For most travellers visiting the Netherlands, Amsterdam steals the spotlight. But while the Dutch capital entices millions, the roads less travelled are often more rewarding. De Hoge Veluwe National Park, nestled in the province of Gelderland, offers a perfect diversion from a typical Amsterdam itinerary, allowing you to uncover the uncharted beauty of the Netherlands.
In this ultimate guide to De Hoge Veluwe National Park, I will share what to expect during your visit to one of the largest nature reserves in the country.
Have you ever yearned for moments of peace and serenity amid the bustling city life? I certainly have. So, when a friend from Amsterdam suggested a trip to De Hoge Veluwe National Park for an authentic Dutch experience, I jumped at the chance.
Exploring De Hoge Veluwe National Park is an opportunity not just to reconnect with nature, but also to delve into the cultural richness of the Netherlands which extends well beyond the iconic canals and coffee shops of Amsterdam (not that I’m dismissing Amsterdam’s undeniable charm, of course).
The park stands as a testament to the visionary ideals of its founders, Anton and Helene Kröller-Müller, who brilliantly united the allure of nature with the arts.
The Kröller-Müller Museum, nestled right at the heart of the park, houses the second-greatest collection of Van Gogh paintings, as well as a variety of outstanding artworks by diverse painters such as Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, and Pablo Picasso.
For years, art connoisseurs and nature lovers have been drawn to this intriguing blend of natural beauty and artistic expression.
GETTING TO DE HOGE VELUWE NATIONAL PARK FROM AMSTERDAM
Armed with raincoats and umbrellas (yikes, it rains a lot in the Netherlands), my friend and I decided to drive to Otterlo, a picture-perfect village that serves as the gateway to the park. The car ride took us about an hour.
While most tourists access the park from Otterlo, you can also reach it from Schaarsbergen or Hoenderloo.
Car parks are available at each park entrance for a nominal parking fee. For an additional fee, you can drive within the park.
BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT
The Park is easily accessible using public transport. You can take a train to Apeldoorn, Ede-Wageningen or Arnhem.
There are buses that connect these stations directly to the park. The Dutch public transport website 9292.nl offers detailed itineraries and travel planning options.
The quickest route to reach the museum from any of these stations is by taxi. The journey should take you approximately 25 minutes.
For a structured experience, consider a guided group or private tour of the park. There are several tour options available, some of which include e-bike rentals. This is especially convenient if you plan to return to Amsterdam on the same day.
You must pay an entrance fee upon arrival. Choose between a park-only ticket or a combo ticket that grants access to the Kröller Müller Museum (I would highly recommended the combo ticket).
Additional information regarding costs and tickets can be found on hogeveluwe.nl.
EXPLORING THE PARK
Cycling is by far the most popular mode of transport in the Netherlands. No surprise that it’s also a popular way of touring the park.
To get into the local spirit, my friend and I decided to rent e-bikes from our hotel in Otterlo.
Despite a comical wobble or two while mastering the art of biking, I loved the thrill of pedalling through the park.
We were able to see a lot more of the surroundings than if we were on foot.
With around 40 kilometres of cycle paths, you can easily burn off all those extra calories from Poffertjes (Dutch pancakes), stroopwafels, or Tony’s Chocolonely (if you know of a better chocolate, do share!).
The park offers free White Bikes at various sites, including the Kröller Müller Museum, St. Hubertus Hunting Lodge (Jachthuis Sint Hubertus) and the park’s entrances.
Additionally, you can rent Blue Bikes, which include cargo bikes, rambling carts, and different modified bicycles. More details can be found on hogeveluwe.nl.
If cycling isn’t your preference, the park offers an extensive network of marked walking trails and footpaths.
Keep an eye out for wooden posts that will guide you along rambling routes each marked with a specific colour. Rest assured, these posts will always lead you back to your starting point.
De Hoge Veluwe National Park boasts unparalleled natural beauty. If you’re a nature lover, you’re in for a treat.
From lush woodlands and expansive heathlands, to shifting sand drifts and vast grasslands, the park features a remarkable variety of landscapes.
As you traverse the winding paths and tree-lined avenues by foot or bike, you never know what hidden gems you will come across next.
The park is home to a wide variety of flora, including nearly 500 plant species along with various trees such as birches, oaks, and pines.
A visit in the autumn will reward you with the fabulous sight of the majestic Red Oak trees covered with vibrant red foliage. However, the park is an enchanting destination in all seasons.
The park’s residents include red deer, roe deer, wild boar, mouflon, red fox, badger, and pine marten.
Notably, the reserve protects unique and endangered species like the moor frog, the great grey shrike, and the grass snake (no need to panic, this snake’s culinary preferences are limited to amphibians!).
If you’re up for an early morning or twilight adventure, you might just cross paths with the park’s celebrities: wild boars and red deer.
But with a touch of luck and patience, you can spot wildlife at any time while meandering through the park.
