During our 2.5 months in the Netherlands, we went on a weekend trip to Zeeland. What a surprise! Zeeland turned out to be beautiful. And then we only saw Veere, Zierikzee and Deltapark Neeltje Jans. That tastes like more. For now, I can only look back from Colombia and give you tips, but I will definitely return to that special part of the Netherlands to see more. Read about what we did during our weekend in Zeeland, what wondrous Hawaiian-eating discovery we made and who said to me in amazement “oh you’re much smaller than I imagined!”. I also tell you what there is to see and do at Neeltje Jans and whether this outing is actually worth the money of a visit. Looking for a nice weekend getaway in the Netherlands? Zeeland it is!
Why is Zeeland so special?
Zeeland, that special province in the southwestern part of Holland, near the Belgian border. Consisting of peninsulas, islands and lots of water, Zeeland is perhaps best known for the 1953 flood disaster and the storm surge barrier that was subsequently built to prevent another disaster. Zeeland is the place to admire these extraordinary Delta Works and even see them inside.
With its (peninsular) islands and abundance of water, Zeeland has a special feel. A combination of vast nature, historic cities, white beaches, green dunes, porpoises and seals, long bridges and many ports. A place you really must have seen in the Netherlands, if only because of its history. The ideal weekend getaway.
It impressed me, Zeeland. It is truly a unique piece of the Netherlands. Like not being in Holland. And exactly that is perhaps what makes Zeeland so popular with tourists.
Veere: Scottish history in Zeeland
We began our weekend getaway in Veere. Our first stop in Zeeland, where we stayed from lunch until late afternoon. A picturesque village full of tourists. Which is not very strange, because Veere is beautiful.
In the 13th century, Veere originated as the hamlet of Kampvere. However, it was not until the 16th century that Veere flourished as a town, when Veere became the staple of Scottish wool. Something you can still see in the many stores that sell wool. At that time, a Scottish colony settled in Veere. Although the city lost the staple right for wool in the year 1799, Veere remained the most important European city for the economy of Scotland. Today, you can still visit Scottish homes.
What is there to see in Veere?
Veere is incredibly fun to walk through, enjoy a nice lunch on a terrace or store for candy or wool. There are also a number of interesting museums (which we only saw from the outside). During your walk, you will encounter at least all of these:
1. Stroll along the marina
If you go to park in Veere and walk to the center you will come to the harbor first. A cute little harbor with a nice view of the historic houses and the lake. At the port, there are several restaurants where you can enjoy lunch, dinner or a drink in between.
2. Admire the Scottish houses in Veere
The Scots in Veere had their own warehouses, offices and their own church. The Scottish Houses recall that time. In addition, these houses are just very beautiful to look at. You can also see the Scottish houses from inside. In fact, the houses are part of the Museum Veere.
3. Marvel at the enormous Great Church
The Great Church lives up to its name: this church is truly an enormous structure. That stands out above everything else, so hard to miss. The church was built in 1521 and is today a cultural center.
4. Look up at City Hall
Also, the City Hall in Veere is a gem to see. Not only from the outside, but inside the Town Hall you will find the other part of the Museum Veere. Built between 1474 and 1517, City Hall was completely restored several times. Including between 1931 and 1934 and most recently in 2014 and 2015.
5. Don’t forget the Campveerse tower
Almost impossible to miss, the Campveerse tower. In the year 1500, this tower was part of the city defense, then it was used as an inn and coastal light. Still the Campveerse tower is one of the oldest inns still in existence in the Netherlands. You can see the tower from just about anywhere in Veere, as long as you look up.
6. Enjoy the picturesque streets
Veere is beautiful for its history alone. Without stepping into even one store or museum, your visit is already successful. Discover Veere on foot on a walking tour, walk down streets where you won’t see anyone and dream away at that wonderful history in which its inhabitants live.
7. Shop for wool in Veere
Wool was once the trade product of Veere and you can still find it in this picturesque town. Check out these cute wool caps and hats. Alex bought one and later it occurred to me that I wanted one too, but well by then we had left…. In fact, I wear a lot of caps and I thought this one totally suited me. Will I have to go back to Veere after all….
And there’s more in Veere!
We were only there for a short time and could not do and see everything. There’s more, though, like boat rides, walking the old city walls and eating Zeeland bolus. Retrieved from this blog from Reisgenie you will find many more tips to do in Veere.
After our visit, we drove on to Zierikzee, where we stayed for two nights.
Neeltje Jans: take a closer look at the Oosterscheldekering storm surge barrier
Now that I was finally in Zeeland I wanted to see the Delta Works. And what better and closer way to do that than from Neeltje Jans? A fun outing with children, your partner or the whole family during a weekend getaway in Zeeland.
