Peter Orsel

The Best Photography Spots in The Netherlands

The Netherlands is a small country, but oh, so beautiful. If you’re into photography, this blog will give you some amazing spots to photograph, from an insider point of view! 

I will share about famous spots, but I bet there will be some locations you’ve never heard of as well. These are not the easiest to reach, but once you’re there, you’ll forget about the journey. These are the best photography spots in The Netherlands.

In this post

1. Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen

I’m starting off with Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen. This enormous park at the coast of The Netherlands is famous for all its wildlife photography opportunities. In this park, you’ll be able to see a lot of wild deers, rabbits and a variety of birds. It’s also the spot to capture foxes in The Netherlands. I’ve been there a couple of times now, but haven’t had a lucky encounter with a fox yet. Maybe next time!

If you plan on going here, be prepared to walk a bit. The park is car and bike free and you can enter from multiple entrances. The opening hours are from sunrise until sunset. If you come by public transport, navigate to this spot. There’s a car parking too. It should take you about one hour from Amsterdam or 30 minutes from Haarlem. 

To enter the park, you need a ticket and it costs you only €1,50. You can buy your ticket online or at the entrance. You can easily spend a full day here, but for the ultimate experience I recommend to go right after sunrise. Once the gates are open, you’ll be surrounded by peace and animals.

2. Gasselterveld / 't Nije Hemelriek

Even a lot of Dutch people won’t be able to tell you where this is and I’m privileged to live very close to this awesome lake. It’s a lake that makes you feel like you’re visiting a tropical destination, or one of these Canadian lakes. Located in a beautiful forest in the province of Drenthe, this is a local gem. 

During summertime it can get super crowded, so you better come early! The lake has a 5km loop to hike around and there’s an amazing mountainbike trail covering over 32km of tracks. The lake is beautiful for both drone as regular photography. It’s also a famous spot for portrait shoots and it’s very likely that you’ll see some fellow photographers during golden hour. 

If it’s one of these rare hot days in The Netherlands, you should bring your swimwear as well for a nice swim! It can be hard to get here, so I only recommend to go if you have a car. Parking is €2 euro for one hour and up to a maximum of €6 euro for the whole day. If you decide to come anyway, the best bus stop to navigate to is this one. From there it’s a 20 minute walk to the lake.

3. Amsterdam City Center

This one might be obvious, but it’s just so special. I love to take photos in the heart of Amsterdam and can’t get enough of the huge amount of canals and houses all around it. Some of the best spots for photography are Amsterdam Central Station, Damrak, Dam Square, De Jordaan and De Westerkerk. My favourite moment is right before sunset or blue hour, but make sure you bring your tripod to shoot your long exposures! 

It’s awesome to take photos of the boats as well, especially during the night. You can create some nice light trails with the canal houses on the background. If you’re visiting Amsterdam in December or January, keep an eye on the Amsterdam Light Festival. Each. year the city will be lit up with some awesome light decorations.

Personal recommendation: have some fries at Manneken Pis while admiring this view. I love their fries and all their sauce options! 

The part of Amsterdam you should avoid

If you decide to visit Amsterdam, I’d ask you to stay away from the Red Light District and the coffee shops – yep, the ones that don’t sell coffee. While it’s famous for tourists, it’s something I’m truly ashamed of. Many ladies at the Red Light District got human trafficked (!!!) to the place where they are. They’re not Dutch, but Latin American or Eastern European and got promised to get a nice job. Once they’re here, they’re enslaved and forced to work in the Red Light industry. A lot of the clients are foreigners as well. This is an industry that should STOP in the Netherlands and I want to take the responsibility to make my readers aware of this situation. The coffee shops are legal in Amsterdam, but I never really understood the industry. There’s a lot of darkness around it and I think it’s better to stick to the cheese shops, the regular cafes, the snackbars or one of the many stroopwafel spots.

4. Zaanse Schans

It took me over 25 years to visit Zaanse Schans for the first time in my life. I knew it existed, but had no idea what to do there. While discovering my own country during Covid times, I decided to go and I’ve been a couple of times ever since! It’s a great spot to fly your drone and shoot some pictures of traditional wind mills. There’s a lot to do when the shops are open and you could easily spend a couple of hours there. This is also the spot with the famous traditional house with the reflections on the water. You might have seen that picture before.

The best option is to visit Zaanse Schans by train. It takes just 17 minutes from Amsterdam Central Station and from there it’s a short walk to the entrance point of Zaanse Schans. Parking a car is quite expensive with a flat rate of €10 euros. For the train schedule, you can use Google or the NS app.

5. Marken / Volendam

Have you ever heard of Marken? If not, I’m going to tell you why you have to visit! Marken is a small peninsula just above Amsterdam. It’s a very unique town with beautiful houses, perfect for photography. If you’re walking through this town, you will feel like you’re walking through a postcard. Marken used to be an island until they connected a dyke from the mainland to the island. You can still see the small communities of houses, which were usually separated, but now connected by roads. At the east side of Marken, you can find ‘Paard van Marken’, a lighthouse famous for many Dutch photographers. You have to walk for about 30 minutes to get there, as cars are not allowed to pass the church square.

If you’re not done yet after visiting just Marken, you can take a one way or return boat trip to the fishing village Volendam. Volendam is usually more famous than Marken and known for De Dijk, the street close to the harbour. It’s also the place where many famous Dutch singers come from, so you’ll probably meet some local celebrities as well.

You can reach Marken by bus or by car. Bus number 315 leaves every 15 minutes from Amsterdam Noord station and it will take you about 30 minutes to get there. If you travel by car, you have to park at the main parking. It’s impossible to miss it, but if you want the exact location, click here.

6. Kiekkaaste

Kiekkaaste, Groningen

Far up in the North East of The Netherlands, you can find Kiekkaaste. The literal meaning of this word in dialect is ‘Watching Cage’, referring to the countless amount of birds you can see in this area. It’s a beautiful and peaceful spot, best to witness during sunrise or sunset. The sun rises land side, while the sun goes down sea side. 

Even though I’ve seen lots of drone photos of this place, I’d ask you not to fly your drone here. It’s a protected area where birds are breeding. Especially during the early and late hours, the birds are around and the drones can scare the birds, to leave there nests.

It’s surely the hardest place to reach in this list, as there’s no public transportation bringing you to the bird watching cage. Many people skip the North, let alone the most North Eastern part of the country. If you decide to go here, make sure you stay in the province of Groningen and combine it with a visit to Bourtange or a visit to the city of Groningen. Navigate with your car to this spot. From there it’s a 15 minute walk on a long bridge to reach the cage. 

So that’s it for now. Any spots missing? Please let me know in the comments!

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