare.
Reaching the starting point of the hiking trails
Best thing to do is to travel by public transport. Most of the long distance hiking trails aren’t circular, so it’s not handy to come by car.
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.
Day hikes in Holland
Are you more interested in shorter day hikes? Then read my blog about finding day hikes in Holland.