Sand, sea, and a cold beer or cocktail in your hand. Beaches are a symbol of summer and especially in the Netherlands, where the sun is mostly shy, this couldn’t be more true.
The days are getting warmer and it won’t be long before we’re showing off our little pale legs to the world. Jeez, they are probably so pale that they’re going to hurt everyone’s eyes. But let’s not worry about that now. Instead, let’s focus on what we can do to fix it.
The solution is pretty simple — head to one of the Netherlands’ many beautiful beaches. Don’t know which ones are the best? Well, that’s what we’re here for. 😉 Whether you live in the north or the south of the lowlands, a gorgeous beach is never too far away. Our list of top 20 Dutch beaches will get you all set for a hot af summer, so you can get out and go beach all day long.
Coronavirus warning🚨: Beaches are a wonderful place to go to even in these coronavirus times, as it’s quite possible to keep your distance. However, we’ve still gotta say it: take care to avoid crowded areas and if possible, choose less busy times of the day to go out.
Best beaches of Noord-Holland
The province of North Holland has a beach for every ocasion — whether you’re looking for a true nature getaway, a romantic escape, or just a nice place to spend the afternoon with your family.
Zandvoort aan Zee: Amsterdammers’ escape
If you consider yourself a true Amsterdammer, then the name Zandvoort aan Zee will be nothing new to you. This popular sunbathing spot is located a mere 30 kilometres outside Amsterdam, making it the closest beach to the capital. Its convenient location makes it the perfect place to venture to if you need a break from the busy city life.
This long and lovely sandy beach is part of the Zuid-Kennemerland national park, which is known for its magical combination of impressive sand dunes and peaceful forests. What more do you need for a perfect day to unwind?
Paal 29: the hidden beach
Now, in any good beach guide, you want to find some spots that only a few people know about. Paal 29 — a true hidden gem — is one of them (and so are the next three beaches on our list). This secret beach can be reached through the Schoorlse Duinen at the end of a 1.5-hour hike, or by bike (although some of it is uphill, so don’t expect it to be a leisurely ride). Fortunately, there is a beach club at Paal 29, which means you don’t have to lug a picnic with you over the dunes.
The historical site of Camperduin
Camperduin is truly special. As the name already suggests, this beach is surrounded by sand dunes. While this is not that unusual for a Dutch beach, Camperduin also has an artificially created lagoon that is sheltered by these very dunes — how is that for a perfect afternoon swim?
The place also had a real historical value. The Battle of Camperdown, where the Dutch lost a naval battle to the British, took place here in 1797. Best not to rub it in the local Dutchies’ faces, though. 😉
Petten: a romantic escape
If you’re planning a romantic evening at the beach, we can definitely recommend Petten. Its panoramic dune is the perfect spot to watch the sun go down — it even has benches ideally placed for sunset viewing. Petten also great for swimming and easily accessible by public transport or car (free parking!)
Sint Maartenszee beach
If you fancy a double-beach day, Petten and Sint Maartenszee are the perfect pair. Located just five kilometres down from Petten, Sint Maartenszee is easily reached by bike. It’s a beautiful rustic spot, ideal for children with a playground for them to enjoy. You can also rent a sunbed or a windscreen from one of the beach clubs dotted along this beautiful coastline.
Sand dunes of Bloemendaal aan Zee
The beach in Bloemendaal aan Zee is a very popular spot — and with good reason. Like most of our favourite beaches on the list, it is surrounded by nature. The Kennemerduinen are especially beautiful to walk through. And just like all the other good Dutch beaches, Bloemendaal aan Zee is lined with cafés serving delicious snacks and drinks, so you don’t get peckish during your sojourn in the sand.
The beach of Egmond aan Zee
Situated in the northwest of Noord Holland, Egmond aan Zee has one of the most beautiful beaches. The old fishing village, as well as the local lighthouse, are both popular spots to visit, and the local beach is rather quiet. If you’re looking for a place where you can walk along gorgeous sand dunes, go for a peaceful swim, or even spot some wild horses, then this is it.
