Karsten Don - Fri, 17 May 2019 - Start the conversation

Pieterpad and other hikes in the Netherlands.

The Dutch like hiking / walking, but with the flat ground, the challenge we seek is in the distance. Like “Pieterpad”, the longest distance walk in the Netherlands.

Besides Pieterpad, we do have some other hiking trails in the Netherlands. I will write down our favorite ones, so you know where to hike if you are planning on visiting the Netherlands.

Pieterpad hiking trail in the Netherlands.
Part of the Pieterpad hike in the Netherlands

Again, if you want to conquer some mountains, hiking in the Netherlands isn’t your best choice. Our “highest point Netherlands” is only: 322.4 meters (1,058 ft) above NAP (Dutch reference for height measurements; roughly similar to the average sea level).

Overview

So what else is there to do when you are done walking in the Netherlands? What can you do when you are on holidays in Holland or in other parts of the Netherlands.

All the other questions you might have concerning other experiences NL has to offer when you are not hiking, I will cover and talk about. It is slightly biased of course, me being a “Dutchie” and all.

What is Pieterpad?

Pieterpad is the longest hiking trail (distance walk) in the Netherlands, with a distance of 498KM (309Miles). It starts up in the north in a place called Pieterburen and it ends in Sint-Pietersberg.

Instructions of the Pieterpad path

There is enough information about the trail online, but the physical guidebooks are only available in dutch. What can be somewhat of a pain, so I will try to give you as much info about it as possible or will guide you in the right direction.

The directions and route instructions on Pieterpad are clear and easy to understand. The trail is mostly hiked by older people, walking one or two days during the weekend.

Pieterpad has a dedicated internet site, however, all the info on it is in Dutch as well. I promise you, in general, we are way more flexible in the language department.

Printscreen of the Pieterpad website, everything you need to know when hiking the Pieterpad. Note: it is only available in Dutch
The Pieterpad website, unfortunately only in Dutch

I did find some other pages that can give you all the info you need, although it might not be as detailed as the Dutch ones, I will put a link down.  

Also, I will put a short translation guide down to make sure everything is understood. The path itself will be well marked with white-red markers, similar to the Polish flag.

Marks and direction guides in the Netherlands. Easy to follow hike trails without getting lost
Example of Dutch direction “mushrooms” that will guide you in the right direction

Want a quick overview of the route, check: Google maps or Fatmap is a great option to take a look at.

The arrangement of Pieterpad.

The trial has been divided in 26 stages, starting with

The Start (Trailhead):

Village of pieterburen
Start Pieterpad, Hoofdstraat 76-86,
9968 AG Pieterburen
Groningen Netherlands

53.39988, 6.45383

The Route:

The Pieterpad hiking trail start to finish.
The Pieterpad Trail
  1. Pieterburen to Winsum (11 km)
  2. Winsum to Groningen (19 km)
  3. Groningen to Zuidlaren (21 km)
  4. Zuidlaren to Rolde (18 km)
  5. Rolde to Schoonloo (18 km)
  6. Schoonloo to Sleen (24 km)
  7. Sleen to Coevorden (21 km)
  8. Coevorden to Hardenberg (19 km)
  9. Hardenberg to Ommen (21 km)
  10. Ommen to Hellendoorn (21 km)
  11. Hellendoorn to Holten (16 km)
  12. Holten to Laren (15 km)
  13. Laren to Vorden (14 km)
  14. Vorden to Zelhem (16 km)
  15. Zelhem to Braamt (18 km)
  16. Braamt to Millingen (24 km)
  17. Millingen to Groesbeek (20 km)
  18. Groesbeek to Gennep (15 km)
  19. Gennep to Vierlingsbeek (17 km)
  20. Vierlingsbeek to Swolgen (21 km)
  21. Swolgen to Venlo (21 km)
  22. Venlo to Swalmen (23 km)
  23. Swalmen to Montfort (22 km)
  24. Montfort to Sittard (24 km)
  25. Sittard to Strabeek (22 km)
  26. Strabeek to Sint-Pietersberg (15 km)

The end:

ENCI Groeve
Luikerweg / zonnebergweg
6212 NA Maastricht
Limburg Netherlands

50.820445, 5.692463

If you want pictures or see what the trail looks like here is a link with a detailed look at every stage. Although it is in Dutch, it is pretty straight forward: https://www.msimons.nl/nederland-pieterpad/#26

What’s so special about Pieterpad?

You will see the Netherlands in a non-touristic way, with lots of peace and quiet. Go through farmlands, polders, woods and historic small villages with windmills.

