Zandvoort seen from the beach
Zandvoort  is a beach resort on the coast of Kennemerland in the province of North-Holland in The Netherlands. As beach resorts go, Zandvoort is not a very pretty town, the coastal strip being filled up with unattractive apartment blocks and holiday homes. However, the beach is broad and friendly, with many beach pavilions where you can have a drink or bite in both Summer and Winter. And once you have left the bustle behind, the coastal dunes are waiting to be explored.
One of the few landmarks in Zandvoort, the water tower
Zandvoort was originally a fishermen's village, already mentioned in 1100. From the 19th century onwards, beach tourism became its main reason of existence. The first bath house was opened in 1828, and when the town was connected to Haarlem by railway in 1881 it quickly grew into the most important beach resort in The Netherlands. Most of the architecture in the current town is the result of the post-1950s boom in beach tourism, also since much of the town was damaged during the Second World War when the beach strip was integrated in the Atlantik Wall (the German defense system against a British invasion).
- Zandvoort Tourist Office (VVV Zandvoort), Bakkerstraat 2/B, 2042 HK Zandvoort, ☎ +31 23 57 179 47 (infovvvzandvoort.nl), . Mo-Fr 9PM - 5PM; Sa 10AM - 5PM; Su 11AM - 4PM.
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. Parking on the official parking sites is expensive (€12 per day).
Zandvoort is the only beach resort that can be reached directly by train from Amsterdam (travel time 30 minutes from Amsterdam Central Station, one-way ticket €5.40 with OV-Chipkaart).
Bus 80 runs from Amsterdam to Zandvoort, but it is a slow connection. Bus 81 runs from Haarlem railway station to Zandvoort. Again, it is slower than taking the train.
You can cycle from Amsterdam to Zandvoort, but it will take you at least 1 hour and 45 minutes.
The town is small enough to be explored on foot. Bus 80 and 81 will bring you to the beach of Bloemendaal, just north of Zandvoort. Here, it is somewhat less crowded and you will find the more fashionable beach pavilions.
Getting into the dune area is also very easy on foot, or you can rent a bicycle to explore the area.
- Behind the Beach Bike Rentals, Haltestraat 51, 2042 LL Zandvoort aan Zee, ☎ +31 23 822 47 46 ([email protected]), . From €9.50 per day.
- Zilt at Sea, Passage 33, 2042 KS Zandvoort aan Zee, ☎ +31 23 576 69 91 ([email protected]), . 9AM - 10PM.
- Circuit Park Zandvoort, Burg. van Alphenstraat 108, 2041 KP Zandvoort, ☎ +31 23 574 07 40 ([email protected]), . A major attraction to Dutch visitors is the Zandvoort racing circuit, that used to host Formula 1 races from 1952-1985. Nowadays, it still is home to Masters of Formula 3 races and other car racing events. If you want, you can also try to drive the circuit yourself.
- Jutters mu-ZEE-um, Strandweg 2, 2042 JA Zandvoort, ☎ +31 23 571 22 21 ([email protected]), . We 1:30 - 4 PM; Sa-Su 12AM - 4PM; holidays daily 1 - 4 PM. This tiny beach-combers' museum is a curiosity that will not take you long to visit, but it is fun to see all the things that are found on the Zandvoort beach, including a piece of a NASA missile. It also features salt-water aquariums, where you can have a look at the denizens of the North Sea. Free entrance.
- Zandvoorts Museum, Swaluëstraat 1, 2040 AH Zandvoort, ☎ +31 23 574 02 80 ([email protected]), . We-Su 1:30 - 5 PM. Small museum with Dutch 19th-century paintings, and an exhibition on the history of Zandvoort, with a special section on Anne Frank. Adults €2.25; under 18 free.
- City walk (Wandeling Oud Zandvoort), ([email protected]). Every first Saturday of the month, 2 PM. A 90-minute guided walking tour by a local guide with explanation on the history of Zandvoort, starts at the Zandvoorts Museum, pre-booking required. Adults €3.
- Bunker walk, ☎ +31 23 573 79 33 ([email protected]). Apr - Oct Th 10:30PM. A guided walk through the dune area, where many German bunkers can be found, with a good chance of spotting deer and foxes. Pre-booking required. Adults €6.50, children €5.
The dune area offers plenty of opportunities for horse riding, with dedicated, signposted horse trails. In the low season (1 Oct - 1 Mar), you can also ride your horse on the beach.
- Manege Rückert, Heimansstraat 25, 2041 BN Zandvoort, ☎ +31 23 571 28 85 ([email protected]), . Mo closed. €45 for a 2-hour ride.
- Manege De Baarshoeve, Keesomstraat 15, 2041 XA Zandvoort, ☎ +31 23 571 58 94 ([email protected]), . Mo-Fr 8AM-10PM; Sa-Su 8AM-5PM. €50 for a 2-hour group ride, or €60 for an individual ride. Beach group ride €60 for 3 hours.
A spectacular and increasingly popular sport, not just to do but also to watch, especially when there is enough wind. Kitesurfing is restricted to three zones on the beach, these areas are signposted.
- Kitesurf Academy, Strandafgang Paulus Loot 2, 2042 AE Zandvoort aan Zee, ☎ +31 6 15 22 63 41 ([email protected]), . If you want to learn kitesurfing, the Kitesurf Academy offers a range of courses adapted to your skills. English and German spoken. €95 per day, €295 for a 4-day course.
The Netherlands are not exactly the ideal spot for wavesurfing. The North Sea winds are too variable to produce reliable high waves. Nevertheless, you can almost always do some surfing in Zandvoort, even when the conditions are not perfect. In winter however, it can be very cold, with sea water temperatures on average around 5°C.
