Setting sail for just a few days over on Texel? You might wish to reserve a while for a day or longer in Den Helder. This coastal neighborhood is residence to a number of nice museums and extra nautical historical past than you may shake a harpoon at.

Den Helder serves as a pit-stop on the best way to Texel for many individuals. You’re certain to come across a number of hundred autos lined up on the ferry terminal on the typical summer time morning as vacationers and locals alike wait to be transported over to the favored island.

However this small metropolis is unquestionably price a correct go to, particularly should you’re heading that manner. For hundreds of years, Den Helder served as a gateway not simply to Texel however to the remainder of the world. It grew to become a hub for sailors and fishermen within the late seventeenth century as rising silt ranges round Amsterdam made getting out and in of its harbours more and more troublesome. A number of dockyards sprang as much as deal with the rising demand for restore work on ships used to journey forwards and backwards throughout the Atlantic and past.

Life in Den Helder largely centred round its waterfront within the centuries that adopted. Town bounced again from heavy bombing throughout World Battle II and one port continues to be utilized by the Royal Navy, however nowadays the native economic system is extra depending on tourism than fishing and the army. However, Den Helder continues to honour its maritime historical past and traditions in its museums. There are additionally loads of cafes that cater to seafood lovers.

Marinemuseum Schorpieon ship Photograph: Brandon Hartley

5 issues to do

Make your strategy to the Marinemuseum

When you don’t thoughts not insubstantial quantities of Dutch jingoism (and loads of German vacationers), this sprawling museum that focuses on the area’s fascinating naval historical past is effectively price a go to. Remember to put aside at the very least three hours to see highlights that embody two historic ships and the Tonijn, a very cramped submarine that required many low-ranking crewmen to sleep in bunks over the torpedoes.

Claustrophobes, or these susceptible to bonking their heads in low doorways, is perhaps extra comfy aboard the Abraham Crijnssen. Whereas it’d sound utterly loopy, this minesweeper was as soon as disguised as a tropical island because the crew fled to Australia on the outset of World Battle II. The museum’s kid-friendly reveals embody radar and sonar stations with a lot of buttons to push. Remember to avoid the very goofy 3D propaganda movie within the theatre by the submarine except you wish to uncover what Dutch marines appear to be unconvincingly enjoying drug traffickers in dangerous 80s wigs.

Don’t overlook the forts

Given its historical past as a strategic port, it ought to come as no shock that Napoleon’s forces made themselves fairly comfy in and round Den Helder again within the day. Fort Kijkduin was constructed by his troops in 1811. Situated in Huisduinen, a small village simply exterior of Den Helder, It’s now residence to an aquarium, a historic museum, and the skeleton of Chris, a big sperm whale. Fort Westoever was constructed in 1825 and has since turn out to be a brewery. Seize a burger and a beer on the cafe earlier than or after testing its two escape rooms. There’s additionally Fort Harssens. Constructed within the Eighteen Eighties, it’s at the moment open by appointment for group excursions.

Artwork by the ocean

De Nollen is a big artwork challenge sometimes open April by the tip of October along with sure Sundays throughout the low season. A stroll by Den Helder’s outdated dune space will take you previous sculptures constructed by artist R.W. van de Wint. The challenge was his life’s work and each was designed to harmonise with the encompassing surroundings. There’s additionally an indoor space with further reveals, however they’re solely accessible throughout guided excursions. On the time of writing, a brand new museum is beneath building on the market. When you favor quirkier artwork, head to Home of Rejoez. This considerably unusual gallery options ‘upcycled’ artwork and furnishings impressed by comedian books, motion pictures, and rock bands. Its neighbouring outlets and galleries on the Spoorstraat concentrate on city and pop artwork.

Take part in a (digital) rescue mission

The family-friendly Nationaal Reddingmuseum focuses on the Dutch search and rescue companies. The museum will train you find out how to learn messages in Morse code, sign with flags, and the way troublesome it’s to function a hand-powered searchlight. You possibly can take a look at lifeboats on the docks exterior and tour them between April and October. There’s additionally a ‘digital actuality expertise’ that offers you the chance to take part in a simulated rescue at sea. If that isn’t sufficient to offer you an thought of what it’s wish to work as a rescue employee tasked with monitoring the North Sea, the museum has a wind tunnel and a boating simulator.

Cease and odor the flowers

Den Helder is residence to Hortus Overzee as effectively. This botanical backyard has a number of outside areas and greenhouses that include native and unique crops. Koi fish and turtles might be present in a calming Japanese backyard with pure stone bridges and Japanese prunuses which can be uncommon on this nook of the world. It’s often open to the general public from Could by early November. Simply exterior of city there’s Kleurrijk Julianadrop, one of many largest tulip bulb manufacturing areas on the planet. The flowers are beautiful throughout the spring months and guests can go on excursions or helicopter rides once they’re in bloom. There’s additionally theatrical performances. You possibly can go to the web site for additional particulars.

Proost! Photograph: Brandon Hartley

The place to eat

Purpose for De Vishal should you’re searching for a fast lunch and like your seafood fried or smoked. It’s conveniently situated close to the prepare station. Just some doorways down at Foodstation Avanti there’s sandwiches, salads, and smoothies. C’est Si Bon is squeezed in between each of them and has each a lunch and dinner menu.

Together with a reputation that’s written in all capital letters, you’ll discover nice views, seafood, and burgers at NOGALWIEDUS over by Fort Kijkduin. You too can gaze out on the sea and watch ships sail previous at ‘t Veerhuis Lands Finish. Together with lunch and dinner, they host excessive tea, excessive beer, and excessive wine gatherings. The family-owned Powngtong is a good spot for Thai meals. Have you ever acquired fussy eaters or tots with you? Look no additional than De Pannenkoekenvallei.

The cosy Deugeniet is the place to move for breakfast or linger over a cup of espresso and a slice of cheesecake if the climate turns foul. The nautical-themed Bij Tante Nel is one other great spot to look at boats go by. They do breakfast and borrels. Within the temper for ice cream or a hefty ‘freak shake’? Then head to Bella Gioia.

The place to remain

When you’d wish to go tenting with out all that outdoorsy stuff, e-book an evening or two at Forest Lodge. The rooms have a woodsy theme. A extra luxurious expertise awaits you at Grand Lodge Beatrix over in Huisduinen. It has a heated indoor pool, sauna, and Turkish steam room.

Additionally in Huisduinen there’s The Baron Crown. It’s a captivating B & B with ‘30s decor. Within the temper for one thing extra rustic? Take a look at the wagons at B&B Boerderij Rust. Different unconventional lodgings can be found at Dutch African Breeze.

Easy methods to get there

When you’re on board the ferry from Texel, the crossing averages 20 minutes. The roughly 93 kilometre journey up the A7 from Amsterdam takes about 70 minutes. Travelling by prepare? The journey from Amsterdam Centraal to Den Helder’s prepare station often runs 70 to 80 minutes.


Like many cities, cities, and villages all throughout the Netherlands, Den Helder has its personal native liquor. Really, there’s two of them. When you care to imbibe, bottles of Helders Duinwater and De Smaak van Den Helder can be found at Slijterij en Wijnhandel Van Oeveren.

The native naval base opens its gates yearly for Marinedagen, however the dates can range from yr to yr. There are army demonstrations and members of the general public can tour just a few of the ships. When you’re a superb swimmer, you might also wish to take into account collaborating within the annual Seaside to Seaside Swim that takes place each August or September. It’s not for the faint of coronary heart and you could possibly encounter the whole lot from waves to curious seals throughout the gruelling 6 kilometre swim from Huisduinen to Den Helder.

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