Netherlands // Noord-Holland //

Nationaal Park de Zuid-Kennemerland

The pristine woods, dunes and lagoons of the National Park de Suid-Kennemerland stretch north from Zandvoort up to the eminently missable industrial town of IJmuiden, at the mouth of the Nordzeekanaal. Bus #81 leaves Haarlem bus station every thirty minutes to cross the national park via the N200 before reaching the coast at the minuscule beachside settlement of Bloemendaal-aan-Zee. En route, several bus stops give access to the clearly marked hiking and cycling trails that pattern the national park, but the best option is to get off at the Koevlak entrance – ask the driver to let you off. Maps of the park are available at Haarlem tourist office, and there are three colour-coded hiking routes posted at Koevlak (and indeed all entrances). The most appealing is the 4- to 5-kilometre (1hr) jaunt west through pine woods and dunes to the seashore, where the Parnassia café (April–Nov), provides refreshments with a view of the North Sea. From here, it’s a 1.5km walk back to Bloemendaal-aan-Zee, where you can catch bus #81 back to Haarlem (or of course you can do the whole thing in reverse).