Texel (pronounced TES-sel) is an island retreat located off of the north coast of the Netherlands. This is a cyclist’s paradise, even by Dutch standards (and that is saying something). You can reach it from Amsterdam by taking a train, then a bus and then a ferry-which sounds like a hassle, but actually isn’t – it’s totally worth it once you get there.
Starting from Amsterdam Centraal, take the 90-minute train to the port city of Den Helder and from the train station, take the 10-minute bus to the docks. From there, you can’t miss the GIANT ferry to Texel. Get on and enjoy the 20-minute ride across to the island. Head to the cafeteria on board, grab a pastry and some coffee and then head out to the observation decks while the ferry hums across the water. Bring bread crumbs to feed the seagulls if you like that sort of thing – but seriously – ew. (n.b. – Kindra does not like birds)
When you arrive on the island, rent a bike from the place across from the docks. They have cheap bikes and a good free map, but they are a bit brief with the pleasantries. Grab your bike, make note of the time you have to return it, and hit the road. The island is about 15 miles long and 5 miles wide, so much of the island can be covered in one day of biking. Most of the biking is on paths along roads cutting across flat pastures filled with grazing sheep. The sea air blows across the flat land unchecked, making an already rural setting seem even more isolated. There are some towns on the island, all catering to the (slightly elderly) Dutch day-tripping crowd. Plenty of cafes, pubs, restaurants and shops to visit while taking a break from biking. A lunch beer at The Oranjerie in De Koog is especially good.
What would a trip be with a stop at a brewery? Located between the towns of Den Burg and Oudeschild, Texel Brewery offers an indoor tasting room as well as an outdoor beer garden. Pay and take the tour (alas, it is all in Dutch) and then take your complementary flight of beers outside. Some of the more rustic patrons are located in the paddock adjacent to the beer garden, so sip your beer and enjoy the company of some bleating sheep. The beer is delicious and the staff is friendly. Read more about our adventures at the Texel Brewery →
Duinen National Park
If you think that farms and sheep are all this island has to offer, on the western side of the island is a national park with plenty of dunes and forests to bike through. Park your bike and venture down to the sea. It’s windy like down there, but worth it to dip a toe in the North Sea. Hike around on the dunes and get sand in your shoes, then walk back up and bike through the pine-shaded forest.
The transit connections between the train, bus and ferry are timed. Or should be. We waited 45 minutes for the bus to the docks, and twice (TWICE!) we missed the bus from the docks back to the train. It leaves right away, like they suddenly have a schedule to keep. Try and follow the signs directing you to the bus that are on the gangway leading off of the ferry. We did not. Twice.
Texel Brewery runs tours daily at 2pm and 3pm and extra tour at 4pm on Saturday. Cost for the tour (in Dutch, but the short video that is shown at the beginning of the tour has English subtitles) is €7, but the reward is a beer sampler.
Weather on the island is windy and cool, but biking (and drinking beer) works up a sweat. Best to dress in layers with a windbreaker as your outer layer.
Texel is the perfect day trip from Amsterdam. It is relatively close and easy to get to, yet it feels a world away from the crowds on the Damrak. Biking between towns through fields filled with sheep is the perfect way to spend a day in the Netherlands.