A lot of tourists who visit the Netherlands only come to Amsterdam and while Amsterdam may be one very lovely city, cities like Haarlem, Giethoorn and even the Volendam and Edam countrysides have proved to be as hospitable and exciting as Amsterdam. Located in the Southwest of the province of North-Holland is the Beach city of Zandvoort.
This may come as a surprise to a lot of first-time visitors but Amsterdam really does have beaches. Strand Zuid, Dok and Strand IJburg are all located within Amsterdam and don’t attract a lot of visitors because of how small they are. Scheveningen, Zandvoort and Bloemendaal are all located at least 20 minutes from the Amsterdam city centre and are all accessible by train. Zandvoort remains one of Amsterdam’s most popular beaches and is home to different kinds of restaurants, beach sports and tourist attractions. When the weather gets too warm, the sandy shores of Amsterdam beaches become a popular attraction for sunbathers and fun seekers. The beaches of Bloemendaal and Zandvoort are usually referred to as “Amsterdam beaches” and due to their vibrant nightlife and being the “place to be” when the weather is lovely, lots of tourists flock there hoping to enjoy all that they have to offer.
Zandvoort is a very popular seaside resort and is also a cosy village. The mini city or village lives off tourism and is also very well known for their race circuit (Circuit Park Zandvoort). The Zandvoort beach resort is fun to visit, especially in summer as the Zandvoort weather can be quite favourable during the summer months and the restaurants and food stalls on the beachside cater to thousands of visitors from different parts of the world every year.
History of the Zandvoort Beach Resort
Zandvoort initially existed as a fisherman’s village from the year 1100, when the village was named Sandervoerne. The inhabitants of the village initially settled in the dune area as the wasteland itself had little to offer these residents. Due to the dusty sand the soil was difficult to work and not suitable for the cultivation of crops. On the other hand, the sea was rich in all kinds of fish, such as cod, haddock, plaice, dab and also herring. The short distance between the fishing grounds and the coast made it possible to practice fishing with very primitive boats. The inhabitants fished with an open fishing boat, called the slabbert or slapbuis in Dutch. This was a type of Dutch boat with Frisian origins, even older than Viking vessels.
In the year 1828 the very first bathhouse was opened and the village became quite the tourist attraction after being connected to Haarlem by railway in 1881. Of course, the village blossomed in the 19th century from fishing and the cultivation of potatoes but in the year 1824, a group of wealthy landowners decided to formed a commission that would see to the development of the village, making it more accessible for visitors. The intention was to give the village some more possibilities outside of fishing and potato cultivation. Around 1825, the construction of bathhouses began and thus, an end to the isolation of the fishing village from other parts of the Netherlands and the beginning of prosperity. Roads leading to different parts of the country were constructed as lots of wealthy business people invested in hotels and bathhouses. Bathing mainly took place in the hotels as seawater was carried from the sea with horses and a carts, and brought into the indoor pools. Visitors could choose from hot or cold baths, seawater showers or bathing with clean drinking water.
Around 1880, the construction of the railway began and after its opening in 1881, the life of the bathhouse tourism really kickstarted. More bathhouses were opened as lots of visitors started coming to Zandvoort to enjoy the sea and all that the resort had to offer. In 1900, many wealthy families had a second home here. The Haarlemmerstraat bears testament to this. An old neighbourhood filled with holiday houses still belonging to the wealthy.
What’s there to see in Zandvoort Beach Resort?
A lot of visitors think that a visit to Zandvoort only entails lying on the beach and ordering tasty cocktails or glasses of ice tea while enjoying the cool sea breeze and the summer sun. Well, while that is a popular pastime in Zandvoort, this little beach resort has quite more to offer the teeming visitors who flock there hoping to enjoy all that she has to offer. Yes, the Zandvoort weather is very favourable, especially in the summer months, but visitors have to realise that there’s so much more to this wonderful Amsterdam beach.
Despite having only 11 national monuments, there are still a number of interesting sights to see in Zandvoort beach resort. Sights such as the Town Hall, the water tower of Zandvoort and the bust of Elisabeth in Bavaria (Elisabeth of Austria-Hungary). Being that the beach resort isn’t very far from cities like Haarlem and Leiden, visitors can also take a day trip to these cities and see sights like the very old University of Leiden or the Frans Hals Museum and more.
