Fun things to do in Netherlands

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    'Dwarsgracht'- bike or boat trip

    by vtveen Updated Dec 3, 2010

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    The hamlet of Dwarsgracht is a real alternative for the famous, but very touristy, town of Giethoorn. Although just 3 km's away it is a complete different world.
    The same canal(s), small bridges, boats and thatched roof houses. But in Dwarsgracht you will hardly see any tourist.

    There is just one café restaurant ('De Otterskooi') and this is an ideal starting point for either a boat trip with a so called 'whispering boat' or for a bike tour along the canals and lakes. At 'De Otterskooi' you can rent them both.
    Or just walk along the main canal through the village and enjoy the views over the water, the houses, the flowers, the birds and further away waving reed.

    Dwarsgracht is signposted from Giethoorn and you have to follow a narrow, sometimes winding road.

    Dwarsgracht: main canal and bike track Dwarsgracht: still punting Punt 'out of order' Dwarsgracht: side canal to a lake Dwarsgracht: reed land
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    • Cycling
    • Hiking and Walking
    • National/State Park

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    Noordoostpolder - auto tour to the tulips

    by vtveen Updated May 3, 2012

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    The Netherlands is famous for its tulips and other bulbs. Everybody knows the Keukenhof and the so called 'Bloembollenstreek' (Bulb Region) in the western part of my country between Haarlem and Leiden.

    But there is a complete other way to see these wonderful flowers. In one of our polders, the 'Noordoostpolder' is the biggest area with tulips in the Netherlands. Late April/early May there are lots of activities around the blooming time of the tulips. Everywhere along the road you can buy some fresh tulips for a couple of euro's.

    We made the signposted car tour along the 'Bollenroute' (or 'Tulpenroute'); this is 100 km long route through the Noordoostpolder, which shows a lot of tulip fields. Besides it is more or less amazing if you realise the fact that you are driving on the bottom of a former sea.

    Along the route are a lot of interesting sites to make a stop, among them:
    - an information centre and show garden with hundreds of tulip species;
    - a huge orchid garden;
    - a garden where you can pick your own tulips (http://www.tulpenpluktuin.nl/).

    For directions, activities and a map see the website.

    Tulip Noordoostpolder: lots of tulip fields also some hyacinths show garden with hundreds of species one tulip made of hundreds
    Related to:
    • Road Trip

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    Borger - walk or bike along the Dutch Dolmens

    by vtveen Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The Dutch province of Drenthe has 52 of the 54 remaining Dutch dolmens, or better megalithic tombs. These huge stone graves were built by farmers belonging to the ‘Funnel Beaker Culture’. They started building these tombs more than 5.000 year ago. They used the boulders, scattered around in this area, which were transported to Drenthe during the last ice period.

    Borger, a small village in Drenthe, is more or less the capital of the Dutch Dolmens. In and around the village are 16 of these ‘hunebedden’ (Dutch for megalithic tomb) and just outside Borger is the ‘Hunebedcentrum’ (a museum and megalithic tombs information centre). Here you may find more information about the people, who made these tombs, their way of living and much more.

    The best way to see the dolmens in the landscape is to walk or bike. In the museum or Tourist Information Centre in Borger are several brochures available with cycling and walking routes.
    We did the ‘Flintenroute’ (flint = boulder): a bike tour along the major tombs and through the typical landscape of Drenthe. That means forest, heathland, sheep and small quiet villages. The route is 35 km’s long and it will take 2 ½ hours biking.

    Renting a bike is no problem in Borger.
    See for a hotel in Borger ‘hotels & accommodation’ tips.

    Hunebed in Bronneger (near Borger) Hunebed: close to the Hunebedcentrum in Borger Hunebed: along the Flintenroute Exloo (Flintenroute): sheep going to their fold Odoorn (Flintenroute): church
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    De Meinweg - bike tour

    by vtveen Updated Oct 6, 2005

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    National Park ‘De Meinweg’ is one of the most unknown national parks in the Netherlands. It is situated in the province of Limburg between Roermond and Vlodrop.

