Shall I tell you about one of Holland’s best kept secrets, one of the most beautiful nature areas of the Netherlands which is still very pure and quite undiscovered? Although my country is only a small part of Europe it has a lot to offer which is still quite unknown to many people, and I am happy to show you in this blog post!
In my earlier post Beauty of Holland- 8 must visit cities and sights I already showed you the bigger cities of my country, like Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague, and a few of the heritage sights near these cities. But there is much more beauty to be found if you have the time to travel around and know where to go.
Next to our popular capital Amsterdam Holland has a huge area of spacious landscapes with wide country side views, many different forests and nature areas, authentic farmhouses, castles, museums and a multitude of local attractions and zoo’s.
When you want to experience the true heritage of my country and if you fancy hiking or cycling in quiet surroundings while enjoying Holland’s flat but very diverse landscapes, then the east side of Holland is definitely the right area to visit.
This is where you will find a big nature park of 55 km2 called ‘’De Hoge Veluwe’’, indicated in the pink square in below map.
This nature area in the province of Gelderland has many different landscapes including beautifully colored heaths, small lakes, woodlands, some of Europe’s largest sand drifts and a diversity of wildlife inhabitants. Here high sand dunes are partially covered with heath lands which form a magnificent sight.
The Veluwe is one of my favourite areas for a small vacation in my own country, as it is for many Dutchies. But luckily not so touristy yet because it’s still quite unknown to foreigners and the area is very wide. Spread out over the nature reserve there are different campsites and bungalow parks for an overnight stay, although I prefer the many authentic hotels which can be found here.
Besides the area’s natural beauty there are many tourist attractions around, such as 4 zoo’s, over 50 museums and the bigger cities Arnhem, Nijmegen and Apeldoorn where you can shop till you drop and dine in a multitude of restaurants.
From a couples point of view I will show you my top 6 favourite things to do here, with and some without children, through many of my own pictures as usual.
(Remember to click on the picture to see the full size and description, and click on below the pic to scroll through the gallery!)
- Picnic, walk or rent a bike to explore the Dutch countryside
One of my absolute favourite outdoor activities is cycling and walking through nature. De Veluwe is perfect for this as it very wide and diverse, so renting a bike is the perfect way to see as much of the area as possible. I love to cycle around without hurry and several stops along the way for a picnic, small bench break or just chill on a blanket together completely surrounded by nature.
But also pass by farmhouses, small towns and have lunch or drinks at one of the many unique restaurants in the quaint villages around the Veluwe, which represent Dutch heritage so well.
2. Visit the Dutch summer palace; Paleis het Loo in Apeldoorn
Built by King Willem III in the 1600’s to impress nobility and inspired by Versailles in Paris this summer palace is a stunner! Home to the Dutch royal families until 1962 the palace is now open to the public as a state museum, listed among the top 100 Dutch heritage sights.
Although I lived in Holland my whole life I never visited this place before and was amazed by the beauty of the palace from both the front-and backside and especially by the imposing gardens. How can you not feel like royalty looking out over these magnificent gardens?
Designed with perfect symmetry, several fountains, basins, parterres and statues these gardens are often called the ‘’Dutch Versailles’’ which is recognizable and can be clearly seen in these pictures.
If you want to gain some more insight in the history and lives of Dutch royalty and especially if you like baroque interior, a tour around the palace itself is recommended as well.
3. Find out all about Dutch heritage in the Openluchtmuseum
This outdoor museum in Arnhem offers a beautiful wide display of authentic buildings, original objects and Dutch customs which tells you all about the history of Holland. Discover the authentic trades and way of life in the old days when Holland was still mainly a farming country and people lived in quaint wooden houses, windmills and traditional farm houses.
4. Go for a cultural day at the Kröller-Müller Museum
This national art museum and spacious sculpture garden is located right in the middle of the National Park De Hoge Veluwe. The perfect place to enjoy the beauty of the reserve while admiring the sculptures on the 75 acres around the museum, one of the largest sculpture gardens in Europe.
Marvel over the private collection of artworks with many unique van Gogh pieces inside the museum. They have the second largest painting collection of this renowned artist, after the van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, lovingly collected by Mrs. Kröller-Müller herself over several decades.
5. Check out 16th century castle Doorwerth
This medieval castle is located near Arnhem just outside the small village which bears the same name as the castle. Originating from the 12th century and expanded many times after it reached its largest form in the 16th century.
The bike ride towards the castle is a pleasure already, cycling along the Rijn river. The castle is quite big with a small park around it, a vegetable garden and even its own restaurant and event location. Therefore it’s the perfect place to have some drinks, a casual lunch, dinner or even to get married in a unique way.
6. Or better yet, plan a relaxing spa day!
There are many big spa’s around de Veluwe, which is a great setting for a relaxing treatment day, but unfortunately these are all open to the public. Therefore I prefer to visit the private spa and beauty centre of Bilderberg Hotel Groot Heideborgh in Garderen, which is also situated in the nature reserve, and offers the best treatments and spa facilities all to yourself. More details about that in my next blog post, including my favourite hotels in this area.
I hope my pics and tips will inspire you to visit this area of my beautiful country and convinced you why it is really worth a visit, instead of only visiting Amsterdam. De Veluwe is perfect for a weekend getaway, a mid-week vacation or even for a 1 or 2 weeks trip combined with visits to other bigger cities and beautiful sights of Holland, about which you can read much more here, here, here and here.
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Love to hear what you think of my pics and tips of the Veluwe and if you even knew this was part of Holland as well? Just leave a reply below…