Zuid-Kennemerland National Park


Some 3800 hectares of classic Dutch coastal dunes are being restored in this oasis less than 5km west of Haarlem. Trails snake through hilltop copses of Corsican firs and valleys of low-lying thickets; at the western edge is a massive barrier of thousand-year-old golden sand. Its visitor centre, De Zandwaaier, has nature displays and hires bikes.

Take bus 81 from Haarlem train station (€2.17, 20 minutes, half-hourly) or cycle/drive the N200 towards Bloemendaal aan Zee.

There are car parks at the Koevlak and Parnassia entrances, from where paths lead into the reserve.

Spring sees the dunes sprout desert orchids, the bright rosettes of the century weed and the white-blooming grass of Parnassus. Red foxes, fallow deer and many species of birds are native to the area. Bats slumber in the park's abandoned bunkers before appearing at dusk.

Members of the Dutch Resistance are laid to rest at the Erebegraafplaats Bloemendaal cemetery.

The Vogelmeer lake has a bird observation hut above the south shore. The artificial lake 't Wed teems with bathers in summer. Lookout points, with evocative names such as Hazenberg (Hare Mountain), are scattered throughout. At 50m, the Kopje van Bloemendaal is the highest dune in the country, just outside the eastern border of the park, with views of the sea and Amsterdam.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Haarlem attractions

1. De Zandwaaier Visitor Centre

0.24 MILES

The visitor centre of the Zuid-Kennemerland National Park has nature displays and is a good source of information, with a range of detailed walking and…

2. Erebegraafplaats Bloemendaal

0.77 MILES

Inside the Zuid-Kennemerland National Park, the WWII cemetery Erebegraafplaats Bloemendaal is the resting place of 372 members of the Dutch Resistance…

3. Corrie ten Boom House


Known as 'the hiding place', the Corrie ten Boom House is named for the matriarch of a family who lived in the house during WWII. Using a secret…

4. Stadhuis

2.12 MILES

At the western end of the Grote Markt is the florid 14th-century town hall, which sprouted many extensions, including a balcony where judgements from the…

5. Nieuwe Kerk

2.14 MILES

Walk down charming Korte Houtstraat to find the 17th-century Nieuwe Kerk; the ornate tower by Lieven de Key is supported by a rather boxy design by Jacob…

6. Frans Hals Museum – Hal

2.17 MILES

The Frans Hals Museum's modern and contemporary-art branch occupies two historic ‘halls’: the 17th-century Dutch Renaissance Vleeshal, a former meat…

7. Laurens Coster Statue

2.18 MILES

On the main square north of the Grote Kerk is the bronze Laurens Coster statue, installed in 1856. Haarlemmers believe that Coster has a claim, along with…

8. Proveniershuis

2.18 MILES

Off Grote Houtstraat southwest of the Grote Markt is one of Haarlem's prettiest buildings, the Proveniershuis. It started life as a hofje (almshouse) and…