Texel is one of the most famous Wadden islands in the Netherlands. It is the largest island, but there are still more sheep than people. Texel is an island where you’ll find sea, beaches, forests, polders, seals and mudflats. It is the island where in spring and autumn thousands of migratory birds come to rest and breed. In recent years, Texel has grown into a nature island, a place where you can unwind, enjoy being outdoors and taste delicious regional products! In this article you will find the best things to do on Texel, outdoor activities, special overnight stays and the best restaurants for a wonderful stay on this Dutch island.
The Dutch Wadden region
The Wadden area runs from Den Helder along the German coast to Denmark. There are 45 to 50 islands, some are real islands, other more sandbars. Typical for the Wadden (mudflats) are the sandbanks with mud that dry up along the coast during low tide, an important food source for birds because of the rich soil life. Wadden coasts are found all over the world, such as in the Atlantic coast of France, the North Sea coast of England, the Yellow Sea near Korea, North America and Mauritania. In tropical regions, similar areas often become overgrown with magrove forests. The Dutch Wadden Sea is the largest Wadden Sea in the world and is on the Unesco world heritage list
What to do on Texel Netherlands? Outdoor activities and tips
1. De Slufter | Best things to do on Texel Netherlands
The slufter is a beautiful nature area on Texel. The row of dunes has not held up and therefore the sea has no boundaries here. At high tide, the area becomes a large inland sea. At low tide there are small pools everywhere. Because fresh and salt water mix with each other, a unique vegetation has been created, with different (water) bird species. Plants that tolerate salt water to varying degrees such as sea lavender and sea aster are growing all around the area. The Slufter is a great place to go for easy walks.
I was particularly impressed by the many different shades of green and brown. What a nice area to walk through and get a breath of fresh air! In summer, the area turns purple, from the flowering sea lavender and in autumn red, from the aging salicorn. Beautiful! I was there in October and colors were still visible. Make sure to wear good shoes. After rain, you will find yourself walking through a lot of pools.
2. Observe sea lions
One of the best things to do on Texel is to go on a tour and spot sea lions. There is nothing more beautiful than being able to observe animals in their natural habitat. On Texel you’ll able to see the regular seal and the gray seal, better known as Robben. One of the best places to observe seals is in the North, around the “Eierlandse Gat”, which can be reached by a boat trip from De Cocksdorp.
After fifteen minutes of sailing, you can already see the first animals relaxing on the sandbanks. Because the sandbanks are high and steep and the water never rises above the sandbar, it is the perfect place for sea lions to rest. The seals are super curious and often swim towards the boat, wich makes it perfect for taking pictures. The trip can be made with de Vriendschap from De Cocksdorp and takes about an hour.
3. Birds watching Texel Netherlands
Looking for birds is a wonderful way to relax and forget everything around you. More than 400 different species live on Texel, so there is a good chance that you will actually encounter something beautiful. The Waddenzeedijk is called the bird promenade, because of the many types of birds that settle around. Utopia nature reserve and freshwater dune lake Binnen Muy are important breeding grounds for the blue heron and spoonbill, among others. The Mokbaai is also a popular place for bird watchers. At low tide you will find a plain full of birds and from the viewpoint you can often admire nesting spoonbills. In May there are many orchids and birds around the bog lakes. And also the Robbejager is worth exploring. In every season there are different birds to observe, so make sure you know where to go if you are planning to see some specific species.
Tip: Once in a while I like to go out with a real bird connoisseur. On Texel, this is possible with the experts of Vogelinformatiecentrum Texel. Depending on the season, different tours can be booked. But of course you can also head out with a private guide. This way you learn more about the different species, but also get tips & tricks to spot birds yourself. Think of it as training your eye. If you want to know more about the birds, seasons and tours, be sure to check the website of the Bird Information Center.
4. Hike at nature reserves on the island
Texel is the perfect island for beautiful walks. You can go for lovely beach walks. But also worthwhile are, forest area De Dennen, near de Koog and nature area, De Hors, in the south of Texel, De Hoge Berg (the high mountain), one of the oldest parts of Texel, De Muy, De Robbejager and of course De Slufter. Going for nice hikes and getting a breath of fresh air is definitely one of the best things to do on Texel.
5. Hike on the wad (mudflats) | What to do on Texel Netherlands
If you are on a wadden island, you can not miss a real Wad experience. On Texel you can access the wad, twice a day, 2 hours before low tide and two hours after. It is therefore important to check this before you start your hike. It is also recommended to do this typical Texel activity with a guide from Ecomare, who is able to explain everything about life in the mudflats. I loved hiking around, observing all the little creatures in the mudflats and enjoying the beautiful clouds formations.
