The Veluwe, situated in the province of Gelderland, is the biggest unbroken nature reserve in the Netherlands. It was formed during the Saalian ice age some 160,000 years ago.
Over the centuries, due to changes in the environment and the world climate, flourishing forests started to emerge. However, when people lived in the area, agricultural farming and rigorous sheep farming converted the region into heathland.
Today, the Veluwe offers a variety of landscapes to visitors, including woodland, heathland, moorland, some lakes, and Europe’s most extensive sand drifts.
What to See and Do in the Veluwe
The Veluwe region is massive, with over 20 municipalities, so there are different parts you can visit. You can take a day trip and just experience one aspect of the Veluwe, or stay a couple of days and experience as much as you can. The best way to explore the Veluwe is by bike or by foot. In addition to a vast network of hiking and biking trails, you’ll also find some interesting museums and sights here.
Following are our recommendations on what to see and do in this nature reserve.
1. De Hoge Veluwe National Park
Located about eight kilometers north of the city of Arnhem and stretched over 55 km2 kilometers, the De Hoge Veluwe National Park is a stunning work of nature. Be sure to have your camera ready. Since this place offers a variety of landscapes (e.g., moors, think forests, dark purple heathlands, high sand dunes, etc.), you’re bound to encounter various types of plants and flowers.
The Hoge Veluwe National Park was established as a hunting park in the early 1900s. Today, it’s an excellent location for wildlife spotting and bird watching, which you can do while walking or hiking via the many well-marked trails in the park or from the many observation points available. Depending on the season you visit, you might be lucky enough to spot the famous ‘Big 5’ (red deer, roe deer, wild boar, badger, and fox).
Of course, the park offers excellent bike routes! You can use your own or use any of the ‘White Bikes’ available for park guests. Note that White Bikes are not lockable, so you go where you want to go and drop off the bike at centrally located points. If you want to have your own bike for the day, then you can rent Blue Bikes.
2. Kröller-Müller Museum and Sculpture Garden
Right inside the Hoge Veluwe National Park is the Kröller-Müller Museum and Sculpture Garden. The museum is home to the second largest collection of world-renowned painter Vincent Van Gogh and other notable artists such as Monet, Picasso, and Mondrian.
Be sure you have enough time to explore outside too. Around 200 sculptures are distributed in the sculpture garden, providing the perfect backdrop for all those IG-worthy moments.
3. Jachthuis Sint-Hubertus
If you’re into architecture, then you should visit the Jachthuis Sint-Hubertus located on the north edge of the Hoge Veluwe.
In the early 1900s, architect Hendrik Petrus Berlage was commissioned by Anton and Helene Kröller-Müller to build the latter a country house retreat. Berlage not only designed the country house itself but also everything inside it (from the furniture to the cutlery) and its immediate surroundings (including the gardens and a pond). As a result, the V-shaped country home is considered one of the finest examples of not only Dutch architecture but that of the concept of ‘architectural wholeness’.
Also inside the Hoge Veluwe National Park is the world’s first underground museum, Museonder. As you go through the museum, you’ll be taken on a journey regarding the origins, development, and wildlife of the Veluwe landscape.
5. Veluwezoom National Park
The Veluwezoom National Park is the oldest national park in the country. It’s stretched over 50 sq2 and is situated at the southeastern edge of the Veluwe region. Like the Hoge Veluwe National Park, it offers varying landscapes home to an equally impressive variety of flora and fauna.
Numerous walking, hiking, and cycling routes are available, so it’s really up to what you want to do for the day. But if you ever want to take a break from the outdoors, venture inside the country estates and castles that dot the area. Examples: Castle Middachten , Park and Castle Rosendael , the Zypendaal House, and more.
Inside the Veluwezoom National Park is the Posbank, which is actually the highest point of the Veluwe region. At 90 meters high, it offers a comprehensive and breathtaking view of the Veluwe. On a bright day, you can even look as far as Germany! In autumn, when the heathlands bloom, the place turns into a beautiful purple carpet.
The Posbank itself is actually a bench (bank) dedicated to Mr. Pos, a former chairman of the ANWB (Dutch traveler’s association), due to his contributions to the region.
Visit the Posbank Pavilion and have refreshments while you’re in the area. It’s a sustainably-built tea house constructed using Veluwe-sourced materials.
7. Paleis Het Loo
Built in the mid-1600s for the House of Orange-Nassau, the Het Loo Palace gives visitors a glimpse of how the royals lived. You’ll find original furniture, artifacts, and art on display inside. However, outside also provides an equally stunning view. It’s been landscaped to reflect how the grounds were 330+ years ago, exactly how it was commissioned by the royal couple.
Accommodations in the Veluwe
The Veluwe is a famous destination for local and foreign tourists, so there’s a wide array of accommodations available. Hotel rooms, holiday home rentals for families of various sizes, wooden chalets in the middle of a park, and campsites for every budget are available.
Our Tip: Check the local annual vacation days. If your own schedule permits, visit during the ‘off season’ so you can benefit from better accommodation rates.