Even though it is still cold, hiking in winter is always a good idea. Just layer up and get outside. Which is what we did on a winter’s day in February and headed to the small town of Brakel, Belgium, to visit this beautiful forest. Where you will find bluebells in just a month or so. The first bluebell leaves are already popping up everywhere.
We started our hike at the parking lot, which is free. You will find the parking lot at the end of the Brakelbosstraat, in Brakel.
There are two routes set out throughout the forest, but since these aren’t too long, we decided to make our own route, with our AlpenVerein app. We hiked a total of 8k in this beautiful forest toward the village of La Houppe, and back through the forest. From La Houppe we also climbed the Pottelberg, which is 157 meter. If you have ever visited The Netherlands, you know we would even call this a mountain. Even though it is not of course.
The forest will be home to thousands of bluebells soon, which you can already see popping up everywhere underneath the trees. The forest isn’t very big, but you can also combine this forest with other forests for longer hikes, like the two forest hike.
We enjoyed a beautiful afternoon in this beautiful forest, with it’s little wooden bridges and it’s beautiful trees. I would love to come back here during spring to see all the bluebells bloom. Would you?
Situated in Brabant, The Netherlands, you will find Van Gogh National Park. As a photographer I am always in search of the light, inspired by one of the most famous Dutch Painters, Vincent Van Gogh.
In the Van Gogh national park culture and nature meet. Let yourself be inspired by one of the greatest artist of The Netherlands, Vincent Van Gogh.There are 5 Van Gogh hiking routes situated in the National Park, which stretches from the West to the East of Brabant. Let me tell you more about the hiking routes near Van Gogh his birth place, Zundert.
Poem route Henriette Roland Holst
First let’s start with a 5k hiking route, starting at the beautiful Angora Hoeve, in the Oude Buisse Heide. Which is situated close by Roosendaal.
The Angora Hoeve was the home of Henriette Roland Holst, a Dutch poet. There is a parking lot at the Angora Hoeve. Next to the Angora Hoeve, you will find the ‘atelier’. Which was burned down, right after it was restored by an artist who couldn’t agree with it’s remarkable architecture. But today it is restored to its full glory. You can take a little detour to visit the Atelier.
The poet route will take you along Rhodendron lanes, towards beautiful oak lanes and into the fens. It is a diverse hiking route, which is well marked.
Along the way you will find Henriette’s poems displayed. Inspiring you with her words and the beautiful nature surrounding the poems.
Van Gogh hiking route Etten-Leur
Etten-Leur is the place where Vincent Van Gogh started his career as a painter in 1881. So it is the perfect place to follow in the footsteps of Vincent Van Gogh. You can experience the places that inspired Vincent Van Gogh his work.
The perfect place to start this hiking route is The Menmoerhoeve. Which is the perfect place to stop for a lunch or a drink after your hike. The hike is 14k and takes you along the different landscapes that inspired Vincent Van Gogh. You will cross heather fields, as well as beautiful forests and fens.
It is a diverse hike, and if you are lucky you might even find some sheep or cows during your hike.
The van Gogh House
If you still have some time left and you want to learn more about Vincent Van Gogh. You can visit his birthtown Zundert, where you will find The Van Gogh House. Which will tell you more about his art, as well as other expositions which are held here.
One thing you can’t miss when you visit Zundert is the time square. Because if you look carefully, you might notice something special about the pattern of the square. A little hint, you can only take it completely in when watching it form above.
I hope this blog has given you new inspiration to let yourself be inspired by one of the most famous Dutch Painters, as well as finding beauty in the Dutch landscapes of Brabant.
Are you looking for a magical winter weekend getaway that isn’t too far? Stop scrolling and let me tell you more about the beautiful region of the Alsace in France. Last year Valerie invited me for a stay at Hotel 48 Nord in the Alsace. A beautiful four star hotel located in Breitenbach, France. A landscape hotel, where nature and comfort go hand in hand.
Hotel 48 Nord
Hotel 48 Nord is located in the beautiful region of the Alsace. Where you will find the most picturesque towns and beautiful vineyards. A place where you can still enjoy complete stillness and watch the stars right from your hottub or private sauna.
Hotel 48 Nord isn’t your typical hotel. It features 14 cabins, scattered on their grounds. Where you will head down to dinner with a night lamp. One of the unique experiences of staying at this beautiful hotel.
Even though you will be staying in one of the cabins, you won’t have to turn down on any luxury. As most of the cabins are equipped with their own sauna or hottub.
