If I’m honest, before I moved to Amsterdam, beautiful beaches weren’t the first thing that would spring to mind when someone mentioned Holland or the Netherlands. But beautiful beaches there are – and Noordwijk is said to be the finest. It’s a very pretty town and a lovely ride from Amsterdam – perfect for a long weekend break away from the city.
The bike ride from Amsterdam to Noordwijk is around 30 miles each way. It’s a fair distance, which takes us around 3hrs, give or take (if we only have a small tea & snack break on the way).
It’s a nice idea to stop for lunch or take some with you, to break up the ride a bit. Remember, I’m doing these rides on a Dutch City bike, which is built like a tank, so I’m more than happy to let the serious road bikers cruise past me with their heads down. I don’t think I’ll be setting any land speed records!
When we visited Noordwijk in May this year, we rode via Keukenhof to see the tulips. It was a beautiful way to take a break on the ride… I’ll talk about Keukenhof in a separate post.
The route to Noordwijk takes you out of Amsterdam through the Nieuw-West area (not the nicest part of Amsterdam, by any means, but you’ll soon be out in the countryside). Then you can choose to go through Haarlem, or through Hoofddorp, and close to Schipol Airport (having tried both ways, we prefer to go via the airport route).
As you approach Noordwijk, and turn into the dunes, you’ve done around 25 miles, and you’re probably feeling pretty tired. Don’t give up though – this is the best part of the ride! You’ll ride on tracks through sandy dunes, beautiful evergreen forest and past a golf course, almost certainly spotting some of the resident herds of deer up close. Then finally dropping down into the pretty town of Noordwijk.
Where we stayed
Hotel van Oranje, Autograph Collection, Kon. Wilhelmina Boulevard 20, 2202 GV Noordwijk
A stunning example of one of the Marriott Autograph Collection hotels, this comes highly recommended for a genuine 5* star experience. The reception staff are obviously fluent in English and very professional. There is a nice pool area with a wave pool, sauna & steam room.
The first time we stayed here, we were upgraded to a suite, which had a spectacular sea-view terrace running the length of both rooms (perfect for champagne time while relaxing and watching the sunset!), and was the height of luxury inside. Soaking in the huge bathtub after a long ride before dinner was bliss!
Translated as “House on the dune”, this is a huge 5* hotel complex, enjoying stunning views across the North Sea, and with its own private access to the beach and beach club.
Don’t be put off by the fact that you have to ride up a hill to get there (after a 30 mile journey!). It’s well worth it! With our waterproof camping bags in hand (which we carry on the bikes as our overnight bags), we walked straight into the beautiful marbled lobby of a bygone era. It’s easy to imagine that Richard Burton & Elizabeth Taylor have stayed here, as have many of the rich & famous over the years.
After a shower and change for dinner, we had washed the road off us and were ready for a glamorous dinner at the Beach House…
Eating & drinking
Breakers Beach House, Koningin Astrid Boulevard 5, 2202 BK Noordwijk
Part of the Grand Hotel Huis her Duin, the website states that this is the finest beach house in Holland. It’s accessible both from the beach and directly from the hotel. Please note, there are quite a lot of steps down to the beach house, so flat (but sparkly of course) sandals are recommended!
The restaurant itself is spacious and elegant, with pale wood, nautical designs, and large windows which make the most of the sweeping ocean views. There is a large open fire and cosy sitting area, perfect for after dinner drinks.
The food and wine were delicious, and it was the perfect relaxing end to the day. So far this has been my favourite dining experience in Noordwijk
I recommend making a reservation for dinner before you go to Noordwijk, as Breakers gets very busy.
Beach Club O, Kon. Wilhelmina Boulevard 106, 2202 GW Noordwijk
Beach Club O is part of the Hotel van Oranje, and we dined here on our 2nd trip to Noordwijk. It’s very different to Breakers, with more of a party atmosphere (but still not overcrowded or too loud)
On their website, they compare themselves to beach bars in Miami, Saint-Tropez and Ibiza, so that’s more the crowd they want to attract. Although I didn’t think the food was comparable to Breakers, it was still well presented and tasty, and if you’re looking for a more lively place for cocktails and dinner this is for you!
There are plenty of restaurants to choose from along Koningin Wilhelmina Boulevard, for all tastes, so it’s worth just heading out in the evening along the seafront and seeing what takes your fancy. We had some lovely and pretty authentic Italian food at Fratelli. However, the service took ages, so not recommended if you’re in a hurry!
on our 3rd visit to Noordwijk, we finally made it to this incredible museum, stopping on our way back out of town. It’s set in a series of actual bunkers which the Germans built in WWII as part of the Atlantikwall, which ran from Norway up to the French/Spanish Border. You can read about the museum on the link above.
Our knowledgeable Dutch guide was one of the volunteers who helped to literally dig the bunker back out of the dunes by hand (they had been filled in with sand decades ago to prevent accidents after local youths decided they were a pretty fun place to hang out!).
The volunteers have put in an incredible amount of effort to return the bunkers to how they would have looked when they were in use. There is another part of the bunker which is also going to also be restored, but at the moment they are waiting for the correct permissions, as there is a protected species of bat living down there.
I’d really recommend visiting the Atlantikwall Museum if you have time and are interested in WWII history. As it’s cold, damp and in very close spaces, not recommended if you are claustrophobic, and a good idea to have a jumper with you!
Top tip: Noordwijk is especially popular with both German and Dutch tourists for a long weekend break, so can get incredibly busy during bank holidays or school holidays. To avoid higher hotel rates, and make sure you can get a dinner reservation, it would be a good idea to avoid these dates if possible!
I hope this gives you some useful info if you’re planning a bike (or road) trip to Noordwijk. In my opinion it’s a must see place if you’re visiting Amsterdam or the Netherlands, and it’s somewhere we will return to as much as possible.