North-Holland? Well, to be honest, it wasn’t our first choice for our annual women’s trip. 🙊 But like a few times this year, Covid-19 forced us to change our original vacation plans. Our Croatia trip fell through and so did our long-awaited women’s trip… of course not! We changed our plans and spontaneously started our road trip to the north of the Netherlands. And what can I say? It was awesome! 😍 This trip showed us that it doesn’t always matter to travel far away, but also that beautiful places are almost right on our doorstep and just waiting to be explored by us – of course it’s even more fun with great company. 💗 We have definitely taken our neighbor, the Netherlands, and especially North Holland with its quaint villages, meter-high dunes, and miles of sandy beaches into our hearts and could really switch off during our beach walks. And the best thing about it: Lily and Frieda, Doro’s faithful four-legged friends, could finally go on vacation with us! 🐶🐶
Summer, Sun & Sea 🌊
Our trip started with a delicious and sunny breakfast at Bohemien Resort, a small complex of vacation homes in Sint Maartenszee, just a 10-minute walk from the dunes and the adjacent sea – truly gorgeous! 🍓🍳
Wondering where to find the most beautiful beaches in North Holland? 🌾 Well, let’s start right away with the beach of Sint Maartenszee. The charming sandy beach is one of the cleanest beaches in the Netherlands and is ideal for long walks with the wind blowing through your hair. 💨 If you are a bit sensitive, I always recommend you to have a scarf or a sweater with you at the North Sea, because the wind can be really chilly even when the sun is shining. During your tour along the sea you will be able to admire the long sandbanks with crowing seagulls and lush green seaweed. Frieda couldn’t get enough of it. 😃
Need some refreshment? Then you can either cool off in the sea (after sticking our toes in the water, we decided against it though 😂) or head to one of the two bars (Beach Restaurant Noord & Stranpaviljoen New Zuid) and sip a delicious Aperol. 🍹 We tested both beach bars and really enjoyed our time and sun there. The food is okay, but nothing special in my eyes. On your way back from the beach you can enjoy the beautiful dune landscape. But watch out: behind the small hills wild if peaceful cows are hiding. 🐮 If you’re lucky, you’ll also meet a Scottish Highland Cattle (those pretty red-brown cows with huge horns), unfortunately, we looked for them in vain.
In just a five-minute drive from Sint Maartenszee, you’re at another beautiful beach area, Petten aan Zee. We enjoyed the fantastic view from the 26m high panoramic dune and discovered a swing right by the sea, attached to high wooden poles. The beach promenade also invites you to beautiful walks and bike rides, the Netherlands is not known as a cycling country for nothing. 🚲
Our beach highlight, however, was the pretty coastal village of Callantsoog. You can park directly in the village for free, stroll a bit through the stores and walk with a delicious ice cream directly to the beach.🍦 You can expect a kilometer-long white sandy beach, pretty beach bars like the Strandpaviljoen de Toko, and beautiful sunsets. The dunes are higher in contrast to the beach of Sint Maartenszee and you can watch the numerous seagulls on the horizon – sooooo beautiful and relaxing! 🏖 And we discovered a very wonderful restaurant in Callantsoog, the Dorpszicht. The dishes are prepared with love and are absolutely delicious. We went there several times because we liked it so much. Since it is very well attended, I recommend you just reserve a table in advance. Since the restaurant is located right near the parking lot, you can do this very practically before your visit to the beach. 🚘
By the way, North Holland is super dog-friendly. 🐶 If your four-legged friend loves to romp around the water, the Dutch beach is really perfect. There are many beaches where your dog is allowed to run without a leash and have a blast. Believe me, your dog will love it! In addition, dogs are welcome guests in many accommodations.
City stroll in Schagen 🛍
A friend of ours recommended the rather unknown little town of Schagen. It exudes a cozy flair when you stroll through the narrow streets or sit down in one of the pretty restaurants and street cafes directly on the market square. We had delicious tapas directly across from the big church at Havana, which has a very appealing ambiance. 🍗🌮 It’s best to just drift through the small town along with the pretty hanging baskets and enjoy a shopping spree in the boutiques. A side trip to Schager Slot should not be missed. When we looked at the castle, we discovered there by chance an old motley Bulli, really fancy! By the way, you can park in this place again excellent near the Dutch supermarket Albert Heijn.
Cheese and canals in Alkmaar 🧀
Cheese lovers take note! A visit to the traditional cheese city of Alkmaar is a must during your stay in North Holland. For hundreds of years, one of the largest cheese markets in the Netherlands has been held every Friday morning. Since we were traveling at the time of Covid-19, we were quite surprised that the Dutch came up with something to allow the market to take place. While normally the big Gouda wheels roll over the square and attract many tourists, the cheese market now took place in the form of a canal ride. The white-dressed cheese carriers and also Mrs. Antje were real eye-catchers, as they sailed in their wooden boats over the water and sold their cheese. Basically, Alkmaar is really all about cheese. Besides the cheese market, there are all kinds of cheese stores and the Dutch Cheese Museum right on the market square. So if you can’t get enough of cheese, then go for it! 👍
For all others, there are besides the cheese but also several historic beautiful buildings, canals with white bridges, flowery backyards, pretty alleys, and colorful houses. 🌷 Alkmaar is great to explore on foot or on a popular canal trip on the water. 🚣 Your tour starts at the main square, the Waagplein (where the cheese market takes place), from where you can look directly at the beautiful brick tower Accijnstoren with its bell tower, a real eye-catcher, which you can see from different bridges again and again. After that, I recommend you just stroll a bit through the streets and look into one or the other Dutch boutique and vintage stores. I think Dutch stores are so amazing, they are decorated with so much love and the Dutch are always very warm. Passing the Huis Met de Kogel (the house that was hit by a cannonball that got stuck there from the outside) and the large Laurenskerk church, you’ll eventually arrive at a beautifully idyllic windmill De Molen van Piet. If you get hungry along the way, Alkmaar has plenty of lovely restaurants and cafes. We enjoyed a refreshing beer at Pluim in the middle of the sun and snacked on fresh Dutch fries with garlic sauce. 🍟🍺 For dessert, we had ice cream from IJssalon Laan. They only serve vanilla ice cream with various toppings in a delicious waffle. By the way, you can park in one of the many parking garages such as the Karperton, which is located directly at the Waagplein.
Day trip to lively Haarlem 🌸
Only 20 km away from the capital Amsterdam, Haarlem exudes a lot of Dutch charm. As far as the tourist crowds are concerned, however, the two cities are worlds apart, fortunately! Whereby I can not quite understand it actually, because Haarlem just seems like Amsterdam in smaller and quieter and thus I liked it extremely well. 😍 The city of flowers, as it is also called due to its large flower export in the Netherlands, offers you great sights that are simply distributed throughout the entire old town. 🌺You can stroll for hours through the enchanting alleys along pretty backyards and marvel at old buildings, creative stores, and colorful plants. 🏰 The center is the Grote Markt with the Grote Kerk. There you will also find pretty ice cream parlors and restaurants. We started our tour from the market square through the small alleys and shopping streets that lie to the left and right of the square. Just let yourself drift! Of course, Haarlem also has the famous Dutch canals, so you can either walk along with them like we did or take a boat tour. You’ll see beautiful houses, bridges, and the amazing De Adriaan windmill along the canals, views to fall in love with, and perfect photo opportunities! 📸
With the wonderful trip to Haarlem, our North Holland journey came to an end, but it is crystal clear: we will definitely come back again! 💗