    The landscape is not as flat as in the rest of the country and not as hilly as in parts of South Limburg. All together an ideal area for a bike tour and to enjoy the very varied landscape. With vast forests, heathland and small pools. It is said there should be vipers in the park, but to be honest we didn’t see them.

    Best place to start your bike tour is the information centre along the road from Roermond to Vlodrop. Here you can also get a free brochure of the bike tour. The tour through the park is 15 km’s long, but you may extend it through the neighbourhood with some rural villages, an old castle (hotel/restaurant) and a water mill.

    For rental bikes:
    Elfenmeer Herkenbosch (0475 – 531689)
    Boshotel Vlodrop (0475 – 534959)
    Rijwielhuis Piet Daemen (0475 – 401727)
    Or ask the information centre.

    See also 'accommodation tip': Vlodrop.

    If you don’t like biking, you can start for sign posted walks from the information centre to the most beautiful parts of the park, including some of the pools.

    Directions: www.viamichelin.com

    Pool lunch time heathland rural Limburg Castle Herkenbosch: welcome to the middle ages
    Related to:
    • National/State Park
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Cycling

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    Zaanse Schans

    by margaretvn Written Aug 28, 2005

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    This area on the river Zaan has typical Zaan houses, windmills and buidlings. In some of the windmills you can still buy their products - I really like the mustard mill. All the houses are built from wood and coated in tar. Stone houses would have sunk into the peat earth. Here is also the very first "Albert Heijn" shop which dates from 1887 - nowadays there is an AH in almost every village in the country. There is also a cheese making factory and a great pancake restuarant- My favourite pancake is always apple and bacon and then topped with syrup. While wandering around you are often breathin in the heavy sweet smell of cocoa from the chocolate factories along the Zaan.

    Zaanse Schans
    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture
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    Kootwijkerzand - shifting-sand

    by vtveen Updated Aug 20, 2013

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    This part of the Veluwe has an unique scenery with the biggest shifting-sand area of Europe. Surrounded by forests and just close to the very small village of Kootwijk, it is one of the most remote parts of the Netherlands. Therefore it is such a pity that tourist facilities, like camping sites and holiday parks are coming closer and closer to this unique spot.

    The only way to explore “Kootwijkerzand” is to walk. Personally we prefer to stroll around without using paths. It is such an amazing landscape, sometimes the sand is almost white, other parts are covered by moss or small pines. And always the sand is drifting in the wind and the landscape is constantly changing. Sometimes it seems to be a little Sahara, specially when temperatures in the sun reach 50 degrees Celsius !!

    If you don’t like to walk, just find a nice spot on one of the hills (they are called a ‘fort’) and just sit down and look around, see the living skies and enjoy this beautiful scenery.

    Kootwijk is within easy reach of the highway between Amersfoort and Apeldoorn. In the village turn left on the (only) junction; follow “Kerkendelweg” and turn right into “Houtzagersweg”. At the end of the sealed road is a car park. Go through a small gate and walk for about 500 metres straight on. Suddenly you will reach this huge sandbox. Stroll around, but just take care you don’t get lost and can not find your way out !!

    (on the road between Kootwijk and Harskamp is a car park with a short sign posted track, but we don’t like that part too much, because it is ‘overcrowded’).

    Directions: www.viamichelin.com

    Sand hills everywhere North Sea coast, Sahara......no Kootwijkerzand living skies one tree left the scenery is always changing
    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking
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    De Rijp

    by margaretvn Updated Sep 7, 2008

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    This beautiful little town in North Holland is a gem. It was once on Schermer Island in the Zuiderzee. Many of its buildings date back to the 17th century. It was then that the town flourished - that was mainly due to the whaling. It is the birthplace of Jan Adriaansz. Leeghwater who invented a system that used windmills to drain a lake after a "ring canal" had been built around it. This meant that is was quite easy to pump dry deeper and larger lakes and getting the first areas of reclaimed land.
    "In 't Houten Huis" shows the history of Schermer island and also has an exhibition about Leeghwater.

