Visit the storm surge barrier
At more than 9 kilometres in length, the Eastern Scheldt Storm Surge Barrier is the most remarkable and well-known barrier and connects the island of Schouwen-Duiveland to North-Beveland. During impending high tides, the flood barrier can close off the entire Eastern Scheldt. One particularly brilliant aspect of the structure is that you can drive or cycle over it. Be aware that it often gets really windy, so if you decide to jump on your bike and use a bit of pedal power to get a closer look, you might get more of a workout than you expected. Nonetheless, this amazing feat of engineering is definitely worth it.
All of the Delta Works are unique in their own right but trying to visit them all during your travels or holiday might be a bit of a challenge. If you want to know all the details, visit Deltapark Neeltje Jans - a theme park located on a small island in the Eastern Scheldt Storm Surge Barrier. Not only is it fun and beautiful, but it also offers you the opportunity to learn everything about the North Sea flood disaster and the engineering and operation of the Delta Works.
Amsterdam ceased to be a port city years ago, unlike Rotterdam. Indeed, this bustling city along the river Meuse boasts the largest port in Europe and is one of the top 10 largest ports in the world. Needless to say, it is an important and modern junction for international shipping. This is also reflected in the city's architecture. Rotterdam has a beautiful, yet no-nonsense side. There is a ‘roll up your sleeves and get to work’ mentality that is reflected in everything from its hospitality industry to its skyscrapers and the port.
South of Rotterdam is the beautiful, historic city of Dordrecht with its marvellous inland ports and rich history. Located in an area abounding with water and rivers such as the Merwede, the Noord and the Old Meuse, it was traditionally an important trading town with a lively trade in timber, grain and wine. That history, wealth and culture can still be seen everywhere in this charming town. True water aficionados will love visiting National Park De Biesbosch with its lovely, authentic nature.
Low & high tide
Enjoying the water
Stand-up paddleboarding across the lake
Paddleboarding has become a really popular activity. Get up on the board and paddle across a lake, river or, better yet, a canal. There are a lot of small businesses in Haarlem and Den Bosch where you can hire a stand-up paddleboard (SUP for short) for a couple of hours and see the canals in a completely different and active way, unlike a traditional canal boat tour. This a wonderfully refreshing experience, especially during nice weather.
Another sporty way to enjoy the water is by heading out on a canoe. You can do this in many different places but absolute must-sees are the aforementioned National Park De Biesbosch near Dordrecht and National Park Weerribben-Wieden in the province of Overijssel. The latter is one of Europe's largest wetland areas and has a delightful maze of small rivers. These areas consider themselves to be the ultimate canoeing paradise and who could blame them?
The land creators
While quite diverse, the Netherlands is not a very large country. Imagine the circumstances just a century ago... Despite a growing population, we were a significantly smaller country back then. Thanks to our extensive knowledge of water and soil and how they relate to one another, we managed to create a completely new province during the latter half of the 20th century. The province of Flevoland arose from the area once known as the Zuiderzee.
Flevoland is lauded for its contemporary architecture and abundance of water activities. Almere, the largest city in the new province, boasts a coastline of about 42 kilometres. Water sports enthusiasts will be in heaven at Atlantis Beach and Surf Beach Almere Harbour.
Experience the ultimate land of water
Humble and smart
The Amsterdam canals, the Wadden Islands or the Delta Works: each and every one of these is a Dutch icon that represents our connection with water in a profound way. But there are numerous other places where water has played a huge role or still does so today.
The Netherlands wages a continuous battle against the water. We nearly always win, mostly because history has taught us to be humble and smart. The North Sea Flood disaster of 1953 raised awareness in the Netherlands of the impact of (too) high water levels. If you wish to learn more about this, you may want to spend an afternoon at the Watersnoodmuseum in Ouwerkerk in the province of Zeeland.