If you enjoy getting off the beaten path, then Ameland is a great spot to do that when traveling in Europe. Ameland is in the Wadden Islands off the northern coast of the Netherlands. With it's small size, abundance of nature/history, and easy access, it's the perfect place to get a taste of Europe that's a hidden gem for international visitors! During a few summers of exploring the Netherlands; I spent three days on this beautiful island!
Ameland is a short ferry ride from the village of Holwerd (in Friesland). Cars are allowed on the island (and ferry), but we chose to leave our car behind as knew we'd be mainly walking or biking. There are four villages on Ameland, with the ferry arriving in Nes. Nes isn't the largest of the villages, but it's central location is ideal and the majority of the restaurants/shops are there. Since we didn't take our car we chose to stay in Nes, so that we could easily bike around the entire island and walk to dinner. We stayed at the Zee Van Tijd in the center of the village - a wonderful little hotel and restaurant (hotel review coming soon!).
On our first full day in Ameland we rented a tandem bike (this is where my husband and I discovered our love of tandem biking! 🙂 ) With 55 miles of paved bike paths it's an ideal cycling destination! I highly recommend renting a bike at one of the many bike rental locations - it's such a fun way to see the island... and oh so very Dutch! Except for a few small rolling hills through the sand dunes, it's an easy flat ride. This was also where one of my "European postcard moments" happened! While cruising along, another bike passes us... a father and his small son - fresh bread sticking out the back and they were singing! It was seriously like I was dropped into that moment...never to forget. No photo... but etched in my memory.
We rode west from Nes on our first cycling adventure... to Ameland's lighthouse and to the village of Hollum. Our day included dodging a few raindrops (unfortunately that's typical Dutch too!), learning to take selfies on the tandem and seeking out the old houses. During the 17th and 18th centuries, Hollum was home to many Commanders of the whaling fleets and their houses are marked with iron anchors and the years built.
We were lucky with sunshine and warm weather on our second day in Ameland! (Please note... Ameland is windy, be prepared for bad hair days!) Having rented the tandem for a couple days - we ventured east from Nes on day two. What a beautiful ride through the dunes to the eastern tip of the island! With the abundance of wind, water and sand - beach activities are very popular on the island. We saw dozens of kite surfers and land sailing up and down the wide portions of the beaches.
If you enjoy nature, Ameland is a wonderful place to visit! There are so many opportunities for cycling, water sports, hiking and viewing the local flowers and wildlife. During your stay in Ameland I also urge you to visit the local cafes in the evening! Doing this we met nice locals, enjoyed the fresh air on the terraces and live music each night.
Until the next adventure - bon voyage!