Places to go in the Netherlands once quarantine has finished
On Wednesday, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, along with the Minister of Health, announced the government’s plans to gradually reopen the country. According to the current plans, terraces, museums, theatres and other establishments will begin to gradually reopen from June 1, albeit under certain stipulations.
Make the most out of your time in the Netherlands
The arrival of the coronavirus ruined the plans of millions of people worldwide; holidays have been cancelled, tourist attractions closed, and concerts abandoned. For me, the last two months have made me realise how little I have seen of the Netherlands despite living here for almost two years now. So, sometime over the past month, I promised myself that when the quarantine restrictions were lifted, I would go and explore the iconic and famous sites and experiences that the Netherlands has to offer.
Here are my top picks for places to visit in the Netherlands once restrictions are lifted. If the coronavirus crisis has taught me anything, it’s that life is too short to go back to staying at home on the weekends, or spending the weekend in the pub. So now that the restrictions are gradually being lifted, take a look at this list for some ideas and inspiration for your next adventure outside.
This one has been on my list since I first came to the Netherlands, but I never got around to it last year, as I was swept away by exams and other things that seem important when you’re a student. The Keukenhof is one of the worlds largest flower gardens and is situated in Lisse. Unfortunately, it's usually only open from late March to mid-to-late May, which means it will be unable to open this year.
The Keukenhof will be at the top of the list of places to visit next year. It lies in the grounds of Keukenhof Castle, which were redesigned in English landscape style in 1857. Since 1950, the estate has been used to exhibit beautiful and iconic flower displays, which have almost become synonymous with the Netherlands. The garden is widely known for its tulip displays but also features numerous other flowers such as roses, lilies and hyacinths.
The Dunes of Texel
The Dunes of Texel is a national park in Texel, the largest of the West Frisian Islands. The park comprises of multiple terrains, including sand dunes, heather, marsh and forest and by all accounts is one of the most breathtaking national parks in the Netherlands.
Due to its multiple terrains, the park has a wide range of flora and fauna. The dunes and heather are home to some unusual vegetation including salt-tolerant plants like sea lavender and sea thrift. A number of rare animals have also made the park their home, including the short-eared owl and spoonbill but you can also catch a glimpse of the rather majestic highland cows and Exmoor ponies. At the park, you can also find the Ecomare, where you can meet porpoises, seals and other inhabitants of the Wadden and the North Sea
Due to a large number of walking routes and bike lanes, the park is a great place to go hiking and cycle. Bird watching is very popular at the Texel national park, as is stargazing, as the lack of light pollution and the onsite observatory provides astronomy enthusiasts with prime conditions for watching the stars.
The Wouda Pumping Station
The Woudagemaal is the largest and most powerful steam-powered pumping station in the World. Located in the province of Friesland, the Wouda Pumping Station was built to pump excess water out of Friesland, and signifies the Dutch people’s mastery of hydraulic engineering and their struggle to stop their lands from being flooded by the sea.
The Wouda Pumping Station has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to it being a symbol of the pinnacle of Dutch hydraulic engineering and a representation of how steam can be used to control the forces of nature, as well as being the largest installation of its kind in the world. The pump is still operational today and opens to the public one week every year.
A place I have actually visited; Zaanse Schans is well known for its collection of historic windmills and houses, which give it a beautiful, rustic feel. Built on the river Zaan, the area was originally built as a sconce to defend against the Spanish troops during the Eighty Years' War.
Zaanse Schans is a popular tourist spot and is a reflection of how the community of the Zaan district lived in the mid-19th century. The area is characterised by farmsteads, wooden houses, warehouses, windmills and winding paths, as well as small shops selling all sorts of curios, souvenirs and local foods.
Zaanse Schans houses seven museums, including the Cooperage, the Zaan Time Museum and the Albert Heijn Museum Shop. However, its main attraction is several old-style windmills, some of which are still in use today; like De Kat, the oldest working windmill in the world which makes paint.
Madurodam is a miniature park in the Scheveningen district of The Hague. The park, which opened in 1952, strives to recreate a realistic view of the Netherlands on a scale of 1:25. If you want to see some of the best and grandiose sites in the Netherlands but don’t have the time to visit them all in person, take a trip down to Madurodam. Here, you can find recreations of the Rijksmuseum, the port and skyline of Rotterdam as well as windmills and tulip fields.
The miniature city is also interactive. Visitors can operate the Oosterscheldekering storm surge barrier, load containers onto ships in the Port of Rotterdam and even experience the Dutch’s fight against water by using the De Cruquius station to try and pump the Haarlemmermeer lake dry.
Experience the Netherlands
So, there you have it, five places in the Netherlands that are not only popular and entertaining attractions but also reflections of Dutch culture, history and way of life. If, like me, you have moved to the Netherlands and really want to see what this beautiful country has to offer then take the time to check out one of the places above.
Once the coronavirus restrictions have been lifted, don’t go back to sitting in smoke-filled coffeeshops or playing videogames inside, get outside and discover what truly awe-inspiring and beautiful attractions the Netherlands has hidden away. Oh, and make sure you still abide by social distancing regulations!