6 Essential Dutch Road Trips: Discover the Heart of the Netherlands
6 Essential Dutch Road Trips: Discover the Heart of the Netherlands

6 Essential Dutch Road Trips: Discover the Heart of the Netherlands

Explore the hidden treasures of the Netherlands with these six unforgettable road trips. From charming canals to picturesque windmills, this adventure will take you through the heart of this enchanting country.

Are you ready for an unforgettable road trip through the picturesque landscapes of the Netherlands? With its windmills, canals, tulip fields, and charming villages, this country offers a wealth of experiences for travelers. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, nature lover, or simply seeking a peaceful escape, these six essential Dutch road trips will take you on a journey you’ll never forget. Get ready to pack your bags, hit the road, and discover the hidden gems of the Netherlands.

1. The Enchanting Dutch Waterways

Discover the magic of Dutch canals and waterways as you embark on a journey through the heart of this waterlogged wonderland.

If there’s one thing the Netherlands is famous for, it’s its intricate network of canals and waterways. To experience the quintessential Dutch charm, start your road trip in the capital, Amsterdam. Begin your day with a stroll along the historic canals, where you can witness the iconic Dutch houseboats and picturesque bridges.

After you’ve explored the bustling city, it’s time to hit the road. Head southwest towards the city of Utrecht, known for its stunning canals and vibrant cultural scene. Don’t miss the chance to visit the Dom Tower, the tallest church tower in the Netherlands, and take in panoramic views of the city.

From Utrecht, continue your journey to the charming town of Giethoorn, often referred to as the “Venice of the North.” Here, you can navigate the tranquil waterways by renting a traditional Dutch punt boat. Explore the picturesque thatched-roof houses and lush gardens that line the canals.

To conclude your waterway adventure, make your way to the historic city of Leiden, famous for its picturesque canals and rich cultural heritage. Visit the Hortus Botanicus, one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world, and stroll along the Rapenburg canal for a dose of Dutch history.

Places to Stay with Your Camper Van

  • Amsterdam: Camp Zeeburg, a scenic campsite overlooking the IJmeer.
  • Utrecht: Camperpark Nieuwegein, offering easy access to the city center.
  • Giethoorn: Campground De Sloothaak, right in the heart of the village.
  • Leiden: Camping Toppershoedje, located near the beach and dunes.

2. Windmills and Tulips: The Dutch Countryside

Experience the iconic Dutch countryside with its windmills, tulip fields, and charming villages.

For a taste of quintessential Dutch countryside life, embark on this picturesque road trip through North Holland. Start in the historic city of Haarlem, known for its stunning architecture and vibrant art scene. Explore the Grote Markt square and visit the Frans Hals Museum for a dose of Dutch culture.

From Haarlem, head north to the world-famous Keukenhof Gardens, where you can immerse yourself in a sea of vibrant tulips and other springtime flowers. This garden is a visual masterpiece and a must-visit for nature enthusiasts.

Continue your journey to Zaanse Schans, a village that seems frozen in time. Here, you’ll find well-preserved historic windmills, wooden houses, and artisan shops. Be sure to taste some traditional Dutch cheese at the local cheese farms.

End your road trip in the charming fishing village of Volendam. Explore the picturesque harbor, indulge in fresh seafood, and perhaps even try on some traditional Dutch clothing for a unique photo opportunity.

Places to Stay with Your Camper Van

  • Haarlem: Camping de Lakens, nestled in the dunes near the North Sea.
  • Keukenhof: Camperpark Keukenhof, a convenient location near the gardens.
  • Zaanse Schans: Camping Zeeburg, a relaxed campsite in Amsterdam with easy access to Zaanse Schans.
  • Volendam: Camping Strandbad Edam, offering lakeside views.

3. Historical Gems of East Netherlands

Embark on a journey through the eastern Netherlands, where history and nature seamlessly blend.

If you’re a history buff, this road trip through the eastern Netherlands will be a dream come true. Start in the city of Arnhem, known for its rich history and picturesque parks. Visit the Airborne Museum to learn about the famous World War II battle that took place here.

From Arnhem, drive east to Nijmegen, the country’s oldest city. Explore the ancient streets and visit the Valkhof Museum to discover the city’s Roman history. Take a walk across the stunning Waalbrug bridge for panoramic views of the city.

Next, make your way to the charming town of Zutphen, where medieval buildings line the cobbled streets. The town is known for its well-preserved historic center, complete with city walls and old merchant houses.

Continue your journey to the picturesque Hoge Veluwe National Park, where you can explore diverse landscapes, including dense forests, heathlands, and sand dunes. Don’t miss the Kröller-Müller Museum, home to an impressive collection of Van Gogh’s paintings.

Places to Stay with Your Camper Van

  • Arnhem: Camping Warnsborn, a peaceful site surrounded by forests.
  • Nijmegen: Camperpark Nijmegen, a short walk from the city center.
  • Zutphen: Camping De Grasplas, a serene spot on the outskirts of town.
  • Hoge Veluwe: Camperplaats De Pampel, conveniently located near the national park.