There are various options for wavesurfing lessons:
- First Wave Surfschool, Strandafgang de Favauge 13, 2042 KB Zandvoort, ☎ +31 6 83 02 32 30 ([email protected]), . Summer: Mo-Fr 10AM - 8PM. English and German spoken. Adults €37.50 per lesson; under 15 €22.50.
- Surfschool Zandvoort, Strandafgang Barnaart 27, 2040 AJ Zandvoort, ☎ +31 6 20 24 90 31 ([email protected]), . May - Sep: daily 10AM - 7PM. English and German spoken. Equipment rental. Adults €35 per 2-hour lesson; children €22.50.
A typical busy day in Summer
Swimming in the North Sea is popular on hot summer days, but in practice the water is often too chilly to be pleasant. Summertime sea water temperatures are on average around 18°C. The Dutch coast is also known for its dangerous offshore currents. Every year scores of swimmers have to be picked up from the water by the rescue brigades; even strong swimmers can be surprised by this. When the currents are especially strong, special red warning flags are put up; don't go into the sea then.
Zandvoort also has a luxury swimming pool, which is much warmer and safer - although it lacks the charm of the beach, of course
- Aqua Mundo, Vondellaan 60, 2041BE Zandvoort (located in the Center Parcs holiday park), ☎ +31 23 572 00 00, . Su-Tu, Th: 10AM - 8PM; We: 9AM - 8 PM; Fr-Sa: 10AM - 9PM. Adults €11.95 per day; children €8.50.
The nudist beach on a quiet day
Although it is not widely advertised, Zandvoort has a 3 km long nudist beach on the south side of town (between beach poles 68 and 71), the most visited in the Netherlands. The area is signposted, but it is quite a long walk from the train station (35 minutes).
In order to keep life interesting, the Zandvoorters organize various competitions during the year, including the Dutch championship potato peeling, mackerel smoking championships, and the Dutch championship shrimps peeling ... The events calendar can be found here.
Zandvoort has over 60 restaurants, and since it is such a major tourist destination, you can expect variable levels of service and food. The advantage is that most of the food is quite affordable, and of course, sitting on the seaside is also worth something: the beach pavilions are the perfect place to enjoy the sunset. But for the best food, head into town - or take the train to Haarlem.
- Fong Lie, Zeestraat 55, 2042 LB Zandvoort, ☎ +31 23 571 46 81. We-Su 5-10PM. Well-reviewed Chinese restaurant and take-away, just a cut above the average. Menu €12.95.
- De Lachende Zeerover, Strandweg 1, 2042 JA Zandvoort, ☎ +31 23 571 87 40. Mo, We-Fr 11AM-8PM; Sa-Su 10AM-8PM; Tu closed. Pancake place, good choice if you have kids with you. Menu €15.
- Havana aan Zee, Boulevard Paulus Loot 1c, 2042 AD Zandvoort, ☎ +31 23 571 43 21. Daily 9AM-11PM (only opened in the beach season). No-frills beach restaurant, with good service and pleasant lounge music. Menu €26.95.
- Strandpaviljoen Paal 69, Boulevard Paulus Loot, naaktstrand 3, 2042 AD Zandvoort, ☎ +31 23 571 82 31, . Daily 9AM-11PM (only opened in the beach season). Somewhat off the beaten track on the nudist beach, good place to watch the kitesurfers. Great organic food. Menu €22.
- Zaras, Haltestraat 7, 2042 LJ Zandvoort, ☎ +31 23 571 66 31 ([email protected]), . Daily 2-11PM. Well-reviewed Greek restaurant, with occasional live music performances. Also take-away. Menu €27.95.
For drinking, the beach is the place to head. Most of the beach pavilions tend to be trendy, many of them going for a semi-Mediteranean or fake Afro-Caribbean style. Drinks can be a little bit more expensive than in town, but prices are usually affordable. Most beach pavilions also rent beach chairs, prices usually range between €6 and €10.
Various beach clubs organize regular and irregular dance parties, but it may not be immediately obvious what is going on where. Consult the DJ Guide website for the latest info.
- Thalassa, Strandafgang Barnaart 18, 2042 KB Zandvoort, ☎ +31 23 571 56 60 ([email protected]), . Daily 9AM - 12PM. A traditional beach pavilion, trying to maintain the style of the early 20th century.
- Safari Club, Strandafgang Paulus Loot 2, 2042 AA Zandvoort, ☎ +31 23 571 64 06 ([email protected]), . Daily. Trendy beach pavilion, doing BBQs and live performances.
- Yanks Indian-Club, Dorpsplein 2, 2042 JK Zandvoort, ☎ +31 23 571 92 99, . Daily 10AM - 3AM. Bar doubling as a coffeeshop in the middle of town, the only place in Zandvoort where you can buy and smoke weed. Features a dance floor, pool tables and darts boards.
- Holland Casino Zandvoort, Badhuisplein 7, 2042 JB Zandvoort, ☎ +31 23 574 05 74 ([email protected]), . Daily 12:30AM - 3AM. Gambling in the Netherlands is only legal in the state-owned Holland Casinos. The dress code is described as 'stylish' - though this should not be seen as overly formal - the Dutch are not very keen on that. There is a door policy however, and you can be denied entrance if you are not properly attired. On the bright side, the casino is not posh, and drinks and food are quite affordable, since they obviously hope to relieve you from your cash on the gambling tables where you can play the traditional games of roulette, poker and black jack. €5 entrance fee for adults (18+), ID required!.
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