Latest update: 24 October 2022
A day out in the Netherlands with an animal lover? You’ve come to the right place. Discover great, responsible activities with animals that you can do in the Netherlands. These activities make for a great gift too!
1. Walking with alpacas
A few years ago, this trend suddenly emerged: walking with alpacas. A special outing where you learn a lot about the alpacas and go for a walk with them. You can find alpaca walks almost anywhere in the Netherlands now. I met my new alpaca friends at AlpacaOord in Drenthe. Alpacas are pretty stubborn animals, so the walk is entirely at their pace, not yours! After your alpaca walk, you can pet and feed them. Do you want to know all the details of an alpaca walk? Then read this article about walking with alpacas.
2. Horseback riding in the dunes
Horseback riding in the dunes is not an activity for everyone. You have to actually have a little riding experience. The Dutch coastline is a stunning setting for beautiful dune rides. Sometimes you can even gallop a bit on the beach. Ask the riding school what the ride entails, where you go, how much experience you should have, and what you should bring. Riding school Ruckert in Zandvoort makes beautiful dune rides and has good horses. Or go to Egmond at Manege Hoef, for example.
3. Yoga with goats
It is anything but zen, but goat yoga is very funny to do once in your lifetime. In the Amsterdamse Bos, the goat farm regularly offers yoga classes in the stables – amidst the kids and the droppings. Of course, I wanted in on that! Read about my experience with goat yoga so that you can mentally prepare for this experience.
You can simply join a lesson or go for the package deal. It includes a nice cup of goat’s milk cappuccino and breakfast. The goat farm has a lovely terrace and a nice area where you can take a short walk and get to know all the animals. Book your yoga class.
4. Roar with tigers: tiger workshop
Stichting Leeuw (the lion foundation) organizes tiger workshops in the north of North Holland. Lions, tigers, panthers, pumas: this outing is not for the faint of heart (nor kids under 16). The tiger workshop lasts about 2.5 hours and includes a cup of coffee and cake. You’ll join the caretakers behind the scenes and can take a look everywhere from operating theater to accommodation.
A tiger workshop is quite pricey. You pay 150 euros per person (for sale here). Stichting Leeuw takes care of the animals from the proceeds. So your money is well spent.
5. Release seals in the sea
At the Pieterburen Seal Center, you sometimes can come along when the caretakers release seals into the sea. A unique experience. On the website of the Seal Center, you can see whether seals will be released soon. But even if that is not the case, a visit to Pieterburen is still great fun. You can admire the seals in the sanctuary and learn more about the work of the center. Buy your entrance ticket at the door, or in advance on their website, or with Tiqets.
Also an option: a seal-watching boat tour from Harlingen.
6. Camel safari: milking camels
This is quite a unique activity with animals in beautiful Brabant: you can admire more than 100 camels at the only camel dairy farm in all of Europe. Camel dairy Smits regularly offers camel safaris. You’ll get a presentation full of information and an endless amount of jokes. Then it’s time to admire the camels up close and even sit on them. I passed on that but tried a selfie with a camel. Judge for yourself if it turned out good.
You will, of course, eat a camel milk pancake and drink a camel milk cappuccino in the restaurant. Book your visit– but before you do, please check if the safari is available in English on your day of visit.
7. Drink coffee with cats
There are now several cat cafes in the Netherlands. The concept is super simple: there is a cafe, and there are cats. Cat cafes are a trend that has blown over from Asia. In Bangkok, for example, you can pet cats (but also dogs) in many places. Want to pet cats for a few hours? In Amsterdam, you will find the first cat cafe in the Netherlands: Kattencafé Kopjes. You can also visit the cat and coffee paradises in Haarlem (Kattencafé Jippies) and other cities.
8. Cuddle with cows
Cow cuddling workshops have been popular company outings for a while and are great for bachelor parties. You get a short introduction about the farm and cows, put on a coverall, and enter the stable. Ready to cuddle. You can cuddle a cow in Voorst and Eemdijk, for example. A cool unusual, and responsible activity with animals!
