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Drenthe: these are the 3 beautiful National Parks you want to experience

by Elisa Flitter Fever
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I’ve written it before: Drenthe is, in my opinion, the most beautiful province of The Netherlands. House prices in Drenthe are also skyrocketing. There is a run on holiday homes and campsites for next summer. Not surprising, because Drenthe has a lot to offer, including in terms of nature and beautiful villages. Did you know that Drenthe is home to no fewer than three beautiful National Parks? Drentsche Aa, Dwingelderveld and Drents-Friese Wold. I’ll tell you more about it in this article.

Drenthe is the epitome of peace, space and silence. A weekend in this province stands for untouched natural beauty in combination with exceptional accommodation, gastronomy and historical heritage. Drenthe is waiting for you.

Peetra van der Knaap, Register Vinologist
Group of Scottish highlanders in Drenthe
Group of Scottish highlanders in Drenthe

1: National Park Drentsche Aa

In a centuries-old landscape of heathland, esdorpen and meadows meanders a stream called the Drentsche Aa. That sounds quite romantic already, doesn’t it? This beautiful stream valley landscape flows into the province of Groningen. By the way, Drentsche Aa is more than just a stream; it is also a National Park and an area that lies as the crow flies between South Laren and Schoonloo. Moreover, it is part of the overlapping UNESCO Geopark De Hondsrug.

What is now called National Park Drentsche Aa, was previously called ‘National Brook and Es-villages Landscape’. Drentsche Aa National Park is not just your average national park. It does not only consist of nature, such as the brook, forest and heath. It also consists of very charming and idyllic villages, such as Eext, Balloo, Anloo, Taarlo and Orvelte. Around the villages you will find dolmens, which are older than the pyramids in Egypt!

In terms of nature, Drentsche Aa National Park has many highlights, including Balloërveld, Gasterse Duinen and Zeegse Duinen. Recreational lake ‘t Nije Hemelriek is beautiful. When you cycle or walk through the Drentsche Aa National Park, an encounter with a herd of Drentsche heath sheep will not be long in coming. Would you like to read more about this unique national park in northeast Drenthe? View the article Drenthe: what to do and seee in the beautiful and peaceful National Park Drentsche Aa.

Difference in color water t Nije Hemelriek lake in Forestry Gieten Borger Drenthe
‘t Nije Hemelriek in Gieten
Old farm in Anderen Drentsche Aa Drenthe Nederland
Old farm in Anderen

2: National Park Drents-Friese Wold

One of the largest forest and nature reserves in The Netherlands is located partly in Southeast Friesland and partly in Northwest Drenthe: the Drents-Friese Wold National Park. Truly a beautiful area, even on a rainy day! The landscape is very varied. Winding sandy paths lead past forest, heath, moss, dunes with shifting sand, fens, etc. alternate at a rapid pace. Definitely worth a visit!

The National Park Drents-Friese Wold has several entrances, including in Diever, Drenthe. You can enjoy walking and cycling in this area, but also fantastic horseback riding. Two nearby riding stables are located in Drenthe, namely Ludanchelo Hoeve and De Reeënwissel. Nearby is also the Hoogersmilde Experience Path and a bicycle rental at Bosweg 10a (Mon-Fri 08:30-17:00h, Sat until 12:00h).

Earlier I wrote about National Park Drents-Friese Wold, plus a number of other beautiful places, walking routes and tips in/for that area. See the article Southeast Friesland: between Egypt and France and other beautiful places to walk.

Recreation in the Drents-Friese Wold National Park on a winter day Drenthe
Drents-Friese Wold National Park on a winter day
Terwisscha walk in National Park Drents-Friese Wold Southeast Friesland Drenthe
Terwisscha walk in National Park Drents-Friese Wold

3: National Park Dwingelderveld

A century ago, Drenthe consisted largely of heathland. You can still see this clearly in Dwingelderveld National Park, which was founded in the early 1990s. Vast heather moors, which turn purple at the end of August, can certainly be found here. But also different types of trees, juniper bushes, drifting sand, fens and old burial mounds, for example. The adder, smooth snake and grass snake are the three snake species that occur in The Netherlands and in this national park in Drenthe.

Dwingelderveld National Park is also a paradise for bird watchers. You can enjoy walking and cycling here. National Park Dwingelderveld is one of the 7 places (#3) that I describe in the article The gems of Central Drenthe: the 7 most beautiful places in the Westerbork area. Plus beautiful walking routes in Central Drenthe, such as De Tweelingen and Wolvenspoor, the gorgeous Blue Lake, suggestions for accommodation, bicycle rental, etc.

National Park Dwingelderveld Drenthe
National Park Dwingelderveld (photo credits Robert Voors)
Brimstone butterfly on bicycle junction sign in NP Dwingelderveld Drenthe
Brimstone butterfly on bicycle junction sign

Eating out in Drenthe

Cycling and walking makes you hungry. With the current relaxation with the COVID-19 regulations, we are allowed to do more and more. High time to grab a cozy terrace and go out for dinner. Drenthe is teeming with nice restaurants. Our favorite is De 7 Ossen in Eext.

A few more catering recommendations in Drenthe near national parks: Ludiek in Havelte, Tramhalte Plein in Noordwolde (lunch) and De Schenkerij in Orvelte (lunch). For a special occasion: De Vlindertuin (The Butterly Garden) in Zuidlaren or Gastrobar Bij Jaap in Assen, which has been around already for 10 years. Just enjoy cycling around and make a refreshing, culinary pit stop every now and then.

Restaurant De 7 Ossen in Eext
Restaurant De 7 Ossen in Eext
Drentsche Aa sign in Eext
Cycling in the Drentsche Aa makes you hungry

Experience more in Drenthe

In addition to walking and cycling, there are also excellent conditions to go horse riding in Drenthe. There is a reason why Drenthe is sometimes affectionately referred to as ‘horse heaven’. During our roadtrip on Iceland last year, I discovered how great it is to ride an Icelandic horse. And they are super sweet! Riding on an Icelandic horse in Drenthe is best done by appointment with Buitenritten Op De Hondsrug Met IJslanders (Outdoor Rides On The Hondsrug With Icelandic Horses).

Drenthe currently has three vineyards that you can visit, all located in the southwest of the province. A perfect staycation! By the way, did you know that there are more than 100 Dutch vineyards? Read more about it in the article Dutch vineyards you should put on your bucketlist, including handy mobile map with all Dutch vineyards (100+).

Do you like art? Then you should definitely visit Beeldenpark De Havixhorst, Beelden in Gees and Museum de Buitenplaats. Many villages in Drenthe also have fine, small-scale art galleries, such as Galerie Drentsche Aa in Balloo, that are worth a visit.

Horseback riding in the Zeegser dunes in Drenthe
Horseback riding in the Zeegser dunes in Drenthe
Wine bottles and jam at Wij'N Gaard op Tiendeveen in Drenthe
Wine bottles and jam at Wij’N Gaard op Tiendeveen

I hope you found this an interesting and inspiring article for a visit to Drenthe. Feel free to leave a nice comment, question or additional tip at the bottom of this article. Or share it on social media, that helps me a lot as a blogger. Thank you and wish you a very nice stay in Drenthe!

Read more articles about The Netherlands in the Netherlands Blog Archives.

Last Updated on 06/10/2021 by Elisa Flitter Fever

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