Below are some sights to see in Zandvoort;
The Zandvoort Museum is the center for art and history in Zandvoort. The museum’s collection ranges from utensils, dinnerware, ship models, prints, swimwear, paintings to a beautiful glass collection. Art, on the basis of current exhibitions about new and old artworks, lectures and guided tours, creative workshops and the Museum also offers a platform for poetry, theater, music and dance. History, organised walks through the old center of the village, guided tours and exhibitions on various topics from the history of the beach resort.
The Juttersmu-ZEE-um is a free museum where articles found by beachcombers are put on display for all to see. Perfume, lighters, a mammoth tooth, whole and half puppets, old war souvenirs, shoes, toys, glasses, love letters in bottles, remains of ships or planes, a piece of metal from a NASA rocket; they’re all on display at this museum!
Zandvoort Circuit Park
If you’re a fan of racing, a trip the Circuit Park Zandvoort should be at the top of your must-see list. The Zandvoort Circuit Park hosts a number of events throughout the year and tickets can be purchased ahead of time on their website.
The Holland Casino is also located in Zandvoort. In addition to gambling, visitors can also eat at one of the many restaurants in the casino or attend one of the many events throughout the year. If you wish to visit the casino, you will need to dress appropriately. The casino’s dress code is “Stylish and Well-Groomed.” Leave your beachwear at home and dress up for the occasion. You must also be at least 18 years of age to enter the casino.
Center Parcs Aqua Cinema
Located in the Zandvoort park, Centre Parts Aqua Cinema is a swimming pool that has been transformed into a Cinema where people get to relax in the water as they watch movies on the big screen. Watching your favourite movie in a 25-meter pool while you keep fit seems like the best way to relax! There’s also a children’s section just in case you’re visiting with the kids.
What’s there to do in Zandvoort?
Zandvoort aan Zee has a lot to offer visitors. Beautiful hiking trails, an extensive network of cycle paths, the largest playground in Europe, the bustling capital, which is only 20 minutes away by train and of course, culture! Being a coastal town that is centrally located and also has its own train station, it is very easy to find your way to cities like Haarlem, Amsterdam, The Hague, Leiden etc, in only minutes!
Zandvoort aan Zee is also a resort that attracts a lot of sports lovers. Visitors can go for walks on the beach, hike or go for bike rides in the National Park Zuid-Kennemerland and is also a paradise for water sports enthusiasts.
1. Relax on the beach and just enjoy the sun or go for a long beach walk
Chilling on the Zandvoort beach is a favourite pastime among the Dutch and tourists who visit the resort. There are lots of restaurants serving wonderful dishes, tasty cocktails and delicious snacks. If you want to be a bit more active, go for a long, refreshing beach walk. If the weather allows it, get your shoes off and dip your feet in the water!
2. Go hiking on the Zandvoort beach or woods
Walking is very popular in Zandvoort aan Zee. Whether you go for a walk through the woods or just on the beach, the experience remains unforgettable. There are hikes with professional guides who know the area. It’s also possible to go hiking on your own.
3. Go cycling in the wonderful nature
Cycling in Zandvoort aan Zee and surroundings is something every visitor must do! Cycling and enjoying the beautiful nature, along the elongated boulevard or just in the dunes all remain a thing of beauty. Bicycle rentals in Zandvoort is possible but another option could be to rent bikes in Haarlem and cycle from Haarlem to Zandvoort. The bike rental services in Zandvoort have lots of cycling maps and other various packages for cyclists. If you happen to be an adrenaline junkie, Zandvoort aan Zee also has an exceptional mountain bike trail. Along the circuit of Zandvoort and through the dunes with hills, steps and all kinds of other challenges. I hope you’re one of those who dares!
4. Visit the Zandvoort race circuit
Inseparable from the Zandvoort beach resort is the Zandvoort Race Circuit. A legendary and internationally famous circuit with a history that goes back more than 70 years. Every year, dozens of events take place to attract tens of thousands of fans. In addition to various spectacular national motorsport events, the calendar also features international highlights such as the Deutsche Toerenwagen Masters (DTM) and the Masters of Formula 3. Visitors are also offered a chance to follow driving courses and learn about drifting or “defensive driving”. There’s the Slipcourse Compact, which offers valuable knowledge such as assessing risks and responding correctly to unexpected situations while driving. For example, think of hard braking in the rain, taking a turn too hard or moving to snow. All these maneuvers can be annoying if you do not know what to do. It costs €119,- p.p. and takes about 3 hours. There are only two people allowed in a car and booking is based only on availability.
