7 breathtaking places to hike in the Netherlands this winter

Grab those hiking boots and a scarf ❄️

Winter is finally in here, which means Netflix, hot chocolate, and every reason to stay inside (yeah, we’re working on that winter body). To all my friends: see you again in March, or whenever the warm weather is back in the Netherlands.

At least, that’s what my winters have looked like for the past three years. But this year, I promised myself that things were going to be different!

No more wasted hours in front of the computer, watching terrible Hallmark movies (well, maybe a couple of those guilty pleasures).

This year will be the year that I join the crazy people who go hiking in the middle of winter. Yes, I will be one of those insane individuals you see on adventure holidays in the Dutch forests.

And if prejudice and poor geography knowledge have made you think you can’t hike in the Netherlands, think again.

1. Explore Texel: the ultimate winter getaway

An advantage to the flat landscape is that you can see super far. Image: Carmen Monge/Supplied.

This island is the perfect destination for a weekend away in the colder months of the year. The winter season on Texel is not very crowded, so you’ll have plenty of space to wander around. Oh, and you can see seals on the beach. Seals!

READ MORE | Exploring Dutch islands: a guide to visiting Texel

When you’ve worked up an appetite from hiking, you can try the local delicacies, such as slow-cooked lamb with a Texel Beer to wash it down.

If you want some adventure and see some wild animals, you should definitely check out the calm and easily accessible Texel.

2. Take a hike in Veluwe: a national park to die for

Veluwe National Park is a winter paradise. Here, you can see wild animals, and as it gets colder and colder every day, fewer people will obstruct the views. It’s quite atmospheric. 😍

This is a place where the deer and mouflons get less shy and stand ready to strike a pose.

READ MORE | A guide to 11 beautiful national parks in the Netherlands

If you get tired of walking, there are free bikes available, included in your ticket to the park.

Make sure to sample some regional specialities like kaaswafels and kaasbolltjes (savoury cheese waffles and cookies) to wrap up an active day out in the wild.

3. Travel through the Dutch dunes

The Dutch dunes are something else. Image: Carmen Monge/Supplied.

The season doesn’t matter when it comes to visiting the Dunes. From Katwijk to Noordwijk or from Scheveningen to Wassenaar, you’ll always find an oasis of wonderful ocean views in the Netherlands.

READ MORE | See the magical summer flower gardens and the Dutch dunes in a unique way

A huge advantage of walking in the Dunes is how easy (and lovely) it makes walking between towns, as well as the fact that most dune areas are well-connected by public transport. My favourite trail is from Noordwijk to Haarlem.

4. Take a trip up north to Groningen

Now, this is quite a unique hiking spot. Image: Carmen Monge/Supplied

If you’ve never visited the north of the Netherlands, this is the perfect excuse to make your way there this winter.

I was surprised to see that the province is full of hiking trails, many of them well-known, such as the beginning of the Pieter Pad or Pronkjewailpad.

READ MORE | The gem of the north: 8 free things to do in Groningen

This province has an interesting history and picturesque scenes that are a must to visit for anyone interested in culture in the Netherlands.

One unique part is ‘t Roegwold, a nature reserve where you can find Knuppelpad (a 750-metre wooden footpath right through the swamp of ‘t Roegwold).

5. Experience the Dutch countryside: find trails in any small town

The very definition of quaint. Image: Carmen Monge/Supplied.

If you live in one of the big Dutch cities and rarely get an excuse to move out of your comfort zone, now is your chance. I walked a lot last year and discovered some beautiful tiny towns between big cities.

The Netherlands is scattered with picturesque villages and towns, just waiting to be discovered. Most have hiking trails on the outskirts of town, and if you’re feeling fit, you can even aim to hike from village to village!

Some of my favourites include, but are not limited to: SchoonhovenAppingedamHaastrecht, and Jisp.

6. Enjoy some Dutch “mountains” at Schoorl

An incline? In the Netherlands?? Image: Gouwenaar/Wikimedia Commons/CC1.0

Miss a good incline under your feet? Then I recommend the Klimduin in Schoorl. This quaint Dutch village offers some great dunes — including this nice and steep starting point.

Once you reach the top of this beauty (sweaty and ready to go), you can wander through gorgeous dunes, past fields of heather, and eventually make your way to the beach for a chilly dip!

After a long day’s hike, you can then return to the top of the Klimduin, roll down it, and treat yourself to a nice meal at one of Schoorl’s many gezellig restaurants and cafés.

7. Stick to the classics, hike in your local park

I walked enough last year to find that every Dutch city has a (sometimes huge) park. So, check Google Maps for the green zones, and start walking hiking!

You’ll be surprised by how much your local town or city has to offer — you can usually walk for hours among the trees in your very own backyard.

READ MORE | The Singelpark in Leiden: how citizens created one of the best parks in the Netherlands

Why not make a park bucket-list, and see how many of your local green areas you can explore this winter? Picnics, sports, outdoor gym classes, park bench reading sessions — the options are endless when it comes to activities.

Ready to start hiking the Netherlands?

What are you waiting for? Now is the time to get acquainted with the Dutch winterscape! Grab your rain boots, a good sweater, get up from the couch, and keep discovering this amazing little country!

BONUS TIPS: Don’t know where to start walking? Try the wandelen.nl app! it’s handy on the go, and it can give you tons of ideas about where to begin.

If you’re going to Groningen, try the free app Groningen Routes. If you head to Veluwe, you can find a map for only €2 at the ticket office!

My bucket list for this winter includes Paal 29 in North Holland, and a repeat of the golf course near Warmond (my local park).

What’s on your winter wandelen bucket list? Tell us in the comments below!

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in January 2020, and was fully updated in October 2023 for your reading pleasure. 

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Carmen Monge
Carmen Monge
After moving 5 times between continents, this Costa Rican blogger ended up falling in love with Dutch life. She is ready to share her passion for everything eatable, walkable and enjoyable between canals and windmills. She spends her days reading reviews, missing tropical weather, mastering travel budges and marking spots on google maps. She tries to experience how the locals live by eating local food and hiking around.

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