Keep in mind that in many places you will sink to at least halfway your knees, so wear suitable footwear.
6. Horse back riding on Texel Netherlands
On Texel you can enjoy horseback riding through forests, dunes and along beaches. From October to April it is possible to go horse riding along the entire beach of Texel. In summer there are specially designated areas because of the daily beach guests. Texel has everal riding schools, where you can book horse tours, such as at Jan Plezier Texel, Stoeterij van der Linde and Manege de Krim.
7. Cycle around the life of Dutch author Jan Wolkers
If you are a Dutch literature lover, then you have probably heard of writer Jan Wolkers. Jan Wolkers lived on Texel for years and wrote several books from here. There are cycling routes that pass important places from his life, such as his former home and a number of places, playing a role in his books. For more cycling & Texel activities, visit www.route.nl
8. The lighthouse | Things to do on Texel Netherlands
When you are on Texel you should definitely pay attention to the 35meter high iconic lighthouse. It is located at the northernmost tip of the island and can’t be missed, because of its red color. You can walk up a spiral staircase to the sixth floor and look out over the Waddenzee, Texel and neighboring island Vlieland. The view is not spectacular, but it is always fun to climb a tower for a view. There are different signs around the tower, pointing in the direction of the North Pole and England, including a display with the distance in kilometers. It is one of the best things to do on Texel, if you want to look out over the island.
A little bit of history. The lighthouse was built in the mid-19th century because many ships got into problems on the north side of Texel and sailors lost their lives. During the Second World War, the tower was part of the defense line that the Germans built along the Dutch coast. Because the tower was completely destroyed after the war, the lighthouse was rebuilt by constructing a second tower around it. Today, the tower consists of two walls and you can even walk between them on the fourth floor. The lighthouse has been in use again since 1950 and has been an official national monument since 1982.
9. Stroll through authentic villages
You will find 7 villages on Texel. Den Burg is the capital of the island. Here you will find nice shops and restaurants. Oudeschild is known for its fish market and fishing port, where you can see the fishing boats returning and departing on weekends. The beautiful church in Den Hoorn is worth driving by and taking a picture. De Waal is the smallest village on the island. And also Oosterend is a cute village to explore. Try to visit one or more villages and just stroll around. At many houses you can buy fresh eggs and herbs. You just put a few euros through the letterbox and take a package with you.
10. Shrimp fishing on the Waddensea
Do you want to learn more about fishing on the Wadden Sea, then definitely head out with a shrimp fishing ship. One of the typical things to do on Texel. You will learn more about life on and around the ship. Large fishing nets are thrown out and you will be amazed by the large quantities of crabs, starfish, gurnards, weevers and flatfish plaice, shrimps and sole. Most of the fish are thrown back, but the shrimps immediately go into the boiling water, so you can try and eat as many as you want. The fishing ship departs from Oudeschild.
Texel things to do indoors
1. Visit Ecomare | What to do on Texel indoors
If you want to see sea lions up close, it is worth to visit the seal rescue center Ecomare. Seals that are weak, sick or have lost their mothers are taken care of here, but as soon as they have gained strength, they are released back into the sea. Ecomare became the first seal rescue center in 1952 and grew into an important nature museum for the Wadden. It is located in the middle of the National Park “Dunes of Texel”, where you can go for nice walks. There is also a bird rescue station where injured and oiled birds are looked after. A visit to Ecomare is one of the best things to do on Texel, if you want to learn more about flora and fauna.
2. Visit Museum Kaap Skil | things to do on Texel indoors
Would you like to learn more about the maritime history of Texel? Visit the Museum Kaap Skil. Texel was an important international hub for shipping in the Golden Age, something that is explained in the museum through models, underwater finds from old shipwrecks and maritime objects. Part of the museum is inside and another part is outside.
The best restaurants | What to do on Texel Netherlands
1. Have dinner at Op Oost, one of the top restaurants on Texel
Let me start by saying that you just really want to spend the night at Op Oost as well. But if you have other plans, make sure you book a table here for dinner. The Served by Nature menu is the big culinary surprise of the island and therefore without a doubt one of the best restaurants on Texel. They play with sweet, sour and different structures in their dishes. Think of an appetizer of cucumber, celery and white chocolate, an oyster ceviche, hake with sea lavender and razor. Langoustine with Seaweed and Baby Corn, Tarragon, Quinoa and Horseradish.
And everything is super fresh, coming straight from the herb garden, the sea and the mudflats. You can choose for wine pairing or an alcohol-free option with cocktails and tea, made from herbs and fruits. And while you’re there, order some oysters as well. They are served with sea banana and puffed quinoa. Delicious!
