Along the coast and behind the beach you’ll find the dunes, an important part of the Dutch landscape. As about a third of the country lies below sea level, the dunes form an important barrier against the occasionally wild and rising North Sea. Forming hills, the dunes not only offer protection during storm surges but also leisure opportunities. It’s here that you’ll find bike paths with peaks that make for a more challenging cycle and a contrast to the flatness of other parts of the Netherlands.
Zuid-Kennemerland National Park
Stretching from Zandvoort to IJmuiden in the north, the Zuid-Kennemerland National Park is a vast area that will delight any explorer. It’s home to an array of colourful wildlife, including more than a hundred species of bird, as well as deer and rabbits and even Highland cattle and European bison. Open from sunrise to sunset, the dunes offer walking and cycling routes, forested areas, lakes and ponds. It’s the perfect place for a day out with the family, or just to escape to hustle and bustle of the city.
Bunkers in the dunes
To the south of Zandvoort aan Zee you’ll find another nature reserve, the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen. Home to unique flora and fauna, the area is also home to bunkers that were used as defence lines during the Second World War. Take a walking tour to see these historical sites and you can also spot some of the native wildlife along the way, including foxes and roe deer? What’s more, the dunes also provide Amsterdam’s drinking water. Water has been extracted here since 1853.
After you’ve finished your walk, head to the neighbouring beaches to take a dip in the sea or enjoy a refreshing cocktail or two at one of Amsterdam Beach’s beach clubs.
How to get there
It’s only a short 30-minute train ride to the dunes from Amsterdam. The sprinter services from Amsterdam Centraal go direct to Zandvoort aan Zee. From there it’s just a hop, skip and a jump to the seaside.
To make the most of your time exploring Amsterdam's surrounding areas, take advantage of the Amsterdam & Region Travel Ticket, which offers unlimited travel on buses, trams, trains and metros in the Amsterdam Area for 24 hours for just €19.50, two days for €28.00, or three for €36.50.