There are quite a few day trips in the Netherlands, and hence we couldn’t fit them in one article. If you have already visited the more famous day trips (read Part 1: Day Trips – Part I) or if you are the kind of traveler who wants to explore the country like locals – these day trips are perfect for you.
Hoge Veluwe National Park
We first discovered Hoge Veluwe National park, while trying to find the best place to see fall colors in The Netherlands. It was our first Autumn in a foreign land, and having heard so much about Autumn in general and seeing some zillion pictures, we knew we had to see the colors. This national park did have some really great autumn transition and we are glad we went.
We figured out the public transport connections via 9292.nl (the Dutch site to see how to navigate the public transport fastest and cheapest and the app is really handy). Once there we paid an entry fee (9 EUR per person) and then we could use the free white cycles to go around the park. We found the cycles at the entrance itself and quickly sought out the sizes best suited for us. Dutch people are realllllyyy tall and hence we definitely had to search for a cycle our size 😉
Cycling around the park was charming. Thickly wooded forest, red-yellow-orange leaves strewed over the paths, a slight chill in the air was all too fascinating. We cycled for 3-4 hours along the well-signposted routes and then decided to cycle to the Jachthuis Sint Hubertus to take a break. The setting of the lake, castle-like building and the sun setting on the other side, made a captivating atmosphere. We picnicked for a while and then tore ourselves from the view and headed back home happily!
The park has a lot to offer, from cycling routes to long walks, a museum (Kroller – Muller – National Art Museum) and some cafes – something for everyone who visits. The park is also campers paradise offering a car-free tent site and three sites for caravans and campers.
South Africa / Kenya has been on our bucket list for its ‘Big Five’ and safari’s since a long long time now. We are sure we will do it ‘someday’, but when we came across BeekseBergen Safari park – which does host the Big Five along with lots of other species, we couldn’t resist ourselves.
The safari park is in southern Holland and it doesn’t cage the animals. They are out in the open, albeit some fencing but not caged like in zoos. Another spectacular thing about this park was that if you go by car, you could take your car inside – like a personal car safari, and experience the animals up close – like the Giraffe and Zebras etc.
It was obvious we were to go there by car, so we rented a car for the weekend and jetted off to the safari park. We had pre-purchased our tickets online (since it is slightly cheaper to do so in advance than at the gate or on the day). We later found out about socialdeals.nl which sometimes have the ticket even cheaper – ahmmp.
We reached around noon, and the weather was playing with us a little that day. Cloudy, rainy, sunny all in the span of a couple of hours. We decided to make the most of it and started to explore.
The park also has boat safaris and a walking safari, so we decided to do those first since the boat safaris are timed and limited. The boat ride was about 45 mins from the entrance of the park to midway. We found it to be ok-ish, and hence we decided to get off at the midway point and walk.
We saw Lions, Tigers, Rhinos, Hippos, Elephants, Giraffes, Zebras, Deer, Gorillas, Chimpanzees, Leopards, Cheetahs and so many other species walking around the vast expanse. We walked around the park using the map provided at the entrance and enjoyed watching the animals in a (somewhat) mimicked natural habitat.
Once back to the entrance, we got back in our car and then entered the park on the car route to see some more! The park closes at 7 PM hence we had to leave unless we wanted to spend the night with the animals ;
Needless to say, we loved the safari park and the whole experience. Definitely recommended for adults and children alike.
Castle De Haar – Utrecht
Having visited a few castles around Europe, like Neuschwanstein – Germany, Linderhof – Germany, and some palaces – like Versailles, the castles in the Netherlands might feel slightly less overwhelming. However, Castle De Haar is an exception and has a charm of its own. A short train + bus ride or a short drive (30 minutes) from Amsterdam, the castle is a perfect day trip any time of the year.
The magnificent castle building with its towers, the symmetry around the building, the castle gardens namely the rose and roman garden, the blooming flowers, carvings and paintings inside the castle, deer park at the rear end, and a peaceful long walk around the wooded area – it possibly can’t go wrong while visiting the castle
The castle has an entry fee of 16 EUR, but if you have a Museum Card, then it is free to visit. We highly recommend investing in a museum card if you plan to stay for a month or plan to visit 4 or more museums when in The Netherlands.
We first visited the castle itself and saw its grandeur – with its carvings and paintings and lavish rooms. We then walked around the park/gardens and took a long stroll to the deer park towards the rear end of the castle.
While leaving we strolled a little bit ahead from the main entrance of the castle grounds to get a view from outside and it was so worth it! Amidst some clearing n the tress/plantation outside, we got a good view of the park and the castle itself – picture perfect setting on a nice sunny day!
VeluweZoom National Park – purple heather fields.
VelweZoom park is an extension of The Hoge Veluwe National Park and has some hills and a winding path up the hills making it attractive.
This was the park we discovered while trying to see if we could find lavender fields in the Netherlands. Even if the Netherlands doesn’t have lavender fields, it does go all purple in August. The heather fields bloom here on the fields for some 20 days in August every year. It is a vast expanse of purple, best experienced on a misty summer morning adding to the charm. We walked around the fields and in the national park, soaking in the beautiful peaceful Sunday morning.
Next time around we plan to camp here in some nearby camping places and cycle around the fields to enjoy them once more!
While driving back from the national park, we took a slight detour to a place called Rietplas, Houten. And what a place it turned out to be. A sleepy little town, with a beach on its own lake, it was the setting for a perfect Sunday afternoon. To add a cherry on top, while we walked along the promenade, it showcased a lovely set of rainbow-colored houses on the lake. Spectacular! It was a car-free zone, with locals cycling at leisure, a few locals came out for a swim, others just to relax on the beach, and some kids skating around playfully.
While in the Netherlands, Amsterdam is the quintessential place you will visit (and should for good measure). However, a few other Dutch cities are equally charming, of historic significance and would really make some great day trips!
Haarlem, The Hague, Rotterdam are a few cities in The Netherlands that we have visited and loved.
These are our favorite things to do if you have a couple of days in Holland. We would love to hear your favorite trips around the country. Let us know in the comments where have you been already?