a dutch gracht, a canal in autumn
Lifestyle

Visiting the Netherlands- Beautiful Nature and History

Today I write about visiting the Netherlands and the beautiful nature you will find here. In my blog “A Beautiful Winter day in the Netherlands,” I have already written about the Veluwe National Park.

There was a time I couldn’t arrive in the Netherlands mentally. My heart grieved because I was not too fond of this overcrowded country. You know me now a bit, and I am a person who loves to live in a quiet environment. In my opinion, the Netherlands is very loud and packed full of cities, villages, houses, people.

My mind, my heart needs the beauty of quietness to be creative and to recharge. Sitting somewhere quiet, overviewing an area of nature, makes me happy, but feeling imprisoned by a sea of houses makes me feel ill. Maybe you know what I am mean.

Feeling at home in this country where I felt most time, like fleeing, has lasted for years. I had no other chance than deciding to make myself feel comfortable with my surroundings due to my Dutch husband, who has his business in his country.

I told myself by reaching our retirement, we could live in Germany or somewhere else. After many years of desperately trying to root in the Netherlands, I must say I have managed to feel at home. Still, my goal is to be able to travel and stay wherever my desire leads me to.

I am very well on my way to get there. Thank God!

The Netherlands is beautiful, nature, the cities, and the ancient houses, giving the visitors an impression of its beautiful culture. Living very close to the most beautiful National park of the Netherlands in the east has spoiled me. Beautiful old cities surround us, Hanseatic cities embedded in fascinating history, have been connected to the German Hanze, a commercial and defensive confederation of merchant guilds and market towns in Northern Western and Central Europe, 12th century ( Wikipedia).

If you visit them, especially in September in autumn, it is the most beautiful season of the year with its specific lights and colors. The purple flowering Erica plant covers the Veluwe in August and September. Breathtaking picture.

Visiting the West of the Netherlands

In these times of Covid 19, people reflect more about deeper things than attending an event to have fun. These superficial time fillers have made me sad for already a long time. People have become so shallow, buying many things, they don’t need to throw them away after a while. That is a waste, certainly and literally, a waste of money, time, and polluting the earth.

In these times, people have to rethink quality time recharging their batteries, giving value to their health and nature. I am certainly pleased with this development.

When we go walking on a weekend in the forest, now we experience a crowded parking terrain observing many people going for a walk. That is a good development if they don’t disturb the animals.

If you plan to travel to the Netherlands, don’t just visit Amsterdam. even you can fill weeks on activities in Amsterdam. There is surely much to do.a "Gracht", waterway in Amsterdam

But if you have some time to spend, you really should visit the seaside, Zeeland, Scheveningen, Haarlem, Den Haag, Leiden, Rotterdam, Delft, Alkmaar, walking along the coast, the beaches, enjoying a coffee in one of the restaurants being located on the beach. It is gorgeous but in summer overcrowded by Germans who spend their holidays on the dutch coast. The cities are lovely to visit, forming a beautiful picture with their many old houses, mills, bridges.

Rotterdam has been destroyed in the second world war. They have created a modern city with a huge container harbor where giant containerships worldwide arrive and depart by rebuilding it. It is fascinating to observe daily life in Rotterdam. Some people think that Rotterdam is even a more beautiful place than Amsterdam. They are different, and it depends on what you like.

If you are like me, you love historic places with old houses and castles.

Utrecht is a beautiful city, 30 minutes’ drive distance from Amsterdam, dressed with old villas, castles, green surroundings with lots of parks. Suppose you love walking visit beautiful places like the Utrechtse Heuvelrug, forests and Erica plants. The old city center of Utrecht is such a beauty with all the waterways( grachten) where people with boats are passing.

Another great experience is renting a skipper with a boat and travel through the Netherlands on its waterways. I tell you I will never forget that holiday, especially you plan to come in the middle of August to begin of September. Using a boat, you can pass many beautiful places, stop there and have a wonderful time living on the boat. The Netherlands is a water country, and it is a great experience to see the villages and cities staying on a boat driving along the rivers.

Many youth hostels and Airbnb could stay and recreational houses or on a ship what I have described above. If you come in autumn, you are in love with this county.:)

Hiking in the East of the Netherlands

The east of the Netherlands, especially the province of Gelderland, is most recommendable for a visit.

You find cities like Arnhem, a historical place where you have many parks and castles, located very close to the Netherlands’ oldest city, Nijmegen. Only 20 km away from Kleve in Germany, Nijmegen is a beautiful city, with many old houses lying between Maas and Waal. An excellent old historical city center for women, and men, who love to go shopping, containing lovely shops.

Hopefully, we can travel very soon again.purple flowering erica in Veluwe National park

Nijmegen and Arnhem’s surroundings are gorgeous, green, parks, and forests where you can visit many castles.

Going south of Nijmegen, you cross the line to Brabant, another province of the Netherlands with its beautiful old cities Tilburg, Eindhoven, Den Bosch, where they celebrate carnival in February.

I will recommend Gelderland and Overijssel. Gelderland is a big province with different landscapes, like the Betuwe with its fruit plantages, flowing in spring.