A culinary treat
If you are anything like me, you love to eat. Well, while staying at Hotel 48 Nord, you won’t have to leave the hotel to enjoy the most amazing food. All the food is grown in their own organic vegetable garden, or is locally sourced. A fully vegetarian meal is even possible. As a non-vegetarian I loved their vegetarian dinner.
Their breakfast buffet is also incredible, with an incredible assortment of different sorts of breads and lots of fruits and vegetable options.
What to do while you are staying at Hotel 48 Nord?
The weekend we stayed at Hotel 48 Nord, we had the luck of witnessing the first snow fall of the season. In my opinion there is now better snowfall than the first snowfall. It just holds something magical. The entire world is covered in this beautiful white dusting. Ofcourse we couldn’t visit the Alsace without going for a hike, but with the snow, a regular hike wasn’t possible on top of the mountain. So we headed out with our tour guide to go snowshoeing. It was the first time ever for me, but it was the most incredible experience ever. At first it is a bit awkward to walk in snow shoes, but as soon as you get the hang of it it is incredible. We did an entire loop on the mountain, where the hotel is located, which was absolutely stunning. I would highly recommend heading out with a guide.
Riquewihr, a Disney village
As I said earlier, the Alsace is known for it’s picturesque villages and their vineyards. We visited one of the most beautiful towns while we were there Riquewihr. Which the hotel owner Emil, described as a Disney like town. And this couldn’t be more true. It is truly a magical village. Especially around Christmas time, it is worth a visit.
As you can imagine it was a weekend worth remembering in one of the most beautiful hotels. This hotel is truly unique with it’s beautiful cabins, with the most beautiful view of the Alsace. A place to discover and come back to enjoy comfort and peace amongst nature’s beauty.
Are you looking for a hiking destination within The Netherlands? Look no further, I have found you the perfect destination for a weekend get away in The Netherlands.
Let me introduce you to the beautiful area Voorne-Putten. With 375 kilometers of hiking trails, an amazing place to go hiking for the weekend.
Voorne-Putten is situated just south of Rotterdam, in the province of Zuid Holland. Which makes it an ideal place for a weekend getaway. It is rural and has the only south facing beach in The Netherlands, in Rockanje. Add to that all the picturesque villages and you have a perfect setting for fall.
Where to stay?
We stayed in the beautiful old town of the city Hellevoetsluis at Boutique hotel de Oude Veste. A beautiful small scale hotel housed in the building of the old marine school. The building was build in 1878. And you will only find 7 rooms, all in their own beautiful style. We stayed in room 6, which has a beautiful view of the harbor of Hellevoetsluis and the windmill. Which was first located at ‘Droogdok Jan Blanken’ and was later moved to it’s current location.
The hotel is within walking distance of all the sights of Hellevoetsluis, so you won’t need your car while staying here.
What to see?
In Hellevoetsluis you will find the old defense lines. ‘Stichting Verdedigingswerken’ organizes tours along the defense lines from April until the beginning of October. We were fortunate to catch one of the last tours of the season. As they are not allowed to enter the casemates during the winter months, due to bats.
I can highly recommend taking a tour of the defense line in Hellevoetsluis, as it comes with an incredible story about the history of the beautiful city of Hellevoetsluis.
After your tour you can take a hike through the city of Hellevoetsluis, there are different routes possible. You can make your own route with the “knooppunten” which are well marked along the city.
If you stay within the city, I can highly recommend going for a sunrise hike, which is what we did. As the city is still quiet and the boats reflect beautiful in the water.
Where to go hiking? But of course we came here to go hiking, as Voorne Putten counts 375 kilometer of hiking trails. So let me take you along on the hike “Duinen & Valleien” which starts in the dunes of Rockanje.
We parked our car at the info centre at Tenellaplas, in Rockanje. Where you can easily start the hike, as the first marker is right in front of the visitor centre.
Between the ‘knooppunten’ you will follow the red arrow, which will point you in the right direction to the next ‘knooppunt’.
It is an amazing route which totals 13 kilometers, along the beautiful forest and dunes of the island Voorne Putten.
The route is almost entirely unpaved and it almost doesn’t feel like you are in The Netherlands at all. As you just keep walking within nature.
The trail starts in the beautiful forests, and through the dunes, back into the forest. There is only a small part of the trail that will take you along a bicycle path, but that is only about 1k of the total trail.
There are numerous benches along the trail, so just bring your lunch along and find a beautiful spot for a picknick. While you enjoy the peacefulness of this area.
