© Merk Fryslân
Category:Wadden Islands

The island of Terschelling: nature & beaches

Terschelling is the second largest of the West Frisian Islands. The oldest lighthouse in the Netherlands, the Brandaris from 1594, welcomes visitors to the island. Good collaboration between humans and nature has resulted in a varied landscape that ranges from a shoreline to tidal marshes and forests.

  • The beach of Terschelling is 30 km long and up to a kilometer wide at many points.
  • Cranberries are the culinary specialty on Terschelling.
  • The lighthouse, the oldest in the Netherlands, is the popular landmark of the island.
Willem Barentszkade 19a
8881BC West-Terschelling
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The dreamy beaches of Terschelling

The real island feeling - it immediately sets in on Terschelling. This is mainly thanks to the 30 km long sandy beach, which runs along the northern coast of the island. Ideal for sunbathing, building sandcastles, relaxing, playing beach volleyball and going for walks. Get your strength back in between in one of the cozy beach bars. Our tip: The beach pavilion on the beach at Oosterend, Heartbreak Hotel, is an institution on the island. The decor and music originate from the '50s and '60s. However, the south coast of Terschelling is just as interesting. This is where the island borders the Wadden Sea, which acts as a nursery and feeding ground for millions of migratory birds.

Nature on Terschelling

You'll find a wide variety of landscapes on the island of Terschelling. The long, sometimes vast, sandy beach is very impressive, and bordered by a row of dunes. You'll find farmland and pastures behind the dunes. A wonderful kind of nature which invites you to go for a walk or bicycle ride.Sightseeing and activities on Terschelling:

  • The 55 m high lighthouse Brandaris is the oldest lighthouse in the Netherlands, and dates back to 1594. It can be found in the West Terschelling area. It cannot be visited, as it is still in use.
  • Explore the world between ebb and flow during a mudflat hiking tour. You'll be amazed how many animals live in the mudflats.
  • You can find traditional crafts in several farmhouses, where goods such as cheese or ice-cream are made.
  • During the Oerol culture festival, the entire island of Terschelling transforms into a stage - with theater plays and concerts, and accompanying exhibitions.
  • In the Boschplaat nature reserve in the east of the island of Terschelling, there are unique plant species, butterflies and an enormous in-house bird colony.
  • The Wrakkenmuseum Terschelling shows various findings that come from over 150 shipwrecks discovered in the waters of the Terschelling coast.
  • The Wadden Islands are very popular with people into water sports, such as sailing and kite surfing, because of the constantly blowing wind.
  • The Terschelling Bunker Museum, open from April to October, allows a look into four bunkers from the Second World War (Tigerpad 5, West Terschelling).

Culinary delights on Terschelling

The Dutch love cranberries, which grow on the island of Terschelling. How did these little red berries end up on a North Sea island? It's said that a barrel full of cranberries was washed up on land during a storm in 1845. As the islanders couldn't do anything with them, they left them lying in the dunes. Meanwhile, the cranberries spread, and the jams and liquors made from them are popular souvenirs, and ingredients of the local cuisine. Try cranberry tea or cake with cranberry compote in one of the many restaurants on the island (e.g. in the Bessenschuur, Badweg 1, West Terschelling). Also delicious: around the famous Brandaris lighthouse, in the West Terschelling area, several restaurants where you can get freshly caught North Sea fish have sprung up.

Other North Sea islands

An equally lovely North Sea island is Texel, the largest of the Dutch Wadden Sea islands. You can get to the island quickly with the ferry which departs from Den Helder on an hourly basis. You can expect several highlights on the island of Ameland, located east of Terschelling; a red and white lighthouse, a rescue boat pulled by horses in the sea, and the island's own liquor: Nobeltje. On the small islands of Schiermonnikoog and Vlieland, there are only a few hotels and no cars at all. Instead you'll find kilometers of beach and plenty of peace and quiet. Between the islands and the mainland stretches the Wadden Sea, marked by ebb and flow. The Wadden Sea is bordered by the IJsselmeer lake, which was once an estuary, and is now an inland water.

Visit Terschelling

Go island hopping and explore the beautiful islands of the Dutch Wadden region by bicycle. For example, the ferry will bring you from the neighboring island of Vlieland across to Terschelling. However, you can also take the ferry to Terschelling directly from the harbor town of Harlingen. The ferry company Doeksen deals with the crossings; the regular ferry service lasts two hours, the express service brings you to the island in only three-quarters of an hour. Unlike the Dutch Wadden Islands of Vlieland and Schiermonnikoog, Terschelling isn't car-free. However, please be aware that taking a car costs at least €90, and that parking spaces for the ferry are booked quickly. It's therefore advisable to book the ferry early. Alternatively, you can just leave your car on the mainland in Harlingen and hire a bicycle on the island as your main means of transport. A bus also travels between the island villages.

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