Commonly known for its windmills and tulips, the Netherlands is so much more than that: beaches, islands, authentic villages and undiscovered green destinations will make an excellent holiday.
WELCOME TO THE NETHERLANDS
Facing overtourism in several areas, achieving sustainability in tourism is a priority for the Netherlands government. One of their key actions is to spread tourism throughout the country away from more touristic places, as well as encouraging near-by tourism for local people. In the words of Thomas Heerkens of Landal Greenparks:
‘People should be more aware that a holiday in your own country is an attractive and sustainable alternative’.
in the capital and the bulb region, this by showing tourists that the distances here are relatively small and by inspiring them to consider other areas. For this they have decided to:
- Create awareness of tourism behavior.
- Reward sustainable initiatives and tax polluting activities.
- Make investments in soft mobility: developing the range of electric mobility and making bikes and electric bikes more easily accessible to visitors.
- Encourage the use of public transport and improve the booking-paying-traveling experience for tourists.
- Develop opportunities for better sustainability in the accommodation and entertainment industries, enforcing established guidelines, such as BREEAM and WELL.
- The Netherlands is home to more bikes than people
There are around 18 million bikes in the country, including the clever (if not so elegant) bakfiets which combine a bike and a wheelbarrow. Ideal for taking the kids to school, bakfiets are even occasionally used for moving house. Dutch cycle an average distance of 2.9km per day and use bicycles for more than a quarter of all trips, compared to just 2 percent in the UK.
- The Dutch government plans to ban the sales of petrol and diesel-powered cars in 2025
To promote green energy, the motion has been passed by the lower house but still needs to be ratified by the Senate. The government’s goal is to have only electric cars driving on Dutch streets in the future.
WHERE TO GO?
Distances in the Netherlands are short. Why not avoiding the crowds and discover other wonderful places at the same time? Discover here the best green destinations in The Netherlands to add to your trip.
OUR EDITOR'S CHOICE
WHERE TO GO?
Go for fresh air in the river delta of the rivers Rhine, Meuse and Scheldt: visit Westvoorne, Goeree-Overflakkee, Schouwen-Duiveland or Veere. These are all Award-winning destinations in Green Destinations’ QualityCoast program, and together they won a prestigious Nature Award at ITB Berlin in 2019, the world’s leading travel trade show.
Close to Amsterdam? Visit Noordwijk and Katwijk; best accessible by public bus service from Leiden Central railway station. From end of March till early May, rent a bike in Noordwijk (or Leiden) and explore the tulip fields.
Close to Rotterdam? Catch a train to Hoek van Holland, make a dune and beach walk and be amazed by the massive ships heading for the Port of Rotterdam.
Take the train to the beautiful city of Nijmegen for historical monuments and city walks, abundant cultural activities and the river, where you can go for a walk or relax near the water. Did you know Nijmegen won the European Green Capital Awards and the Green Destinations Gold Award in 2018?
Then rent a bike or take a bus service to another true Green Destination: Berg en Dal (around Groesbeek). “Berg” means hill (do the N70 hike, taking you over eight hills!) and “Dal” refers to the low lands (do a bike tour in the Ooijpolder!).
The Wadden Sea in the north is a UNESCO Heritage site, bordered by several “wadden islands”. The only one participating in Green Destinations programs is Ameland, which aims to become energy neutral soon, and offers hiking and biking through dunes and polders. Take train and bus to Holwerd, and then the ferry crossing the Wadden Sea. Spot seals and birds…
AVOID CROWDS AND NOISE
Just make a 1-day visit to the museums around Museumplein and some canals nearby. The city centre with a population of only 86.000 had 17 million overnight visitors in 2018, and is a hotspot for drugs, illegal weapons, crime and noisy events. Although the canals area kept its Golden Age and colonial-era architecture, many locals are sad that it caters more and more for cheap mass tourism, and the usual American giants (like Airbnb, fastfood and coffee outlets, and trendy shops) are rapidly replacing the traditional service providers; for example, the last florist left the famous floating Flower market in favour of souvenirs made in China.
This small green pearl with only 2600 people now receives 365,000 tourists a year. As a responsible visitor you may be annoyed by many visitors treating the village as a museum, not respecting private gardens and peeking into private homes; by the increasing boat traffic jams on the small canals are on the increase; and by the fortification works to protect the traditional wooden bridges against impatient commercial boat captains.
If you are considering visiting Zandvoort (“Amsterdam beach”) or Kennemerduinen National Park, check the race course calendar, to avoid unpleasant noise and traffic jams. You’ll hear less noise when walking along the beach from Zandvoort to the south, thanks to the sea!