This post is also available in: Dutch

Latest update: 8 November 2022

The Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen are between Zandvoort, Aerdenhout, and Noordwijk. Not far from Amsterdam. You can go on beautiful walks in this unique nature reserve. There are walking routes, but you can also go off the trails in many places. And hopefully, you will encounter the deer and foxes!

The water of Amsterdam

The Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen are not in Amsterdam, but they do provide clean drinking water in Amsterdam. About 66% of Amsterdam’s drinking water is purified in the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen. This has been happening since 1853. Back then, people could buy a bucket of clean drinking water for one cent; now, it simply runs from the tap.

In addition to this useful water purification function, the area also has a nature conservation and cultural-historical function. It is a protected area where dunes and forests flourish, and you will find no fewer than 400 bunkers from the Second World War. Well, you’ll have to do some searching because some are very well hidden. The small entrances don’t really invite you to view them from the inside, but some you can enter more easily.

Walking in the Amsterdam Waterleidingduinen

You can enjoy the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen from sunrise to sunset. Especially in the early morning, it is still wonderfully quiet. Dogs are unfortunately not welcome, and neither are cyclists. This Amsterdam nature escape is exclusively for hikers! You pay € 1.50 for entrance per person. At the Oranjekom entrance, you will find the visitor center, where you can get more information about the area.

Two walking routes start at each entrance, but you can also set out independently. You can even enjoy the dune area off the beaten path – unless a sign says it’s not allowed.

Check out all the walking trails.

Deer in the dune area: the rutting season

It is almost inevitable that you encounter deer in the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen. There are so many! Not so long ago, there were around 4000; in 2022, this will be about 2800, but the managers eventually want to go back to 1000 fallow deer.

October to mid-November is the rutting season for the deer. The males go after the females and try to impress them by bellowing: a kind of moo or roar. They are so preoccupied that they often even forget to eat. You can take a guided tour (book your excursion here) or go on your own.

There are a few places where you have a good chance of finding deer, even outside the rutting season. Try it here or here, for example. So yes, you can get off the trails – explore the unbeaten path!

The deer are not extremely shy but like to stay distant. So bring binoculars (buy them at Bol.com or Amazon) and a good zoom lens if you want to photograph. Maybe you have a clip-on zoom lens (also available at Bol.com or Amazon) for your mobile phone?

Foxes in the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen

You have an almost 100% chance of spotting a deer in the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen. Unfortunately, that is different for foxes. There is a spot where they are often seen, but there is no guarantee. Let me put it this way: I’ve been to the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen multiple times and never spotted one. But you should at least give it a try while you’re there, right? This is the best place to see foxes in the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen: at the intersection of Strandweg and Duizendmeterweg (Google Maps location). And you have the best chance around sunrise and sunset. Good luck!

Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen foxes: sign: don't feed foxes

Entrance, public transport and parking Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen

There is a mile-long fence around the area, so you must head towards one of the four entrances to start your walk. There are four entrances, and you can park well at all four. Parking is also very affordable: at Zandvoortselaan it only costs 2 euros for a parking ticket, and you can stay as long as you want.

If you’re traveling by public transport, go to the train station Heemstede- Aerdenhout, Hillegom, or Zandvoort and catch a bus there. You can either buy a ticket at the station or on the bus or buy a pass for public transport in and around Amsterdam at Tiqets. (use coupon code KIMOPREIS22 for a 5% discount)

These are the four entrances:

More travel inspiration for the Netherlands

  • Accommodation. Forever favorites: Booking.com and Campspace. Or try a holiday resort via Roompot. Rather stay in a hostel? Try HostelWorld. Something different: BoerenBed.
  • Activities. You book the best tours and activities with GetYourGuide and Viator. Another good option is WithLocals. Try a ‘free’ walking tour with Freetour or GuruWalk, 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. Compare more prices at Discover Cars.
  • Money. Your debit and credit cards may not get accepted everywhere. You could opt for a Revolut card as an additional card when you travel. 
  • Package deals. Rather go on a catered trip? You have plenty of options. For the Dutch: ANWB vakanties or Tui, or maybe Vakantie Discounter or D-reizen?
  • Public transport. Use the regular public transport options or Flixbus, or find a bus, train, or something else on Busbud or Omio.
  • SIM card. Beware of unexpectedly high calling and internet costs. Buy a local SIM card when you arrive, or arrange one online via Airalo.
  • Travel gear. Buy your gear at Bever or Decathlon, or simply at Bol.com.
  • Travel guides. I love the practical travel guides from Lonely Planet, buy them at Bol.com and Amazon. I always enjoy seeing my own country through the eyes of foreign visitors.
  • Yoga retreat. Or try a yoga retreat in the Netherlands.

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