Views on the Pieterpad hiking trail
Typical Dutch scenery you will encounter hiking the Pieterpad

On occasions, some cities, all on a well maintained flat trail with beautiful pieces of nature. A route to fully enjoy what hiking trails in the Netherlands have to offer.

It’s a well-guided hiking trail with low difficulty, and it has good public transport and accommodation throughout. There have been multiple solo hikers who felt totally safe throughout Pieterpad.

Overview of the Pieterpad walked by Heiko Lampe

What does your budget need to be?

People have budgeted on 50eu a day for food and lodging. But that is going to be different depending on the season and the locations you want to stay at.

What budget do you need when hiking the pieterpad trail in the netherlands?
What is the Pieterpad trail going to cost you?

Still, it is hard to tell, there are multiple people who are volunteering their own home to accommodate the people walking on the Pieterpad for a small compensation.

However not knowing them personally and not sure if they are still willing to be a BnB to the date you are reading this. Here is a Link to a sheet made especially for hikers/walkers on the Pieterpad path: Wandel Website. It’s all in Dutch so Google translate will be your best friend.

On pieterpad.nl you can also find additional information, there are downloadable files you can use, however they are in Dutch. But you can still use them for the maps.

Handy for points of interest, like atm’s, restaurants and campings. So you can plan accordingly. Knowing where and when there are supermarkets will help you with budgeting.

What are the Sleeping arrangements like?

There are lots of ways to choose from, are you going to look for it yourself or are you doing it through a Dutch travel agency?

I normally recommend Vrienden op de Fiets, they offer cheap and fair prices on a policy that is made especially for hikers and cyclist. But the site is only in Dutch and not sure if translating it will help you out with booking the places to stay. The max is 22.50eu a night (2019).

You can always use a B&B website (Airbnb) or you can go camping. It’s not allowed to go wild camping in the woods or national parks. So camping is the only option if you want to stay in a tent.

Pieterpad quick Dutch translation guide

Here is a quick translation of some things you might encounter when searching for more information about Pieterpad:

EnglishDutch
Pieterpad small bookPieterpad boekje
Route Pieterpad route Pieterpad / Pieterpad route
length Pieterpadlengte Pieterpad
Pieterpad mapPieterpad kaart
Pieterpad StagesPieterpad etappes / etappes Pieterpad
Pieterpad Overnight staysPieterpad overnachtingen
Pieterpad WalksPieterpad wandelen
Pieterpad arrangementPieterpad arrangement
Pieterpad Part 1Pieterpad deel 1
BreakRust
ToiletWC
StoreWinkel

Here are some Pieterpad Tips.

  • Use your phone as a map ( bring portable batteries so you won’t run out)
  • Use Google maps to find places to eat
  • Make clear sections & stages to hike.so you can figure out the sleeping situation and plan everything ahead of time
  • There aren’t too many younger travelers on the hiking trail
  • Have plenty of water to make sure you can reach the next water source
  • Have some emergency food since some village stores will be closed on Sunday & Holidays
  • Have cash, not all supermarkets accept a credit card
  • Find other hikers to get the inside scoop
  • Meet new people in B&B’s

Hiking in the Netherlands: what can you expect?

By now you know we are a flat country, so if you are a looking for hills to challenge don’t pick the Netherlands.

But there are loads of other countries in Europe to pick from, that are close by and can be put in a Eurotrip. So backpacking the Netherlands is possible but just combine it all to have the best experience.

Heigt measurement is not needed for hiking in the Netherlands
You won’t be needing this on hiking trails in the Netherlands

So if you want to go hiking in Holland, I will tell you what we do have.

There are loads of dunes, nice forests and lovely islands to discover. It might not all be the most challenging or exciting, but the peace and serenity in some places are amazing.

Our Top 3 hiking Locations in the Netherlands.


Oisterwijkse bossen and vennen in Oisterwijk [Tilburg / Breda]

Hiking in the Oisterwijkse Bossen and Vennen, the Netherlands
Peaceful surrondings in the “Oisterwijkse Bossen”

Oisterwijk Forrest has multiple hiking routes, the blue route will be around 10 km. But you can make it shorter or longer. If you want to make it a longer hike you can attach the “natuurgebied Kampine” (nature reserve Kampine) to the trail.

