Would you like to visit the Nieuw Land National Park and the Oostvaardersplassen in The Netherlands? In this article, you’ll read all about the park, how to get there and what to do.
About Nieuw Land National Park
The Netherlands has 21 national parks and Nieuw Land National Park is perhaps the most interesting national park in the Netherlands because it is man-made. Nieuw Land means new land in Dutch. It is currently the newest national park in the Netherlands, it has been a national park since 2018.
The park is approximately 29,000 hectares and is located entirely in the province of Flevoland, an artificial island. This is the largest reclamation project in the world. Nature actually originated from the bottom of the Zuiderzee. The park is best known for the many birds and the marshlands are home to many wild horses, deer, and wild cattle.
Tip: do you want to learn more about the reclamation of Flevoland? Then visit World Heritage Schokland.
Nieuw Land National Park consists of four areas:
- Marker Wadden
The Oostvaardersplassen is perhaps the most famous part of the Nieuw Land National Park. Anyone who has ever traveled by train between Almere and Lelystad knows this place. It is a desolate landscape and it feels a bit like you’re traveling in Africa. An endless plain with water, lots of reeds, grass, and a few trees. Do you want to see birds? This is the place to go, there are many bird-watching huts.
The Lepelaarplassen are located slightly north of the city of Almere and this is also an area full of water, with wet grassland and reed beds. Here you can enjoy walking and cycling and fully enjoy the tranquility.
The Markermeer is the large lake between the provinces of North Holland and Flevoland, south of the IJsselmeer. It is named after the former island of Marken. This is the ideal place for water sports. You can, for example, sail, wakeboard, or surf here.
The Marker Wadden are located in the Markermeer, not far from the city of Lelystad. They are artificial islands and are the newest part of the Netherlands. They were built to contribute to nature restoration. With the creation of the Markermeer, the natural shallows and depths and banks disappeared and these are being restored at the Marker Wadden. One of the islands can be visited thanks to a ferry from Lelystad.
What to do in Nieuw Land National Park?
Would you like to visit Nieuw Land National Park? Here are some fun things to do.
Learn more about the park in one of the visitor centers
A must for any national park you want to visit: visit one of the visitor centers. This is where you can learn more about the park and beautiful hiking trails often start here. There are three different visitor centers in Nieuw Land National Park:
- Oostvaardersplassen outdoor centre (Lelystad). In addition to information, you can also enjoy a snack or a drink on the beautiful terrace.
- The Oostvaarders nature experience center (Almere). A beautiful building where you can get a lot of information. Lectures and workshops are also regularly given here.
- Info point at Camping Waterhout (Almere). In Brasserie Tien you can not only enjoy food and drinks, but also get information about hiking and cycling routes in the Lepelaarplassen area.
Check the official website of the Nieuw Land National Park for current information and the opening hours of the visitor centers.
Hiking in Nieuw Land National Park: fun trails
Of course, you can explore Nieuw Land National Park on foot, there are no fewer than 21 beautiful walking routes. Most trails are quite short, so you can easily explore several trails in one day. Especially in the vicinity of the Oostvaardersplassen outdoor center, you’ll find many cool hiking trails. These are a few recommendations:
- De Zeearendroute (5 kilometers, starts at Oostvaardersplassen outdoor centre). A fun trail that leads you partly over wooden boardwalks. You’ll pass multiple bird-watching huts, and there is a good chance that you will see some wild horses.
- Marker Wadden – long route (6 kilometers, starts at the island guard’s cabin). A circular walk along a watchtower, beach, and birdwatching huts.
- Around the Lepelaarplassen – (12 kilometers, starting at the former Trekvogel visitor center). A circular trail around the area is also suitable for cycling.
Check this page for an overview of the hiking trails in Nieuw Land National Park.
