When considering Amsterdam as a holiday destination, the UNESCO listed historical centre and its huge array of cultural activities plays a dominant role. But there’s another side to Amsterdam that guarantees a true holiday feel – its beaches (stranden in Dutch). In terms of beaches, Amsterdam has something to offer everyone – from families to ultra cool, from water sports to fine dining and from party atmosphere to peaceful nature. Here’s a short overview to help you make the right choice:
These smallish beaches are all easily accessible within about 30 minutes from Amsterdam Central Station by public transport or bicycle. They offer a beach bar vibe and the opportunity to feel the sand between your toes.
14 minutes by bus from Central Station, or a 30 minute stroll along the river IJ. This beach is located on the broad river which passes behind Amsterdam’s central station. It has a large expanse of sand, but swimming in the river isn’t recommended mainly due to strong currents and the possibility of dangerous algae in the summer months. It’s located close by a large student population and therefore attracts a younger crowd and is far more informal and less image conscious than the super hip Strand Zuid. The restaurant on the beach offers mid-priced food in an attractive but suitably relaxed setting. The menu offers a number of typical items such as home made burgers, salads, chicken with peanut sauce (Chicken Sate), steaks and pastas.
Web: www.strand-west.nl/ Stavangerweg 900, 1013 AX Amsterdam
Strand Zuid is located in one of the most up-market neighbourhoods of Amsterdam, Oud Zuid, and therefore also attracts a richer crowd and the associated wannabees. There’s a small patch of sand, decking and a riverside location. While the setting itself doesn’t shout beach, the vibe they’re creating does. Chill-out music, different lounge areas and a restaurant with an excellent reputation, albeit on the upper side of the price range, help transport you from the busy city to a place of relaxation.
Just outside the Centre at the end of tram line 24 from central station, you’ll find this large sandy beach located on the Ijsselmeer. The Ijsselmeer used to be part of the North Sea, until the approximately 40km long afsluitdijk (dike) was built to separate it from the sea. Since then it’s gradually become a massive freshwater lake which offers clear water for swimming.
The beach is very much reminiscent of typical backpackers locations in Asia, with giant Buddha’s at the entrance, camp fires with people playing guitars, massage in make-shift wooden shelters and an extremely laid back, almost hippy vibe. They offer different types of parties during the weekends, with dancing on the beach until the early hours.
The restaurant, which is truly in keeping with the hippy vibe, offers an excellent range of quality organic food at very reasonable prices. If the weather takes a turn for the worse there’s also a great inside area with cushions and an open fire.
Het Twiske nature reserve is for those looking for natural beauty and tranquility. Located about four kilometres north of Amsterdam, this extensive nature reserve offers miles of sandy beaches and lakes which are suitable for swimming. Take your own drinks and picnic as restaurants and cafes are very limited to around 3 in the whole 400 square kilometre reserve. The views are spectacular and reminiscent of the Dutch landscapes painted by the Great Masters, complete with windmills and wild ponies. You’re guaranteed peace and quiet.
Busses run (see link below) to the entrance, but the best way of getting there is by bicycle. It takes around 30-40 minutes from the centre and once you’re there, the bike gives you the flexibility to find a nice quiet spot all to yourself. There are also a number of shallow natural pools which offer special activities for children and sailing and water sports on some of the lakes. There are maps by the entrance which identify the locations of these activities.