After returning to the visitor centre, don’t forget to check it out. It has some beautiful displays with information of this beautiful area. As well as a little shop. You can also buy hiking routes for children here, called the ‘knapzak’ route.
There is also a restaurant situated next to the parking lot, for your after hike drinks.
Ravense Hout, Hellevoetsluis
If you are looking for a shorter hike, you will want to visit the forest called Ravense Hout, just outside of the city. A beautiful forests, where dogs are allowed to roam free. And where you will find some amazing lanes and bridges inside the forest. We ended our weekend here with a short hike of 3k. Along the beautiful lanes and water ways that are numerous in this forest.
Where to eat?
Last, but not least, where to eat while visiting Voorne-Putten? I mean, who doesn’t get hungry from all that hiking? So a good and hearty meal will go along way.
We had dinner at restaurant de Beeren in Heenvliet, a beautiful restaurant, in an even more beautiful town. So don’t forget to head over into town after having dinner.
Have you ever visited the island of Voorne-Putten? Let me know in the comments or if you are planning on visiting the island in the future.
Are you looking for a perfect weekend getaway in The Netherlands or Belgium? In this post I will share some of my personal favorites with you.
The Forest, Belgium
On a private domain in Belgium, you will find this tiny house, the Forest. Where you can take a bath within the forest. The tiny house has room for two people and the cabin is heated by a cosy fire place.
In summer time there is a BBQ you can use, or you can cook on open fire and roast some marshmallows.
There is a large pond next to the cabin and you can take the canoe out for a spin.
In the middle of the forest at the Veluwezoom, you will find pods and glamping tents from Buitenplaats Beekhuizen. It is the perfect place to go when you love to go hiking in the forest.
I love the fact that you are surrounded by the forest, wherever you look. At night it is still completely dark here and you will need a lantern to go outside. It is the perfect place to enjoy a campfire and watch the stars.
Bed and breakfast Zuidoord
This beautiful bed and breakfast is located on the island of Voorne Putten, only a short ride away from the city of Rotterdam, but still in the middle of nature. Surrounded by the countryside of The Netherlands, you will have a beautiful view for miles right from the garden of the bed and breakfast. The perfect place to relax and recharge.
Close to the city of Hellevoetsluis and surrounded by beautiful beaches and nature. You can rent a bike and go for a bike ride along Voorne Putten. Or you can put on your hiking boots and take a long walk along the beach of Rockanje or Voorne Putten.
Hotel de Sterrenberg
Right outside of national park the Veluwe you will find Hotel Sterrenberg, an adults only hotel, with an amazing restaurant. If you want a little bit more luxury this is the place to go. You can start your visit to the national park right from the doorstep of the hotel or you can stay at the hotel and enjoy a relaxing day at their spa and afterwards an amazing dinner at their restaurant, Woods.
Camping de Blauwe Haan
If you are looking for something different, right in the middle of nature, camping the Blauwe Haan is the place to go. It is a beautiful campsite situated in the beautiful province of Drenthe, The Netherlands. You will find this campsite right at the entry of the forest, so you can hike straight from your tent or rental property. We stayed in one of the domes, which houses up to 4 guests. With a fully furnished kitchen and a toilet. The only thing you will need to leave the dome for is a shower. It is close to the beautiful nature reserve of Dwingeloo, where you can take beautiful hikes.
The Netherlands isn’t only a country where you can ride your bike, but The Netherlands is also a good country for hiking. After hiking 200 kilometers of the Pelgrim’s route to Santiago de Compostella in Spain last year, it is time to explore some special hikes in The Netherlands.
Unconsciously we walk a lot in busy cities and forests in The Netherlands. Honeyguide Yalou will tell you about 4 beautiful hikes in The Netherlands. So take some time of the next few weekends to explore some of these beautiful hikes. Will you join Yalou on her hikes?
ALONG CASTLES AND FORTRAGES
1.De Hollandse Waterlinie Route
As soon as I heard of the hike along ‘De Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie’ I was excited. This long distance hike is 185 kilometers long. It starts in Muiden and finishes in The Biesbosch. During your hike you will walk along the old defense lines of The Netherlands. Along these route you will find castles and fortrages. This hike is definitely a must see, as it is even on the World heritage site Stelling van Amsterdam.
