Looking for a nature experience? Discover some beautiful nature reserves of our country just outside Amsterdam. Get some fresh air, feel free and experience beautiful panoramic views. The Netherlands is a relatively flat country and has a great diversity of nature. Within a one-hour journey from Amsterdam you can already visit 5 large nature reserves. You can walk and cycle for hours or even rent a kayak or canoe.
If you want to keep it tiny and more organized, then go to a city park. These parks are often located on the outskirts of the city and are ideal for a walk, cycling, jogging and a picnic. You do not have to stay for hours and soon enough you’re back in the city. If you know which of the 11 cities you want to visit, you can combine this by visiting a city park.
(The Hague) Clingendael is an estate with a Japanese and an old-Dutch garden. The park has a snake wall that was built around 1730. This wall offers protection to apricot, peach and plum trees, which are on the estate. The Japanese garden is the showpiece. Unique in the Netherlands, because of the period in which it was built, around 1900. The Japanese garden is only open 8 weeks (in May and October), due to the rare and vulnerable trees and plants.
(The Hague) The Haagse bos was part of a primeval forest and together with the Haarlemmer hout, which used to be connected to each other, they are the oldest forests in our country. Preserved, thanks to the act of Redemption, an 18th century tree felling ban. The wealthy nobility found pleasure in the hunt or horse rides and until the 18th century, fairs were held in the forest for the people.
(Utrecht) A relatively young and large park which has been opened by our Queen Maxima in 2013. There is a Japanese garden, a butterfly garden, a forest playground and there are several works of art. You’ll find a random mix of roads, ditches and farms, as well as modern artworks, sports facilities, bars, restaurants and hiking trails.
(Amersfoort) Park Randenbroek is a small piece of green in the middle of Amersfoort. Originally it is a medieval estate. In the 17th century, the estate belonged to the Van Campen family, in 1626 the architect and painter Jacob van Campen inherited the house. The park has been redecorated in the 19th century English landscape style. In the park there are no less than 6 species of bats, 30 bird species and more than 40 heron nests.
(Gouda) De Goudse Hout is a large and relatively young city park. It is a peat meadow area with small forest plots and ditches. It has a dense network of walking and cycling paths. There is a marsh garden, a picking garden, a horse riding school, some small beaches and playgrounds.
(Enkhuizen) The Snouck van Loosenpark is a cultural-historical park and one of the most beautiful places in Enkhuizen. The park was founded in 1187, from the estate of Maria Margaretha Snouck van Loosen. In her will it was written that she wanted to have workers’ homes, located in a park. Since the beginning, no other workers in the country lived in such a generous park. The park was then decorated with exotic plants.
(Leiden) The park derives its name from the former Cronesteyn castle, which was demolished in the 16th century. It was feared that this would serve as a shelter for the Spaniards in the 80 years war. Only the moat has been preserved. In the park there is a marsh garden, butterfly meadow, an old forest belonging to the estate, a water playground and a visitor center. The park has a large diversity of plants and animals.
(Haarlem) The Haarlemmer hout is the oldest forest in the Netherlands and together with the Haagse bos it was part of a primeval forest. Formerly popular as a recreational area for the upperclass in the region, nowadays popular terrain for festivals. Despite the fact that tumult and war has led to complete deforestation several times, the forest has returned. There are now many monumental trees in the Haarlemmer hout.
(Akmaar) The oldest city park in the country. Old woodland plots with oak, beech and lawns alternate. It is a home for many birds, for forest plants and for as many as 6 species of bats. In the 19th century horse races were held, which attracted many visitors. The park has been decorated in the English landscape style in the 20th century. There is a deer park, a sports park and events are being held in the summer.
The nature area between the cities of Amsterdam, Utrecht, Haarlem, Leiden and The Hague is called the Green Heart. Originally, a large part of this area consisted of peat bog. Through the centuries a lot of peat was put in, which led to large peat ponds. Water logging was the result and the puddles had to be laid dry. Around 1300 the area began to get its characteristic peat meadow landscape. An open landscape with mostly stretched meadows that are not much higher than the water in the ditches, on which polder mills stand which keep the land dry. Pollard and water willows, poplars and alders along the dikes, polder roads and ditches. Along the rivers, natural levees have been created with reed and hay islands. The forests that you find in this nature reserve are mostly swamp forests. In the green heart live many meadow birds and among others also hares, muskrats, butterflies and dragonflies, frogs, cows and sheep.