Delta park Neeltje Jans explained
The Delta Works is a defense system to protect the Dutch provinces of Zeeland, southern South Holland and North Brabant from high water from the sea. This is necessary since these areas have a centuries-long history of floods and levee breaches. The first plan for the Delta Works was presented in 1942, but ultimately the 1953 Flood Disaster was the deciding factor for its actual implementation.
The Delta Plan meant shortening the coastline by some 700 kilometers by building closed and permeable dams between the islands of South Holland and Zeeland.
The Delta Plan consists of 13 projects, of which the Oosterscheldekering storm surge barrier, the Brouwers Dam and the Haringvliet Dam are perhaps the best known.
At a length of no less than 9 kilometers, the Oosterschelde Dam is the longest of the entire Delta Works. This dam is a lockable storm surge barrier consisting of large gates that can be closed during heavy storms, preventing the high water from entering the Oosterschelde. The gates are closed at an expected water level of +3 meters NAP; this has happened 27 times since they were commissioned in 1986.
To build the Oosterscheldekering storm surge barrier, several artificial islands were constructed, including Roggeplaat, Noordland and Neeltje Jans.
What is Neeltje Jans?
Neeltje Jans is a former working island and part of the Oosterschelde barrier. After the completion of the Delta Works, a theme park, Neeltje Jans, was opened on this island, which today remains an important tourist attraction in Zeeland.
Deltapark Neeltje Jans is part of the Oosterschelde National Park. The park used to be a sandbar in the mouth of the Oosterschelde. The working island was created by raising the sandbar. The name Neeltje Jans comes from a boat of the same name that ran aground on this sandbar.
What to see and do at Neeltje Jans Zeeland?
Neeltje Jans is a large theme park for young and old. You’ll view the Oosterschelde Dam from the inside here, but there’s much more to do:
- Seal enclosure and sea lions
- Water playground
- WhaleWorld Expo
- Tour of the Oosterschelde National Park (duration: 1 hour)
- Hurricane Machine
- Delta Experience
- Educational films about the Flood Disaster and the construction of the Delta Works
Many of these attractions are for children. We only saw the Eastern Scheldt barrier, the Delta Experience, the educational films and the Whale World Expo. In addition, walking across the park is also great fun, as you have beautiful views of the Delta Works and windmills.
Entrance fees to Deltapark Neeltje Jans
Neeltje Jans is not cheap. That also made me hesitate for a moment: would it be worth it? Everyone from 12 years old and up pays 25 euros entrance fee. For children between 3 and 11 years old, you pay 15 euros. In winter, the cost is slightly lower for both. You are required to purchase a ticket on a specific date and via the Internet. You buy your ticket here. The ticket includes the cruise.
Is Neeltje Jans worth the money for a visit?
We did not do everything at the Delta Park, for example, we obviously skipped the whole children’s play area, did not go to the aquarium, nor did we do the tour of the Oosterschelde. The latter because during my little research beforehand I read mostly negative experiences about it, that it would not be worth it. We did see the Delta Works inside, watched the movies and did the Delta Experience.
I found the Delta Works and the Delta Experience impressive. Incredibly interesting to see this huge and extraordinary structure from inside and learn how it works. The Delta Experience is a room you go into and experience the Flood Disaster with sounds, wind, voices, light and film. Or well, more or less of course because it’s never like it really was, but it gives an impression and I found this very worthwhile.
Also walking through the park with the beautiful views was very nice.
In addition to these highlights, there were some things I found less interesting. For example, the park is quite outdated, the food in the restaurant is expensive for what you get, and the informative films about the Delta Works and the Flood Disaster were so old and boring that they almost put me to sleep. As if those films were made in the 1980s and never updated. I also found the Sea Lions’ enclosure very small, I just hope they have more room to live somewhere underground.
So… worth it or not worth it?
I am definitely glad I visited Neeltje Jans, after all, that’s how we saw the Delta Works inside and the views from the park are beautiful. But other than the Delta Works, the Delta Experience and walking around there with the beautiful views, I didn’t find it very special otherwise and expensive for what you get. I’m sure Neeltje Jans is super fun for a day out with kids. After all, there is much for children to do. Don’t you have kids and don’t you necessarily need to see the Storm Surge Barrier inside? Then there are plenty of other places in Zeeland with beautiful views and you could skip Neeltje Jans.
How do you get to Neeltje Jans?
You get to Neeltje Jans by driving along the N57 from Zierikzee to Middelburg or vice versa. It is located between Wetenschouwen and De Banjaard. From both sides of the road you can enter the park. There is ample parking, the cost of which is included in the price.