The Veluwe National Park is huge, and if you like to hike or cycle, you have enough to do. It is approximately 55 km2( 14000 acres,21 sqm) in area, consisting of heathlands, dunes, and woodlands. It is still the largest moraine in the Netherlands; the park forms one of the largest continuous nature reserves in the Netherlands. ( Wikipedia).

Summer and autumn are the busiest time for the National park. Many visitors throughout the day and many photographers arrive in the early morning to take pictures of this beautiful calm landscape.

Sometimes when I drive through the park to get to castle Rosendael in the village Rozendaal, it is packed with people who cycle through the park. In Rosendael, near the city of Arnhem, you find a beautiful park with ponds and a rose garden where you can sit above the garden, having a coffee in the sun. It is such peaceful scenery, and the light is fantastic.

On your way back, you pass a restaurant where you can sit outside and have lunch on the terrace if you like. It is called “Houtplaats,” in the village Renken, located the opposite of Veluwe Park’s entrances. You will love it!

But there are many places where you can stay for a coffee, lunch or dinner.

Visit the Hanseatic Cities

Sometimes it rains, and I presume you wouldn’t like to hike. That is an excellent opportunity to visit the Hanseatic cities.

Deventer and Zutphen are my favorites. The atmosphere in these historic old cities is beautifully located next to the river “Ijssel.” Driving towards them, you will see the breathtaking skyline of these cities, providing you with the imagination of how people lived here in the last centuries.

Deventer in Overijssel, The Netherlands
Deventer Skyline

There are several Hanseatic cities in our close surroundings, Doesburg, Zutphen, Deventer, Zwolle, Harderwijk, Ellburg, Hattem, and Kampen also Arnhem and Nijmegen are not far away.

They are all charming cities, but I prefer Zutphen and Deventer and Arnhem, where you could join a city tour guidance learning about the history.

It doesn’t cost much money, and some cities offer a tour every day. It is great to get to see the places. A fascinating fact is when you are walking in the city center of these cities you will feel like you are in the middle ages. Have some breakfast in one of the many cafes.

Driving from Apeldoorn to Brummen, a small town, you can take a little ferry to cross the Ijssel and get to the Netherlands’ smallest city, Bronkhorst. It is a village that has purchased the rights to be called a town in middle age. This little city is a magnet for tourists.

There are few old historic houses and a church, restaurants, and shops with artistic things to buy, most handmade. Artists and creative people have made their home in Bronkhorst a lovely place to visit, and maybe you are lucky to purchase something handmade.

There is a road which goes to Zutphen, so you don’t need to get back of the ferry to get around.

Renting accommodations is very simple because there are many possibilities, like hotels, Airbnb, and recreational houses in parks.

You will find something you like. Dutch people speak English, getting around is not a problem.

Visiting Castles

If you are like me, you love to visit castles and the big parks they own. There are many castles where you can book a guided tour, grasping an impression of history.post bicycle standing in front of a house in Zutphen

I already have mentioned Rosendael near Arnhem, but there is Cannenburgh in Vaassen close to Apeldoorn. The “Het Paleis de Loo” in Apeldoorn with its forest belonging to the Veluwe where you can go for a walk or hiking.

Queen Wilhelmina has lived here with her family, quite interesting if you like history and royals.

There are more castles in this area; you could visit. Most of them have an herbal and vegetable garden you might like to see. Doorwerth has a little historical graveyard attached to the castle. If you stay in Province Gelderland, you will find many castles you could plan to visit for a day tour.

Conclusion

Gelderland is only a part of the Netherlands where you could spend your holidays. It is a beautiful area, the biggest province, close to Overijssel, where Zwolle, Deventer, and Kampen belong to. By staying in Apeldoorn, you are quite central to travel to all these cities and parks. Accommodation is not a problem, and you can do so much that you will never be bored.

Please leave your comments below, and let us know how you like the Netherlands and if you have ever been here. I would love to hear from you.

All the best,

Sylvia

4 Comments

  • Aly

    It’s been many years since I have been to Amsterdam, but it’s a wonderful, beautiful town to visit. It’s full of culture and history and lovely for walking around to cafes. Thanks for sharing your insight into the pace and experience found in the rest of the Netherlands too. I have not been able to visit this area but it looks lovely through your eyes. Hopefully we’re all able to travel freely again soon!

    • Sylvie

      Hi Aly! Thank you very much for your comment! You are absolutely right about Amsterdam! That is a beautiful city, and you can fill weeks while staying in Amsterdam. But if you get a chance to visit Gelderland, You can always contact me, and I will give you the best advice! 

  • LineCowley

    The Netherlands has some beautiful countryside, although it is all flat and you do not see mountains on the skyline. It does make it very easy to cycle and walk though. I have not visited the eastern part of the Netherlands, but the way you are describing Gelderland, makes it sound as if I should put it on my bucket list. 

    Is there a best time of the year that that you would recommend to visit Gelderland when you won’t encounter too many people?

    • Sylvie

      Thank you very much for your comment! I really can recommend visiting the east of the Netherlands. It is so typical and beautiful! 

      The best time is actually the most crowded time of the year, the middle of August to the middle of October. You find the whole forest in yellow/orange light. The erica is flowering purple. And it is a warm late summer and autumn. But it is overcrowded with people. 

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