The Utrechtse Heuvelrug is the largest forest area in the Netherlands after the Veluwe. More than 130,000 years ago, the hills of the Utrecht ridge were created. In the second last ice age, the ice pushed up sand and stones into an elongated moraine. Nature elements created a variation in the landscape. Sandy soils consisting of forest and heathland and old landscapes. Since the Middle Ages many forests have been cut down and agriculture and livestock farming have been kept. Heath fields and the shifting sands are remnants of the cultivation. Birches, pines, oaks and beeches dominate the forests and fields. You will also find here among other things the blueberry, sorrel, ferns and mushrooms. Squirrels, woodpeckers, roe deer and badgers, foxes, snakes, toads, salamanders and pine martens are some animal species that live here.
This nature reserve lies between Haarlem, Zandvoort and IJmuiden. A stretched dune area with lakes, forests, open plains with grasslands, rugged and dune valleys. This area used to serve mainly as a hunting ground. There are four estates, once owned by Amsterdam merchants who had an outside place here. Over time, large white sand dunes formed here. Some drift dunes are secured to protect the villages and towns behind them. There are planted pine forests, but also old natural forests. In the open landscape, these forests have a hard time with the harsh sea breeze and they form capricious forms. Common plants are; dune rose, creeping willow, sea buckthorn, orchids and marram grass. The variety of birds is diverse. From forest birds such as the tawny owl and the black woodpecker, to breeding birds such as the barrel, nightingale, hawk, sparrow and the bullfinch. You will also find rabbits, fallow deer, butterflies and dragonflies, foxes, Scottish highlanders, Shetland ponies, konik horses and wisents. At the edge of the dune area you often find beautiful deciduous forests.
This reserve was formed by the purchase of nature reserves. In 1933, 60% of what it now occupies, came into the possession of a foundation, which had been established to protect these now more than 50 small nature reserves. Fens, lakes, grasslands, forests, sand hills, moors and old fields alternate. Since the Middle Ages, many forests have been cut down and agriculture and livestock farming have been kept. Heath fields and sand hills are remnants of this cultivation. A mixture of deciduous and swamp forests, together with heath fields. You will also find here among other things the blueberry, sorrel, orchids, ferns and mushrooms. Owl owls, squirrels, woodpeckers, roe deer and badgers, foxes, toads, salamanders and pine martens are some animal species that live here.
Cultural-historical peat meadow landscape which has been used by man for centuries for agriculture, livestock farming and the extraction of peat (peat). In the time of the peat industry, the Netherlands had a major role in supplying peat in Europe. Here too, in the Ilperveld, the area began to be excavated because there was so much demand for peat. Narrow and wide ditches were dug which cut through the landscape and thus created islands with elongated puddles. Wetlands and grasslands with reeds, which are filled with flowers in the spring, where meadow birds such as the; widgeon, black-tailed godwit, bittern and harrier live. An area where many grasses and plants grow; such as pit-rus, celandine, cattail, fern, water mint and small sundew. A special plant.
A 20 kilometer long dune area, which has a wide variety of nature. Open grass lands, dune valleys, forests, scrubs and rugs. Over time, large white sand dunes formed here, which kept the soil calcareous and many other plants could grow than in the most dune areas. Some sand dunes are secured to protect the villages behind, but others may continue to drift. There are planted pine forests, but also old natural forests. Particularly in the open landscape, these forests suffer heavily due to the sea breeze and take on whimsical shapes. They are a home for many plants and animals. Common plants are; dune rose, creeping willow, dune violet, sea buckthorn, marram grass, sea and the triple thistle. The variety of birds that live there is enormous. From forest birds such as the tawny owl and the black woodpecker, to breeding birds such as the barrel, nightingale, hawk, sparrow and the bullfinch. You will also find rabbits, butterflies and dragonflies, foxes, Scottish highlanders and horses. At the edge of the dune area you often find beautiful deciduous forests. On foot, on horseback or by bike, a visit is certainly worthwhile.