As you might have noticed I love nature, flowers and have posted several blogs already talking about flower hotspots in the Netherlands, and other countries in Europe.
I really enjoy the daffodil, hyacinth and tulip season in March and April, when colorful rows of these pretty flowers can be found in several regions of my country.
But also the lavender fields in France, which are in full bloom in July, along with the sunflower- and poppy fields during summer and spring.
And I recently visited the dahlia fields in Lisse again, which are bloom from the end of August to end of September. The same period when the heather fields turn purple throughout the Netherlands.
I love heather, also known as heath, for its unique and rugged character, as it is mostly found in the most pure nature, dune and sand drift areas, and becomes incredibly colorful by the end of summer, generally around half August-half September, depending on the weather and providing that it rained enough.
You can find big fields of purple heather in several areas all around the Netherlands, like:
And in several dune areas around the west coast, like Bergen and the Schoorlse Duinen.
Veluwe - unique Dutch nature area
But the biggest and most unique heathlands, can still be found on the Veluwe. This nature area in the province of Gelderland, with a size of more than 247,000 acres, consists of heather fields, sand dunes, moors and woodlands spread out between the cities of Ede, Wageningen, Apeldoorn and Arnhem.
Mainly shaped in the last Ice Age, forming one of the largest protected nature area in the Netherlands.
The current Dutch heathlands were created in the Middle Ages, when they started to cut down forests for agriculture. Because heather is one of the few plants that can grow on nutrient-poor sandy soils it has existed for thousands of years.
To preserve the moors different grazers are used which eat the grasses and saplings in between the heath. That’s why it’s highly likely to encounter heard of sheep or Scottish highlanders while walking through these areas, making it even more interesting. But there’s also a big variation of wildlife living on the Veluwe.
Affordable luxury hotels on the Veluwe
Half August we revisited this lovely nature area to see the heath in full bloom with overnight stays at 4 Bilderberg Hotels, about which you can read more in my previous blog: Dutch affordable luxury stay Veluwe.
All perfectly located on and around the Veluwe with many beautiful sites within cycling distance. In this blog I will show you a few of my favourite areas of the Veluwe for your own visit, as it’s truly a must if you like exploring nature and a bit of culture.
If you’re still looking for an affordable luxury stay in the perfect location on the Veluwe, then I can highly recommended this offer with stays at 2 unique Bilderberg hotels, 4 breakfasts and 2 gastronomic treats: Bilderberg-Veluwe Experience.
Top 5 must visits Veluwe National Park
Besides natural beauty, there are however also more than 50 museums, 4 zoo’s and several other tourist attractions on the Veluwe. And the bigger cities Arnhem, Nijmegen and Apeldoorn are all nearby and perfect for a shopping day, with a big offering of restaurants, cafés, bars and terraces.
In this blog I will happily show you 5 of our favourite spots to visit on the Veluwe, through many of our own pics:
During our 5 day trip we stayed at 2 hotels in Garderen, surrounded by beautiful forests and heath lands already. But also just a 15 minutes’ drive by car and 30 minutes by bike from Garderen to this unique nature reserve.
Certainly worth a visit for its watchtower and unique sand dunes. This drifting sand area is the largest in Western Europe consisting of 1,700 acres.
Get an impression in this gallery:
2. Radio Kootwijk
Just 20 minutes cycling from these sand drifts, down a beautiful route through extensive forests, you will arrive at a small village renowned for its historic transmitter building. Coming from the backside you can see this unique building tower over the nature area near Apeldoorn, surrounded by fields of heather.
This building is also known to the locals as ‘The Cathedral’, but the design, as seen from the frontside, also resembles a sphinx, with a pond between its legs. It was built in 1918 on this uninhabited terrain amidst nature, to minimize the interference of transmission traffic.
The station initially operated under the name Radio Assel starting from May 1923 for Morse telegraph traffic. After that radio telephony emerged and the first telephone connection between the Dutch East Indies and the Netherlands was established in April 1928, for which this building played a very important role. It has been in use until 1980, after which the last transmission mast was blown up.
The Radio Kootwijk transmitter building is now officially a monument, open to the public, and used for cultural events and productions, like the film Mindhunters in 2004.
Purple heather spots on the Veluwe
These locations and actually the whole Veluwe is beautiful any time of year, as every season has its charm. But if you really want spot those purple heather fields make sure to visit at the right time of year, and go to specific spots where the heather is most present.
A few of these spots on the Veluwe are:
The Ermelose and
But for miles and miles of purple heather bushes and the most impressive and photogenic sight I would recommend to go to the:
3. Posbank in Rheden
Located on the Veluwezoom, more south of the Veluwe, near Hotel de Bilderberg in Oosterbeek, less than 30 minutes away by car.
Especially in August and September the fields here makes an impressive sight, and are easily accessible with a big free parking in the middle of the nature area. The Posbank has a nice visitor center with info about the Veluwe and several extensive hiking trails with views like these:
Besides stunning nature there are many picturesque villages on the Veluwe, which represent that quaint Dutch heritage so well. And also some castles, like my favourite:
3. Kasteel Doorwerth / Doorwerth Castle
Dating back from 1260, with a restaurant and Bilderberg event location, it's located amidst nature, just a 10 minutes’ drive by car from Oosterbeek. But it’s even more fun to cycle here in about 20 minutes, and pass through beautiful estates and forest trails, get an impression in this gallery:
For more recommendations of other amusement parks and cultural attractions near Garderen, Oosterbeek and Apeldoorn you can check this blog: ACL.com-Top Veluwe things to do.
One of my favourites in that blog, and an absolute must visit in Apeldoorn is:
5. Paleis Het Loo / Het Loo Palace
Located right next to Bilderberg Hotel de Keizerskroon, this 300 year old palace is now a state museum with Baroque gardens and extensive forest estate. This former summer palace was built in the 1600’s by King Willem III, inspired by the Versailles Palace.
It has been in use by the royal family until 1962 and is now open to the public, and among the top 100 of Dutch heritage sights. Unfortunately the museum and part of the gardens will stay closed for renovations till 2021, but the gardens are open until 27 September 2020, tickets for €8,50 p.p. can be bought in advance at: PaleisHetLoo-tickets.
The gardens are designed with perfect symmetry, beautiful flowerbeds, parterres, several artworks, statues, basins and fountains, dating back from the 17th century. Why the palace is called the ‘Dutch Versailles’ is clearly visible in these pictures.
Very unique for the Netherlands, making this place an absolute must visit in my opinion, see for yourself in this gallery:
But luckily the tranquil forest estate of 1,600 acres stays open all year, has beautiful walking trails and makes a great combination with a visit to the nearby Bilderberg Hotel as well.
Besides that there are several other beautiful estates to be found in the vicinity, like the extensive nature park Berg & Bos, freely accessible, also housing the popular monkey attraction: the Apenheul and a sports park.
Hopefully I was able to show you why it’s a must to visit the Netherlands this time of year to see the heather fields in full bloom, and I hope you can find all the best spots through this blog.
But of course my country and the Dutch Veluwe are beautiful any time of year, and I’m happy to share all my favourite spots and more tips with you for your visit to this unique nature area.
Do let me know here, or via social media, when you come visit my country, or find more Dutch trip inspiration in these Netherlands blogs.