Zandvoort in the Netherlands was never on our radar, but things changed. Zandvoort is a very popular beach resort not far from Amsterdam.
Through chance, we ended up at Zandvoort in the Netherlands. This was because we had met some lovely Dutch men a few years previously in Nozawa Onsen, Japan where we were all skiing (some better than others) and staying at the very friendly Lodge Nagano together. When we decided to come to the Netherlands to see the country but also our niece who is studying in Maastricht, we decided to contact our friends and see if they wanted to meet in Amsterdam for lunch.
Staying in Zandvoort in the Netherlands
It was then that Alfred offered us to stay with him and his wife at their B&B, De Duintop (dune top) in Zandvoort and we gratefully accepted this. This is set in th dunes where you can see the deer roaming and next to the beach. Zandvoort is not often mentioned in ‘must see’ places in the Netherlands, but having just had 3 days there, I am saying that you should put it on your radar.
Where is Zandvoort?
Zandvoort is a seaside town just 44mins from Amsterdam, and just 10mins from Haarlem, so it is prime real estate and easy to get to. The village was largely based on fishing for many centuries, and then it became highly popular for the wealthy and famous as a seaside resort, which it remains to this day, but for all people. The beaches on the North Sea are long and inviting and a nice change from the most bustling areas of the Netherlands. The people from Amsterdam and surrounds flock there in summer.
Zandvoort is beaches, sand dunes, deer, quaint little coffee shops and restaurants, boutique shops as well as a very active arts community, and real beachside dining – sand in the feet, water lapping restaurants. It is also the home of the old Grand Prix track, and is still a very active racing circuit.
Staying with friends in Zandvoort
Our friend Alfred has a fierce car that he built himself and does rallies in, having recently competed in a gruelling one. He took Gordon for a leisurely drive around the village! Interestingly the Dutch have dedicated radio stations that tell you exactly where the police radars are and the majority of drivers have these on permanently. Interesting!
Zandvoort also holds a major European sand sculpture competition each year.
Having Alfred and his fabulous wife, the very successful artist Noor Brandt as our hosts, meant that we got a lot of insider trading information, not often read about in guide books. Just as we benefitted from Ichiro our volunteer Tokyo guide, whom I wrote about for theplanetd, they were able to show us their town but more importantly to let us know more about the Dutch way of life.
Our Dutch is atrocious but luckily their English is exceptionally good. As we are very inquisitive, they were very generous in telling us so much that we didn’t know. Interesting things about Zandvoort Our first day we went to see an art show that featured Noor’s sculptures and met another delightful artist Lein van der Schee, who makes jewellery from bicycle tyres (how very pertinent in the Netherlands).
That night we sat down for dinner with the family and I will tell you that the Dutch eat very big meals. They stay slim however and I know I have not got that gene just from 3 days! They dress extremely well, not just our friends but also the local people in the main. Ladies – leather jackets are de riguer as are leather boots. Scarves are good as are fabulous handbags. The men also do the leather jackets well with jeans. The coffee is very good, and the food is extremely good, as are the various confectionaries like Zoet and Zout and Salmiak rondos, which are a salty liquorice that are totally addictive, but perhaps not up to everyone’s tastes.
The Beach at Zandvoort and Beach Side Dining
The beach is amazing and there is/was a restaurant called Beach Club Tien set up there right on the sand. Very reminiscent of Jimabaran Bay in Bali. We were there for its final night of the year before it closed for the rest of autumn and winter. This was a party of dedicated locals and 2 interlopers (us), where there were Dutch songs and Christmas carols played. The food was exceptionally good and perhaps the best halibut I have ever had, as well as North Sea prawns, which are very small but very tasty. The salmon was also exceptional, but as before all meals are huge. The owner really added to the excitement of the evening. The next day the restaurant was totally gone. Dismantled overnight. It will be back next year.
Our next day we did the windmills trip because Zandvort is so close to them, and seriously I wanted to see windmills and was not disappointed. It is different from other areas in the Netherlands that everyone goes to (including us) but different in a very good way. So, put Zandvoort on your radar, you will not be disappointed.