WITH YOUR FEET IN THE MUD
2. Barefoottrails in The Netherlands
There is nothing that compares to walking on your feet in the garden during summer time. The only downside is that I come home with dirty feet. Or do you know that amazing feeling of sand in between your toes? You can also experience this feeling on one of the barefoot trails in The Netherlands.
During a hike on a barefoot trail, you will walk on al sorts of materials. This varies from soft sand to grass, wooden branches or even wooden wood chips. Barefoot trails are getting more and more popular these days. Groningen is one of the places where you can experience a barefoot trail, it is called ‘Opende’ and a little bit more to the south you will find the barefoot trail of ‘Hof van Twello’, which is a farm with a barefoot trail. Do you live closer to Bergen op Zoom in Brabant? Then you are in luck, because here you will find a barefoot trail at ‘Landgoed Lievensberg’!
CROSSING THE SEA
3. Wad Walk
Something that can’t be forgotten on a hiking list of every Dutchman is hiking along the mudflats. I have been wanting to visit the island of Vlieland for a long time and I would like to combine a visit to the island with hiking on these unique piece of nature. Because hiking along the mudflats is only possible if everything lines up. Which also makes it so special. You can hike from the mainland to one of the islands and learn from a guide more about the beautiful ecosystem of the mudflats. Are you looking for a more activa tour? Or would you prefer a more educational tour? The choice is up to you!
TOWARD THE RIVER ‘DE LEK’
The Gelukkigerwijspad, which translates to the happy wisdom path. The name itself makes you want to experience this trail. This trail is 125 kilometers long and start in the pelgrims city of Amersfoort through the forest where you will end up on the Utrechse Heuvelrug. The trail winds along the river ‘De Lek’ close to the city of Rhenen, towards Wijk Bij Duurstede and Utrecht back to the start in the city of Amersfoort. Back in the fifteenth century Amersfoort was a place of pilgrimage, where miracles happened and pilgrims came for every corner. Are you coming to test your luck?
This guestblog was written by the editorial staff of Honeyguide, the Dutch inspirational platform of concious and special traveling. On the website http://www.heyhoneyguide.com they collect the most beautiful hidden gems and expierinces in The Netherlands. This is how Honeyguide insprires you to go beyond the beaten track and to enrich your spare time with the most beautiful adventures around the corner.
The sunken land of Saeftinghe is a nature reserve situated on the border of Belgium and The Netherlands. It is the place where the river the Scheldt meets the sea the Western Scheldt. That is why the water in Saeftinghe is brackish. It is the biggest brackish husky in Europe. Due to the constant change of the tide, Saeftinghe is an ever changing nature reserve.
You can visit Saeftinghe on your own or your can book a guided tour at the visitor centre located in Emmadorp. Which have started up their tours again as of the 17th of May 2021.
The hiking routes which you can visit on your own also start from the visitor centre in Emmadorp, where you can also park your car for free.
There are two walking routes, “het ruige laarzen pad” and the “plankierpad”. On “het ruige laarzen pad” you will need rain boots. On the “plankierpad” they aren’t required, but I would wear them anyways, since it is really muddy. They are both short trails, 1 and 2 km long, but you can combine them for a longer hike. If you want to hike longer then just this short hike, you can also walk along the Dyke or along the backroads.
Plankierspad I have hiked both, but this time I am concentrating on the Plankierspad. Starting at the parking lot at the visitor centre in Emmadorp, located at Emmaweg 4, Nieuw-Namen. The trail is about 2 kilometers long. You will walk over footbridges and through the mud.
First you cross the dyke, where you will find a map of Saeftinghe. Because of the elevation of the Dyke it is a good viewing point, where you can oversee the nature reserve. On the right side you will see the cooling towers of Doel and the port of Antwerp in the distance. In front of you, you will see the Western Scheldt, where you can see the boats pass by on their way to the port of Antwerp.
From there you hike down to the gate to enter Saeftinghe. Immediately when entering you will find a sign indicating both trails.
At the sign you will go right, where you enter the trail. It is an easy to follow trail as there is only one to follow. There are little wooden signs along the way with assignments for the kids. You can get a booklet with the assignments for the kids in the visitor centre. If you pay attention, you might spot some birds that live in Saefthinge.
How to get to Saeftinghe?
You can park your car at the visitor centre in Emmadorp. Emmaweg 4, Nieuw-Namen There is a big parking lot in front of the visitor centre. You just have to cross the dyke to enter Saeftinghe.
Let me know in the comments if you have visited Saeftinghe.