There are days that it is possible to sleep in the Oisterwijkse Forrest, it’s only on occasions and you need to check for events if it is possible on the days you are going to visit

Highlights

  • Beautiful pieces of nature
  • Tons of paths to choose from
  • Clear indicators
  • Quite and peaceful

Starting point | Address

Train station: Oisterwijk 
or
Van Tienhovenlaan 5062, 5062 SK Oisterwijk

Veluwezoom national park Rheden  [Gelderland]

Scottish highlander in the Veluwezoom National Park, hiking in the Netherlands
Scottish Highlander in the Veluwezoom

The Veluwezoom national park is the oldest national park of the Netherlands. It’s 50 square Km located in the province of Gelderland.

It has a great information center, where you can find maps & info. The paths are easy to follow because there are signs everywhere. Still, I would recommend you to always have a GPS map app on your phone just to be sure.

Unfortunately, there is a time limit when visiting, visiting hours are after the sun comes up until the sun comes down

If you are going to take public transportation, just go to Rheden station with the train. The park header is almost behind the train station.

Highlights

  • There are different types of landscape making it a very diverse scenery. And for food, there are small restaurants inside the park.
  • There are multiple trails long and short ones to hike. But one of the well-known ones is around 12km.
  • Free admission
  • Peaceful nature and scenery
  • There are animals in the park, like Icelandic horses, dear and highlander cows that roam free, if you can spot them. There are no guarantees.

Starting point | Address

Nearby the train station: header of the park

Train station: Rheden 
or
Heuvenseweg 6A, 6991 JE Rheden

Kennemerduinen Trail in Zuid-Kennemerland [Noord Holland]

Kennemerduinen trail hiking the Netherlands
The Kennemerduinen Trail

The Trail is a route walking from 1 train station to another, it includes a beach walk and a big chunk walking through the national park. There is a trail setup supported by public transportation which makes your life a lot easier. Most people use the trail for running, but if you go off the main route and include an extra bit of your time in the park you will make your hiking experience even better.

The hike will take around 3-4 hours to complete (15.3km), this doesn’t include the extra distance in the park. The trailhead is Santpoort Noord train station a place 45 min away from Amsterdam.

The Kennemerland duinen trail hiking in the netherlands
Kennemerduinen trail by mudsweattrails.nl

Highlights

  • 5km alongside the beach
  • Next to the national park, what in itself is a highlight to visit
  • Lots of dunes
  • The park is really big
  • Close to the National Park, there is a cafe called: Duincafé. It’s known for regional recipes and lots of biological food. And a good homemade apple pie
  • Nationalpark has a great information center
  • The park has some animals like horses & Scottish Highlanders
  • Free entrance

A tip is to mark it in your phone and include the hike end to end with gps, the quality of the paths of the main road isn’t marked well enough to go by sight.

Starting point | Address

The Visitor centre De Kennemerduinen is located between Haarlem and Zandvoort, and it’s at the main entrance of Zuid Kennemerland National Park:

Zeeweg 12, 2051 EC Overveen

Short Honorable mentions

The highest point in the Netherlands

The Vaalserberg is a hill with a height of 322meters (1,058 ft) above NAP and it’s the highest point in the Netherlands.

For people looking for a mountain to conquer, the Netherlands isn’t the place to do that. Because the highest mountain in Netherlands is 322,7 meters above sea level. The “Holland peak” is called Vaalserberg. On the top, there are a couple of restaurants/souvenir shops and a tower.

Vaalserberg is the highest point in the Netherlands, tripoint bordering germany and belgium.
Highest point of the Netherlands: Vaalserberg

It is also a combination of a landmark; the so-called “3-country-point”, a place where the Netherlands / Germany and Belgium borders connect.

There is a place for tourist in the center of the town called: Vaals Tourist Office (VVV). That is where you can get all the information you need or want.

Hiking in Amsterdam

I might not have clarified it yet but: Amsterdam is not a Country. It’s the capital of the Netherlands. I just wanted to state that.

Can you hike in Amsterdam? A question I sometimes get from friends/family abroad, and the answer is no. You can go for long walks in the city enjoying all Amsterdam has to offer and it is a lot. But you don’t come to Amsterdam to put a backpack on your back and go for a stroll.

Hiking near amsterdam.

There are way more suitable places in the area. Since The Netherlands is small and transportation is good, getting there in a short amount of time isn’t the problem. I would recommend our number 3 (Kennemerduinen Trail) in the previously mentioned chapter.

And after all that what now, you have hiked the best hikes in the Netherlands. What is there left tot do?


Tips for visiting the Netherlands.

How to travel.

