Texel, the largest of the Dutch Wadden Islands, is situated in the province of North Holland. Offering 30 kilometers of long, fine, white, sandy beach, it’s a favorite destination amongst locals and foreign tourists alike.
In addition to its cozy beach, the island offers many things from lovely seaside villages to nature reserves, sand dunes, and eco parks. As such, Texel has countless biking and hiking trails for every fitness level. Let’s explore them all below!
What to See and Do in Texel
For an island, Texel offers a wide variety of attractions and activities. This is why it’s famous not just for day trips but for mini staycations as well. Following are our recommendations on what to see and do on this amazing island.
1. The Lighthouse
Sometimes, when you visit a place, you just have to do that one symbolic thing for which the place is most known. For Texel, that’s climbing its 150-year old red-painted lighthouse. Climb six stories up the lighthouse via its 118-step winding staircase and as you climb, take note of its walls, you’ll see bullet holes here and there which it sustained during WWII. Of course, the highlight is reaching the top and having a magnificent view of Texel.
Note: Space is a bit tight and there are no stop gaps so this one might not be for the elderly or the impaired.
2. Dunes of Texel National Park
On the west side of the island, is the Dunes of Texel National Park. It offers a wide range of landscapes (e.g., sand dunes, lush forests, heathland, etc.) so you may want to hop on your bike to explore them all. This is also where you’ll find the highest point of Texel, the Bertusnol dune, at 19.6 m.
Right inside the Dunes of Texel National Park, is Ecomare, a nature museum, and seal sanctuary. Here, sick seals are taken care of by volunteers all year round. You can check out the whole sanctuary process, take part in feeding times, and even buy sailing tickets for when seals are released back into the sea. Apart from seals, there’s a wide variety of marine animals to see in the sea aquarium, and there’s also a bird sanctuary.
4. Naturepark De Slufter
Naturepark De Slufter is a nature park that’s actually an inlet opening to the North Sea. It’s composed of several saltwater creeks that have enabled the growth of many unique saltwater plants, including the sea lavender, whose flowers turn purple during summer. It’s also a bird breeding area so it’s perfect for bird watchers. Organized tours are available but you can also take any of the well-marked walking paths such as the wheel-chair accessible Familiepad (1 km) or the Slufter Quest (2 km), which is great to do with children.
5. De Muy Sand Dunes
About 400 years ago, sand dikes were constructed to connect Texel with Eierland. This resulted in the dune region now known as De Muy. Depending on which part of the De Muy you are in, you’ll see cattle, unique sand dune flora, or unique sea birds. If you want to stay, there’s a vacation park, where you can rent cottages.
6. Beachcombing Museums
Ever went to the beach and forgot or lost something? Well, strandjutten (beachcombing) is a real thing that’s been going on in Texel for decades and there are museums where you can see what people have been losing (or finding, depending on how you look at it). Here are two of the more popular ones: Maritiem-en Juttersmuseum Flora and the Kaap Skil Museum.
7. Island Activities
There’s no shortage of active things to do in Texel. For one, parachute jumping is popular here via Paracentrum Texel. You can skydive on your own, do a tandem jump, or take a course. If you’re not ready yet, just watching skydivers is fun too. The dunes of Texel also set the stage for an amazing and challenging set of golf at the top-rated Golf Course De Texelse.
Going back to nature, you can go beach horseback riding, fishing, kayaking, and mud hiking. For the latter, be sure to check the times for low tide or go with a tour guide as you wouldn’t want to risk getting caught in the rising tides.
8. Island Village Hopping
One of the attractions in Texel is its seven scenic villages. These are:
- Den Burg. Den Burg is known as the main village of the island and it’s known for shopping and great food.
- Den Hoorn. Den Hoorn is the ‘quiet’ village where you can find amazing tulip bulb fields.
- Oudeschild. Oudeschild is a village port, and as such is known for its fishing trade and of course, fish dishes.
- De Koog. De Koog is a beach resort so here you’ll find various terraces and cafes facing the beach.
- Oosterend. Oosterend is where you’ll find the 10-centuries old Maartenskerk (St. Martin Church).
- De Waal. De Waal is a small village at the heart of Texel. As you walk, through its cottages and farms, you’ll feel as if you stepped back in time.
- De Cocksdorp. De Cocksdorp has great shops and restaurants, and thanks to its landscape, it’s known for rare bird watching.
Which one you should visit largely depends on your interests and on the season. For example, Den Hoorn is particularly interesting in spring, when tulips are in full bloom.
9. Texel Sheep Farm
Did you know that Texel is also known as ‘sheep island’? This is because of the Texel sheep, which is a domestic breed known for its wool and meat quality. Not surprisingly, one of the more popular dishes on the island is lamb. But if you don’t want to eat them, you can pet and hug them instead at the Schapenboerderij (Texel Sheep Farm) in Den Burg.
Accommodations in Texel
Texel is amazing to explore during the day but it also offers magnificent views at night. In fact, stargazing is very popular here due to the very dark, clear skies at night. Plus, there’s so much to do that more than a day trip is recommended.
Luckily, there’s no shortage of accommodations in Texel. You can rent a holiday home at one of the bungalow parks on the island, book a hotel room, stay at a bed and breakfast, or camp at any of the campsites that dot the area. Either way, there’s bound to be a place to suit you and your budget.