    De Waag, De Rijp
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    Kinderdijk

    by margaretvn Updated May 8, 2005

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    Kinderdijk with its 19 windmills is a World heritage site and protected area. The 19 windmills were used to drain the Alblasserwaard in the past/ It is were the Noord and Lek rivers join. As the land settled new “Boezems” (drainage pools) and mills were needed to span the height difference as the land settled. It is not far from our home and we often go as there are several lovely walks through the area. It is beautiful in all seasons although you do really need warm clothing on the colder days as the wind can really howl here. I remember so well first seeing them on one of my first visits to The Netherlands - the waters were frozen and there were so many people skating – it was just like a painting from one of the “old masters”
    It does get very busy in the tourist season and parking at weekends is sometimes difficult. Parking very near the mills is limited and it is nearly always busy – try to go in the week when it can be a little less crowded. At the parking area near the mills is a little cafe and gift shop. There are several restaurants along the road through the village. Be careful walking along the road through the village as it does get very busy with traffic.

    Kinderdijk
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    Frans Hals Museum

    by margaretvn Written Jun 27, 2004

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    The museum is housed in a 17th century building which is in the centre of the historic area of the city of Haarlem. This is where the Dutch Golden Age started to floourish. The Frans Hals Museum shows the art of that period.
    There are 11 paintings by Frans Hals and wonderful paintings by Ruiddael, Jan Steen (I love his paintings) Van Goyen and many others. The wonderful paintings hang between oak tables, and cabinets full of silver and porcelain. It really is a wonderful museum.

    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture
    • Family Travel

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    Van Gogh Museum

    by margaretvn Written Jun 27, 2004

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    This museum houses the world's largest collection of Vicent van Gogh - with more than 200 paintings.
    Van Gogh relied on financial help from his brother Theo during his career. Theo was an art dealer. When Vicent died in July 1890 his brother owned nearly all his paintings. Theo died just 6 months after his brother and the paintings passed to his widow (Johanna van Gogh-Bonger) and then on to his son Vicent Willam van Gogh (1890-1978).
    In 1962 the works that were still in the family were bought by the newly established Vicent van Gogh Foundation. Funds for the pruchase were from the Dutch state which also constructed the museum to house the works. The museum opened in 1973, the collection is still growing as works are bought, donated or lent to the museum.
    On the day we went there was a long queue to visit it by the time the musuem opened at 10.00.

    view of Amsterdam
    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Museum Visits
    • Arts and Culture

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    The Rembrandt House and museum

    by margaretvn Written Jun 26, 2004

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    Rembrandt bought this house in 1639, when he was already famous. Unfortunately Rembrandt also collected in a great scale (often using the attributes in his paintings) and in 1656 he went bankrupt because he could not pay all his debts. We can be thankful for that really because it meant that lists were made of everything in his house before all the valuables were sold at auction. That has meant that is has been possible to know how his house was furnished when he lived there.
    The house has been restored to its former glory and it has been furnished with things from my favourite artists time. There is an almost complete collection of the Masters etchings - they are wonderful, you could spend hours looking at them. there are demonstrations about the way etchings were made which are very interesting. There are also demonstations on how paint was made in his time.
    opening times
    mon-sat. 10.00 - 17.00 sun 13.00 - 17.00

