Wijdemeren is a municipality in the Gooi and Vecht region, province of North Holland, Netherlands. The name doesn't mean much to Dutch people, since it is a merger of the three former municipalities of 's-Graveland, Loosdrecht and Nederhorst den Berg. The area is characterized by beautiful lakes, the picturesque river Vecht, and magnificent estates that you can explore at your leisure by bike or on foot. It is not very well known to foreign tourists, but attracts a lot of daytrippers from the Netherlands because of its proximity to Amsterdam, Utrecht and Hilversum and the opportunities it offers for water sports, cycling and walking. It is well worth a visit, since it captures some of the essential characteristics of the Dutch countryside in a small area, without having all the tourist trade that has spoiled places like Volendam.
The river Vecht near Nederhorst den Berg
The river Vecht, branching off from the Rhine in Utrecht, has been an important connection to the former Zuiderzee (current IJsselmeer) since Roman times. The surrounding area was a swampy peatland, that was drained in the Middle Ages to give way to pasture. The peat was also exploited for fuel, leading to the formation of a string of lakes east of the river Vecht. Further east, the peatlands give way to slightly higher ground with sandy soils. From the 17th century onwards, rich merchants from Amsterdam started to build their summer residences along the river Vecht, and in the sandy area to the east. The estates on the Vecht are mostly still private property - those to the east, around 's-Graveland, however, are now mostly owned by nature conservation organisation Natuurmonumenten, and are among the most beautiful landscape parks that you can visit in the Netherlands. The lakes are now partly nature reserves, and partly open for water sports, in particular around Loosdrecht.
Being somewhat peripheral to the larger towns, the area has no urban centres to speak of. The name Wijdemeren has only been in existence since the 2002 administrative merger of municipalities and literally means "wide lakes".
- Ankeveen, one of the smallest villages in the area, point of entry to the Ankeveense Plassen nature reserve
- Loosdrecht, major centre for water sports on the Loosdrechtse Plassen
- Nederhorst den Berg, located on the river Vecht
- 's-Graveland, point of entry for many of the estates
- VVV Agency Kortenhoef, Zuwe 20, Kortenhoef (in the Ottenhome watersports centre), ☎ +31 35 582 33 31 (email@example.com), . 9AM-9PM.
- VVV Agency 's-Graveland, Noordereinde 54b, 's-Graveland (inside the Natuurmonumenten visitor's centre). 10AM-5PM.
- VVV Agency Loosdrecht, Oud-Loosdrechtsedijk 115, Loosdrecht. Mo, We, Fr 12AM-5PM, Sa 11AM-5PM.
Coming from Amsterdam, the area is most easily reached from the A1 or A2 motorway, the A1 running to the north side, and the A2 to the west side of Wijdemeren (travel time to Loosdrecht approx. 40 min). Coming from Utrecht, both the A2 and A27 provide easy access (travel time to Loosdrecht approx. 30 min). The N201 runs straight through the area from the A2 in the direction of Hilversum; the N236 runs on the north edge of the area. Byroads in the area are usually narrow and slow and can be crowded in the weekends, especially when the weather is nice.
Parking is free in most places, but during busy weekends parking spots may be hard to find around the lakes.
By public transport
There are no train stations in the area, the closest being located in Weesp, Naarden-Bussum and Hilversum, which all have direct connections to Amsterdam and Utrecht. Buses in the area are not very frequent, and do not serve all destinations, so if you intend to go by public transport, plan ahead through 9292.nl.
The area is close enough to both Amsterdam (approx. 30km) and Utrecht (approx. 25km) to be reached by bike, although it's probably easier to rent a bike in Weesp, Bussum or Hilversum.
Getting around by public transport buses is possible, but complicated. The easiest way to get around is by car or by bike.
The estates around 's-Graveland were mostly built in the 17th and 18th century along the east side of the 's-Gravelandse Vaart canal which connected Amsterdam to Hilversum, boat transport being much more important in those days. Now most of the property is owned by Natuurmonumenten, an organization that buys, protects and manages nature reserves in the Netherlands. It is not coincidental that the organization's headquarters are in the Schaep en Burgh estate in 's-Graveland. The magnificent parks surrounding the estates can all be walked; the buildings however are mostly closed to visitors.
- Boekesteyn, Noordereinde 54b, 's-Graveland. Visitor's centre Tu-Su 10AM - 5PM. Here you will find the visitor's centre of Natuurmonunmenten, which is the starting point of various walking and cycling routes in the area (see Do section). It also includes a 'forest playground' where kids can climb trees.
- Gooilust, Zuidereinde 47b, 's-Graveland. Mar-mid Nov Tu and Sa 1-4:30 PM. The beautiful walled ornamental garden is worth a visit.
- Land en Boschzicht, Leeuwenlaan 34, 's-Graveland, (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Shop Tu-Sa 9AM - 6PM. Restaurant Mar-Dec We-Su 10AM - 5PM. The oldest biological-dynamical farm of the Netherlands, established in 1947. You can visit the gardens, buy organic food in the shop, or sit down in the conservatory for tea, coffee or lunch. They also have their own vineyard, producing white wine.
