I love Amsterdam. It’s my second home and one of the most beautiful cities in the world, in my book. But I can’t understand why visitors don’t look beyond Amsterdam on their visit to the Netherlands – there is so much more that the country has to offer, and Amsterdam is not really reflective of Dutch culture. So, you really want to go Dutch? Get off the mainland! Visit Texel!
A weekend in Texel is a great way to clear your head from the business of Amsterdam and connect to small-town life on a more laid-back island. Texel was even named one of Lonely Planet’s Best of Europe in 2016! Which, by the way, made it to the Dutch news.
First off – let’s get the pronunciation right (tesel). Now that’s settled 🙂
Why visit Texel? Windswept beaches…and a gorgeous lighthouse
Texel is the largest of the Dutch Wadden Islands, which is covered in grassy dunes and white sand beaches. Although Texel is known amongst Dutch and German tourists, its beaches are not nearly as busy on a sunny day as those along the mainland Dutch coastline. With white sand beaches lining the island, you’ll always find a spot to relax – and chances are it will be largely deserted!
You can even rent one of these cute little beach huts for the day, week, or for your entire visit.
No trip to Texel is complete without a visit to the historic lighthouse and a short climb to the top. And of course maybe some pictures as well 🙂
Why visit Texel? Cycling through sand dunes
Arguably the best way to see Texel is to rent a bike and tour the island yourself. The island is only 25km long by 9km wide, so you can easily cover the island in a weekend – or, if you’re not stopping for the occasional coffee and chill session – a day. As usual in the Netherlands, the island is covered in bike paths criss crossing through the dunes, leaving you to explore the natural beauty of the island.
Don’t forget to visit Nationaal Park Duinen van Texel (Texel Dunes National Park), a park that was voted the most beautiful natural area in Holland. Ok, so there aren’t so many national parks here, but trust me, it’s lovely!
Why visit Texel? Darling villages
There are seven villages you can choose to stay in during your visit, each one just as cute as you would hope for.
The biggest and most popular villages are Den Burg and De Koog
Why visit Texel? Local brews
One of my favorite things to do when I visit a new place is to try some local beer. I’m a big fan of micro breweries (must be my roots in Northern California : Sierra Nevada, Pyramid, Anchor Steam, Lagunitas…), and to be honest, I’m not that big of a fan of the big Dutch brands like Heineken and Amstel. Lucky for beer lovers, Texel also has its own microbrewery, the Texelse Brouwerij (Texel Brewery).
Head on over to the brewery in Oudeschild where you can take a brewery tour (only in Dutch I believe) or just get down to business and order a sampler. The most famous of Texelse beer is the skuumkoppe (foam top), which you can also find on tap in bars across the country.
Why visit Texel? Seals!
If you’re an animal lover you simply must visit Ecomare, an aquarium with a seal rehabilitation center and sanctuary. I’ll admit – I was here for the seals and not much else – but I did my duty to visit the rest of the aquarium.
Of course Ecomare is great for families – or just big kids like me. Be sure if you visit to stick around for one of the seal feeding times. These guys are too adorable not to get up close to and shoot a few pictures.
Where to stay in Texel
Texel is the perfect spot to stay in a bed and breakfast. Though there are ample hotels on the island, what beats staying in someone’s home and waking up to fresh eggs from their farm or chicken coup? The intimacy of a bed and breakfast gets you closer to the the island’s vibe, and gets you in touch with the locals. Staying at Zon en Vrijheid was how I learned that Texel proudly boasts more hours of sunlight than any other spot in the Netherlands. I’m not sure if that’s a fact, or if its what the locals like to boast, but either way, I’d like to believe it. The theory is that clouds stick close the mainland and give Texel less coverage than the rest of the country.
How to get to Texel
So I’ve convinced you, that’s great. As an expat living in Amsterdam I’m always blown away that more expats don’t visit these little local treasures. Texel is the ideal getaway not only for tourists, but for expats looking to explore a bit more of Holland and to get to know what life is like outside of Amsterdam. And yes, there IS life outside of Amsterdam.
From Amsterdam Central Station
- Hop on an Intercity train to Den Helder
- From Den Helder take bus 33 to the TESO-boot (port)
- Then jump on a ferry to Texel, and voila, you’ve arrived!
What did I miss? Have you ever visited Texel?