National Park Hoge Veluwe, Netherlands
We grew up in The Netherlands, left for Canada more than 40 years ago, but now come back often because of the fabulous hiking. The Netherlands has more than 10,000 KM of hiking trails – most of which are well maintained, well marked, good surfaces, relatively level and with affordable accommodations. (See our earlier blog: https://globetrottinggrandparents.wordpress.com/2016/02/18/holland-hiking-biking-and-much-more/)
This time, through Air BnB, we booked a cottage in the woods at a stone’s throw distance from the entrance gates to Hoge Veluwe, one of the Netherlands’ most well known national parks. You can buy different entrance tickets: one to walk in, or one to drive in. Being budget travelers, we parked outside the park and walked in. 100 meters from the gate, the park offers free bicycles. The bikes are basic without gears and with back pedal brakes rather than hand brakes, but that in itself is a fun Dutch experience for you. All bikes have a child’s seat on the back. You can leave them at a different gate or return to the same spot after a long day of riding the many trails. It’s a great way to see this beautiful wilderness area in the heart of the country. Trails will take you through forests, across heather fields (moors) and along large windblown sand fields with a lone tree clinging to the soil.
If you visit on a week day outside the peak season, changes are that you’ll rarely see another person. But don’t visit this park on a sunny weekend: there will be thousands of others with the same plan.
Bring lunch and have a picnic halfway, at one of several picnic tables. Or there are restaurants near the gates or at the park’s hub. That is also where Kröller-Muller Museum is located. This famous museum hosts an extensive art collection including Van Gogh’s and Picasso’s. To visit the museum requires another ticket or you can get in with an annual Museum Card.
Surrounding the national park are many beautiful wilderness areas. You don’t need to pay admission to experience a good hike across heather fields. Check out towns like Otterlo and Hoederloo. National forests here offer a myriad of trails to hike for a day or for many days.
We also added a visit to Palace het Loo (pronounced ‘Low’ not ‘loo’…: https://www.paleishetloo.nl/en/#2016-03-01
Paleis Het Loo is located in the heart of the Netherlands, on the outskirts of Apeldoon. Dating back to 1684, this former royal palace has been open to the public since 1984. The furnished rooms and chambers show how the Royal Family of Orange lived and worked here for 300 years. The baroque gardens have a symmetrical design, taking the garden of the 17th century as an example, and are unique in the Netherlands. The painted ceilings, period furnishings and interesting artifacts make for a great tour. Don’t skip the stables with horse paraphernalia as well as antique sleds, carriages and cars.