Beaches of Texel
If you’re after a mini holiday then this one is for you. The island of Texel is located just off the coast of North Holland (Den Helder) and is pretty cheap to get to by ferry. While the island itself is not big, there is a lot to explore — whether it’s the vast beaches, picturesque sand dunes, hills on which Scottish highland cows graze, or the popular lighthouse that you’ll see in every Instagram photo.
If you get tired, there is also plenty of restaurants for you to relax in and replenish your energy. Texel is quite windy, so don’t forget to bring your kite for extra adventure!
Blissful beaches of Zuid-Holland
Whether you’re looking for a place bustling with nightlife or a more laid-back beach, the options in the province of South Holland are endless. What are some of the top beach spots out here?
Scheveningen: the classic
Scheveningen is by far the most popular beach in the Netherlands. No wonder — the beach is HUGE. It has gorgeously fine sand, countless beach bars (who can say no to an ice-cold cocktail on a hot summer’s day?), shops, restaurants, a gaming arcade, a pier, and much more. Scheveningen is a place to visit regardless of the season, as there are plenty of things to do in spring, summer, autumn, as well as in winter. Think of the New Year’s bonfires or the famous Nieuwjaarsduik, where thousands of people throw themselves into the cold waters of the North Sea to welcome the new year.
Scheveningen’s neighbour Zuiderstrand
This beautiful stretch of sand is technically attached to Scheveningen, but it couldn’t feel more different. Far less crowded, Zuiderstrand is framed by the Westduinpark — a nature reserve full of sand dunes, beautiful plants, and tiny hills to walk over (we are in the Netherlands, after all). There are a few beach clubs as well, though not nearly as many as at Scheveningen. Zuiderstrand is the perfect place for a really relaxing day: just bring your book, some sunglasses, and your wallet for the inevitable fry-cravings when they come.
Hoek van Holland: Rotterdammers’ favourite
Hoek van Holland is a beach that every Rottedammer knows. It’s located just a quick 30-minute journey outside the city and you can easily get here by car or the metro (or by bike, if you’re feeling brave and it’s a nice sunny day). The “Hook of Holland” is home to numerous beach bars, restaurants, and hotels, and a place that no water sports enthusiast should miss — the perfect spot to go if you want to go somewhere similar to Scheveningen but without the hoards of tourists (it’s busy, but not THAT busy). On top of that, this lovely beach and its surroundings offer countless opportunities for exciting hikes and walks.
Wassenaar: the beach between Leiden and The Hague
The beach in Wassenaar is a lovely, soft-sanded, eight-kilometre-long stretch of land between The Hague and Leiden. Surrounded by dunes and lovely nature paths to walk, it has a similar vibe to the laid-back Zuiderstrand. One of the nicest things to do here is going for a bike ride or a run in the dunes and then dash into the sea to cool down in the heat of the summer. Sheer bliss!
The dunes of Noordwijk
Noordwijk beach is located close to the popular tulip fields of Keukenhof that we all love to visit in spring. It has 18 beach clubs, with seven that are open all year round. This makes it the perfect place to have a drink and a snack as you’re looking out to sea, regardless of whether it’s summer or winter. There are plenty of beach activities to do there, such as rafting, canoeing, and kite-flying. And the best part? Dogs are welcome here too — however, do check where and in what season your four-legged friends have to be on a leash.
TIP: If you’re dying to dip your toes in the warm sand of Dutch beaches but are worried about the hundreds of others who share this desire, we totally get you. Luckily, Denis from Renzy found a corona-proof way for you to enjoy some of Holland’s most beautiful beach spots. The secret lies in the use of Twizies — two-person 100% electric vehicles that are super easy to get around with.
Renzy’s three-hour long dune and beach tour will have you soaking in the atmosphere of one of Holland’s most popular beach spots — the charming coastal town of Noordwijk. You’ll explore sand dunes, picturesque villages, and towns, as well as secret spots that regular visitors normally don’t venture into!
Katwijk beach is another beautiful sandy beach with a two-kilometre long boulevard lined with shops, bars, and restaurants. A wide range of the usual water sports can be done at Katwijk and there is ample space to enjoy a sunbath or a nice walk along the beach. The 17th-century lighthouse and the charm of the former fishing village will take you back in time.
