On Sunday we woke up surprisingly early (for us!) and whilst lying in bed with a cup of tea (coffee for the Dutchie) we discussed what to do with our day. Swimming perhaps, or walking / cycling in the woods near our house, maybe breakfast at Bagels & Beans… I opened the curtains and it felt like spring. What a beautiful day! And then it came to me… Hoge Veluwe! We had planned to go once before but it had fallen through – so this remained high on my extensive Holland-to-do list.
Beautiful weather – check. 40 minute drive from Hilversum – check. Entrance fee under €10 – check.
It was decided! So off we went! (Kinda.)
We had a quick breakfast but by the time we’d got showered, got ready and I’d faffed about charging up my camera battery and switching memory cards (I then left my camera in the car!! Doh!) it was going to be lunchtime when we arrived. So en route I decided to check out some local restaurants as we weren’t overwhelmed by the choices at the park itself. There were 12 choices in Otterlo according to my beloved Trip Advisor, but after a bit of reading and checking menus we decided on the #1 spot: Restaurant Timber situated within the Boutique Hotel Sterrenberg. Varied lunch menu (not just soup, salad and sandwiches) and not too pricey.
Restaurant Timber @ Boutique Hotel Sterrenberg
I must say, I really liked the modern interior. The space was really airy and light but at the same time had a cosy atmosphere.
However, what I didn’t like was the music… a guy and girl who could clearly both sing and actually chose pretty good songs (including Simon & Garfunkel)… but it was just waaaaaay too loud!! (God, I’m old!)
We ordered the “Timber” sharing platter which was actually for three people (bit weird). We did ask if we could have it for two, to which the waitress said she’d go and check but then shortly afterwards another waitress brought the food out… so obviously not…
Highs and lows: the dipping sauces (hoi sin and hot mustard) were both delicious as were the filo prawns, olives and cheese… the rest was (sadly) average. We also ordered a Tempura salad (whilst still hoping they could do the platter for 2 people) which looked a little something like this:
Also pretty average. The dressing was quite nice and sweet but it lacked punch. The restaurant also do 3, 4 and 5 course menus which I’d be quite curious to try. I can’t help feeling they weren’t at their best with this lunch. Website: www.sterrenberg.nl
Anyway, onto the park itself!
Hoge Veluwe National Park
Het Nationaal Park De Hoge Veluwe (as it’s called in Dutch) is situated in the province of Gelderland. It’s a massive 55 square kilometres of heathland, sand dunes and woodland. It’s so big it has three entrances, in the towns of: Otterlo, Hoenderloo and Schaarsbergen.
Without a doubt, the best thing about this park is the ‘free’ bicycle hire. I say ‘free’ because you have to pay €9.15 to get into the park (€4,60 for children) but I honestly think this is a bargain – the same price as going to the cinema!
So you pick up your bike, map and away you go! (Sander lost our map within the first 5 mins of being there – no kidding! But luckily there are little ‘mushroom’ signposts to let you know where to go. Very handy!)
TIP: We went to the Otterlo entrance and there were plenty of bikes, but in the busy summer months this may not be the case. However there were LOADS more bikes outside the Kröller-Möller Museum (map) so if you walk here from your car then hopefully you can pick up a bike.
So, yep, you basically cycle round for hours looking at pretty things…
Obviously, you can walk too… we did see a few walkers… but y’know – 55 kilometres squared… that’s gonna take forever!!
At one point, I asked Sander to come and walk on the sand with me and take some pictures – but he didn’t want to get off his bike – so here he is striding moodily towards me. Totally unposed, but I think it makes for a nice shot. Grumpy git!! Hahaha!
After a good few hours of cycling around the beautiful park we decided to stop for a drink. (As we stupidly hadn’t brought any water with us.)
I don’t normally have a sweet tooth, but the cycling must have built up my appetite because when I walked into the cafe, I HAD to have a piece of apple pie! (It was delicious!)
What a fantastic Sunday. I’d highly recommend it for active people and nature lovers!
We didn’t see much wildlife (just one deer) but I’ve read on Trip Advisor that other people have. I think the trick is to be an early bird… or stay until the park is almost closing to be able to witness the wildlife. Good luck!
If you’d like to do more than just walking, cycling, eating and drinking (we didn’t, but y’know – maybe you do) then there’s also the Kröller-Möller Museum within the park which houses a huge collection of Van Gogh’s work. For architecture lovers, there’s also the Jachthuis Sint Hubertus, designed by Berlage.
Have you ever been to Hoge Veluwe? What did you think?
COSTS: Entrance fee: €9.15 for adults, €4,60 for children. Parking: €3 outside the park, €6,25 inside the park. Cafe: Radler beer €2.70, apple tart €3.25 (plus €0.75 for cream), Chocomel €2.75, fizzy drinks €2.80. (Prices correct as of March 2016.)
LOCATION: Plan your trip
OPENING TIMES: Check website for details.
WHAT TO BRING: Clothes / footwear which are comfortable for cycling in. A bottle of water. In the summer, I’d suggest bringing a picnic or even a BBQ. (In designated areas only.)
MORE INFO: www.hogeveluwe.nl