Wadlopen in 2023: your guide to mudflat walking in the Netherlands

Have you ever heard of mudflat walking in the Netherlands and thought: “What the heck is that!?” You’re not alone.

It’s an activity that you can do across the mudflats in the Wadden Sea, right here in the Netherlands. 🇳🇱

And spoiler: It really is what it sounds like walking through mud to explore a nature reserve. It is a uniquely beautiful experience and, if you’re not afraid of getting dirty, a lot of fun!

So, what is mudflat walking?

Wadlopen (mudflat walking) is a way to fully immerse yourself one of the Netherlands’ most beautiful nature reserves: the Waddenzee!

It’s an exciting hiking experience, during which you’re able to walk over the seabed during the North Sea’s low tide. Thanks to the calculation of the tides, you can walk all the way from the mainland to the Frisian Islands!

Although mudflat walking allows you to see beautiful nature and wildlife, it can also potentially be dangerous.

If you don’t plan for the tides properly, you can end up getting stuck. Therefore, the walks are planned at different times every day according to the changing tides, and only recommended to do with a certified guide.

Just look at that. Image: Pixabay

If you’re a lazy soul, mudflat walking may not appeal to you at first. The mud is so deep and the wind so strong (at times), that it’s certainly not always a stroll in the park.

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However, going mudflat walking means that you can see beautiful nature, spot wildlife, and feel a sense of achievement upon completing the walk. Definitely worth it! 💪

Where can you go mudflat walking in the Netherlands?

The walks span across the Wadden Sea in the north of the Netherlands. From there, you can reach other lands alongside two popular areas near Friesland and Groningen.

The Wadden Sea is a largely untouched area, so it’s an absolutely beautiful place to take a walk and explore the nature that awaits you.

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Many of the walks start from the coast of the provinces Friesland and Groningen, which are beautiful places to begin your wadlopen adventure, and then move to the Frisian Islands. You can also begin your walk from other areas that differ in routes depending on whether you want a beginner or an expert walk.

Many wadlopen websites will list the available tours and locations, so, even if you have no previous experience, you’ll know exactly where you need to be and have an overview of the different mudflat routes you can opt for!

Close-up of a young woman walking across the mudflats of the Waddensea at low tide, in the Netherlands
Don’t be afraid to get dirty! It’s part of the experience. Image: Depositphotos

Safety when going mudflat walking: follow the Dutchies

Though the tides change in regular cycles, it’s easy to misjudge them.

But don’t worry — when you decide to venture out into the mud, you’ll usually have experienced guides to take you around. They are required to have years of training to ensure that they can keep you safe.

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The guides are also trained in spotting different wildlife, so you’re able to see a variety of different animals during the walk it’s beautiful AND educational!

In fact, wadlopen is so good of an activity that many Dutch schools take students out to experience it. It really is a Dutch-as-hell thing to do on the weekend. 💪

How much does it cost to go mudflat walking in the Netherlands?

This depends on many different factors: How long the walk is, how hard the walk is, and how exclusive the walk is (how many times it runs per year).

You can expect anything between €10-70 but, of course, this can still vary. Here’s a guided mudflat walking tour near Pieterburen in Groningen for €13, for example.

Seals captured lying on the shores of Ameland in Northern Netherlands
Can’t put a price on this! Image: Depositphotos

For walks that will take the best part of a morning or afternoon — and sometimes even most of the day, it’s a pretty good value. The guide will know their stuff too, which makes it all worthwhile. 🙌

What are the mudflat walks like?

There are different mudflat walks you can take depending on what kind of experience you’re after. Some routes are long, and others short. Some are much harder than others and, therefore, you’ll need to wear different clothing depending on which you choose.

For example, you may need proper hiking boots and windproof clothing for some walks, while for others, you may only need your feet and a t-shirt.

Most walks are a few hours long. They also vary in the sense that one minute you may be walking in slight mud/water, and the next, you could be chest-deep in the water when crossing gullies. 😱

When you pick a specific trip, the guides will inform you how to best prepare for it.

Ready to venture out? Image: Depositphotos

Can I go mudflat walking in the Netherlands without a guide?

In theory, yes. But that’s honestly a stupid thing to do because it’s unsafe, and you can get in trouble. There are many different factors to mudflat walking safety, and timing is key. That’s also the reason why guides cancel so often due to the weather conditions not being right.

So please, if you’re not an expert, then you should not do this without a guide!

When you go out with a guide you ensure that you will have a great time and explore safely. Check out what you’ll be up against. 👇😉

What do I need to bring when mudflat walking in the Netherlands?

Decided that you want to give mudflat walking a try? Awesome, you’ll love it!

The most important thing is that you have the correct clothing to wear beforehand. Otherwise, you’re going to end up pretty wet and very cold. 😅

Things you’ll need:

  • Warm clothing (layer up!)
  • Preferably shorts or leggings
  • Hat, scarf, and gloves
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen
  • A backpack — and a plastic bag for dirty clothes
  • Clothes to change into after the walk
  • A towel
  • Food, and plenty of water

Many of these items you can just leave in the car, or rent once you’re there. Some places offer items such as boots that you can rent for a small fee — so that you don’t have to worry about losing the bottoms of your old shoes in the mud!

That’s it for the basics of what mudflat walking in the Netherlands is and what to expect! Stay safe, have fun, and get totally muddy that’s what it’s all about!

Have you ever been mudflat walking in the Netherlands? Did you enjoy it and will you ever go again? Tell us in the comments below!

Looking for more things to do in the area? Check these out!

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in April 2019, and was fully updated in February 2023 for your reading pleasure.

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Emma Brown
Emma Brown
A familiar face at DutchRevew. Emma arrived in Holland in 2016 for a few weeks, fell in love with the place and never left. Here she rekindled her love of writing and travelling. Now you'll find her eating stroopwafels in the DutchReview office since 2017.

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