The history of the Netherlands is closely connected to the fact that much of the country is surrounded by water. About 30% of the country lies below sea level, and much of the country borders the North Sea. Around 290km of the coast consists of sandy beaches with dunes, which are both an important part of the protection of the land from flooding and are a quintessential part of the typical ‘Dutch beach’ landscape. Almost all the beaches along the North Sea coast are also popular hangouts for seals; many offer fun seal-spotting tours year-round.
The water and beaches also play an important role in Dutch culture. Locals love to head to the beach in summer for that ultimate relaxed vibe hanging at a beach café barefoot and enjoying a slower-paced lifestyle along the Dutch coast. Even in the less warm or sunny seasons, you’ll find plenty of people enjoying a stroll along the sand or even jumping in the water in wet suits to surf, kite surf or sail, thanks to the strong wind, which creates plenty of waves for these popular water sports. With so much coastline available, there are plenty of beaches in the Netherlands to enjoy, but these 20 are local favourites.
- Netherlands Beaches
- Top Tours
- 20 Beaches In The Netherlands
- Waddeneilanden (Wadden Islands)
- North and South Holland
20 Beaches In The Netherlands
Waddeneilanden (Wadden Islands)
The five Dutch Waddeneilanden (Wadden Islands) are arguably home to the most beautiful beaches in The Netherlands. The Wadden Sea has a unique ecosystem and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Located north of the mainland, five islands are inhabited and amazing spots to visit both in summer and the off-season. Roads or bridges do not connect the islands, so you’ll need to take a ferry to get there – which is a fun experience.
Each island is unique, offering beautiful beaches, stunning nature preserves and a wonderful laid-back island vibe.
Texel is the largest Wadden Island yet and is also closest to the mainland, making it a fantastic weekend getaway destination from Amsterdam.
The island’s west side offers 30km (nearly 19 miles) of coastline and countless gorgeous beaches, all with tall dunes as a backdrop.
Check out the great view from the top of the famous Lighthouse at Kaap Noord, ride a bike through the Slufter (National Park Dunes of Texel) and stop at any of the beaches along the way (or maybe a few) and enjoy a cold drink at one of the many cosy beach cafes (some favourites are Paal 17, 21, and 28) to truly enjoy the slow island vibe.
The TESO ferry to Texel departs from the harbour in Den Helder; the schedule changes daily, so it’s best to check the departure times online.
You don’t have to take a car to Texel, but you can easily take your car on the ferry and it makes it a bit easier to see more of the island or join a small group day tour like this one. Once you’re there, you might also want to rent e-scooters.
Vlieland is the smallest of the inhabited islands in the Wadden Sea. It is also ‘car free’, and you can only board the Doeksen ferry at the Harlingen Harbour by foot or by bike.
The ferry journey takes 45 minutes to 1.5 hours, and tickets must be purchased for a specific departure time.
Because of its size (it only has one small village) and the absence of cars, this island feels off the grid.
The best way to explore the beaches is to rent a bike and cruise around to the various beach access points.
One of our favourite spots to relax on Vlieland beach is the popular ‘t Badhuys.
Feeling adventurous? Check out the fun outdoor land and water activities available for adults and kids at the Vlieland Outdoor Center. Buy a regional travel ticket for one to three days and explore at your leisure.
3- Vliehorst Vlieland
This unique beach deserves its spot on our list.
Vlieland Island also is home to the largest sandbar in Europe. Visiting the area called ‘Vliehors’ is truly an experience in itself.
This mega-beach is 24m2 (258 sq. feet) and nearly feels like a deserted beach.
It’s also partly reserved for use by the Dutch military and in summer, you can join a special tour of the area riding in a military-like vehicle called the Vliehors Express (great for kids).
Terschelling is the second-largest Wadden Island and is 30 kilometres (19 miles) wide and a maximum of 4.5 kilometres (3 miles) wide.
Only about 5000 people live permanently on the island, and it is car-free.
Cycling around the island, you’ll notice the free, nearly wild nature and the abundance of beautiful sandy beaches along the coastline.
The most special beach on Terschelling is the Groene Strand (Green Beach), which is a dried-up ‘wad’ (mudflat) and a wonderful place for a walk along the water and a hotspot for kite surfing.
Various plants and other greenery grow abundantly between the sand, making it a unique ‘green’ beach and a popular hangout for rare birds native to the Wadden Islands.
To get to Terschelling, you’ll need to take the ferry from Harlingen in Friesland.