The beach is very popular with tourists and it’s certainly somewhere you should go if you happen to be in the area. It was voted the cleanest beach in South Holland and it’s also dog-friendly.
Zeeland’s top beaches
The province of Zeeland is a summer paradise and one of the best places in the Netherlands for beaches. We honestly believe that it’s just warmer down there. What are some of the most beautiful beaches to visit here?
The peaceful Oostkapelle beach
Oostkapelle is a really clean beach and a very peaceful one too. No cars are allowed near it, which means you have to walk or cycle through a forest to get there — sounds like the perfect nature adventure, no? It’s nice and big, so there is plenty of room for everyone — something that is especially important at the moment.
Berkenbosch beach: a true nature escape
If you’re wanting a beach that’s a little more natural (as in, not surrounded by buildings and restaurants), then Berkenbosch may just be the place for you. This lovely sandy beach with a restaurant is quieter, yet still very popular — the perfect place for a nice walk or a sunbath away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
If you’re off to Zeeland for your holidays, then this pretty beach is something you shouldn’t miss. One of the oldest beach resorts in all of Zeeland, it’s a beautiful place for a long beach walk. There are many different options for water sports enthusiasts and of course, multiple bars and restaurants. If you’ve had enough sand for the day, just head over to the cute village.
Cadzand: Middelburg’s very own beach
There’s something very human about wanting to visit places that are “the most” anything, and honestly, that’s one of the reasons why we’d recommend visiting Cadzand in Middelburg. It’s the southernmost beach in the Netherlands, and apart from that, it’s just a lovely place to visit. Stroll around the city centre of Middelburg itself, head out to Cadzand to enjoy some fresh seafood for lunch, and chill on the beach until the sun sets — a day well spent if you ask us.
Pristine beaches of the Frisian Islands
Friesland is a province we don’t talk about a lot. However, it’s a place in the Netherlands that shouldn’t be overlooked — and especially the Frisian Islands offer some of the most beautiful nature spots in the country.
Schiermonnikoog: the widest beach in Europe
The vast beach of Schiermonnikoog is an ideal place for windsurfing. It’s one of the cleanest beaches in the Netherlands, perfectly suited for children who aren’t super confident sea-swimmers yet — the waters here are perfectly shallow and clear. The beach of Schiermonnikoog is also one of the widest beaches in Europe. How is that for a bucketlist experience?
Ameland’s sand dunes
The beautiful beach of Ameland is very similar to the one in Texel — long and lined with beach houses and sand dunes. Similar to Texel it’s also very windy, which makes it the perfect place to bring your kite to. If you’re into sports, there is a rugby festival held every June!
What else is there to know about beaches in the Netherlands?
Now you know where to find the best beach spots in the Netherlands. But what about the other questions, such as: can I bring my four-legged friend along to the beach? What if I like to swim without a bikini? Here is a quick overview of some of the most pressing questions and answers.
🐕 Can I take my dog to a Dutch beach?
This will depend on the beach you’re visiting. Always look up information about the specific beach on its website or on the website of the local gemeente. Many beaches have a set of rules where you can’t walk your dog at certain times of the year or day. Winter is when you are usually when you’re allowed to walk your dog on the beach.
👨👩👦 Are beaches in the Netherlands overcrowded?
Popular places, such as Scheveningen, can get pretty busy. This is especially the case if you go on a hot day during the weekend.
🌱 Are there nudist beaches in the Netherlands?
Yes, many! The rule of thumb is that if you find a regular beach, there’s be a naaktstrand somewhere nearby. You can find a list of them per province on naaktstrandje.nl.
👙 Are you allowed to sunbathe topless in the Netherlands?
Short answer: yes! However, many people don’t do it these days — simply due to the fact that it’s so easy to capture on a phone. On Dutch nudist beaches, phones are not permitted.
While we’ve introduced you to some of the most popular and beautiful beaches in the Netherlands, there are many more to explore.
What are your favourite beaches in the Netherlands? Do you have more suggestions of beaches that we should add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!
Feature Image: Micheile Henderson/Unsplash
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in April 2018, and was fully updated in May 2021 for your reading pleasure.