5. Go surfing
Perhaps not always the ideal place to find the best waves, but Amsterdam beaches still remain easily accessible for surfers from different parts of the world. Zandvoort is one of those Amsterdam beaches where surfers love to visit and surf away their worries. In the summer, the beach always seems to be crowded, but low season tends to be the best time with good waves for surfing. There are also lots of surfings schools, shops and surfboard rental services both in Zandvoort and in nearby Bloemendaal. Tourists always enjoy the wonderful atmosphere that comes with surfing and other beach sports during the summer in Zandvoort.
Apart from surfing, there’s also horse riding, beach volleyball, rafting, canoeing, swimming, etc.
6. Visit the nude beach
Although it is not widely advertised, Zandvoort has a 3 km long nudist beach on the south side of town. Nude recreation is allowed between posts 68 and 71. The area is clearly signposted. On busy beach days, naked is recreated well before the official start of the nudist beach. At the beginning of the nude beach there are 5 beach pavilions and being naked on the beach is only allowed on the terrace of the beach pavilion named “Adam and Eve”. Beach beds can also be rented at the beach pavilions at affordable prices.
Hotels and accommodations in Zandvoort
Zandvoort is a popular destination to spend a few nights. Not just for tourists, but also for locals, it’s an ideal beach break destination. So especially in Summer, with good weather, you’re better off to book ahead of time. Luckily due to the many visitors, there are quite some hotels and accommodations to stay, at different price ranges. From “Zandvoort aan Zee” to “Amsterdam Central Station” will take you only 30 minutes by public transport. So you can actually have accommodation right at the beach, while still being only a snap away from exploring all the highlights Amsterdam has to offer!
How to get to there
Zandvoort is an Amsterdam beach resort on the coast of Kennermerland in the province of North-Holland. Zandvoort is only 30 minutes by car away from the Amsterdam city centre and Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. The beach resort is easy to reach by train from these locations and is only 20 minutes away from Amsterdam train station by train and is just 15 minutes away from the city of Haarlem.
Buses to Zandvoort
There is a regular bus connection from Amsterdam Central Station to Zandvoort. Bus 80 runs from Amsterdam to Zandvoort, but it is a slow connection.
From Amsterdam to Zandvoort by Car
The N200 is the main access road coming from Haarlem. It can be very busy on sunny days, and in Summer and in the weekends traffic jams are common.
Getting To Zandvoort From Haarlem
The best way to go from Haarlem to Zandvoort would be by train. Trains from Haarlem to Zandvoort depart every 15 minutes and is only a 10-minute journey. Bus 81 also runs from Haarlem train station to Zandvoort but is a very slow option. The buses depart once every 45 minutes and can also be very full during the summer months. Best option remains the train.
For real-time travel information from wherever you are to Zandvoort, please check out this link;
Parking in Zandvoort Beach Resort
Zandvoort beach resort is surrounded by beautiful nature reserves. During your car ride, you will probably experience a taste of the unique dune landscape and the imposing villa districts. There’s a lot to see, but the challenge remains where to park your car.
Parking in Zandvoort isn’t a very easy thing to do. The best mode of transport still remains public transport but depending on what time you drive into the beach resort, there are some locations where paid parking is possible. There are many parking spaces along the boulevard and if you’re visiting with kids, it is more convenient to park closer to the beach entrance. If you can’t find a spot along the boulevard, you can also try one of the larger parking garages such as Watertorenplein or De Zuid. These parking facilities are all within walking distance to the beach.
In the center of Zandvoort aan Zee there is parking in the LDC parking garage. From there you can walk into the beautiful shopping streets of Zandvoort aan Zee. There are various payment options available for parking in Zandvoort Amsterdam beach. Whether with coins, a debit card, or via mobile apps, the payment possibilities are endless. It all adds to what makes the experience at Amsterdam beach one you never forget.
Some areas to park your car while visiting are;
Hotels and accommodations in Zandvoort
Zandvoort is a popular place to stay the night. Not just for tourists, but also for locals, especially when it’s warm in summer. It’s a perfect beach break destination in The Netherlands when the weather allows it.