Discover the unique province of Zeeland, a province of the Netherlands rich in nature and history, located in the southwestern part of the country. It consists of several former islands (hence the name Zeeland, land of the sea) and a strip of land bordering Belgium to the south.
Here in Zeeland, you can enjoy beautiful beaches with crystal clear water and culinary delicacies from the sea such as mussels and lobster. Large parts of Zealand lie below sea level. This area is also ideal for camping enthusiasts. As soon as you arrive at your destination, you’ll want to jump on your bike, as Zealand is a paradise thanks to its efficient network of cycling routes. Recharge your batteries and get on your bike to explore this beautiful landscape! Start your tour from Vlissingen, pass Middelburg, Oostkapelle, Domburg and Westkapelle, nature is waiting for you!
1. The Vlissingen Cycle Route
Start in Vlissingen and cycle along the Walcheren canal to the historic town of Middelburg. From here the route takes you to Oostkapelle. You will pass through the seaside places of Domburg and Westkapelle where scenes of heavy fighting took place during World War II. Along the coast, there are sandy beaches where you can stop for a swim in summer. The return point will be Vlissingen. The total distance is 49 km (3h15). Follow the green route number 86.
2. The Best Natural Beaches
Zealand boasts 650 km of coastline, with plenty of natural beaches offering activities for everyone. You can take long walks and enjoy a variety of water sports. These natural beaches offer a variety of extraordinary plants such as sea herring and sea fennel, as well as animals such as nightingales and Highland cows. Some attractive natural beaches are ‘t Oude Vuur in Nieuw-Haamstede, Domeinen 3 in Wenstenschouden, Kievitte in Cadzand-Bad, ‘t Zwin in Retranchement and Zwarte Polder in Nieuwvliet-Bad.
3. The Best Beaches for Families
Zeeland offers beautiful, safe, clean beaches with children’s play areas, ideal for families. Ouddorp, Cadzand and Oostkapelle are among the best locations. In Cadzand and Oostkapelle you can also go surfing. With a bit of luck, seals can be spotted at low tide in Ouddorp.
4. The Best Beaches for Water Sports
If you are a water sports enthusiast, Zealand will surprise you. Blokarting, surfing, wakeboarding: in Zealand, you will find the best places to practice these sports as well as a wide range of schools offering lessons and equipment. De Brouwersdam is the most popular destination for watersports enthusiasts. It is easily accessible and almost always has very high waves. Windsurfers, kitesurfers and surfers have plenty of space and high waves in Domburg, as well as at the Watergat beach in Renesse. Surfing is also possible at Duinstrand beach in Vlissingen. Here are some surf and kitesurf schools where you can rent all the necessary equipment:
- Sailing and Surfing Centre Brouwersdam (Ossenhoek 1, Ouddorp)
- Xwatersport/Movement, kitesurfing and windsurfing (Sophiaboulevard, Kamperland)
- Surf school Domburg (Strandovergang 49, Domburg)
- Schotsman water sports centre, water skiing, wakeboarding and sup (Campensweg 3, Kamperland)
- Beware Beach (Strandpaviljoen Brouw, Brouwersdam)
5. Middelburg and its Great Abbey
As the name implies, Middelburg is a ‘burg’, a fortified town. Little remains of the city walls, but you can still see the star-shaped canal around the old town. Navigation and trade have always been Middelburg’s main source of livelihood. Like Rotterdam, Middelburg’s old town was destroyed by German bombing in May 1940. Inside the Middelburg Abbey, there are beautiful cloisters, two adjoining churches, both Protestant, the 14th-century Koorkerk and the 16th-century Niewekerk. Between the two churches, the 91-metre-high Lange Jan towers over the city’s rooftops. The Lange Jan is one of the three towers of the abbey complex and is ranked as the third-highest tower in the Netherlands.
