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.
In this post, we’ll delve into the world of backpacking in the Netherlands from a lightweight perspective, providing tips to help you prepare for your upcoming outdoor adventure.
We’ll share the TOP 5 trails in the Netherlands in two parts. The first is for day hikes under 25 miles, great for exploring in one day. The second is for longer multi-day backpacking trips.
We’ve selected the top day hiking trails in the Netherlands, where lightweight gear is especially handy:
Discover the most stunning long trails in the Netherlands for amazing adventures:
The Netherlands has a temperate maritime climate with mild summers and cool winters:
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):
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.
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.
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.
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.