Wild swimming in the Netherlands: the best spots for a dip

Take the plunge! ๐ŸŠโ€โ™€๏ธ

When I was housesitting in Amsterdam’s IJburg neighbourhood, I started wild swimming. ๐ŸŒŠ

The house was located right next to the IJmeer, which made convincing myself to plunge into that icy water just a tiny bit easier. After all, I need only run 20 seconds back to a steaming bath.ย 

Wild swimming is exactly that โ€” swimming in natural bodies of water and getting close to nature. I was surprised by how addicting it became despite not thinking of myself as a water person.

However, upon googling the term, it quickly became apparent that there is a whole community in the Netherlands that loves wild swimming just as much as I do.

Taking the plunge? Here’s where you can wild swim in the Netherlands

The Ijmeer was the first place I started wild swimming in the Netherlands. Image: Depositphotos

So where in the Netherlands can you go for a wild swim? The canal that your house backs onto? Or do you have to head to the coast to dive headfirst into the North Sea?

READ MORE | The 18 most magnificent lakes in the Netherlands (near Amsterdam and beyond)

Not necessarily. I’ve scoured the country and found eight perfect places for wild swimming in the Netherlands. All you have to do is read on and then head off to your nearest spot! ๐ŸŠโ€โ™‚๏ธ

1. Scheveningen Beach

Who says you have to swim alone? Wild swimming is already somewhat of a trend here as hundreds of Dutchies partake in the famous Nieuwjaarsduik or New Yearโ€™s dive.

On January 1 of each year, you’ll see thousands of Dutchies run like maniacs into the cold North Sea. Here’s an idea: Join in!

Scheveningen beach is easily accessible from The Hague (it’s just a 10-minute train ride) and during winter you’ll undoubtedly have the stretch of the beach to yourself.

2. Valkenburg Meer

A small but easily accessible lake that is located a mere 15-minute cycle from the centre of Leiden.

Equipped with a lakeside cafรฉ, this is a great option for wild swimming as you can head to the warmth of the indoors immediately after.

3. Veluwemeer

A beautiful view overlooking the Veluwemeer. Image: Gouwenaar/Wikimedia/CC1.0

A narrow lake that borders the provinces of Flevoland and Gelderland. The depth of this manmade lake is rather shallow, averaging 1.55 metres.

So don’t break a leg when you get too excited jumping in head first! ๐Ÿค•

4. Loosdrechtse Plassen

Loosdrechtse Plassen is a little out of the way if you live in Utrecht but still a great swimming spot.

The best place to access the water is from De Strook, where boats dock. There is no sandy beach so you’ll just have to jump off the dock and climb out.

5. IJmeer

Jetties at the end of Noordhoekkade in IJBurg. Granted, it looks pretty miserable but, remember all those healing effects? Image: Freya Sawbridge/Supplied

It can be tricky to take find a spot to jump in here as the riverside bank is covered in rocks, so I’d recommend jumping off the jetty located on Wim Noordhoekkade at the very end of the IJBurg neighbourhood.

You can use the ladder to ease into the water or just jump directly off the jetty.

Alternatively, you can venture to the Strand Blijburg as it’s a sandy area and you can wade into the water slowly.

6. Sloterplas

The Sloterplas lake is another great spot near Amsterdam for wild swimming! Image: Eriksw/Wikimedia Commons/CC4.0

A large park surrounds this lake โ€” which makes the setting particularly beautiful.

You can also warm up before your swim by cycling a few laps around the water!

๐Ÿ“Œ Where: Sloterpas, 1064 GW, Amsterdam.

7. Kralingse Plas

The view over the Kralingse Plas. Image: Unsplash

This one’s a mix of both park and beach (although you’re not exactly going to settle in for a picnic during the depths of winter).

But there are toilets and restaurants nearby, so you can dash for a hot chocolate after your refreshing wild swim!

8. De Heijplaat

This little beach is located in Heijplaat, which is a little village located within the port of Rotterdam.

READ MORE | 6 Lakes and Beaches in Rotterdam that you must explore this summer

If you head down the little โ€œsecretโ€ path, alongside the houses, youโ€™ll find yourself on this quiet beach. You can take a dip while watching the ships pass by between the ports.

What about swimming in the canals?

Let’s face it, canals may not be the best places to swim. Image: Depositphotos

In summer, I swam a couple of times in the canals in Leiden as there are many parks with grassy banks that lead to a canal.

But what about swimming in the canals in Amsterdam? Well, I’ve done that too.

Sceptical? Fair enough, so here is what you should know.

Waterways in Amsterdam used to be treated as a sewer back in the 19th century and although this stopped, the canals remained polluted well into the 20th century, even after rubbish collection services and sewers were introduced.

The cleanliness has improved over time but it’s nowhere near perfect, and a lot of people wouldn’t choose to swim in them.

Nonetheless, there is the annual Amsterdam City Swim, a charity swimming event in Amsterdam’s waterways.

READ MORE | Best beaches in the Netherlands: the ultimate guide to Dutch beaches

Understandably, it can take a bit of convincing to leave your warm abode and throw yourself into a cold (potentially dirty) body of water nearby.

But hey, it only has to be for a couple of seconds and isn’t it nice to feel reinvigorated and like you’ve done something challenging with your day?

Have you tried wild swimming in the Netherlands? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image:Unsplash
Freya Sawbridge
Freya Sawbridge
Freya was born in Edinburgh but raised in New Zealand (cue every person she meets saying โ€œoh I have always wanted to go there but itโ€™s so far away!โ€). A restless and curious nature has led her to move countries 5 times in the last 3 years in attempt to find a place she can call home. She contacted DutchReview on a whim and arrived in the Netherlands in summer 2019 to start her internship.

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  1. Um, when I was young and lived in NL, we just called it swimming. Ditto in New Guinea. There were close to zero manmade pools, so you got your towel, got on your bike and went swimming. Not quite seeing the novelty here.


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