Vlieland

The Dutch chic

Vlieland, La chic hollandaise

Discreet, wild and refined, such is this Dutch island located in the Wadden Sea. With its long, almost deserted sandy beaches, intimate and frequented by regulars, Vlieland has a sweet Dutch Hamptons feel.

Sandkorb sur l'île de Vlieland
Sandkorb sur l'île de Vlieland

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Once reserved for fishermen, this peaceful little corner is now the delight of wealthy Amsterdam families and a few tourists passing through. You usually arrive on the island with your own boat (Vlieland has the largest yacht harbor on the Wadden Islands) and then you can only ride a bicycle, except for some residents. There is not much to do in Vlieland and that is what makes it so charming.

A concentrate of life

Vlieland is located in the Wadden Sea, a world heritage site by UNESCO in 2009 and voted the most beautiful nature reserve in the Netherlands. Around 10,000 plant and animal species live in this special habitat characterized by the tides. Twice a day, high tide deposits water rich in sediment and plankton on the beach, coming from the North Sea. In addition, the shallowness allows the water to heat up quickly in summer. Algae and seagrass therefore grow quickly there and constitute a prime food supply for local fauna.

Unlike its neighbor Texel, there are few beach bars on the island. With only 1000 inhabitants, the picturesque and unique village Oost-Vlieland is one of the main meeting points. The village reflects the soul of the island. Intimate with its tree-lined main street Doorpstraat, pleasant terraces of cafés and restaurants, stores and small hotels. Relaxed with open, smiling and warm inhabitants.

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In Vlieland life is far from the hustle and bustle of the world. It must be said that between its 20 km of fine sandy beaches, its 26 km of bicycle paths between dunes and woods and a rich fauna and flora, the island leads easily and quickly to relaxation.

The intoxication of cranberries

Are there any cranberry fields in Europe? Yes there are! You can find partially large fields of cranberry plants on the Dutch islands of Wadden, Vlieland and Terschelling. The inhabitants of Vlieland tell the story of a barrel of cranberries found in 1845 on the beach of the neighboring island of Terschelling. Hoping to find good wine, they would have brought the barrel behind the dunes. Well, it wasn’t wine or anything like that, but a lot of cranberries. The unknown left the barrel behind and the success story took its course.

In Vlieland, people live in beautiful holiday homes in the middle of pine forests, out of sight and with twice as much sunshine as in the rest of the country. If the island is small, it is rather an impression of size that one feels along its main beach 12km long in the north. This is the same beach where the biggest waves for surfing are found. In good weather, thanks to the tides, small lakes form on the sandbar. Heated by the sun, they become a magnificent playground for children to swim and to see shrimps and crabs. The beach is so long that it becomes a village in itself with many activities. Nudists in the dunes, children, surfers, kites, fishermen… Here there is plenty of room for everyone.

At the end of the afternoon the regulars meet in the village of the island. We meet a delightfully paradoxical character who stands out from the general polite atmosphere. A biker fan of Harley Davidson, wide open spaces and Route 66… on a very small island where only bike traffic is allowed for non residents. With its southern part only made up of sand as far as the eye can see where one could believe to be in the middle of the Sahara, it is here that he finally finds his freedom.

We can understand it, Vlieland being the perfect island to disconnect. With little tourist infrastructure, the island enjoys an extremely calm and serene atmosphere. Add to that the breathtaking beauty of nature, the clean air, the no-frills refinement and the most beautiful beach in the Netherlands.
And one is then surprised with the desire to become a regular :-)

Vlieland is

20 km long by 2 km wide

Accessibility
Accommodation capacity
Animation

Where is Vlieland located? Vlieland is a Dutch island in the North Sea, separated from the mainland by the Wadden Sea. It is the smallest and most remote of the 5 Dutch islands that are part of the Friesian archipelago that extends to Denmark.

How to get to Vlieland? From Harlingen, 45 minutes by express boat. The Harlingen train station is right next to the ferry terminal. From the neighboring island of Texel, 1h30 .

How to get around the island? Bicycles and motorized vehicles are not allowed. Many rental companies are present upon arrival at the port. Online booking is recommended and make sure that the opening hours correspond to your arrival time by boat.

Where to sleep and eat? There is little infrastructure on the island overall. There are some nice hotels in the main street of the village like the Loods hotel. Renting a villa seems to be the best way to enjoy Vlieland. Two local search sites quite complete : Onvlieland and Aanzee. Two nice beach houses spotted elsewhere : Simmerdei and At Lieke. Stortmelk also offers nice modern villas for rent either in the dunes or in the forest.

To eat:
De Lickebaert,
in Dorpsstraat, the main street of the village. For pancake lovers. Here we serve the typical Dutch version, “poffertjes”, a calzone version.
Zuiver,
the gastro of the island. Local and organic products with a modern cuisine. To be tested with your eyes closed. Possibility to have lunch also in high season. Reservation recommended.
Leut Koffiebar,
in Dorpsstraat. Very nice terrace with warm welcome and great breakfasts. Possibility of accommodation as well.
De Richel,
Dorpsstraat, an institution of the island. Dutch cuisine.
De Bolder, De Bolder is located on the beach with a large terrace overlooking the sea.

The book to take in your suitcase? Les pieds sur terre by Gérald de Hemptinne from the collection L’âme des peuples.

The song to include in his playlist ? Didn’t I by Darondo.

And especially where to drink your Spritz? In any of the bars in Dorpsstraat shortly before dinner to get a feel for the island’s atmosphere.

If I had known, …

I would have gone to visit the extreme southern part of the island. Impression from the end of the world assured. The hike is possible, but it will take about six hours. Taking the Vliehors Expres, a huge beach bus can be a faster option. Nice detail: the profile of the Vliehors Expres tire is printed with words, leaving a poem in the sand as it passes. Every two years, the poem is modified. The current one is by Jan de Booys … Breng gedachten vol verlangen naar het lege stille strand. Schrijf ze duizend stille malen tussen duizend korrels zand. We let you translate.

I would have gone to a candlelight concert. During our bike tour through Oost-Vlieland, we found an unexpected but perfect highlight for the last evening of our autumn weekend in Vlieland: a candlelight concert (Dutch: concerten bij kaarslicht) in the former St. Nicholas church. For almost 30 years, between Pentecost and the end of October, the church has organized a series of concerts for almost every weekend open to the public. Beethoven and Bartholdy, by flickering candlelight, in the holy atmosphere of the church. Perfect.

I would have attended in early September one of the most discreet and intimate music festivals in Europe: Into the great wide open. Tickets for the famous event sell out like hotcakes in just 15 minutes, so be on the lookout.

I would have gone to a bunker to try some cheese. Well yes, why not. The Cheese Bunker is next to the lighthouse. The face behind the creation of these special and entirely organic cheeses is Nils. Formerly a music teacher, now a full-time passionate cheesemaker. He processes the Vlieland cheeses with, among other things, algae and lets them mature in this bunker. Nils will explain that algae can be the food of the future because they do not require agricultural land, pesticides or fresh drinking water.

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