A hidden tourist destination in the Netherlands: Noordwijk
November 6, 2019
by Nikie Veld
According to many tourists, Noordwijk is an idyllic coastal town in the Netherlands. Once in Noordwijk, you will pass many flower fields, followed by a beautiful view of the Dunes, ending at the beach and the North sea. Every time I have traveled abroad, I feel at home the moment I see the flower fields with the Dunes in the background. However, the long summers when I was young where not solely spend admiring the view. Noordwijk has a lot more to offer.
Traditional: the Bloemencorso (Flower parade)
Noordwijk is probably most famous in other countries for the Flower parade (Bloemencorso in Dutch). The Bloemencorso brings at least a million visitors to the Bollenstreek every year. A long parade of trucks, walking orchestras, dancers and cars decorated with flowers (many tulips), pass through several small towns, including Noordwijk. Every year the Bloemencorso has a theme, and everything that is part of the parade is decorated to fit the theme. It is a unique experience in April, where you will be able to see the most beautiful flower constructions. I used to go to every parade when I was younger, standing on the side of the street through rain, wind, and sun, surrounded by people that have brought chairs, and snacks to enjoy the event.
Local tip: Do not forget to bring your chair and snacks, because you might be next to the side of the road for a while.
Informative: the Space Expo
Noordwijk has a space center, the Estec, which is a part of the ESA. The grounds are not accessible to tourists, but there is a museum with everything related to space right in front of the Space Center. If you have ever wondered what a rocket launch sounds like, how gravity feels, and what astronaut training consists of, the Space Expo is the place to go. You are allowed to touch (and smell) objects that have been to space, see and hear a rocket launch, and try some of the things an astronaut would have to do. It is the perfect trip for a Dutch rainy day.
Local tip: Do not forget to stop by at the souvenir shop where you can get an astronaut set and rocket cookie cutters.
Relaxation: the Beach
Most people that live in Noordwijk spend their summer vacation lying on one of the many beaches. There are beaches stretched over the entire length of the town, with many different activities taking place during summer. You can go kite- or golf surfing, play beach volleyball, beach tennis, enjoy one of the playgrounds, enter a sandcastle competition or go sailing. The only downside of all of this is that the Dutch weather is not always so reliable, but Noordwijkers go to the beach no matter then weather. So don’t be surprised if it is 15 degrees Celsius and you see people in bathing suits tucked away in tents against the cold, but determined to spend the day at the beach.
Local tip: Go to the beaches on either side of the town where it is a lot more quit than in the center.
History: the Atlantik wall museum
The Netherlands was occupied by the Germans during the Second World War. The Germans have built a wall called the Atlantik Wall that stretches from the Northern part of the Netherlands to the South and is located in the Dunes. After several years the wall has been opened for visitors and turned into a museum to inform tourists and locals about what happened during the Second World War.
Local tip: After a visit to the museum you can continue your trip with a nice walking tour through the dunes.
Food: Pancakes on the boulevard
National pancake day, St Pancake, birthdays, are just a few of the reasons we have for eating pancakes. Pancakes are one of the most popular dishes in the Netherlands and are eaten on many different occasions. Pancakes are eaten with different variations on toppings, varying from bacon, syrup, and cheese, there is a flavor or everyone. A trip to the Netherlands is not finished if you have not eaten at least one pancake at a typical pancake restaurant, overlooking the sea.
Local tip: If you have a kitchen try making pancakes yourself. In the supermarket, you can find packages where you just need to add water.
Biking: the Max Liebermann route
Since the Netherlands is a country of many bikes, there are many bike routes through and around Noordwijk. The Max Liebermann route is one of the newest additions. Max was one of the greatest impressionist painters of Germany. Hotel Huis ter Duin in Noordwijk was often regarded as his second home. Along the route you will see several paintings; these paintings were created on the exact spot that you can see their copy now. It is possible to bike the Max Lieberman route with an app. The route is 11 km and will take around 2.5 hours.
Local tip: Pack snacks for your trip so you can take breaks along the route.
Best view: Water tower
The first time I went to the water tower I was probably around eight years old. My grandpa took my two sisters and me to the tower and explained all about the history Decades ago the water reserves for Noordwijk were stored at the top of the tower. Today it is more of a tourist attraction. At the top of the tower, you have an amazing view over Noordwijk. Walking up the stairs you will experience the history and stories that have taken place in this tower.
Local tip: After your trip to the tower, proceed to the shopping street and have a tompouce at Hema.
Food: High Tea at Huis Ter Duin Noordwijk
A tradition that has reached the Netherlands from England is a high tea. Almost every restaurant and hotel in the Netherlands offers high tea, where you can drink unlimited tea and will get some salty and sweet snacks. It is common to gather a group of friends and drink tea all afternoon. In Huis ter Duin you can overlook the beach and the dunes while enjoying a delicious three-course high tea.
Local tip: The hotel is beautifully decorated during Christmas.
If you have undertaken all the activities and start to feel like an actual Noordwijker, there is nothing more typical then finishing your days with some chocolate from the famous van Wely bakery and overlooking the sea while eating this delicious treat.