9. Bird of prey workshop
Have you ever seen an owl up close? Or a bald eagle? You can during a bird of prey workshop. I join Settels Roofvogels in Amersfoort, and have a great day! After an extensive explanation, a coffee, and some cake, we meet several types of birds of prey outside. The supervisors ensure that everyone can inspect different birds up close. I feed an owl, and a bird of prey whizzes past my face. Very impressive. There is also time to learn a few falconry tricks. You can make a reservation here. Sometimes there is a special offer through Groupon.
10. Massage a pig
You can massage pigs at the Beloofde Varkensland (Promised Pig Land). During the workshop, you learn everything about pigs, the bio-industry, and how to treat pigs in an animal-friendly way. And then it’s time to massage and cuddle the pigs of Familie Bofkont (that’s what the animals are called here because they are lucky with all those massages). Feel their skin with thick hair, hear them grunt happily: all the ingredients for a fun day out.
11. Hit the road with a shepherd
Count sheep endlessly. Spend a day on the heath with a shepherd. Learn all about the trade, enjoy nature and admire the bond between the shepherd and the sheepdog. And don’t forget to enjoy the sheep! Where to go, you ask? The Veluwe is the place to be. Book your day with the shepherd via the website.
Top tip: keep an eye on when there are lamb days in the Netherlands. You will find an overview at Natuurmonumenten.
12. Zoos in the Netherlands – including discount options
The Netherlands has many beautiful zoos. These are the best known zoos in the country:
- Apenheul in Apeldoorn
- AquaZoo in Leeuwarden
- ARTIS in Amsterdam
- Burgers Zoo in Arnhem
- Diergaarde Blijdorp in Rotterdam
- DierenPark Amersfoort in Amersfoort
- Dierenrijk in Nuenen
- Gaia Zoo in Kerkrade
- Ouwehands Dierenpark in Rhenen
- Safaripark Beekse Bergen in Hilvarenbeek
- Vogelpark AviFauna in Alphen aan de Rijn
- WILDLANDS Adventure Zoo in Emmen
- ZooParc in Overloon
Many zoos also offer packages. They allow you to, for example, have a look behind the scenes, feed animals yourself, or have a tasty picnic.
Discount at the zoo
Do you want to go to the zoo with a discount? I get it, especially if you go with the whole family; it’s an expensive day out. Fortunately, there are often promotions. Here’s a brief overview of sites where you might be able to get a discount. If you can’t find a bargain, buy your ticket online from the zoo directly. That’s often cheaper than at the ticket office.
- Discount at the zoo via Dagaanbiedingen.
- You could get a zoo membership which includes a discount at several zoos in the Netherlands. Check the participating zoos on the website of the Nederlandse Vereniging van Dierentuinen (the Dutch Zoo Association)
- Day out with animals and discount through Vakantieveilingen.
- If you bank with ING, get a discount on the entrance fee with your rentepunten.
- Dutch zoos with a discount through Ticketveiling.
- ANWB member? Check your discount on Dutch zoos.
- Exchange your Airmiles for a discount on your entrance tickets.
More travel inspiration for the Netherlands
Useful links for travel in the Netherlands
- Travel guides. I love the practical travel guides from Lonely Planet, buy them at Bol.com, Amazon, or Book Depository. The latter has longer delivery times but is often cheaper. I always enjoy seeing my own country through the eyes of foreign visitors.
- Accommodation. Forever favorites: Booking.com, Natuurhuisje, Campspace , and Airbnb. Or try a holiday resort via BelVilla or Roompot. Rather stay in a hostel? Try HostelWorld. Something different: BoerenBed.
- Activities. You book the best tours and activities with GetYourGuide and Viator. For tours with locals, go to WithLocals. Try a ‘free’ walking tour with Freetour, and for bike tours, try Baja Bikes.
- Attractions and museums. Get a 5% discount on museums and attractions via Tiqets with the coupon code KIMOPREIS22.
- Car rental. My go-to car rental companies are EasyTerra and Sunny Cars as they have all-inclusive / worry-free offers.
- Public transport. Use the regular public transport options or Flixbus, or find a bus, train, or something else on Busbud or Omio.
- Travel gear. Buy your gear at Bever or Decathlon, or simply at Bol.com.
- Package deals. Rather go on a catered trip? You have plenty of options. For the Dutch: ANWB vakanties orTui, or maybe Vakantie Discounter? Or try a yoga retreat in the Netherlands.
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First published: june 2020. Updated since!