The journey takes about two hours, and you must purchase a time-specific ticket.
It’s hard to decide exactly which of the islands is the ‘most beautiful’ but Ameland is also known as the ‘Wadden Diamond’ and many locals especially love it for its natural beauty and quiet appeal.
The island hosts two special nature reserves, De Hôn and Het Oerd, and some of the Netherlands’ most stunning beaches.
Strand bij Nes (Nes Beach) is a favourite for families and offers the typical Dutch beach landscape of steep Dunes and wide sandy areas, making you feel like you have a private beach, even in the busiest seasons.
Of course, the best beaches aren’t complete without a cosy spot to enjoy a bite, and a drink and Nes Beach offers a perfect spot to relax at the popular beach café, Sjoerd Ameland.
Ameland offers many activities throughout the year, including tractor rides across the beach, seal-watching boat tours, and even sport fishing.
To get to Ameland, you’ll need to take the Wagenborg Ameland ferry from Howlerd, which departs every hour.
The ferry will get you to Ameland in 50 minutes or hop on the fast ferry, which takes just 20 minutes.
Schiermonikoog is the smallest of the Wadden Islands and is also known as having the wildest nature in The Netherlands.
The island, which is only 16 kilometres (9.9 miles) long and 4 kilometres (2.5 miles) wide, is also the site of the country’s first national park.
With only around 1000 residents, it is the least populated municipality in The Netherlands and is also mostly car-free.
The island has many areas with beach access, but to many, the most beautiful beach on this special island is the Oosterstrand.
Located on the northern coast, the Oosterstrand is also the widest beach in The Netherlands and is simply stunning, especially when standing on top of the dunes.
Find the path to this beach at the lovely beachside café ‘De Marlijn’ and enjoy a delicious meal on this windy yet unforgettable beach.
To get to Schiermonikoog, take the ferry from Lauwersoog. The journey takes about 45 minutes. It’s best to purchase tickets in advance, especially in summer, or you can also purchase them at the harbour.
North and South Holland
Julianadorp is located in the uppermost northwest corner of The Netherlands and is often rated as the cleanest beach in the country. With four beach access points and an amusement park for kids, this beach is also very popular with families.
You can easily combine it with a trip to the nearby tulip fields if you are visiting in the spring and are keen to go for the full Dutch experience.
Looking for somewhere extra to stay? Julianadorp also has a row of tiny beach houses on the sand – book them here.
Just south of Julianadorp lies another sandy gem hidden behind the dunes – Callantsoog beach.
The 3.5-kilometre (2-mile) long beach is generally quiet and less crowded than other areas closer to the larger cities.
It also has multiple beach cafes where you can enjoy a bite or drink overlooking the ocean. Beach Restaurant WOEST is great with kids.
The village centre also has many hotels within walking distance from the beach.
As with many Dutch beaches, keep an eye out for seals as they often swim by Callantsoog beach.
9- Bergen Op Zee
Bergen op Zee is on the North Sea Coast and is a popular beach destination all year, offering kilometres of beautiful sandy beaches.
Unlike other beach towns, the city centre is lively throughout all four seasons and offers plenty of accommodation options, great restaurants and other activities to enjoy even in autumn and winter.
Schoorl is next to Bergen and is famous for its enormous ‘klimduin’ (climbing dune).
Children love attempting this challenging climb to the top, while parents can enjoy a relaxing day at one of the many restaurants at the foot of the dune on the stunning beach.
Looking for a fun beach to visit near Amsterdam?
Skip the overcrowded beach at Zandvoort and head to Bloemendaal – nearby Haarlem and therefore also very easy to reach with public transport.
This beach is especially popular with younger crowds and is often referred to as ‘the Dutch Ibiza’.
12- Noordwijk aan Zee
Noordwijk is one of the more ‘hip’ beach destinations (and we prefer it much more to the very popular yet very overcrowded beach in Scheveningen), reflected both in its higher-end accommodation and upscale beach cafes.
It’s a very popular spot for both locals and tourists and features a long promenade alongside the beach where you can enjoy a drink or a nice meal.
We especially love the Branding Beach Club, which is also very cosy in winter.
13- Noordwijkerhout Beach
If you travel a bit more north of the centre of Noordwijk and head north to Noordwijkerhout, you can find biking and walking paths through the forest and dunes, which lead to nearly empty beaches.
This area also offers plenty of opportunities to experience various water sports like SUP-ing, canoeing and kitesurfing.
It’s a great spot to enjoy nature and smaller crowds while also enjoying the amenities in Noordwijk aan Zee.
