If you ask a Dutchman which region of The Netherlands is the most beautiful, most Dutchmen will give the same answer. This is because their choice of the most beautiful region in The Netherlands is one of the few remaining places in The Netherlands where it is still silent enough to hear the sound of the wind and the birds.
The Wadden Sea and the Wadden Islands is the most beautiful region of The Netherlands. The Wadden Sea falls dry at low tide, and that makes it a home for a unique variety of wildlife, among them millions of birds and thousands of seals.
The Wadden Sea is one of the last remaining large-scale, intertidal ecosystems in the world where natural processes continue to function largely undisturbed. As a result, the Wadden Sea is gorgeous, simply gorgeous….!
The Wadden Islands are one of the very few places in our very crowded country where it is silent enough to only hear the sound of the wind and the birds. So if you look for rest, the Wadden Islands are a must-go destination for you. Nothing beats the silence and the light of the Wadden Sea….!
How To Best Discover The Wadden Sea?
Wadlopen is the Dutch name for hiking on the Wadden Sea mudflats. It is a unique way to experience the most beautiful region in the Netherlands. Enjoy the beauty of the Wadden Sea and be surprised by the tremendous variety of wildlife on these tidal mudflats at low tide.
Hiking on the Wadden Sea mudflats is very different from hiking on a hard surface and requires good physical condition. Never try to do this on your own. You need a guide because it can be treacherous in this area if you don’t know your way around.
I wrote about hiking on mudflats in more detail somewhere else, but you can also watch this Youtube video to determine if mudflat hiking is something for you.
Map Of The 5 Dutch Wadden Islands
The five Dutch Wadden Islands stretch in a graceful arch between Den Helder and the Eemsmond as the “crowning glory” of the Netherlands, as the tourist brochures will tell you. That “crowning glory” is a bit too exaggerated for my taste, but I can assure you that the Wadden Sea and Islands offer a unique experience indeed.
Though all of the five Dutch Wadden Islands have common elements, like fantastic wide beaches on the North Sea side of the Wadden islands, there are also differences. It depends upon your taste which Wadden island you will like best.
How To Go To The Wadden Islands?
If you click on the numbers in the interactive map below, you will find out more about the Wadden islands and the ferry services to these islands.
What Is The Best Wadden Island To Visit?
All five Dutch Wadden islands are beautiful, but some Dutch Wadden islands may better suit you because all five Wadden islands have somewhat different characters and tourist facilities. It depends on what you are looking for.
The five Dutch Wadden islands are:
1. Is Texel Worth Visiting?
Texel is the largest of the five Wadden Islands, about 20 km long and about 8 km wide. That is large enough to make it not always feel like an island, unlike the other four Wadden islands, which are much smaller and on which the sea and beaches are seldom out of sight.
Texel is easily accessible, and the crossing from Den Helder only takes 20 minutes. Come by car, public transport, bicycle or on foot. For more information about the ferry’s schedule to Texel, click on the number 7 in the interactive map above.
Texel is the most diverse of the five Wadden Islands. More than the other Wadden Islands, Texel is a regular vacation island with many tourist attractions and locations to visit. There is even a tiny airfield on Texel.
Visitors can enjoy sightseeing in villages like Den Burg or Den Hoorn or other smaller towns, each with its character. These villages have plenty of terraces and restaurants available for tourists.
A visit to Ecomare, a museum, annex seal sanctuary is interesting and fun. You can also go shrimp fishing on the Wadden Sea or make a day trip to Vlieland in a smaller (high-speed) boat. The beachcomber museum provides a sobering peek into Texel’s history and is a good reminder of the hard life on these islands in previous times.
2. Is Vlieland Worth Visiting?
Vlieland is the narrowest Wadden Island and my favorite Wadden island for a weekend trip. The beaches on Vlieland are beautiful, quiet, and very extensive. The distance between the Wadden Sea and the North Sea is sometimes less than one kilometer.
There is a single village on Vlieland, Oost-Vlieland, where the ferry from Harlingen arrives (click on the number 8 on the map above). Many charming old buildings on the main street of that village make Oost-Vlieland a pretty picturesque place.
It is not allowed to bring your car to Vlieland; only the islanders themselves can drive here. Therefore, Vlieland is best discovered by bike. Love it or hate it, having very few cars on Vlieland contributes to feeling distanced from the world and relaxing even more. I love Vlieland….!
To the west of Ameland lies the Vliehors nature reserve, where you run the risk of sinking into treacherous quicksand. This area is also called the Sahara of the north. If you are on Vlieland, you should take an adventurous ride on the Vliehors Express.
3. Is Terschelling Worth Visiting?
Terschelling is the second-largest Wadden Island. Cars are allowed on Terschelling, giving it a different atmosphere. You have to take a quick day trip to Vlieland one day to experience the difference with a car-free island.
The northern part of Terschelling primarily consists of dunes and is a beautiful area. In some scattered areas, trees have been planted to create scattered forest areas on the island.
Terschelling has gorgeous sandy beaches on its northern coast, perhaps the most beautiful of all Wadden Islands. This white sandy beach is thirty kilometers long and runs along the North Sea coast. Terschelling is nowhere wider than four kilometers, so the beach is always nearby!
The widest beaches are near “West aan zee” and “Midland aan zee“. These beach crossings are located next to each other in the middle of the island.
A few other beach clubs are scattered along the northern coast of Terschelling with these fantastic beaches, each with its own atmosphere. The common theme is rest, which comes easily with these magnificent, vast, and empty beaches in front of you.
Our favorite activity on Terschelling is hiking because it is so vast and quiet. The most beautiful place to hike on Terschelling is on the eastern side’s wide sandy beach natural park Boschplaat. You can best reach it by bike, park your bike at the park entrance, and walk over the beach to enjoy the silence.
One other fun activity on Terschelling is to take a boat trip to watch the seals!
4. Is Ameland Worth Visiting?
Those who want to taste the real Ameland should visit Hollum. Here you can still experience the atmosphere of the past. The villages of Ballum and Buren are smaller.
Ameland is a horse island. There are still regular demonstrations of the old horse rescue boat to see. Everywhere on the island, you will find stables and bridle paths where you can make rides.
The dunes in the north of Ameland are dry except for the bird sanctuary Het Oerd in the East, a wet dune valley. The beaches of Ameland were once considered the most beautiful and cleanest beaches of the Wadden Islands. In the polders in the south are four villages. The largest village is Nes, where the ferry from Holwerd arrives.
5. Is Schiermonnikoog Worth Visiting?
Schiermonnikoog is the last and second smallest inhabited Dutch Wadden Island. It is a beautiful island barrel of natural resources, and the entire island enjoys the status of a National Park.
Visitors cannot bring their cars to Schiermonnikoog, which I like because it contributes to the feeling of being away from the world for a few days. Do not expect entertainment on Schiermonnikoog. The biggest attraction of Schiermonnikoog is the big sandy beach.
Schiermonnikoog distinguishes itself from the other Islands by its width instead of the other Wadden Islands, which are longer but not that wide.
At its widest point, the beach in Schiermonnikoog is almost one kilometer wide, making it one of the widest beaches in Europe. There is only one village on Schiermonnikoog, named Schiermonnikoog, for a change. The village center has the status of Protected Village View.