How much time do you need for the Delta Park?
We did Neeltje Jans in half a day, but if you want to do and see everything you need a whole day. Especially if you are going with children, I would definitely take the whole day out. If you only come for the Oosterscheldekering, the Delta Experience, the informative films and a walk around the park, half a day is enough.
A weekend in Zierikzee: a must-see in Zeeland
After Neeltje Jans, we returned to Zierikzee and took a fantastic evening bike ride through the town and its surroundings. And boy, is that beautiful, Zierikzee.... I said it right away when we wandered around here: if we ever move back to Holland, I might just live here. How beautiful is Zierikzee. Not only the town, but also the surrounding area. A true gem in the Netherlands.
City break Zierikzee: a Zeeland port city with more than 500 monuments
Zierikzee is one of the most beautiful cities in the Netherlands that I have seen. It could hardly be otherwise with 500 monuments. Walking or biking through Zierikzee, you will see an impressive collection of walls, city gates, harbors, churches, towers and windmills. However, this monument city has much more to offer than history. Think picturesque squares, cute boutiques and cozy restaurants. You can also shop like the best here.
Although Zierikzee has had city rights since the year 1248, its population is only 11,630. This gives a friendly and cozy atmosphere, making Zierikzee ideal for a city trip of a day or weekend.
Not only is the city of Zierikzee great for a visit, but the surrounding area is also worth to explore. For example, visit Westenschouwen, a beautiful nature reserve with forests and beach and beautiful views of the Oosterscheldekering storm surge barrier. In addition, from Zierikzee you can take wonderful bike rides across the island along the water. If you’re lucky you’ll see porpoises. Enjoy the impressive views, not only over the water, but the view of the Zeeland Bridge is fantastic.
In short: if you’re looking for a fun weekend or day out, consider Zierikzee.
Eating out in Zierikzee: Poké Bowl
Whether we wanted to eat Poké Bowl, asked Anne, with whom we were staying (see below). Glazed, we looked at her as if she were speaking Chinese. Poké Bowl… what is that? Totally surprised that we don’t know what Poké Bowl is, she explained. Unfortunately, not yet known in Colombia and the Poké Bowl restaurant we found after our trip looks nothing like the Poké Bowl we know from the Netherlands, not even sushi rice. Anyway… So Poké Bowl it became. In restaurant The Treasury of Zeeland on the waterfront in Zierikzee. I can really recommend it to everyone. Not only an incredibly nice restaurant in a beautiful location, but that food! You understand that I was an instant Poké Bowl fan and ate it as much as possible after Zierikzee. It was the best (Hawaiian) dining-out discovery during our entire stay in the Netherlands.
A weekend break in the Netherlands: discover Zeeland from Zierikzee
Zeeland is beautiful! And, of course, way too big for a weekend trip. But that doesn’t matter, you have to start somewhere. We visited Veere, Zierikzee and Neeltje Jans. Although Zierikzee is not as well known as Middelburg, especially for a vacation in Zeeland, it is still a great base from which to explore Zeeland.
We stayed during our weekend with the incredibly sweet and fun Anne, known for her travel blog Vacations with Teenagers. Her adolescents were not there, so there was a bed left for us. After working with Anne for so long, we finally met for the first time. Always funny to hear for the umpteenth time,“oh, you are much smaller than I imagined you to be!” Indeed, in terms of height, I fit right in between Colombians 😉
In any case: Anne lives in Zierikzee and knows Zeeland like the back of her hand. So she took us on an insanely beautiful bike ride across the island through Zierikzee and along the water, and it was Anne who introduced us to Poké Bowl for the first time.
Anne wrote the blog The best tips for a day out in Zierikzee, should you want to know more about surely one of the most beautiful towns in Holland.
As Anne is not a hotel, here you will find all hotels in Zierikzee.
How much time do you need for Zeeland?
As long as you want to! Also depends on what your goal is. A weekend break in Zeeland is ideal for getting a breath of fresh air and visiting beautiful towns. If you want to take long bike rides, see more towns and go to the beach, you can easily spend 2 weeks here.
What else is there to see in Zeeland?
A lot, including ancient Domburg, capital Middelburg and peninsula Walcheren. I want to visit it all in the future…. And don’t forget on the way back towards the north or east of the Netherlands to visit Kinderdijk . Is around the corner from Zeeland.
What is your best Zeeland tip for a weekend getaway? And are you also such a fan of Poké Bowl?
More tips for a weekend getaway? Check out this weekend getaway in Texel, Den Helder and Huisduinen. Receive every latest blog directly in your mailbox? Sign up here!
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