14- Wassenaarse Slag/Rijksdorp
Another great alternative to the crowded beach at Scheveningen is only a few kilometres north in Wassenaar.
This scenic road from the centre of Wassenaar leads to an eight-kilometre nameless beach which is mostly only visited by locals and rarely very crowded.
It’s a peaceful oasis for those looking for a quiet spot to enjoy a slow day at the beach amidst nature.
If you need a snack or drink while visiting this beach, we love the Brasserie de Badmeester on the road to the beach entrance.
15- Westenschouwen/Burgh-Hamsteede (Schouwen-Duiveland)
In Zeeland, the Westenschouwen beach, also home to the Eastern Scheldt Storm Surge Barrier (Oosterscheldekering) is a must-see.
Without this modern wonder of the world, Zeeland likely wouldn’t exist.
The massive structure is nine kilometres long and constructed out of 65 gigantic concrete pillars.
Built following the tragic floods of 1953, the barriers are closed during storms to protect the area against flooding.
Make sure also to visit Deltapark Neeltje Jans, which has excellent interactive exhibitions about the Delta Works and many fun activities for children.
The museum is on an artificial island that is part of the Oosterschelde, the largest National Park in The Netherlands.
Behind the dunes of Westenschouwen is Zeeland’s largest forest, the Boswachterij Westerschouwen.
It’s a great place to ride a bike, talk a walk or even ride horses while enjoying the beautiful nature preserve.
The nearby towns, Burgh and Hamsteede, each have their own quaint town centre and another beautiful broad sandy beach.
16- Renesse (Schouwen-Duiveland)
Also in Schouwen-Duiveland, just north of Burgh-Hamsteede, is Renesse Beach.
The 17 kilometres (10 ½ mile) long beach has won many awards over the years, including the international ‘Blue Flag’ environmental award, which means that it offers high-quality bathing water and an extremely clean beach.
Renesse is a popular destination in the summer for both Dutch and international tourists, especially German visitors who enjoy this area.
Signs, menus and other important information is available in Dutch, German and English.
The town centre is lively in the high season but the beaches in this area never really feel crowded.
There are endless spots to enjoy the clean sandy beaches and amazing sunsets.
Since 2014 Cadzand is recognised internationally as a ‘salutary bathing destination’ (Heilzame Badplaats).
The combination of its natural landscape, the quality and natural minerals present in the water, as well as the various holistic and therapeutic treatments available at the high-quality local spas, makes it one of the best places to take good care of body and mind.
Cadzand is home to very broad, nearly white sand beaches and a unique nature reserve, Het Zwin, where you can enjoy peaceful walks and hikes or opt for a more active day and try out wavekarting, blokarting, kitesurfing, sailing or surfing.
Domburg is the oldest beach in The Netherlands, receiving city rights in 1223.
It has historically been a popular destination for the Dutch upper class, including the royal families who built their summer homes here, starting in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Domburg offers both lively beaches, with a plentiful choice of beach cafes near the Westerstrand, and a quieter beach at the Oosterstrand, which is also a great surf spot!
This area has abundant history, and like Cadzand, it is also recognized as an official ‘salutary bathing destination’.
It’s a perfect destination to relax and enjoy various wellness activities, including the popular Thalasso treatments, for example, at the famous Badhotel Domburg, which has been a go-to wellness destination for more than 150 years.
Also in Zeeland, Zoutelande is often named the most beautiful beach in The Netherlands.
Famous artists, including Piet Mondrian, have been inspired by Zoutelande beach for centuries, and it’s easy to see why.
It has the classic Dutch coastal landscape of long, wide, clean sandy beaches and some of the highest dunes in the country.
This spot also has the most hours of daylight of any location in The Netherlands, making it a wonderful spot to slow down and relax with the wind blowing in your hair and (hopefully) the sun shining on your face.
Here you can also enjoy various water sports like surfing, paragliding or kitesurfing and even ride horses along the beach.
Muiderberg Beach is a fun, family-friendly alternative to the beaches on the North Sea.
Because of its location on the IJ Meer (below the Ijsselmeer), which was created after the Afsluitdijk was built to close off this body of water to the North Sea, the water here is rarely higher than knee-deep.
It’s a great place for families with little ones to enjoy that ‘beach feeling’ without the huge waves and is also a popular spot for various water sports like SUP-ing, sailing and kite surfing.
The only beach café, the Zeemeeuw has tasty food and drink options and, as a bonus, a large playground for kids.
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