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11 Best Road Trips in the Netherlands

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From the beauty of Keukenhof Gardens to the windmills of Zaanse Schans and top beaches such as Zandvoort and Scheveningen, the Netherlands has stunning scenery and engaging history to explore. One of the top ways to take in the history and beauty of this country is by grabbing a rental car and going on a road trip.

The ultimate road trip itineraries for the Netherlands will include both historic attractions and natural wonders. If you have a trip to the land of the Dutch coming up, these are the top scenic drives visitors must not miss.

Best Road Trips in the Netherlands

1. Zeeland Delta Route

Zeeland Delta Route Dutch infrastructure bridge
Sepia100 / Adobe Stock

In 1953, the infamous North Sea Flood caused a storm surge that caused expansive flooding in the Netherlands and some neighboring countries. The damage caused was devastating, and the Netherlands created a plan to prevent problems in the future. The Delta Works is a series of dams and storm surge barriers that would protect the country from future floods.

Today, the Zeeland Delta Route takes you past the 13 Delta Works, including the 9-kilometer-long Eastern Scheldt Storm Surge Barrier. This stop along the route is one of the most popular, as it can shut off the Eastern Scheldt in just 80 minutes.

The impressive engineering marvel is now listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. U Parkhotel is a good starting point for this Netherlands road trip.

See Related: Best Places to Honeymoon in the Netherlands

2. The Holland America Route

Hernen Castle along the Holland America road trip route, Netherlands
Rob Oo / Flickr

The name of this route stems from the historic Holland America line, but it won’t actually take you out of the country. A kind of flip side of Rotterdam or Amsterdam, New York, this Netherlands road trip will take you from a Dutch town called America, in the southern province of Limburg.

Then, you’ll head to Gelderland, where you can explore the castle ruins of Batenburg and the still-standing Hernen castle. This is a highlight of the trip, as it is a well-preserved medieval castle from the 14th century.

The entire route winds along the Maas river, stretching 150 kilometers past picturesque villages and beautiful natural scenery. Book a stay in Center Parcs Meerdal Limburg-Brabant to experience America for yourself.

3. Sagenland Route in Twente

Central Ootmarsum, Netherlands
Hans Splinter / Flickr

The Sageland Rount is located in the eastern part of the country. This is one of the most scenic road trips in the Netherlands if you want to experience windmills, water mills, historic farms, and a general view of the countryside.

You’ll start and end your route in Borne, but don’t worry about bringing a map. This is the only road trip that’s fully marked by traffic signs.

As you drive past the Springendal nature preserve, the Singraven country house, and the historic city of Ootmarsum, revel in the awesome architecture and natural beauty of this breathtaking part of the country. One option for accommodations is the cozy Zicht op Twente.

See Related: Visiting Kinderdijk Windmills: What You NEED to Know 

4. Midenveldroute Drenthe Road Trip

Castle Coevorden in Drenthe, Netherlands
A /Adobe Stock

The Midenveldroute Drenthe Road Trip is one for the history buffs. Drenthe is a northern city known for its excellent areas for cycling, but you will also find it a great place for scenic drives.

This trip will take you past the former Nazi camp Westerbork, which has since been turned into a field of flowers. You will also have a chance to experience medieval life at the medieval museum village Orvelte.

Take a moment to get out of the car here to walk down brick and cobbled streets, see thatched roofs, and visit a historic farm with rare breeds of sheep on display. You can’t drive through this area with your rental car, but it is worth some time walking through the narrow, winding streets of the history preserve.

After Orvelte, finish your tour at Dwingelerveld National Park to see some of the stunning natural beauty of the northern Netherlands. Why not extend your stay by checking into EuroParcs Ruinen for a weekend?

5. Hunebed Highway Road Trip in Drenthe

The other Netherlands road trip in Drenthe is the Hunebed Highway trip. This trip is marked by red-blue signs along the route that will point out ancient dolmens.

These grave sites date back 3,000 years and are interesting peeks into the area’s history. They are also great hiking spots, and you can hike among heather, sandy plains, and green forests while exploring the prehistoric structures.

This road trip takes you along N34, and you will see 47 of the 52 dolmens. This trip is one of the ideal options to take in the beautiful Drenthe landscape and a bit of local history simultaneously. After your drive, check in to the Van der Valk Hotel Assen for the night.

See Related: Amsterdam Day Trip to Zaanse Schans, Volendam and Marken

6. Veluwe National Park Route

Aerial view of the road in Veluwe National Park
robin / Adobe Stock

If you want to take in the splendor of Veluwe National Park and see some stunning architecture, consider a route from Zwolle to the towns of Arnhem and Ede. This route will allow you to drive past Castle Rosendael, one of the most famous in the Netherlands.

This castle was home to the dukes of Gelre for over 200 years, and it has been painstakingly restored to the splendor of the 18th century, including gardens, waterfalls, and watchtowers. This route will also take you past Apeldoorn and the Paleis Het Loo, home to the Dutch royal family for three centuries.

