Backpacking in the Netherlands: TOP 5 Multi-Day Trails

Backpacking in the Netherlands: A backpacker in the Zuid-Kennemerland National Park

In this post, we'll take a look at:

Backpacking in the Netherlands offers plenty of scenic hiking for those looking to explore its diverse landscapes.

Despite its small size, the Netherlands boasts an extensive hiking trail system of over 3,700 miles (6,000 kilometers) of long distance footpaths crisscrossing the country. Most regions contain marked trail networks, including the 21 National Parks with over 283,000 acres of protected land.

And that’s what this post is all about – backpacking in the Netherlands. We’ll provide tips to help you prepare for backpacking in this diverse country as well as showcase the TOP 5 multi-day trails.

Let’s get started.

Key Tips for Backpacking in the Netherlands

  • What to expect: Despite its size, the Netherlands offers plenty of marked trails for backpackers to explore diverse landscapes easily. With flat terrain and extensive trail networks, moving between overnight accommodations is straightforward. Lightweight, waterproof gear is essential due to frequent rainfall. Along these trails, you can discover coastal dunes and forests in national parks, offering accessible and picturesque views.
  • Essential gear: In addition to your usual gear, remember to pack lightweight, waterproof items like a rain jacket and pants, waterproof hiking shoes, and clothes that dry quickly. Trekking poles can be useful for dealing with the often windy weather. Don’t forget to bring a reusable water bottle and something to treat water, like a filter or purification tablets, because there might not be many water sources available in some areas.
  • Wildlife: There are no predators, venomous snakes or other wildlife in the Netherlands that pose a significant danger to backpackers and hikers. The most hazardous animals are ticks which can transmit Lyme disease and, rarely, vipers which have a weak venom unlikely to cause serious harm. Mosquitos and wasps may also be bothersome.
  • Wild camping in the Netherlands is legally restricted. Camping is only allowed at designated campsites with permission from landowners. However, some tolerated wild camping does occur, especially outside of urban areas. Camping for one night may be overlooked in secluded natural areas if adhering to strict leave no trace principles and moving on early. But fines can still result from illegal camping.
  • Best times to go are spring and fall when the weather is mildest and crowds are smaller. April to early June offers fewer tourists, comfortable temperatures, spring flowers, and accessible trails. Similarly, September and October bring cooler weather perfect for hiking along with fall foliage colors. Though popular, summer can have frequent rain. Winter sees cold temps and possible snow limiting trail access.

Top 5 Backpacking Trails in the Netherlands

Discover the most stunning long trails in the Netherlands for amazing adventures:

1. Dutch Mountain Trail

A glimpse of the idyllic countryside with rolling green hills and farms is visible through the trunks of a row of trees in the Netherlands

Length: 62.9 mi / 101.2 km
Type: Point to point
Difficulty: Hard
Elevation Gain: 8202 ft / 2500 m
Location: Eygelshoven
Estimated Hiking Calorie Burn: 7400 calories
More Details: See on AllTrails

The challenging 63-mile Dutch Mountain Trail traverses the hills of Limburg from Maastricht to Eygelshoven near the borders of Germany and Belgium. Climbing through forests and fields to the highest peaks in the Netherlands, hikers are treated to panoramic views from summits like the iconic Vaalserberg. With steep climbs and slippery descents, good fitness and sturdy shoes are a must on this rewarding multi-day trek. Follow white and blue waymarking as the trail connects you to the natural beauty and cultural heritage of Limburg. Experience a true taste of the Netherlands’ “mountains” on the Dutch Mountain Trail.

2. Amerongse Berg – Elsterberg – Ruiterberg

Tall green pine trees and shorter brown-barked deciduous trees stand in a forest beneath a bright daytime sky in the Netherlands

Length: 33 mi / 53.1 km
Type: Loop
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 2687 ft / 819 m
Location: Utrechtse Heuvelrug National Park
Estimated Hiking Calorie Burn: 3700 calories
More Details: See on AllTrails

This moderately challenging 33-mile loop in Utrecht climbs through forests and over heathland hills in the Utrechtse Heuvelrug National Park. Taking in viewpoints like the Amerongse Berg and Leersumse Plassen lake, the two-day circuit provides a scenic taste of the region’s nature and history. Walk past ancient burial mounds, sand excavations, and the monumental Prattenburg estate for an up-close look at the park’s diverse landscapes. With minimal facilities along the remote trails, come prepared for self-sufficient hiking.

3. Krijtlandpad SP7

A winding river flows through vibrant green fields dotted with trees in the idyllic countryside of the Netherlands

Length: 57 mi / 91.7 km
Type: Loop
Difficulty: Hard
Elevation Gain: 6548 ft / 1996 m
Location: Maastricht
Estimated Hiking Calorie Burn: 6600 calories
More Details: See on AllTrails

Perfect for a 2-3 day backpacking adventure, the challenging 57-mile Krijtlandpad loop immerses hikers in the nature of South Limburg. Traversing the region’s iconic marl landscapes, the trail winds through forests, nature reserves, and rural villages. Climb to panoramic viewpoints like the Vaalserberg, the Netherlands’ highest point. With plentiful backcountry campsites and modest elevation gains, the Krijtlandpad offers a rewarding yet achievable backpacking experience. Follow yellow-red markings as you discover the history and scenery of Limburg, where each bend in the trail reveals a new and beautiful vista.

