Enjoy fall in the Netherlands
Fall is undoubtedly the most romantic season in the Netherlands. Beautifully colored falling leaves, the pleasant scent of petrichor, and mist shrouding the endless flat landscape. No season is quite as distinctive as fall. Our tips will help you get the most out of this gorgeous time of year. So grab your windbreaker and enjoy!
- Beautiful, vibrantly colored forests.
- Healthy, scenic walks on the beach or through the woods.
- Beer festivals, art collections and fabulous overnight stays.
After the summer crowds depart, there are many great ways to enjoy the peace and quiet of fall. During this season, the Netherlands sheds its fun, lively summer holiday vibe and transitions to a calmer, colorful ambiance that could be the quintessential romcom setting: the blowing wind, the falling rain, and the countryside full of wildlife. The changing scenery makes the sights and landscapes even more attractive!
Taking a long walk in the forest is an absolute must in the fall. It might be a bit chilly and it may even rain during your outing, but the fabulous and healthy feeling of spending time in the woods makes it all worthwhile. Take note of the many shades of brown and green that make the forest so distinctive.
You are much more likely to encounter wildlife during the fall than in any other season. Small animals such as hedgehogs and squirrels are busy collecting food as they prepare to hibernate, while the red deer are in their mating season.
And last but not least: be sure to look up during your forest walk. Summer birds are setting off on their journey south and winter birds are arriving. This migration is a remarkable spectacle even for those of us who are not birdwatchers.
The Netherlands has many places to enjoy an excellent walk in the woods. Go for a hike in the Veluwe region or stroll through the Amsterdamse Bos. Visit the province of Drenthe to enjoy the fantastic views or spot red deer at the Oostvaardersplassen. Whatever location you choose for your outing, they all have one thing in common: a delicious ‘mandatory’ stop at one of the country’s many pancake restaurants. De Paddestoel, for example, is centrally located in the forest at Hollandsche Rading. Or visit Strijland in Rheden, located at the foot of the Posbank hill.
To top it all off, why not spend the night at one of the many wonderful accommodation options available in really special locations? Cabiner is an organization with special houses all over the country where you can sleep in the middle of nowhere and continue your journey to the next hidden gem the following day. An amazing experience.
In the Limburg province you can spend the night on top of the Gulperberg hill at glamping park Gulperberg, which offers a variety of accommodation ranging from tree huts to luxury lodging. The park is particularly popular with cyclists and families. The area is wonderful for hiking, and the charming town of Gulpen is absolutely worth a visit.
Enjoy a bock beer!
The big cities also offer plenty of activities during the fall, such as the bockbierfestival (bock beer festival) which is organized (nearly) every year by the cities of Alkmaar, Deventer, and Utrecht. Come rain or shine, these fun and lively events are set up on the large city squares and include lots of beer on tap, tents and sometimes even a stage for performances. Do keep in mind that it gets quite crowded, especially in Utrecht, and that tickets sell out very quickly.
If you’re in the mood for a craft beer (or a cup of tea) but there isn’t a handy bock beer festival nearby, you could just stop by any of the local cafés and find a large variety of beers. Some cafés also have board games, so you can play a game of Risk while enjoying your Amber ale (or mint tea). The smaller cafés, including those that serve meals, often have a stack of typical Dutch board games.
Walking along empty beaches
For those who want to enjoy the fresh air outdoors, a refreshing walk on the beach is the ideal option. Our beaches have an entirely different vibe in the fall, and many beach clubs, such as the beach club WOW in Den Haag, remain open and often boast a romantic and warmly crackling fireplace.
There is another advantage to taking beach walks in the fall: far fewer tourists than in the summer. Please note that not all restaurants remain open. Partly because the municipality doesn’t allow them to stay open in order to preserve the natural sea strip and protect the accretion of dunes. Partly because owners choose to do something else during this season.
Fall is also the ideal season to visit a museum, and many museums have special collections on display during this time to promote culture and art. Well-known museums such as Kröller-Müller Museum, the Utrechts Centraal Museum, and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam are home to countless special paintings, statues, and other great works of art. Also worth a visit are the charming, smaller museums often located in the less popular areas. Consider a visit to the gem of the province of Overijssel, the Museum De Fundatie in Zwolle, or stop by Museum Voorlinden in Wassenaar.
It is no coincidence that the latter museum is located in an attractive natural area, so that after your visit you can step outside and take a nice walk. In the end, that is the loveliest activity of all.
The Expert: Sanne van Gemerden
Elevate your senses in Dwingelderveld National Park
Pay a visit to Dwingelderveld National Park in the province of Drenthe. Unlike the heathland in the Veluwe, which is always purple and hilly, the region of fens and heath in the Dwingelderveld is more open and expansive. It has a different look and is a treat for your senses. The Dwingelderveld is one of Europe’s largest wet heathlands and the vast variety of flora and fauna that call it home provides a truly different experience. It's also a good idea to take in the various scents of the landscape during autumn. I just love the way that season smells! In spring there is the smell of resin and in summer the smell of cut grass, but in the autumn you get all those damp, earthy smells... such as the scent of rotting leaves. It might sound crazy, but I’m not put off by that smell. On the contrary, I think it’s rather pleasant and fresh.
A change of pace
Try to change-up your pace when walking in the forest. Walk a bit faster or slower than you normally do and you’ll notice different things. You will experience the walk differently, which is great for your senses. Try to talk less when walking with others. This will enhance your other senses and might increase the quality of your walk. Of course you can also chat with others and let nature be nothing more than your backdrop. It is simply a different approach. You could also opt to take a break mid-way, lean against a tree and just close your eyes for a few minutes. Take in all the sounds and scents of nature.
Spot herds of Sayaguesa cattle
The Drents-Friese Wold National Park, located on the border of southwest Drenthe and southeast Friesland, is one of the largest nature reserves in the Netherlands. In fact, it is one of the last, large, contiguous forests in the Netherlands. Its landscape is home to a vast variety of heather and animals, such as the herd of Sayaguesa cattle from northern Spain. This hardy breed can deal well with cold and hot weather and are completely self-sufficient. They decide where and what they eat and where they sleep. Word of advice: don’t try to cycle past them if they happen to be on your bike path. If they block your path be patient and cautious, otherwise you run the risk of being knocked by one of these beautiful animals. On the other hand, seeing such a herd is a true wilderness experience! There is one specific spot in the area that deserves a special mention. Between the towns of Diever and Doldersum, you’ll find Berkenheuvel, the Wapserveld, and the Vledder Aa. This stretch was formed by the glaciers of the Penultimate Glacial Period. When those glaciers melted, a beautiful landscape with special gradients and patterns emerged.