Cycling in Nieuw Land National Park
In addition to the beautiful hiking trails, there are also various beautiful cycling routes. So you can discover the Nieuw Land National Park by bike. These are a few beautiful cycling routes:
- Around Oostvaardersplassen (32 kilometers, starting point: Kitsweg 1, Lelystad). Complete tour around the Oostvaardersplassen.
- Cycling along Almere’s waters, nature, and architecture (36 kilometers, starting point: Oostvaardersdiep 16, Almere). Discover the unique architecture in Almere, the Oostvaardersplassen, and the Lepelaarplassen by bike.
- Around Flevoland (240 kilometers, starting point: IJmeerdijk 1, Almere). For the fanatics: cycle around the whole province of Flevoland. During this tour, you will cycle along the borders of the province and you will pass through a large part of the Nieuw Land National Park.
Check this page for an overview of the cycling routes in Nieuw Land National Park.
Wildlife in Nieuw Land National Park
The icon of Nieuw Land National Park is the white-tailed eagle. This is an imposing bird (with a wingspan of up to 2.5 meters!) and if you are lucky you can see it during your visit. There are a lot of birdwatching huts in the park, so bring your binoculars. In addition to the eagles, you can also see different species of herons, geese, birds of prey, and spoonbills. And many others!
In addition to many birds, other animals also live in the park. Large herds of wild cattle and horses live here, and you’ll probably see some of them during your visit.
Extra fun: you can also go on a guided safari! This way, you’ll also learn a lot about the animals you see along the way.
Do you like water sports? Then you are in the right place in the Nieuw Land National Park. You can go windsurfing, parasailing, supping, but also swimming or fishing. A great place to enjoy yourself during hot days. At Surfschool Paradiso you can rent materials.
How to get to Nieuw Land National Park?
Since Nieuw Land National Park is actually spread out in various places in the province of Flevoland, you can also get there in various ways. The easiest way is to focus on the visitor centers.
All visitor centers are easily accessible by car and parking is free. Please note that there are not very many parking spaces, so be on time.
With public transport
Unfortunately, only the Oostvaarders Nature Experience Center can be reached by public transport. Travel by train to Almere Oostvaarders station, from there it is a 30-minute walk to the visitor center. Use 9292.nl to plan your trip.
For the other visitor centers, you can either take the train to Lelystad Centrum (for Oostvaardersplassen outdoor center) or Almere Centrum (for De Trekvogel visitor center) and continue your journey from the station on an OV-fiets (a cheap bicycle you can get at the station). You do need a subscription to use these bicycles. Check the NS website for more information.
Did you know that you can also visit the Nieuw Land National Park by boat? There are several marinas in Almere and Lelystad where you can moor. Check this page for an overview. You can also moor in the harbor of the Marker Wadden. The number of places is very limited. You can probably reserve a place in advance in the course of 2021.
Costs and opening hours
A visit to the Nieuw Land National Park is free and the park can be visited all year round. Do you also want to visit the visitor centers? You might want to check the opening hours for each location before you head out.
Where to stay?
Would you like to spend some more time near Nieuw Land National Park? There are many beautiful locations where you can stay overnight. These are a few recommendations:
- B&B ‘t Buitenkansje in Almere – cozy bed & breakfast.
- Hotel De Lange Jammer in Lelystad – a nice hotel in Lelystad Haven, not far from the Oostvaardersplassen.
- Noordersluis Studio’s in Lelystad – nice apartments and studios with a fully equipped kitchen.
Check Booking.com for more options, availability, and prices.
Visiting The Netherlands
Are you excited to go on a trip and explore The Netherlands? Get one of these great guidebooks:
As I am from The Netherlands myself, I explored quite a lot of the county. That’s why you can read a lot about traveling to The Netherlands on this website. Check out one of these articles I wrote about other national parks in The Netherlands:
- These are all the national parks in The Netherlands
- De Alde Feanen National Park: useful tips & what to do
- Explore Lauwersmeer National Park: tips & the best hiking trails
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