Purple heather populated with Highland cattle, forests, stream valleys, sand drifts and broad vistas. Drenthe’s National Parks are intimate and yet offer plenty of room along with peace and quiet. They’re still frequented by shepherds and their sheep and feature prehistoric hunebeds and cart tracks. Explore Drenthe and visit its National Parks: Dwingelderveld, the Drents-Friese Wold, and the Drentsche Aa.
Drents-Friese Wold National Park
If you want to go exploring in the woods, there is only one place to be: Drenthe. The Drents-Friese Wold is the largest uninterrupted woodland area in the Netherlands after the Hoge Veluwe. Walk or cycle from one highlight to the next.
A visit to the Drents-Friese Wold will take you to the darkest place on the Dutch mainland, meaning that an overnight stay is well worth your time – you’re sure to be amazed! On clear, moonless nights, you can see up to 2900 stars in the area, compared to around 50 in the average city. That explains why people say that Drenthe is a dazzling place!
The Drents-Friese Wold is perfect if you’d like to go mountain biking in the forest. Get started in the town of Appelscha; from there, you can take a mountain biking route through heath and farmland, along small streams and underneath trees. Don’t worry, you’ll find that there are plenty of small climbs, dips, and single tracks that require some steering skills, even in a flat country like the Netherlands, so grab your mountain bike and head to Drenthe!
Experience the Drents-Friese Wold
The Drents-Friese Wold is one of the largest nature reserves in the Netherlands, something which we’re rather proud of in the province of Drenthe. Here, you can cycle and walk through 6000 acres of forest, heath, sand drifts, and stream valleys. To give you a proper idea of the size, that amounts to around 10,000 football fields – impressive for such a small country! There’s plenty for you to experience. Whether you decide to go on a canoe ride in Appelscha, visit the Doldersummerveld Sheepfold, or walk the experience trail at Hoogersmilde, you’re sure to have a memorable visit.
The Dutch Forestry Organisation and the Dutch Nature Preservation Society jointly manage this huge swath of land. Shadow the local forester for a day or visit the visitor centre to view an exhibition on the area. Then finish off with a fun forest picnic or go root pulling! For more information, please go to the visitor centre.
Address details for the Dutch Forestry Organisation: Buitencentrum Drents-Friese Wold, 6a Terwisscha, and Appelscha. Address details for the Dutch Nature Preservation Society: Bosweg, Diever.
Drentsche Aa National Park
The Drentsche Aa is a beautiful stream that runs a good 28 kilometres and winds through the beautiful Drenthe landscape. It will take you to all of the prettiest locations in the National Park. The extraordinary thing about this National Park is that actually contains 21 villages and hamlets, so you’ll certainly encounter one of Drenthe’s many beautiful traditional villages. You’ll be amazed by the highly varied landscape at this unique nature reserve!
Drentsche Aa is unique
What makes this area so beautiful is the wonderful stream that meanders through the landscape. If you go to Google Maps, you will be able to see a bird’s-eye view of the stream beside which you may soon be walking. The Drentsche Aa finds its own path through the area, which means that the landscape along the stream’s banks changes constantly. Come and enjoy the natural beauty!
The Balloërveld is a beautiful heathland, amounting to 367 acres. Walking in this area will temporarily transport you to a different world. Exploring the stream valleys by bike or on foot is an amazing experience in itself. You’ll see fens and sand drifts and come across the mysterious giants of Drenthe, the prehistoric hunebeds. If you find yourself in need of a pit stop, you can relax in one of the picturesque villages: Balloo, Rolde, Gasteren, or Loon to recuperate at an outdoor café or at one of the many cosy eating establishments.
The largest sheepfold in Drenthe
The Balloërveld flock is comprised of 400 Drenthe Heath sheep, making it the largest flock in all of Drenthe. Their sheepfold, located at the edge of the nature reserve, is also well worth a visit. The information sign at the fold will tell you where the flock is headed that day. It can still take some time to find them out in their natural habitat, but if you succeed, you’ll surely find yourself smiling at what is truly a beautiful sight to behold!
Villages along the Drentsche Aa
Zuidlaren, Grolloo, Orvelte, and Annen; these are just four of the twenty-one villages in the Drentsche Aa area, and each village is more beautiful than the next! Authentic Saxon farmhouses, beautiful old buildings and cobblestone streets, village greens, comfortable restaurants, and fun shops! Often, there is also a special village walk that you can take to enjoy a bit of history.
UNESCO Geopark de Hondsrug
Visiting UNESCO Geopark de Hondsrug is like walking straight into the last Ice Age! The traces of the past will take you to the hunebeds and the cart tracks that are all that remains of a prehistoric highway. The Hondsrug area spans from Emmen to the city of Groningen. The Drentsche Aa National Park is almost entirely located within this beautiful area that’s full of traces and stories from ancient times.
The Dutch Forestry Organisation’s visitor centre is located in the De Homanshof, an eighteenth-century Saxon farmhouse and listed monument in Anloo. No matter where you end up going, a visit to the centre is a great start to any visit to the Drentsche Aa National Park.