The estates on the Vecht river have a somewhat different history, and include a few castles (like the Muiderslot in Muiden and Nijenrode near Breukelen) that go back to the medieval period. This area also became a favourite retreat for Amsterdam merchants in the 17th century, but many of the estates built in that period were demolished in the 19th century. Nevertheless, a few remain and can best be explored by cycling along the river. They are, unfortunately, not open to visitors.
- Kasteel Nederhorst, Slotlaan 4, Nederhorst den Berg, . The castle of Nederhorst dates back to the 13th century. The buildings itself cannot be visited, but the 5 ha castle grounds are opened for walking.
The Vecht and surrounding area were an important line of defence for Holland, and some remains of fortifications from the 17th up to the 20th century can be found in the area, although it is less interesting in this respect than Weesp, Muiden and Naarden.
- Fort Kijkuit, Gabriëlweg 6, Kortenhoef. Mo-Th 8:30AM-5PM, Fr 8:30-12AM, Sa-Su closed. Built between 1844 and 1847, completely restored in 2015 and now in use as office space. There is a small exposition room, a viewing platform, and resting places for cyclists and hikers.
- Fort Spion, Bloklaan 9, Loosdrecht. Built between 1844 and 1847, now in use as small camp site (see Sleep section).
- Estates and Naardermeer cycling route, Noordereinde 54 b, 's-Graveland, ☎ +31 35 656 30 80, . A 28 km cycling route that will take you along the 's-Graveland estates and the Naardermeer nature reserve in [Naarden].
- 's-Graveland estates walking route, Noordereinde 54 b, 's-Graveland, ☎ +31 35 656 30 80, . The 's Graveland estates can best be enjoyed walking. A 17 km walking route will take you along all the highlights.
- Ankeveense Plassen walking route, Noordereinde 54 b, 's Graveland, ☎ +31 35 656 30 80, . An 11 km walking route through the meadows and lakes of Ankeveen, with lots of opportunities for birdwatching.
The lack of urban centres in the area implies that shopping opportunities are limited. In Oud-Loosdrecht, some shops specialize in nautical supplies.
There are plenty of options for having a meal in the area, but for more choice it is better to head to nearby Hilversum.
- De Molen, Loodijk 30, Ankeveen, ☎ +31 35 656 14 59 (email@example.com), . We-Su 11AM-late, Mo-Tu closed. This restaurant is nicely located next to a windmill on the N236 road from Weesp to Hilversum. It is a popular place for lunch and also serves dinner (Dutch-international cuisine). Mains from €15.50.
- Restaurant Lekr, Stichts End 9, Ankeveen, ☎ +31 35 656 35 55 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Apr-Oct We-Su 11AM-9:30PM, Nov-Mar We-Th 5-9:30PM, Fr-Su 11AM-9:30PM; Mo-Tu closed. Slightly upscale restaurant with good reviews, French cuisine, using local products and with an ample choice of wines. Mains from €20.
- Brasserie Berestein, Zuidereinde 208, 's-Graveland, ☎ +31 35 656 10 30 (email@example.com), . We-Fr 4-10PM, Sa-Su 12AM-10PM. Housed in two cute typical Dutch houses, which are over 250 years old. The outside terrace is really romantic with a view over the small canal. Dutch-international cuisine. Menu €29.50.
- Restaurant 't Swaentje, Noordereinde 353, 's-Graveland, ☎ +31 35 656 20 16, . Tu-Su 5PM-late, Mo closed. One of the better places in the area. Very well-reviewed restaurant serving French-Dutch cuisine. It is located in a small 17th-century house, with a quiet terrace on the lock in the canal. Its old-Dutch style interior fits properly. Friendly and knowledgable staff. And if you feel like staying after your meal, they also have rooms available (see Sleep sections). Mains from €21.
- Pronto, Dodaarslaan 6, Kortenhoef, ☎ +31 35 656 16 77, . Tu-Su 4-10:30PM, Mo 5-10PM. Basic Italian pizzas, spare-ribs and kebab, also for take-away. Pizzas from €7.50.
- Dynasty, Meenthof 8, Kortenhoef, ☎ +31 35 656 11 56 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Tu-Su 4-9:30PM, Mo closed. Like many Chinese-Indonesian places in the Netherlands, this restaurant is trying to turn the tide by offering some more interesting options on the menu, including sushi. But of course it still has plenty of Chinese-Indonesian standards for take-away. Shared dining €25.50 p/p.
- Restaurant De Sloep, Moleneind 5, Kortenhoef, ☎ +31 35 525 00 87 (email@example.com), . Tu-Sa 5:30PM-late, Su 12AM-late, Mo closed. Affordable Dutch-international restaurant located in the Kortenhoef marina, with a nautical-themed interior and a great view of the lakes from the terrace. Mains from €17.50.