Game observation posts scattered across the park offer prime opportunities to watch the animals in their natural habitat.
Several observation posts within the park offer optimal vantage points for wildlife viewing:
Wildbaanweg and Bosje van Staf are prime locations to catch a glimpse of the majestic red deer and the mouflon.
Koeverbos (Millelamel) provides an ideal viewpoint for observing a herd of female red deer with their young ones.
Zwarte Veld is the perfect site for spotting wild boar, male red deer (stags), and roe deer.
Schuilkelder is an excellent location for spotting wild boar and female red deer.
For a unique experience in September, catch the sight of deer rutting in the wild by booking a rutting tour. For more details, visit hogeveluwe.nl.
ART AND ARCHITECTURE
Throughout the park, you’ll come across many remarkable buildings and sculptures designed by renowned artists, including the sculpture of General De Wet by Joseph Mendes Da Costa and Henry Moore’s Three Upright Motives.
The Kröller-Müller Museum
The Kröller-Müller Museum, located in the middle of nature and within the park’s boundaries, is a sensory feast. It is home to a world-class art exhibition, including the world’s second-largest Van Gogh collection.
As you walk through the museum’s hallways, you will be amazed by the curated selection of works by renowned artists such as Piet Mondrian, Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, and Pablo Picasso.
During my visit, I couldn’t help but pose next to Café Terrace at Night, one of my favourite Van Gogh paintings.
You can also explore temporary exhibitions showcasing works by contemporary artists or take a leisurely stroll through the outstanding Sculpture Garden.
Encompassing 25 hectares, the Sculpture Garden is one of the largest in Europe and features works by artists like Auguste Rodin and Henry Moore.
If you need a break, treat yourself to a drink or snack at the museum’s restaurant, Monsieur Jacques. Their mango smoothies are delicious!
The restaurant offers a splendid view of the garden, adding some extra charm to your dining experience.
Saint Hubertus Hunting Lodge
Situated in the park’s northern part, the former mansion of the Kröller-Müllers, Saint Hubertus Hunting Lodge, is a masterpiece in its own right.
Designed by the esteemed Dutch architect Hendrik Petrus Berlage in the early 20th century, the mansion’s architecture is complemented by its bespoke interiors and furnishings.
To explore the mansion’s interior, you must book a guided tour – a worthwhile experience for those intrigued by the house’s architecture and fascinating anecdotes about the Kröller-Müllers.
The area around it is very peaceful and ideal for a relaxing walk.
You can buy tickets for the museum online, at the various entrances to the park, at the Park Paviljoen, at the Museonder, or at the Theekoepel.
Museonder is a free-entry underground museum that offers an interactive journey through the natural history of the De Hoge Veluwe area.
You can learn here about the park’s diverse ecosystems, animal species, plants, and geological formations through interactive displays, dioramas, and informative panels.
FOOD AND DRINK
De Hoge Veluwe National Park has several food and beverage options.
The Parkrestaurant, located at the heart of the park and adjacent to the Museum, offers a variety of delicious meals and treats. Weather permitting, you can savour your coffee on the charming patio.
Alternatively, you can dine at the Monsieur Jacque Café Restaurant, located inside the Kröller Müller Museum.
Theekoepel at St. Hubertus Hunting Lodge offers hot beverages, soft drinks, and ice cream.
If you are planning a picnic you can get some food and beverages in the Park Shop or in the Park Paviljoen.
The ideal starting point for your day in the park is at the Park Paviljoen, which houses an information desk, the restaurant, and the park shop where you can get gifts and souvenirs.
Here, you can also get a park map and themed bicycle itineraries that will help you explore the area.
The neighbouring Museonder is a great place to start themed hikes and bike trips. Consider taking the Landscape Path. It will take you through various landscapes and to the Kröller-Müller Museum.
Pack comfortable hiking shoes or sturdy walking boots. Given the unpredictable Dutch weather, bring weather-appropriate clothing (you can’t go wrong with layers), and a raincoat.
Binoculars are handy for wildlife spotting, and a camera for capturing the stunning scenery.
Oh, and don’t forget an insect repellent to keep the pesky bugs at bay.
WHERE TO STAY
There are numerous accommodation options if you are looking for an overnight stay in the vicinity of De Hoge Veluwe National Park.
My personal preference is the Hotel de Sterrenberg in Otterlo.
The hotel is situated within a convenient 10 minutes’ drive from De Hoge Veluwe National Park. It offers spacious and tastefully decorated rooms with private balconies.
The on-site restaurant serves gourmet cuisine crafted from locally sourced produce—undoubtedly the best I’ve ever tried in the Netherlands.
The hotel spoils guests with exceptional wellness facilities, including a spa, swimming pool, and fitness centre.
I hope your visit to De Hoge Veluwe National Park leaves you with unforgettable memories and a deep appreciation for art and nature’s beauty, just as mine did.
If you’ve already had a chance to visit it, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below. I’d love to hear about your own experiences.