2. Book a table in Michelin-starred restaurant Bij Jef | What to do on Texel
Would you like to dine or have lunch in a Michelin-starred restaurant on Texel? In Den Hoorn you can dine at Bij Jef, awarded a Michelin star. Owner and chef Jef Schuur worked at star restaurants in the Netherlands and abroad for years and then opened his own place. His international knowledge and love for Texel resulted in an exclusive restaurant where local meets cosmopolitan.
Local products such as Texel cheeses, shellfish and the famous Texel lamb, play an important role in a seven-course dinner or lunch. A daily changing menu! Make sure you also book wine pairing. All wines match the dishes perfectly and have been selected by the sommelier, who also won a prize for best female sommelier in the Netherlands. Bij Jef is without a doubt one of the top restaurants on Texel.
Enjoy local products | Texel what to do
Texel is known for its delicious regional products. At the following places on Texel you can get familiar with these specialties and experience some typical Texel activities.
- At cheese dairy Wezenspyk, they make Texel sheep cheese, goat cheese and farm cow cheese. During your visit you will learn about the process of cheese making and of course you can taste different types. It is also possible to visit the adjacent Sheep Museum and learn all about the famous Texel sheep.
- At Labora ice cream you can taste artisan ice cream, made from fresh milk and cream from Texel cows! Delicious!
- Did you know that Texel also has its own vineyard? De Kroon van Texel. You are able to observe the wine process and of course it is possible to taste delicious wines.
- For fresh strawberries, strawberry jam and lemonade, head to De reuze aardbei (the giant strawberry)
- If you like mushrooms, buy some shii-take at the Texel mushroom nursery. Top restaurants on Texel and beyond get their shii-take here. The mushrooms are grown manually. Pure organic.
- At Fruitbedrijf Molenbuurt you can pick your own fruit. There are apples and pears and you can try delicious fruit juices.
- At the Waddel you will find traditional Texel sheep cheese, from the Texel region. (the Texels sheep). There is a small shop where you can buy your products by appointment. It is also possible to book some special Texel activities, where you spend a day with a sheep farmer, and help with daily activities on the farm.
- Novalishoeve is a biological farm with cows, sheep, pigs and chicken. There are tasty and organic products such as herbal tea, vegetables, bread, dairy products and cosmetics. It is also possible to see how ice cream and cheese are made.
Where to stay on Texel Netherlands?
When you are planning to visit Texel, make sure you spend the night at Op Oost. On Oost is a former Texel farmhouse and has been transformed into a boutique hotel. It is located in the village of Oost, and surrounded by a 2700m2 garden, just 200 meters from the Wadden Sea.
It is a place where you can relax and enjoy the pieceful surroundings. There are suites and lodges and most of them are located directly on the beautiful garden, which is full of herbs and flowers. In the rooms there is homemade vegan soap and shower gel, made from chamomile, lavender, rosemary and eucalyptus, of course from the garden. Book a served by nature dinner with wine pairing, and make sure you order some fresh wild oysters.
Op Oost is all about nature, sustainability and relaxing. It is therefore one of the best places to stay on Texel, if you want to escape the daily hustle! highly recommended!
Tip: if you spend the night at Op Oost, try to schedule a moment to go to the wad, with the Op Oost team. You will collect oysters, learn how to open the and get an explanation about the countless herbs that you can pick wild here. In the evening all ingredients will be presented on your plate.
How to get around on Texel Netherlands
If you want to see a lot of the island in a short amount of time, I would recommend to rent a car. But Texel is also a perfect island for cycling. There is more than 140 kilometers of cycle path. Bring a bike or rent a bike when you arrive.
How to reach Texel Netherlands?
From the northern city of Den Helder you take the ferry Texo, which will bring you to the Horntje, across the water, within 20 minutes. Cars and / or bicycles can come along and you can easily buy a ticket online in advance. The ticket is valid for a return journey.
Amsterdam to Texel
If you want to travel from Amsterdam to Texel, you have several options. You can rent a car in Amsterdam and drive to Den Helder, from where you take the boat to Texel. Or you can travel by train from Amsterdam Central Station towards Den Helder, wich takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Once you are at Den Helder Central station, there are buses going towards the port, where the ferry to Texel leaves.
Did you enjoy reading what to do on Texel Netherlands and do want to discover more of the Netherlands? Then read all the blogs about the Netherlands in the archive, including an extensive city guide for Haarlem, with the best things to do in terms of art, culture, boutique shops, lunchrooms & restaurants. Or the article with tips for a day between the flowers of Aalsmeer and castles, gardens and lakes around Amsterdam.
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This post is also available in: Nederlands (Dutch)