  • Public transportation is really accessible and good, connections between busses and trains are mostly well put together. Will put some tips in the “must do section”
  • You should also try to rent a bicycle since it is a great way to go about in this flat country. I do want to add: be very careful with the bike you rent. Lock it everywhere and triple check it, plus put it in a place where it is seen. The amount of bicycles that are stolen is very high, reporting it to the police is not in their top tier priority
  • Uber is a thing in the Netherlands as well, but it is not in every city. The following places do have it:
    • Amsterdam
    • Rotterdam
    • Den Haag
    • Eindhoven
    • Utrecht
  • You can also rent a car, If you will just stay in cities I would recommend you to just use public transportation. The highways are pretty straightforward and clear to read. Although I would still advise using an app on your phone with directions. Just check the Dutch road rules when you do
OV-chipkaart for public transport traveling in the Netherlands
Public transport is easy accessible with the “OV-chipkaart”

Best locations in the Netherlands to visit (Cities).

Places to visit that are not Amsterdam (our top 5).

  1. Rotterdam: It has a lot of Architecture and is a really modern city, many landmarks to visit. This is an exploration you need to do before you visit
  2. Utrecht: There is a large Tower (112.5m) called the Domtoren looking over Utrecht. It has an extensive canal system
  3. Alkmaar: Alkmaar is known for its cheese market, it’s a big happening and a big attraction to its city. Another feature is a big church and the cheese factory (not to be confused with the restaurant)
  4. Breda: I have only been there a couple of times but every time I get such a friendly vibe, it is a really great cultural place
  5. Delft: There is a lot of cultural heritage, it is a beautiful old city. But it is mostly known for its traditional blue and white ceramics, also known as Delfts Blue (Delfts Blauw)
City hall delft, places to visit when hiking amsterdam area in the netherlands
City hall in Delft

Honourable mentions:

There are so many more places but I will add these ones in particular just Google them to find out more, here they are in random order: Egmond aan Zee / Leiden / Den Haag / Maastricht / Giethoorn / Volendam

Farm house in Giethoorn, the Netherlands. Picture taken by Michel van der Vegt
Farm house in Giethoorn

Places to visit in Amsterdam.

Check out this 360 guided city tour of Amsterdam by VR Gorilla

Places to visit when in the Netherlands; red light district
Red light district in Amsterdam
  • If you like museums I would recommend the museum district. With loads to choose from like: Rijksmuseum / van Gogh museum
  • Go to the red light district, just to see what all the fuss is about. It has some very narrow streets and you will most likely be crammed up together with the other hundreds of tourist visiting it daily. Not sure if it is a written rule, but it is common courtesy to not take pictures of the ladies behind the glass
  • Heineken’s “Heineken Experience” is a nice day time filler to do when you are there, I do know the hate Heineken gets from the Dutch but I enjoyed the experience
  • If you are more of a beer connoisseur then I recommend Brouwerij ‘t IJ.e. It’s a small craft brewery that is located in a remaining windmill in Amsterdam. It will be a lot smaller and is far less crowded, with lots of great beers
  • Go to a Square like: Leidseplein or Rembrandtplein and just enjoy some drinks and interact with people. In some places, there are street performers and musicians for amusement. And let it all sink in.
  • I have put some Amsterdam spots in the must eat foods.
  • Quick summary:
    • Amsterdam canal boat tour
    • Anne Frank museum
    • Icebar
Statues on the Rembrandtplein square amsterdam, the netherlands
Statues in the middle of Rembrandtplein square

Best places to Visit.

Zaanse schans is a popular touristic attraction for people visiting the netherlands ; traditional dutch culture
Zaanse Schans is a popular place to visit to experience traditional Dutch culture
  • You can always do a Hop on hop off tour, here are some choices:
    • Amsterdam
    • Combo: Zaanse Schans  / Edam / Volendam
  • The Keukenhof is also called the garden of Europe, and if you like flowers this is the place to be
  • I think I  have been to the Zaanse Schans so many times that I can be an official tour guide
  • Kings Day (formerly known as Queensday), one of my favorite national days of the year. Always nice vibes and many things to do. Choose one of the main cities on Kingsday and enjoy.
    • Date Kingsday: 27 April
  • Enjoy the beaches and go to the coast, a nice place is Bloemendaal. It’s reachable by train and it is a great place to be on the days the sun is out.
  • Highly recommended is seeing a festival. If you are into festivals, of course. There are so many to recommend that I will leave it up to you to check. With a quick Google search, you will find plenty. For all types of music. So check the sites for an available one and check it out.
Keukenhof is a place filled with beautiful flowers and tulips ; a must visit if you are into flowers
If you are into flowers, Keukenhof is a place you must visit

Must do.