4. Reggepad

Green pine trees densely fill a tranquil forest under sunny skies in the Netherlands

Length: 45 mi / 72.4 km
Type: Point to point
Difficulty: Hard
Elevation Gain: 1817 ft / 554 m
Location: Vecht- en Beneden-Reggegebied
Estimated Hiking Calorie Burn: 4900 calories
More Details: See on AllTrails

For an immersive 2-3 day backpacking adventure, follow the challenging 45-mile Reggepad from Ommen to Diepenheim. Tracing the meandering Regge River through forests and meadows, the route treats hikers to the quintessential natural beauty of Overijssel. Pass storybook villages and windmills as you hike from campsite to campsite along the waymarked path. With plentiful water sources and mostly flat terrain, the Reggepad offers a rewarding yet moderate backpacking challenge. Soak in gorgeous river scenery and experience this iconic slice of the Dutch countryside on a peaceful wilderness escape.

5. Hilligenpad

A small brown house with a thatched roof stands surrounded by tall trees on the grounds of a historic estate in the Netherlands

Length: 64.2 mi / 103.3 km
Type: Point to point
Difficulty: Hard
Elevation Gain: 4130 ft / 1259 m
Location: Enschede
Estimated Hiking Calorie Burn: 7200 calories
More Details: See on AllTrails

Escape into nature on the meditative Hilligenpad backpacking trail. This moderately challenging 64-mile route winds through the forests and heathlands of Twente in Overijssel, Netherlands. As a pilgrimage path, the Hilligenpad connects hikers to the cultural history and natural beauty of the region. Stop at chapels, ancient oaks, and over 50 other spiritual sites to reflect and rejuvenate. With modest elevation gains and villages along the way for resupply, the 4-5 day journey is accessible for most backpackers. Camp at designated sites each night surrounded by the scenic splendor of Twente. 

Annual Weather Averages

The Netherlands has a temperate maritime climate with mild summers and cool winters:

  • Summer highs average around 70°F (21°C) and lows around 60°F (16°C) but rain is frequent.
  • Winter sees highs around 40°F (4°C) and lows around freezing, 32°F (0°C), with frost, fog and precipitation as rain or wet snow.
  • Spring and fall temperatures range from 40-60°F (4-16°C).

Strong winds often occur along the coast. Drier days mix with wetter days in all seasons.

Before you grab your backpack and head outdoors, take a look at the weather statistics for the Netherlands (Eindhoven):

High °F424450586569737266584943
Low °F333336414752565550453935
Rain/Snow (D*)10887999999910
Note: This table is approximate; weather can change with altitude.
D* – Days of rain or snow.

Alternative Backpacking Destinations

Not sure if the Netherlands is right for you?

Don’t forget to check out our backpacking guides for Germany and England.


Can I have a campfire while camping in the Netherlands? 

When you go camping in the Netherlands, campfires are usually not allowed. This is because they can be really risky and harm the environment. In many natural places like parks, making open fires is against the rules because they could easily start a fire and damage the surroundings. Most camping sites don’t let people have their own campfires, but they might have special spots where everyone can gather around a fire pit. If you’re camping in remote areas, it’s usually not allowed to make open fires either. There are a few exceptions, like in certain places where you can have small fires for cooking, but you have to follow strict guidelines. So, instead of planning on having a campfire, it’s better to bring along camping stoves or other cooking equipment.

Do U.S. citizens need a visa to visit the Netherlands?

If you’re a U.S. citizen planning a tourist trip to the Netherlands for up to 90 days, you don’t need to get a visa in advance. All you need is a valid U.S. passport. When you arrive in the Netherlands, you’ll have to go through a passport check, but after that, you’re free to explore as a tourist under the visa waiver program. There’s no need to apply for a visa beforehand. However, if you plan to stay longer than 90 days within a 180-day period, you’ll have to get a residency permit before your trip.
For backpacking, hiking, and camping adventures lasting less than 90 days, U.S. citizens can enter the Netherlands without a tourist visa by just showing their passport.

What are some safety tips for backpackers in the Netherlands?

Use common sense precautions as you would anywhere when backpacking in the countryside of the Netherlands. Avoid deserted areas at night, store valuables securely in your tent, and don’t display expensive hiking or biking gear. Be wary of thefts at crowded windmills or along the canals and while walking or biking between towns. Learn basic Dutch phrases to overcome any language barriers. Research the areas you’ll hike or bike between and let someone know your itinerary. Check weather forecasts frequently and prepare for sudden changes in the wind while near the windmills. Bring adequate gear and navigation tools for the conditions. Understand local laws, customs, and camping regulations. Be sure to stop and enjoy the famous Dutch tulips in spring during your travels. Overall, backpacking in the Netherlands is very safe if travelers remain aware of their surroundings, take precautions, and prepare properly for the biking, walking, and camping activities and changeable climate.

What are the most popular national parks in the Netherlands?

The Netherlands has 21 national parks, but De Hoge Veluwe, De Biesbosch, and De Loonse en Drunense Duinen are among the most popular and best for hiking. De Hoge Veluwe has diverse landscapes with forests, heath, and grasslands crisscrossed by trails. De Biesbosch features reed marshes and ponds ideal for canoeing along with wildlife viewing. De Loonse en Drunense Duinen showcases coastal dunes, pine woods, and diverse bird species. Other top parks include Zuid-Kennemerland’s coastal scenery and Weerribben-Wieden’s lakes and bogs. Though small in size, the Netherlands’ national parks protect unique ecosystems and offer excellent hiking options relatively close to major cities.

What are some tips for backpacking on a budget in the Netherlands?

To explore the Netherlands as a budget backpacker, use maps to plan transit between trails and cities to avoid rental car costs. Pack lightweight gear and budget-friendly supplies for the trip. Book hostels, campsites, or low-cost B&Bs in advance for deals. Purchase food at grocery stores rather than dining out. Look into discounted multi-day transit passes for city travel days. Focus hikes on shorter loops reachable by public transport from urban hubs to minimize additional travel expenses. Be ready to stealth camp outside of designated campgrounds when necessary.

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