Shall I tell you about one of Holland’s best kept secrets, one of the most beautiful nature areas of the Netherlands, 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, and I'm happy to show it to you in this blog post!
In my earlier post Beauty of Holland I already showed you the bigger cities of my country, like Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague, and a few of the heritage sites nearby. But there's 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, the Netherlands has many spacious landscapes with wide countryside views, different forests and nature areas, authentic farmhouses, castles, museums and a multitude of local attractions and zoo’s as well.
If you want to experience the true heritage of my country and fancy hiking or cycling in quiet surroundings, while enjoying the flat, but very diverse landscapes of the Netherlands, then the east side of my country is the area to visit.
Here 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. High sand dunes are partially covered with heather which forms a magnificent sight.
The Veluwe is one of my favourite areas for a small vacation in my own country, as well as for many Dutchies. But luckily it's 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 personally prefer the many authentic hotels which can be found here.
Read more about 4 of the most affordable luxury hotels on the Veluwe in this blog.
Besides de Veluwe's natural beauty there are also several 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, 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!)
1. Picnic, walk or rent a bike to explore the Dutch countryside
One of my absolute favourite outdoor activities is cycling and walking in nature. De Veluwe is perfect for this! It's very wide and diverse, so renting a bike is the perfect way to see as much of the area as possible. I prefer slow cycling with several stops along the way for a picnic, small bench break or just chill on a blanket together, completely surrounded by nature.
I also really enjoy passing by farmhouses, small towns, and to have lunch or drinks at one of the many unique restaurants in the quaint villages around the Veluwe, which represent our 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've lived in the Netherlands 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 inside the palace is recommended as well.
3. Dutch heritage at the Openluchtmuseum
This outdoor museum in Arnhem offers a wide display of authentic buildings, original objects and Dutch customs, which tells you all about the history of the Netherlands. Discover the authentic trades and way of life in the old days when it was still mainly a farming country and people lived in quaint wooden houses, windmills and traditional farm houses.
4. 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 of 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. Visit the 16th century Doorwerth Castle
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 welness center of Bilderberg Hotel Groot Heideborgh in Garderen, also situated in the nature reserve, offering the best treatments and Spa facilities, privately bookable.
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 the Netherlands about which you can read more on this page.
Love to hear what you think of my pics and tips of the Veluwe and if you even knew this was part of the Netherlands as well? Let me know here or on social media via the icons at the bottom of this page.