- Restaurant Solo, Kerklaan 6-8, Kortenhoef, ☎ +31 35 6 563 066 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . We-Su 5-10PM, Mo-Tu closed. Indonesian restaurant with cuisine from Central Java. The atmosphere is relaxed, but looks a bit old-fashioned (funnily it adds something to the experience). Reviews are mixed, though. Mains €22.
- Het Drechthuis, Bloklaan 22A, Loosdrecht (at the Mijnden campsite), ☎ +31 294 234 993 (email@example.com), . We-Mo 12AM-late, Tu closed. French-Dutch cuisine, well-reviewed. Terrace with view over the river Drecht. Mains from €19.
The area is too rural for serious nightlife, the locals head to Hilversum for a night out. However, if you just want to have a drink on the waterfront after enjoying a walk, bike trip or sailing on the lakes, there are plenty of options.
- Hotel Café Restaurant Heineke, Oud-Loosdrechtsedijk 166, Loosdrecht, ☎ +31 35 582 34 08 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . checkin: 2PM; checkout: 11AM. Traditional cosy hotel with a nautical theme and 8 rooms. From €70 for double room, breakfast €12.50.
- Princess Hotel Loosdrecht-Amsterdam, Oud-Loosdrechtsedijk 253, Loosdrecht, ☎ +31 35 582 49 04, . Modern hotel on the waterfront with 65 rooms. From €109 for a double room including breakfast.
- De Driesprong, Veendijk 1, Oud-Loosdrecht, ☎ +31 35 582 91 00 (email@example.com), . checkin: 2PM; checkout: 11AM. Modern hotel suites on the waterfront. From €205 for a 2-person suite, breakfast not included.
- B&B 't Zuidereinde, Zuidereinde 30, 's-Graveland, ☎ +31 35 656 43 40 (firstname.lastname@example.org). Freestanding guesthouse on the canal with shower, toilet, small kitchen and fridge. They only have one double room, so be sure to book early. Includes breakfast, lunch can be arranged for €5 extra. €50.
- B&B de Zanderij, Oude Meentweg 2, 's-Graveland, ☎ +31 35 24 97 22 (email@example.com), . checkin: 2PM; checkout: 11AM. B&B close to Hilversum, surrounded by a sculpture garden with over 100 sculptures (open Jun-Aug Th-Su 10AM-6PM, or by appointment). €75 for a double room.
- Appartement 't Swaentje, Noordereinde 353, 's-Graveland, ☎ +31 35 6 562 016 (fax: +31 35 685 2183), . Awesome view over the rural landscape. A maximum of three people can spend the night here, which feels like a B&B, but isn't really one as breakfast is not served. They can fill up the fridge with food for €10 extra, then you can make breakfast yourself the following morning. Also has a shower, toilet, kitchen, microwave, fridge, microwave, washing machine and internet connection. €62.50.
- B&B Loosdrecht, Oud-Loosdrechtsedijk 40, Loosdrecht, ☎ +31 627 277 050, . checkin: 3PM; checkout: 12AM. B&B located in an old farmhouse with 2 double rooms. €90 for a double room.
- Imkerij 't Schuurtje, Oud-Loosdrechtsedijk 115, Oud-Loosdrecht, ☎ +31 654 345 333 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Comfortable cabin for two people, located on a beekeeper's educational farm. €35 p/p + €20 cleaning fee, breakfast or lunch €5.50.
- Fort Spion, Bloklaan 9, Loosdrecht, ☎ +31 294 234 932 (email@example.com), . Basic campsite with 10 places and 5 parking places for cars, located on the site of a 19th-century fort. You need a Natuurkampeerkaart (nature camping card, available for €14.95 per family). You can also stay in the guard house (4 persons). Open mid March-end October. €5 per night per tent + €5 per person + €2 per car; guard house €175 for the weekend.
- Recreatiecentrum Mijnden, Bloklaan 22A, Loosdrecht, ☎ +31 294 233 165, . Larger campsite near a marina, with open water swimming pool, playground, bike and boat rental, restaurant, supermarket and recreational activities. Open April-September. €26.50 per camping place, hiker's places €5.50 per night per tent + €5 per person; cabin €45 per night.
There is no post office in the area, but both Kortenhoef and Nederhorst den Berg have a small TNT Post branch inside the local supermarket:
- TNT Post Kortenhoef, Curtevenneweg 2 (Inside Super de Boer supermarket), ☎ 0900 767 85 26 (Dutch phones only). M-F 9AM-12:30PM, 1:30PM-5:30PM, Sa 9AM-1PM, Su closed.
- TNT Post Nederhorst den Berg, Voorstraat 10 (Inside Albert Heijn supermarket), ☎ 0900 767 85 26 (Dutch phones only). M-Th 8AM-8PM, F 8AM-9PM, Sa 8AM-6PM, Su closed.
The nearest places of interest are:
- Weesp, fortified town close to Amsterdam
- Naarden, one of the best preserved 17th century fortresses in Europe
- Hilversum, hub of the Gooi and Vecht region
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