While these architectural marvels are popular, Hoge Veluwe National Park draws the most interest on this trip. It spans over 5,400 hectares and has heathland, forests, sand dunes, and grasslands, all in one place. Hotel Buitenlust makes a great base for touring the area’s best-known nature reserve.

7. Texel Island

Vuurtoren in Texel Netherlands, lighthouse of the Island
TurkeyPictures / Shutterstock

If you’re looking for a northern Netherlands road trip and want to explore natural beauty instead of historic architecture, head to the Wadden Sea and Texel Island.

Cross the harbor and grab a taxi to drive around the island. A highlight of this road trip is taking the time to walk on the beach at low tide. You’ll also appreciate views of sheep grazing with the ocean’s blue waters behind them.

This is a stunning place to see some of the breathtaking coastal landscapes of the Netherlands, as well as picturesque fishing villages and rolling sand dunes. Use Hotel Molenbos as a base for your trip around the surrounding area.

See Related: Best Weekend Trips from Amsterdam: Top Getaway Options

8. Colonies of Benevolence Tour

Road and Houses in Colonies of Benevolence
TravelTelly / Adobe Stock

The Colonies of Benevolence are four 200-year-old settlements, three in the Netherlands and one in Belgium, a combined, transnational UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can drive past the three in the Netherlands to explore this unique part of Dutch history in your own vehicle or rental car.

These four villages were established in the 1800s by the Society of the Benevolence to try to end poverty by taking poor people from the city and moving them to the country, giving them a piece of land to farm.

The idea was that the setting would create moral, hard-working, and self-reliant citizens. Though it was a failure, it is an interesting peek into the Dutch landscape and culture.

Start your tour in Frederiksoord, then head to Wilheminaoord. Finally, your destination is Veenhuizen, which houses the National Prison Museum. Check out the accommodations at Koetshuis to feel like you’ve taken a step back in time.

9. Groningen to Zwolle

Boats on canal in Groningen, Netherlands
Jan van der Wolf / Adobe Stock

If you want to explore the northern province of the Netherlands, then plan a road trip from Groningen to Zwolle. This will take you past pretty villages and the northern cities on a 105-kilometer trek.

In Appingedam, park the car and wall through the town center, where you will find buildings overhanging canals and have the opportunity to explore medieval architecture along the way. There are several bridges of the Damsterdiep canal that will give you good vantage points for these buildings, named the Hanging Kitchens of Appingedam.

This road trip ends in Zwolle, one of the Netherlands’ modern cities, where you can shop at the Grote Markt or tour the Museum de Fundatie. Though this northern city is modern, it has ruins dating back to the Bronze Age and the Roman era, making it popular with history buffs.

This trip also passes through Apeldoorn, where you can see the stunning Radio Kootwijk Building A, an important shortwave radio transmitter used during both World Wars. Consider staying in Bastion Hotel Apeldoorn Het Loo.

See Related: The Awe-Inspiring Experience of the Anne Frank House

10. Maastricht to Rotterdam

Historic Servaas bridge over river Maas at dawn in Maastricht, Netherlands
venemama / Adobe Stock

The route between Rotterdam and Maastricht streets is 201 kilometers. Without stopping, it takes about two hours to drive. However, if you take this trip, you’ll want to stop and take in some sights.

If you start your drive in Maastricht, where you can grab a meal in Cafe Sjiek before starting your journey. From there, travel to Aachen, where you can explore the beautiful mosaics of Aachen Cathedral.

After Aachen, go to Sittard to check out Market Square or St. Peter’s Church. Next on the drive is Eindhoven, home to Loevestein Castle for history buffs or the PSV Eindhoven Football Stadium for sports lovers.

In Breda, you can explore the streets of a small village or book a canal boat tour, which will take less than an hour. It’s worth the stopover.

The final destination of your trip is Rotterdam, where you can explore Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, a massive museum with a wonderful religious art collection and tributes to modern art. The James Hotel is a great, modern accommodation choice once you arrive.

11. Friesland Six Castles Route

Windmill and a canal in Friesland, Netherlands
TasfotoNL / Adobe Stock

Exploring the Netherlands is incomplete without seeing some of the country’s famous castles and castle ruins. If you love fairy tale castles, then the Six Castle Route in Friesland is a must.

This 89-kilometer circular route takes you past six castles and country houses, allowing you to marvel at their unique architecture and the stories of the people who once lived inside.

This scenic road trip takes you from the Poptaslot, a 15th-century castle considered one of the best-preserved castles in the area. You’ll also see Leeuwarden, a castle that houses a ceramics museum.

Along the way, you will take in beautiful landscapes with sweeping views of the castles. You will return to Leeuwarden, where you can explore a ceramics museum. Extend the feeling of history with a stay in Stadslogement Westersingel.

FAQs

How long do the scenic drives in the Netherlands take?

You can find scenic drives in the Netherlands that take less than an hour without stops, or you can choose one that takes most of the day. Almost every scenic drive can be completed in one day.

What areas are covered by the Netherlands’ coastal drives?

Coastal drives along the Northern Sea may drive through Delta Works, Friesland, Zeeland, and the many fishing villages. Major cities in these drives include Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and The Hague. You can also explore the coast by visiting the Texel or Vlieland islands.

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