Escape to nature

There’s nothing wrong with walking or biking within a few miles of Utrecht, but it could also be worth expanding your horizons. Here are five tips that take you to beautiful spots surrounded by unspoiled, natural diversity.

Featured image of the Eempolder

Park on Soesterberg airbase

Fighter jets landed at the former Soesterberg airbase until 2008, but it’s now an area of natural beauty inhabited by a huge diversity of birds, insects and rare plants. A 5-km trail has been marked out, starting at the National Military Museum and taking you through the old munitions depots. Hidden between the trees, you’ll see reinforced concrete bunkers which were used to store thousands of kilos of ammunition. Although much of the huge runway is closed during the breeding season, a small part is still accessible. After your walk, grab a to go or a seat at Soesterdal café-restaurant, on the perimeter of the airbase.


On a sunny day, nothing beats walking or biking through the open polder landscape along the banks of the Eem, a river that flows from Amersfoort to the Eemmeer lake. It’s a haven for meadow birds, including lapwings, godwits, oystercatchers and redshanks. The Theetuin in Eemnes is a great place for a pitstop. It’s also the starting point for an 8-km walk through the polder. Alternatively, try the Klompenpaden (clomp trails), which take you through farming land. But beware: parts of the trails are closed until 15 June because of the breeding season. Diversions are usually indicated!


Just over the provincial border – between Hilversum and Laren – you’ll find Zuiderheide, a fabulous area for walking and biking. The best time to go there is August, when the heather is in full bloom, but it’s beautiful all year round. If you fancy coffee and cake, a pancake or quick lunch, try Theehuis ’t Bluk, which is the meeting point for most of the walks and bike trails. Sitting on the terrace between the rustling trees, you can look out at the winding paths criss-crossing the vast expanse of heathland. Perfection.

Den Treek-Henschoten

Nestled between Amersfoort, Leusden, Woudenberg, Maarn and Zeist, you’ll find the Den Treek-Henschoten estate. The landscape in this 2,200-hectare area gradually changes from the dry ground of the Utrecht Hill Ridge to the wetter ground of the lower-lying Gelderse Valley. In other words, it’s very diverse: woodland, heathland, country estates, sand dunes, fens and boggy marshland. Den Treek-Henschoten is owned by the descendants of Willem Hendrik de Beaufort, who bought the estate in 1807. So it’s private land, but luckily for us, walking, biking and horse riding are allowed. The Treeker Info Point, next to the Bergzicht pancake restaurant in Woudenberg, has information about routes and trails.


The Vechtplassen is located between the Utrecht Hill Ridge and the River Vecht. This 3,000-hectare wetland area consists of several nature reserves, more or less joined together, ranging from Ankeveen in the north to the Tienhovense fens in the south. As well as walking or biking along the countless trails marked out around the water, you can also canoe your way through the maze of fens and canals, past meadowland, corn fields and marshy woodland. You might even spot some water birds such as common terns or reed warblers, or aquatic plants such as water lilies or spadderdock.


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