The Netherlands is renowned for being flat, full of cows, and honestly not that exciting for hikers. Right? Let’s not mention all that rain.
But, turns out hiking in the Netherlands is not only possible but offers some pretty stunning outlooks. Let’s look at four of the myths about hiking in the Netherlands and bust them! (Theme music please…)
I started hiking in the Netherlands at the beginning of 2019, and let me tell you that it was one of the best decisions I have made so far. Since I am from a Costa Rica, a country that is a hiking paradise, my mind wanted to resist the risk of being disappointed; but my hiking-heart was going crazy without having any adventure underfoot.
So I gave in, invested in some waterproof hiking boots, marked the closest train station, and my Dutch hiking experience began.
But when I told others about my adventures hiking around the Netherlands, all I heard was laughs and sceptical comments ringing in my ears.
“That is not hiking,” they scorn, or “but there are no mountains,” “all the country is the same” and “that is easy.”
My answers to all these comments in order are: wrong, true, wrong and not at all. Curious? Let’s dive into hiking in the Netherlands.
4Myth: Hiking in the Netherlands is not hiking
Let’s break this down a little. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, hiking is defined as ‘the activity of going for long walks in the countryside’. So let’s look at the facts:
1) the Netherlands is full of countryside and,
2) walking around it for a long time makes it a hike.
Locals have been doing these long walks for years, either as a way of transport or just for fun. Even the whole country is well-marked with wandelen pads, and there are strategic, well-located bed & breakfasts that will give you a taste of Dutch hospitality.
Hiking in the Netherlands isn’t hiking: Myth busted.
3Myth: You need mountains to hike
Indeed, the Netherlands is as flat as a pancake with some small lumps in the east, and shy dunes in the west. So, if your goal is to reach only high peaks on your hikes, this is not the place.
But, if you want to immerse yourself in different types of forests, have direct contact with friendly animals and experience how the Dutch live in the countryside, this could be your place.
You need mountains to hike: Mythbusted.
2Myth: All of the Dutch countrysides looks the same
Well, it is the same country, so many areas do look alike. But, as an expat, every place is new for me. At the beginning, passing windmills was so exciting and looking the cows just being cows was magical. Now, I don’t feel that excited to see them but I feel powerful to know this country more than some locals.
Also, there are some unique attractions take make the landscape even more amazing, such as the tulip fields in season, the hairy cows, the Groene Hart, the Dutch farmers working on wooden shoes, klompen, (for real they are still using them) and the countryside houses selling seasonal and local products.
All of the Dutch countryside looks the same: Mythbusted.
1Myth: Hiking in the Netherlands is easy!
Well, that depends not only on the physical status you have but also the mental status. I was used to hiking mountains and normally the highest peak was the ultimate goal. But in the Netherlands, I learned to appreciate every stage, and walking on a flat and straight path could be mentally challenging as well.
I discovered that while reaching the highest point could be hard to do, walking for several hours not knowing what to expect is even more difficult for stamina, and it showed me to appreciate more along the way than just the finish line.
Luckily, if you regret your decision in the middle of a hike, there is an amazing public transport system in the Netherlands, so you can go back home from wherever you are.
If this did not convince you at all to start hiking in this wonderful country, I have many other reasons to convince you. Just keep in touch and I will share with you my outdoor adventures and some unmissable Dutch treasures.
Hiking in the Netherlands is easy: Mythbusted.
Have you been hiking in the Netherlands? What do you think of the experience? Let us know in the comments below!
Feature Image: Carmen Monge
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in November 2019 and has been updated in January 2021 for your reading pleasure.