  • Go to Amsterdam: see what to do in Amsterdam.
  • Buy an OV-chipkaart. This is a card that you can use on all public transportation making the transitions smoother. It can be used to check in and out in any type of public transit: Trains / Busses / Ferries / Trams and subways
  • Download the app: 9292 where you can check all public transportation, no login required and settings can be in English
  • I will not endorse using drugs, but I will state that using soft drugs in the Netherlands is legal. And will add to it that in some cases it will be stronger than you might expect so you should take that into consideration.
  • Personally, I don’t see it being special but then again I am from here, but we have a vending machine where you can get warm food from. So instead of ordering you will just put money in the wall and open a small window getting your own food ( like a burger or other fast food items).
  • If you are in a hurry and don’t have time to see everything the Netherlands has to offer. You can look for a place called: This is Holland it is a 5d experience of the Netherlands and will give you the highlights in 1-hour experience. I have done it before and it’s fun.
  • Madurodam is a miniature scale of the Netherlands. So that might also be something unique you can do.
The FEBO offers something that the Dutch love ; grabbing your warm meal from the wall without having to que
At the FEBO you can grab your meal from the wall

Must Eat foods.

Croquets are a must eat when traveling to the netherlands
Dutch croquets with two slices of bread
  • I want to previse again that I am not endorsing drugs. However, if you want to eat something like Space brownies, here are some safety tips. It can take a while before you feel it’s effects, around 60-90 mins. There are however people that can have a peak way later even as far as 2.5hrs to peak. So keep that in mind. Only buy it at the coffee shops. Another big one is the Netherlands you won’t get arrested for seeking medical aid when you’ve taken an illegal substance
  • Cheese: go to a specialty store to get the full explanation. Or just get some in the supermarket to try out yourself at a cheaper price
  • Pickled herring: this is a do it on your own risk type of deal, some love it some hate it. I am in the last category
  • Hagelslag: it’s chocolate flakes that we use as a topping on bread. Just try it, it’s chocolate what can go wrong
  • Pancakes: it’s like normal pancakes but the Dutch way
  • Stroopwafels: It’s one of the things I always recommend and I haven’t met anyone that doesn’t like it. But if you don’t like something sweet. Skip this one
  • Asian restaurants: There are plenty of really good Asian restaurants in Amsterdam like:
    • New King (Chinese)
    • Nam kee (Chinese)
    • Bird (Thai)
    • Ron gastrobar indonesia ( Indonesian)
  • De Drie Graefjes: we recommend the red velvet cake (Amsterdam)
  • Candy: liquorice it’s 50/50 for most, so try small packets. Always check if it is sweet or salt
  • Patat: The best fries place in the Netherlands is called: Manneke Pis (Amsterdam Damrak)
  • Tompouce: A sweet dessert with cream filling in the middle and puff pastry on both sides with pink glazing (however in some cases it’s orange, for example on Kingsday)
  • Kroketten: crispy outside with ragu on the inside, a must. It comes in different flavors of ragous, my personal favorite is the sate one. In the Mcdonalds they sell Mckroket and it is a Dutch exclusive
Tompouce is a traditional duth pastry, must eat when traveling to the netherlands
Traditional Dutch pastry called “tompouce”

Things to know about.

The weather

The climate in The Netherlands has a temperate maritime climate influenced by the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, with cool summers and moderate winters. Daytime temperatures vary from 2°C-6°C in the winter and 17°C-20°C in the summer. But let’s be honest you never know with the Dutch weather.

Quick Climate Info
Hottest Monthjuli (18 °C avg)
Coldest Monthjanuari (4 °C avg)
Wettest Monthoktober (58.3 mm avg)
Windiest Monthjanuari (21 km/h avg)
Annual Rainfall549.7 mm (per year)

The language

The native language is dutch, a somewhat harsh sounding language. It might not be an easy language to master before you come. However most people know how to speak English and most of the time are willing to do so. We were taught English in primary school, so the majority will have some comprehension of English

Should you visit the Netherlands to hike?

Yes,  It is a great country with lots of history and landmarks you can hike to. Not al hikes trails are the most challenging, but it can still be beautiful and fun. I would recommend mixing in all that the Netherlands has to offer and not just for hiking.

Pieterpad is a great trail to do and mixing that with some cities to visit will most definitely make your journey towards the Netherlands worth it.

On that note, if you have any questions relating the topic of hiking in the Netherlands let me know, I am more then willing to offer you advice to make sure your journey is as good as you hope it is going to be, and don’t forget we can all: Wander together.

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