In Zeeuws-Vlaanderen a new nature reserve has been created the past couple of years. As a resident of this beautiful area, I of course wanted to discover this beautiful area. Waterdunen is situated on the south of the beautiful fishers town of Breskens. It is situated in between the sea and land. It is also a Delta work, a different one from the ones we have all known for years.
An everchaning nature reserve In Waterdunen the tide of the sea influences the area. Water flows in and out every single day. Which creates an everchanging nature reserve. The perfect spot for coastal birds to live and breed.
Bird spotting Since it is such an amazing spots for birds to live, Waterdunen is the perfect location to go bird spotting. Along the hiking routes you will find shelters to observe and watch the birds from a safe distance, without disturbing them. In the shelters you will also find information on the birds that live in the area.
Hiking In Waterdunen multiple trails have been mapped out for visitors. They vary in distance from 4,5 kilometers up until 9 kilometers.
We hiked the orange bird route, which is according to the sign 5,5 kilometers. My Garmin said it was 6,5 kilometers. Most of the route takes you over paved walkways, which makes the route accessible for everyone. The last part of the route will take you along the panorama road along the lighthouse of Breskens.
The orange route takes you along multiple bird houses, so you can take a moment to just relax and watch the birds from a distance.
How to get here? There is a parking lot situated at the Walendijk, Groede. During the summer months you have to pay to park here. Don’t worry about space, because it is a huge parking lot. You only need to worry about space is on hot summer days, when everyone wants to visit the beach.
I am always looking for unique places to stay close to home. I have been following The Forest for a while now on Instagram and this winter I could snatch up a last minute night at this beautiful cabin.
A private domain
The cabin is situated on a private domain, which is completely fenced off. You arrive along a beautiful tree lane from which you can already spot the cabin. The cabin is next to a small pond, where a kingfisher has taken up his residence. While we were staying at the cabin, we watched him fly his rounds along the pond from the bed in the morning. A beautiful sight.
A forest getaway Since the cabin is situated on a private domain, it feels like you are in the middle of the forest. On the other side of the main road you can hike in the Troostembergbos. Which makes this cabin the ideal getaway for forest lovers like me.
The cabin The cabin is equipped for two people. Keep in mind though that there isn’t a shower in the cabin, only a bath tub.
You do have the possibility of using their barbecue or grill on an open fire in the fire pits that are provided at the cabin.
One of the things I loved the most about this cabin is the canoe that is available for your use the entire stay. Even though it was freezing when we stayed there, I took the canoe out for a little tour of the pond.
Afterwards I could warm up next to the cozy fire place, which heats up the cabin in winter. The owners will start the fire place before your arrival, so the cabin is nice and toasty when you get there.
The Oeschinensee is located in Kandersteg, Switzerland at an altitude of 1.578 meters. The lake is surrounded by the Bluemlisalp, whith the peaks of the Oeschinenhorn, Frundenhorn and the Doldenhorn. These peaks of more than 3.000 meters make for an impressive sight.
The water of the lake has this amazing shade of blue, due to the constant supply of melting water.
There is a lift that leads pretty much right up to the lake, which makes it a popular location. But the Oeschinnensee is also known to be the most beautiful mountain lake of Switzerland.
Hiking around Oeschinensee
Most people will just hike up to the lake, but it is a beautiful area to go for a longer hike. We hiked up to the Oberbargli hut, which is a small hut, where you can get some refreshments, but nothing to eat. Which we actually had counted on.
The hut is located at 1.973 meters. On your way up you will pass the waterfalls that supply the water for the lake.
This hike gives you amazing views over the lake. When you get to the hut, you can either continue to the next hut, the Bluemlisalphutte, where you can also spend the night, or you can hike back from here. You have two options, hike back the same way you came in, or head left along the ridge.
Which is what we did. It will take you up along the trail higher up, which gives you some incredible views over the Oeschinensee.
It is quite a narrow trail and parts of it has rocks on it, where you have to scramble across. But the views are definitely worth it. Half way through you will come to a bench overlooking the lake, from there you have some amazing views.
The total loop was 11 km, but we also hiked back down to Kandersteg. We did take the gondola up to the lake though.
How to get there?
The Oeschinnensee is located in Kandersteg Switzerland. There is a parking lot at the bottom of the gondola.
Where to stay?
In Kandersteg you will find numerous hotels. If you are looking for a cheaper option, there is also a campsite at the foot of the gondola. Which is where we stayed. Campsite Rendez-Vous, is a family owned campsite, where you will find all the conveniences you need.