Why Take a Day Trip?
To see a Dutch beach, of course! Bloemendaal aan Zee is really more beach than a beach town. The nearby dunes, which are part of a national park, make this area much calmer than Zandvoort, a crowded, built-up hotspot of beachcomber activity just down the road. The North Sea is no Caribbean, and for some, it's a bit too brisk, but the expanses of dunes in this easy day trip from Amsterdam are worth a visit to clear your head and soak up some nature. Perhaps you're already planning a trip to quaint Haarlem and its treasured museums; this coastal area is only a 15-minute bus ride away and the two could easily be combined.
How to Get There
- From Amsterdam Centraal Station, take the train to Haarlem (check times on the website of Dutch National Railways. Trains to Haarlem run about every 10 to 15 minutes; the journey only takes 15 minutes. A same-day round-trip journey will cost you about € 8.40 (2nd class ticket).
- At Haarlem, look for the exit marked "Centrum." From the exit, walk diagonally to your right toward the bus terminal. Look for Bus 81, direction Zandvoort. During summer months, you're bound to be joined by lots of young beach-bound locals, who make finding the right bus a little easier.
- Get off at the Bloemendaal Strand stop (strand means "beach"). This is the 15th stop from Haarlem.
What to Do
Relax, hit the beach, have an ice cream or a beer on the sand. To feel a million miles from Amsterdam or any other city is why you come here.
If you're up for more active pursuits, head to the north end when you get off the bus. Follow the main road by the parking lots to the right; and as it splits, head left into the duinen ("dunes"). The edge of the National Park Zuid-Kennemerland reaches down this way and the entrance named "Parnassia" is about a 15-minute walk from the main beach. You'll see dog-walkers (the road dead-ends into one of the only dog-friendly beaches in summer), bikers, trekkers and even people on horseback, all here to enjoy hundreds of miles of trails through the quiet, sandy scenery.
If you want to extend your time in the park, take Bus 81 back in the direction of Haarlem, this time hopping off at the Kennemerduinen stop. There you'll find the main information center of the park, called Duincentrum De Zandwaaier, where you can find more information on the pine forests, lakes and more trails.
What Else to See Near Bloemendaal aan Zee
Ready to head back via Haarlem? Be sure not to miss this historic city, the capital of North Holland province, and home to world-class museums and architecture. Find a round-up of what to do and see in Haarlem, then check out the city's main attractions:
- Teylers Museum: The first and oldest museum in the country covers art, history and science in its historic premises.
- Frans Hals Museum: Named after native son Frans Hals, this museum of Dutch masters is an under-the-radar alternative to sites like the Rijksmuseum and Mauritshuis.
- Museum het Dolhuys: This museum of psychiatry, located in a former asylum, piques visitors' interest with excellent temporary exhibits on the human mind and mental disorders.