    Rembrandt House
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    • Museum Visits
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    Gouda - not to be missed

    by margaretvn Written Sep 7, 2008

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    A really lovely little city close to our home is Gouda and we often go there for a day out. We have walked to the city from our home a couple of times - it takes a couple of hours but is a nice walk and we are ready for a cup of coffee when we get to the centre! The best place to park is at the station (paid parking) especially during the summer months and the weekends. Of course Gouda is famous for its cheese and every thursday during the summer months there is a cheese market behind the city hall and in front of "de Waag". I love the fairytale like stadhuis (townhall) which dates back to 1450 and is one of the oldest in the Netherlands. You have to wait there until the hour to see the little figures came out of the side wall when the clock chimes. The St Jans church dates from 1485, it was rebuilt in 1552 after being struck by fire. it has some beautiful stained glass windows which were donated by rich catholic benefactors between 1555-1571. One of them was Philip II of Spain. After the reformation though the church became a protestant church. Also worth visiting is the pipe museum and the Stedelijk museum. The Stedelijk museum is in the former Catherina Gasthuis (St Catherine's hospital) and it has paintings from the Hague school. The Catherina Gasthuis dates from the 14th century.

    Gouda Gouda - townhall Gouda - townhall (detail) Gouda - townhall (detail) Gouda
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    Delden – walk around Castle Twickel

    by vtveen Updated Dec 3, 2010

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    Today Delden is a quiet and nice town in the middle of the province of Overijssel in the eastern part of the Netherlands. It was already a city in the year 1333 and became a small fortified town. A lot of the historic buildings – among them a water tower and the Blasius Church - still exist and can be seen during a town walk. There is also a salt museum to visit.

    But the main attraction is Castle Twickle, located just outside town. This is one of the most beautiful castles in the Netherlands. It has been built in 1347 and even today the castle is lived in by private persons. That is also the reason why we (and you) only could take a look at the outside of the castle; the gardens however are open for public.

    The rural estate - 4000 acres - is a perfect place for a walk or a hike. It is an area of natural beauty with splendid forest, waterways, small meadows, farmhouses, a water mill ‘Noordmolen’, a museum farmhouse ‘Wendezoele’ and a walled garden with an interesting nursery ‘de Border’.
    All these places are signposted and you can stroll around for free. Or better make a longer walk over the estate as we did during a 16 km hike in the fall with amazing colours around and almost no other people on the way. (It must also be beautiful in spring with thousands of flowering rhododendrons.)

    Information
    Information about the town walk or walks around Twickel, Wendezoele and Noordmolen:
    VVV Delden, Langestraat 29, Delden
    www.vvvdelden.nl

    Castle Twickel:
    Opening hours garden: May 1 – November 1, Thursday till Saturday, 11.00 am – 5.00 pm.
    www.twickel.nl

    Twickel Castle Twickel Castle - garden Twickel Castle - Wendelzoele Twickel Castle - water mill Twickel Castle - fall
    Related to:
    • Castles and Palaces
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    Breda

    by MATIM Written Sep 20, 2004

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    The history of Breda dates back to the early days of the 12th century. Gradually the fishing village developed into a small town surrouded by walls. It was a small market town in which the harbour had a very important role. Merchandise was shipped to Breda from the surroundings to be sold near the port.
    In the 14th and 15th centuries, Breda grew into a real royal residence. In the 16th century, during the reign of Count Hendrik the thirth, Breda prospered. Under the leadership of the count, the city expanded considerably. After Breda had completed its fortifications, the town could develop into an important economic centre. Periods for over six times, first by the Spaniards, then by the State army and eventually recaptured by the French.
    Last century, the city finally developed undisturbedly. In that manner Breda grew into its present shape.
    Now, Breda is a medium sized town with a population of about 126.000

    Big market Breda
    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Trains
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    The 4th largest city

    by Nathalie_B Written May 1, 2004

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    Utrecht is the 4th largest city of the Netherlands and it is situated right in the middle of the country. Utrecht is famous for its canals not less than Amsterdam, but what makes them unique is terraces close to the water. The 112 meters high Dom Tower is the symbol of the city and can be seen pretty much from everywhere. Canal cruises and water bikes are very popular in this city as well and it also has lots of museums to choose from. In other words this city has a lot to offer all you have to is is visit.

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