The top 5 must see outdoor activities in the Netherlands!

Exploring Amsterdam’s Canals

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Like Venice, that other famous city built on water, the one enduring memory any visitor to Amsterdam will have is of time spent exploring the city’s wonderful canals. While many of Amsterdam’s best tourist attractions can be easily accessed by boat tour or water taxi – including most of the major museums and art galleries – there’s much to be gained by simply strolling along the smaller, quieter streets that line the waterways. One such neighborhood is the Grachtengordel with its many small bridges and quaint 17th-century homes. You’ll be rewarded as you explore these 400-year-old streets by countless examples of beautiful architecture, small boutique shops, cafés, and hotels, as well as many quaint colorful gardens.

Hoge Veluwe National Park

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You may be surprised to learn that the Netherlands, a relatively small country, boasts one of the world’s most diverse national park programs. The largest is Hoge Veluwe National Park between Arnhem and Apeldoorn. Covering nearly 13,800 acres, this national park is the largest continuous nature reserve in the country, as well as being one of the most popular day trip destinations for locals and visitors alike. Featuring dense woodlands in the north, as well as a fascinating sculpture park, the area was once a country estate and hunting reserve, and to this day is home to many red and roe deer. The best-preserved part of the park encompasses an area of dramatic dunes interspersed with heath and woodland and interrupted in the south and east by moraines up to 330 feet high. It’s also a popular area for birdwatching, as well as hiking and biking (visitors can access bikes for free).

Zeeland’s Spectacular Dikes

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Incorporating the deltas of the Rhine, the Maas, and the Schelde Rivers, Zeeland includes the numerous islands and peninsulas of the southwestern section of the Netherlands. Consisting of some of the world’s most recent land formations, much of the area is below sea level and therefore reliant upon impressive dikes as well as modern flood prevention techniques. As you travel the area, you’ll see evidence of the engineering project known as the Delta Works. These massive structures – basically hi-tech dams – can control how much water enters the area’s key estuaries from the North Sea. Consisting of dams, sluices, locks, dikes, and storm surge barriers, this awe-inspiring project has been declared one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.

The Windmills of Kinderdijk

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On the River Noord between Rotterdam and Dordrecht is the famous village of Kinderdijk (“Children’s Dike”), which takes its name from an incident during the St. Elizabeth’s Day flood of 1421 after a child’s cradle had been stranded on the dike. The big draw these days are the fantastically preserved 18th-century windmills. Now UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the 19 Kinderdijk windmills, built between 1722 and 1761, are the largest surviving concentration of windmills in the Netherlands. Originally used to drain the fenlands, these majestic buildings with their impressive 92-foot sails are open to the public from April to October, including special Mill Days when the sails are set in motion.

Keukenhof: The Garden of Europe

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Think of the Netherlands, and you’ll inevitably think of tulips, the country’s most popular flower. And there’s nowhere better to enjoy its rich floral bounty than at the Keukenhof, otherwise known as the Garden of Europe. On the outskirts of Lisse, in what’s widely considered the “bulb belt” of the Netherlands, Keukenhof is the largest public garden in the world encompassing more than 70 acres of what was once the former kitchen (or “keuken”) garden of a large country estate. Along with its excellent restaurants, sunny patios, and exhibitions – not to mention its more than 700 varieties of tulips – the site is home to the world’s largest open-air flower show. The charm of Keukenhof lies in its endless variety of color which, thanks to its massive commercial hot houses, is almost a year-round occurrence. In them, you’ll see endless rows of flowering tulips, along with thousands of hyacinths, crocuses, and daffodils.

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