In Middelburg, you can’t miss the Markt, the beautiful square with the elegant Stadhuis in the middle, considered to be the most beautiful town hall in the Netherlands. The houses are reflected in the canal in the historic town of Middleburg. During the Dutch Golden Age Middelburg was a flourishing centre of international trade. Situated on the central Zeeland peninsula, the town occupied a strategic position on the trade routes used by the Dutch East India Company. Take a break at the kiosk on Markt square.
6. Vlissingen and the local gastronomy
Vlissingen is a coastal town and a lively seaside place. Thanks to its strategic location it has been one of the main ports of Holland for centuries. In addition to its enviable location by the sea, it offers a wide choice of beach kiosks where you can sample various local street food delicacies: Kibbeling, which consists of fried fish morsels. The word “kibbeling” originally referred to the waste from the cod fishery. The herring sandwich ‘Broodje haring‘, which is made of herring, cucumber and onion, is a Jewish delicacy. Meat croquettes and béchamel “Broodje kroket“, the oysters of Yerseke. Enjoy salmon fillet and sea bream with Mediterranean tomato and paprika sauce at Brasserie BLVD with a sea view. Just before you reach the boulevard you will see signs for the World Wind Organ. When the wind blows through the reeds it produces interesting sounds.
7. Oostkapelle, Nature and Beach
This charming village on the Zealand coast offers a wide range of activities including interesting markets, nature reserves with dunes and forests, and long, fine sandy beaches that have been awarded the Blue Flag for cleanliness and water quality. There are also various activities for children. The beach at Oostkapelle is not just for sailing, diving or surfing. Explore the Walcheren peninsula, visit the Westhove castle, the Terra Maris museum (dedicated to the nature and landscape of Zealand).
8. Domburg and its Magnificent Elegance
Domburg is Zealand’s oldest and most elite seaside place. In the past, only the very rich could afford to come here. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the wealthy merchants of Middelburg built their summer residences here. It was only in the 1830s that sea bathing became popular among the elite. It enjoys a pleasant atmosphere. The village with its old buildings has a picturesque appearance. There are wide, clean beaches with well-equipped bathing establishments in the surrounding area. Behind the dunes is the village centre, which has an important cultural tradition. At the beginning of the 20th century, many artists stayed here in search of inspiration, including Piet Mondriaan. Domburg borders on the nature reserve ‘de Manteling’, a beautiful forest bordering the dunes where you can go walking and cycling. The forest stretches from Domburg to Oostkapelle and is home to a huge variety of plants and animals.
9. Westkapelle and its Wonderful View
From Westkapelle you have a wonderful view of the sea. The Westkapelle area is located on the westernmost point of the Walcheren Peninsula. It looks quiet now, but the tank on top of the dyke is a reminder of the devastation that took place during the Second World War. The lighthouse once served as a bell tower. It is an excellent destination for water sports enthusiasts. The beaches are long and wide with typical wooden embankments. Dogs are allowed to roam free on the beach throughout the year; from May to September it is best to bring them on a leash. To the south of Westkapelle, you’ll find a dune landscape with the highest dunes in the whole of the Netherlands, reaching as far as the nearby beach place of Zoutelande, perfect for long walks and bike rides.
10. Veere and its tradition as a commercial port
After your walk-through Middelburg, Oostkapelle and Domburg, take a bike tour to Veere, always starting in Flessinga. It’s about 30 KM to get there and back. Veere is a small town on the Veerse Meer lake that was once very powerful during the Dutch Republic. Richly laden ships from Scotland moored on the lake. It began to prosper in the 16th century when it became the main port for Scottish wool. Visit the Campvere tower and the imposing Grote Kerk church, which were built around 1500. Don’t miss Oma’s Snoepwinkel (Grandma’s sweet shop). Here you can choose from more than 100 types of old Dutch sweets and traditional liquorice.
What are you waiting for? Rent your bike from Rijwiel and start your tour! If you’re with your four-legged friend, don’t worry, you’ll find the perfect bike for you!
Cover image: photo via Canva Pro