The Netherlands, formerly known as Holland, is a country in Europe that is famously known for its tulips, canals, and museums. Its capital city, Amsterdam is home to some of those incredible canals which you can paddle down to witness the city from a different perspective.
Of course, there are many other things to do in the Netherlands to keep you entertained during your trip, but we’d be lying if we said stand-up paddle boarding down the country's waterways shouldn’t be at the top of your list.
You can choose to paddle the country all on its own, or include it in an epic European paddling tour as Germany borders the Netherlands to the east and Belgium to the south. The west and north borders of the country are met by the North sea meaning you can even participate in ocean paddling if the canals, rivers, and lakes don’t excite you (which, they will).
As there are so many places in the Netherlands to explore, we highly suggest taking your SUP to cut down on rental costs. Trust us, once you see the waters you’ll want to be paddling for the vast majority of your trip, and paddle board rental quickly adds up.
So, without further ado, if you’ve been wondering where to paddle board in the Netherlands, you'll want to keep on reading as we’re going to uncover 7 of the top SUPing destinations that are suitable for paddlers of all abilities.
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When you think of Amsterdam, the first thing that springs to mind is more than likely the canals, or if you’re a history buff, then it’s probably Anne Frank and her secret attic hideout. The canals are one of the top tourist attractions in the city, and luckily for all paddlers out there, you can explore the canals by paddleboard, and in our opinion, it’s the best way to do so.
Amsterdam has over 160 canals that wind their way through the city center, so you could literally spend all day on your SUP checking out the different sights and taking in the beauty of the city of canals. Of course, even just an hour on the water will provide you with an unforgettable experience, so paddle boarding the canals is a great activity even if you’re short on time.
While visiting Amsterdam, you can rent a SUP from one of the many rental places in the area, or you can even set out on SUP tours with a professional who knows the waters and the history of the city. If you’re new to paddle boarding, then we highly recommend doing this as not only do you learn the sport of paddle boarding, but you’ll also get a locals perspective with fun facts about Amsterdam.
Over 900 years ago, the Amstel River was formed when a freshwater river cut into a tidal channel of the IJ. The Amstel has been a crucial part of Holland since the middle ages, and with that comes an abundance of history that you can witness from the comfort of your SUP.
Along the banks of the river, you’ll be able to spot several important national heritage sites like the Hermitage Museum, the city of Amsterdam, and a Jewish Monument that commemorates the Jewish Resistance during World War II. You’ll also paddle under bridges like the de Magere Brug and past beautiful riverboats that line the river’s edges.
When it comes to water conditions, the waters in the Amstel River are fairly slow-moving, calm, and suitable for paddlers of all abilities meaning anyone will be able to hop on a SUP and enjoy some time out on the water. Alternatively, there are also numerous SUP schools along the river that’ll teach you all the essential paddling techniques if you don’t already know how.
If you’re looking for a vast stretch of water to spend the day SUP touring on, then look no further than the largest lake in the country, the IJsselmeer. The IJsselmeer is a closed-off inland bay in the central Netherlands that is fed by numerous rivers, including the River IJssel, the Amstel River, and the Rhine River.
Although now the lake is completely closed off, centuries ago, IJsselmeer was actually considered a bay of the North Sea. Rising sea levels and flooding occurred in the area around IJsselmeer, and since the floodings, the lake has gone through some considerable changes, with one of the biggest being it is now made up of fresh water instead of its original saltwater composition.
The water conditions at IJsselmeer are ideal for outdoor activities such as paddle boarding, so if you’re creating a paddling in the Netherlands bucket list, then you should definitely consider IJsselmeer.
Utrecht is the Netherlands’ fourth largest city, and if the canals in Amsterdam were too crowded for you, then you may prefer the ones in Utrecht instead. Utrecht is well known for its medieval center, and along with its tree-lined canals, its 14th-century bell tower, and its Christian monuments, there is always something to see no matter which canal you’re paddling down.
Canals, including those in Utrecht, really are a fun and fantastic place to SUP as the water conditions are perfect for paddlers with little to no experience. Of course, they’re great for experienced paddlers too, but if you’re just finding your feet on your SUP, we couldn’t recommend a canal more.
The town of Reeuwijk is another hotspot in the Netherlands for paddle boarding, and many paddlers head there to practice SUP yoga in waters surrounded by beautiful vegetation. I’m sure it’s no surprise that the waters in Reeuwijk, as with many other waterways in Holland, are calm, tranquil, and beginner friendly. So, whether you’re new to SUPing or experienced in the sport, you’ll be able to find your feet fairly easily, and you’ll be able to enjoy your time out on the water without any trouble.
If SUP yoga sounds interesting to you, then check out our article What is SUP Yoga? And if that has inspired you to branch out and try something different on your SUP, then head over to Stand Up Paddle Board Yoga Basics.
Zandvoort is one of Holland’s major beach resorts, and if you’re after somewhere to practice paddling in slightly more challenging conditions, then Zandvoort is the place to be. The waves at Zandvoort range in size, and if SUP surfing appeals to you, then you can paddle off from the shore and attempt to catch some waves on your SUP.
You’ll also find that thanks to Zandvoort's popular beach resort status, you can head to a surf school along the beachfront to rent a SUP or head out for a lesson.
Our final must-visit paddling destination in the Netherlands is Otheense Kreek. If you plan on visiting Otheense, then we suggest heading there at sunset time as the sky over the creek lights up in different shades of orange, pink, and red, making it a truly spectacular and unique way to SUP.
Othensee Kreek is also a popular fishing spot for anglers on both, land and on a SUP. Northern Pike and Common Carp are two of the waters most fished for species, so if you have fishing gear at home, be sure to take it with you.
For more information on SUP fishing, head on over to How to Fish From a Paddle Board: A Beginner’s Guide to SUP Fishing.
The Netherlands is a fantastic place to paddle board, and if you’re lucky enough to be in the area, we highly suggest paddling in the following places:
One of the most iconic parts of Amsterdam is the series of canals that run through the city center. In total, there are more than 160 canals, and if you thought they were beautiful to look at on foot, then you’ll be pleased to know that you can jump on your SUP and experience them from a different perspective.
Dotted all around the canals, you’ll find numerous stand-up paddle rental shops, and if you’re new to the sport, you can also arrange a tour with them and get a locals insight into each canal you paddle down.
Yes, you can take your own paddle board to the Netherlands, and if you have your own SUP, then we highly suggest taking it to cut back on rental costs once you’re there.
If you’re thinking about purchasing a SUP and there is a possibility that you’ll travel overseas and want to take it with you, then we highly recommend purchasing an inflatable paddle board as they can be packed down into a backpack or a duffel bag and checked in as regular luggage. Not only will you miss out on oversized baggage fees, but you’ll also find it far easier to carry to and from your destinations.
If you’re looking for more information on traveling with an inflatable SUP, check out The Ultimate Guide to Traveling with an Inflatable Paddle Board
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