If you go to a place that has canals and is not Venice, it is probably called “Venice of the North”, “Venice of France” or something original, such as “Small Venice of the North”. However, where do you go to if you want to drive a boat or canoe in nature and at the same time want to see small and cute Dutch houses? Indeed, visit National Park Weerribben Wieden in the Netherlands!
National Park Weeribben Wieden – What is it?
You never heard about this place? The Weerribben Wieden, what is it? It is a big national park in the Netherlands, located in Overijssel. It is one of the largest lowland freshwater wetlands of Europe and it consists of two areas, namely, the Weerribben and the Wieden. The Weerribben consists of small cannels and peatlands, while the Wieden has many large lakes. It is a nature reserve, but the awesome scenery is actually human-made. People have cut away peat and build canals to transport it. This resulted in a landscape consisting of ‘petgaten’ (pits from which peat was extracted by dredging) and ‘legakkers’ – baulks (land to dry dredged peat). In the past and even nowadays, farmers harvest reed for thatching material. Because of the many canals, you can rent a boat, canoe, stand up paddleboards (SUPs), and explore the area. In addition, it is also possible to explore the park by bike or on foot.
How to spend a day in the National Park Weerribben Wieden?
- To get started: buy a coffee or a tea accompanied by a typical apple pie in Kalenberg.
- Rent a boat or canoe and explore the park.
- So many routes. You can do a route of 7, 8 and 13 km in the Weerribben, there are routes of 18 and 12 km, which start in the Wieden. For inspirations, have a look at kanoroutes or kanoweb.
- Bring your own lunch and picnic in nature!
- After you come back in Kalenberg you can explore the town on foot or drink a refreshing special beer at one of the many terraces!
Let us rent a boat and go!
We actually visited this park multiple times and explored it by boat and canoe. We rented them either at Kalenberg and Ossenzijl. However, there are many more different rental locations. By boat or canoe, you slowly explore the area, sail through forests, reed fields, and meanwhile can spot many birds! This area hosts many threatened birds (Great bittern and Purple Heron, mammals (Otter) and flesh-eating plants. During the trip, there are many spots where you can rest and lunch. At some places, when you set foot on land, it feels like you walk on a blanket. This is the peat soil. It consists of dead plant material and a lot of water. It is a kind of sponge! Next to nature, you also explore Kalenberg. This is a tiny village in the centre of the Weerribben. It looks like Giethoorn, but with considerably less tourists.
When should I visit the Weerribben Wieden?
You can actually visit this park year-round! However, you should check the boat availability on the website or give them a call, especially in winter. It is obviously very nice in summer when the vegetation is green and the water warm. If you want to explore the park with even less people, go in spring or autumn, or if you are a die-hard, in winter! Speaking of winter, it is also possible to ice-skate in the park if there is a very cold winter and the canals are frozen. YOU SHOULD NOT MISS IT. It is the most amazing experience ever! Ice-skating through forests, reed and under low bridges: magical. As many Dutch people know, after such a trip a hot cup of chocolate milk awaits!
Park of all parks
This is one of our all-time favourite parks of the Netherlands! It is truly beautiful, it has the typical Dutch character and you can travel there by canoe, boat or SUP !
What is your favorite activity in the National Park Weerribben Wieden? Let us know in the comments!