4. Coastal Charms of Zeeland

Experience the beauty of the Zeeland coast, with its sandy beaches, charming towns, and fresh seafood.

Zeeland, a province in the southwest of the Netherlands, offers a delightful mix of coastal beauty and rich history. Start your journey in the city of Middelburg, the provincial capital. Explore the historic center, including the stunning Town Hall and the impressive abbey complex.

From Middelburg, head to the picturesque village of Veere, located on the Veerse Meer lake. Stroll along the waterfront and admire the historic buildings that line the harbor. Don’t forget to try some delicious Zeeland mussels at a local restaurant.

Continue your coastal adventure to the town of Zierikzee on the island of Schouwen-Duiveland. This charming town boasts a rich maritime history, evident in its harbor and medieval architecture. Climb the Sint-Lievensmonstertoren for panoramic views.

Your road trip isn’t complete without a visit to the stunning Deltapark Neeltje Jans, an educational and recreational park dedicated to the impressive Delta Works. Learn about the Netherlands’ battle against the sea and enjoy the aquatic attractions.

Places to Stay with Your Camper Van

  • Middelburg: Camping De Witte Raaf, nestled in a quiet forest setting.
  • Veere: Mini Camping In de Bocht, a small and cozy campsite near Veere.
  • Zierikzee: Camping Julianahoeve, a family-friendly site with excellent facilities.
  • Deltapark Neeltje Jans: Camperplaats Neeltje Jans, conveniently located near the park.

5. The Dutch Wadden Islands Adventure

Embark on a unique road trip to the Dutch Wadden Islands, where nature and tranquility reign supreme.

For an off-the-beaten-path adventure, explore the Dutch Wadden Islands, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for their unique landscapes and wildlife. Start your journey in the port city of Harlingen, where you’ll catch a ferry to the island of Terschelling.

Terschelling is a haven for nature lovers, with its expansive beaches, sand dunes, and dense forests. Rent a bike and explore the island’s many cycling trails, or simply relax on the beach and watch the North Sea waves roll in.

From Terschelling, hop over to Vlieland, the smallest of the inhabited Wadden Islands. This tranquil island is perfect for a peaceful getaway. Stroll along the serene beaches, visit the Vlieland Lighthouse, and enjoy the unspoiled natural beauty.

Next, make your way to Texel, the largest of the Wadden Islands. Here, you can explore diverse landscapes, from sandy beaches to heathlands and wetlands. Don’t miss the Ecomare seal sanctuary and museum.

Places to Stay with Your Camper Van

  • Harlingen: Camperplaats Harlingen, a convenient spot near the ferry terminal.
  • Terschelling: Camping Cnossen Terschelling, a serene campsite in the dunes.
  • Vlieland: Camping Stortemelk, located close to the beach and village.
  • Texel: Camping Loodsmansduin, a peaceful site surrounded by nature.

6. Southern Dutch Delights

Explore the southern Netherlands, where you’ll encounter vibrant cities, historic castles, and culinary delights.

Your final Dutch road trip takes you to the southern part of the country, where you’ll discover a blend of culture, history, and delicious cuisine. Start your journey in the city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, often referred to as Den Bosch. Explore the medieval city center, cruise the Binnendieze canals, and don’t forget to try a Bossche Bol, a local pastry.

From Den Bosch, drive to Eindhoven, known as the design capital of the Netherlands. Visit the Van Abbemuseum to explore modern and contemporary art, and take a stroll along Strijp-S, a former industrial area turned creative district.

Continue your journey to Maastricht, a city known for its rich history and vibrant atmosphere. Explore the charming streets, visit the Basilica of Saint Servatius, and indulge in regional specialties at local restaurants.

No trip to the southern Netherlands is complete without a visit to the stunning castle of Kasteel de Haar, located near the city of Utrecht. This fairy-tale castle is a masterpiece of Neo-Gothic architecture.

Places to Stay with Your Camper Van

  • Den Bosch: Camperplaats ‘s-Hertogenbosch, a convenient location near the city center.
  • Eindhoven: Camping ‘t Geuldal, a tranquil site amidst nature.
  • Maastricht: Camping De Oosterdriessen, a family-friendly campsite with excellent amenities.
  • Kasteel de Haar: Camperplaats Kasteel de Haar, a unique location near the castle grounds.

Final Thoughts

With these six essential road trips, you’ll uncover the heart of the Netherlands – from its enchanting canals and windmills to its historical gems and coastal charms. The Dutch countryside, the Wadden Islands, and the southern delights all await your exploration. So, pack your bags, hit the road with your camper van, and let the Netherlands reveal its hidden treasures in all their glory.

Note: The mentioned places and accommodations are based on information available up to September 2021. It’s advisable to check for any updates or changes before embarking on your road trip adventure.