The Ijsselmeer, Markermeer and IJmeer form an impressive artificial lake – formerly the Zuiderzee before the Afsluitdijk was built in 1932, closing it off from the sea. This large mass of water is perfect for sailing, with the province of Noord-Holland along its west coast and Flevoland and Friesland along its east coast.

Many companies rent vessels or host guided voyages aboard catamarans, clippers and historic sailing ships. Swimming, surfing and sunbathing are also popular summertime attractions. But there’s plenty to do for landlubbers, too, such as visiting the small harbours and fishing villages along the coastline, enjoying fresh fish, local cuisine and socialising on the waterside.

The towns of Almere and Lelystad line the Big Lake, as does the beautiful Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve.