Exploring Lauwersmeer National Park

Exploring Lauwersmeer National Park: tips & the best hiking trails

Would you like to visit Lauwersmeer National Park in The Netherlands? For nature lovers and people that enjoy panoramic views, bird-watching, and hiking, this is a wonderful place to explore.

About Lauwersmeer National Park

Lauwersmeer National Park is located in the north of The Netherlands, on the border of the provinces called Groningen and Friesland. The Lauwerszee used to be located here, but after the flood disaster in 1953, the government decided to build a dike to close off the Lauwerszee. This happened in 1969 and the Lauwerszee became the Lauwersmeer. In Dutch, this means that the sea became a lake. The mudflats became dry and this is how new nature was created.

Since 2013, the Lauwersmeer has been named Lauwersmeer National Park and is seen as a bird-watching paradise. You can see many different bird species here. For example, you can see geese, the peregrine falcon, the bar-tailed godwit, and the spoonbill here. You can see the birds very well if you visit one of the bird-watching huts. In addition, various beautiful forests have also arisen in the area and there’s a lot of orchids to be seen.

Lauwersmeer National Park

How to get to Lauwersmeer National Park?

Lauwersmeer National Park has various entrances and you can visit the park by car and public transport. It is useful to start your visit at Activity Center Lauwersnest, which is located near Lauwersoog (in the province of Groningen).

By car

Lauwersmeer National Park is easily accessible by car in most places. Parking in Lauwersmeer National Park is free. and there are more than enough places to park your car. Check this map for the location of the parking lots.

Public transport

You can also visit Lauwersmeer National Park by public transport. In that case, take a bus to Lauwersoog. It departs several times a day from Leeuwarden station (via Veenwouden and Dokkum) and from Groningen station. For current departure times, check 9292.nl.

Fees & opening hours

Lauwersmeer National Park is open 24 hours a day and can be visited free of charge.

Things to do

What to do during your visit to Lauwersmeer National Park?

Lauwersnest activity center

Would you like to learn more about the park? Then go to the Lauwersnest Activity Center. Here you can watch short films about the area, get brochures and ask the hosts for more information. At the moment, the Lauwersnest Activity Center is only open on Sundays from 12 to 4 pm. When it is closed, you can still find brochures and maps with cycling and walking routes. These are in a large container at the entrance.

Lauwersnest activity center

Hiking in Lauwersmeer National Park

There are many (short) hiking trails in Lauwersmeer National Park. Many are located near Lauwersoog and start at Activity Center Lauwersnest. These are some of the most beautiful hiking trails:

  • Observatietorenroute: a 5.6-kilometer (3.5-mile) hike over the dike and through the forest. During the hike, you can climb an observation tower. Trailhead: Lauwersnest activity center.
  • Orchideeënroute: a 3.1-kilometer (1.9 miles) hike, through the forest and across the fields. Trailhead: Parking lot Strandweg and you can follow the blue posts.
  • Wandelroute Kollumerwaard: 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) along the edges of the Lauwersmeer. You can see Scottish Highlanders and Konik horses here. Trail head: Parking lot Kwelderweg oost near Kollumerpomp.

Check this page for all hiking trails in Lauwersmeer National Park (it’s a Dutch page).

Tip You can go hiking in the Lauwersmeer National Park at any time of the year. Keep in mind that the trails can be very muddy (especially in autumn and spring). So make sure to wear waterproof shoes or bring an extra pair.

Wildlife in Lauwersmeer National Park

Lauwersmeer National Park is a bird paradise, and you will therefore meet many people with binoculars and cameras with large zoom lenses. Would you also like to discover some birds? At Activity Center Lauwersnest you can get a handy flyer that lists the (most common) bird species that live in Lauwersmeer National Park.

Bird paradise Lauwersmeer National Park

In addition to many birds, you can also see Scottish highlanders and Konik horses during your visit to Lauwersmeer National Park.

Cycling in Lauwersmeer National Park

In addition to many hiking trails, there are also many cycling paths in the park. At the Activity Center, you can get a map with many cycling itineraries. You can, for example, bike around the Lauwersmeer. This is about 44 kilometers (27.3 miles) long and is highly recommended.

In addition, you can also choose to discover more beautiful places in the province of Groningen by bike from Lauwersoog, such as Pieterburen and Zoutkamp.


I grew up in the province of Groningen and I used to go to the Lauwersmeer with my family in the summer. It’s a great place to go for a swim. There are several beaches (for example, between Activities Center Lauwersnest and Lauwersoog and near Oostmahorn on the west side) and these beaches are rarely crowded.

There are also various picnic tables and sanitary facilities on the beaches.


In 2016, Lauwersmeer National Park was named Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Sky Association. The characteristic of a Dark Sky Park is that it is one of the darkest places in the Netherlands. Which makes it a great place to enjoy some stargazing, there’s hardly light pollution. You might even see the Milky Way.


Would you like to spend some time in this gorgeous national park? Then I can recommend you to stay a few nights in the village of Lauwersoog. Here are a couple of fun places to stay:

In addition to Lauwersmeer National Park, Lauwersoog is also a good base to visit Schiermonnikoog, Zoutkamp, and Pieterburen.

Another great place to stay is Landal Esonstad. This entire park is built in “Old Dutch” style and is located right on the Lauwersmeer. In addition, on the website of Nature House, you can also find beautiful accommodations in the vicinity of Lauwersmeer National Park.

On the west side of Lauwersmeer National Park

Would you like to read more about The Netherlands?

The Netherlands has no fewer than 21 official national parks. Would you like to read more about them? I wrote these articles about the national parks in The Netherlands:

And if you’d like to visit more gorgeous places in The Netherlands, I would recommend getting one of these guidebooks:

Insight Guides The Netherlands

DK Eyewitness Netherlands

Hi, and how nice of you to read this disclaimer! As you may understand, maintaining a website like this is not free. That is why some of the links in this article are affiliate links. If you use these links to book or buy anything, I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you!


As a girl from a small town in the Netherlands, I always dreamed of traveling. I thought it would always be a dream, but nowadays, I travel 6 to 8 months a year and I hike thousands of miles on the most beautiful hiking trails. On this website you can read all about my favorite destinations.

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