There is no other place in the world I know better than Het Twiske. I grew up with this area as my second backyard. It has so many options and possibilities that even I can still discover new things. This is where I spent my summers when I was young. We’d go for a swim at one of the beaches, play in one of the play yards, do all sorts of watersports, ride our bikes in the summer breeze or go for an evening stroll.
Nowadays I usually take a nice hike or a cooling swim. The park is for all ages and can be rediscovered over and over again. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I always have and still do. The park is open year round from sunrise to sunset.
The park was designed by Mariske Pemmelaar-Groot in 1972. The idea of Het Twiske is a recreation area for the people of Amsterdam. It provides more extensive recreation choices in the south and west and more natural areas in the north and east.
Before the area was turned into a park it was a peat bog with a river called Twiske. The river drained all excess water from the peat and emptied into the IJ. To make the land more accessible the area was turned into a polder. A canal was dug and a dyke was installed to pump out the water. Now, when you are on the edge of the park you can see effect of the lands dehydration. The park land is a lot lower than the surrounding area, the same can be said about the water levels.
Traveling to Het Twiske
Het Twiske is situated north of Amsterdam, in between the towns of Landsmeer and Oostzaan. To reach it you have various options.
By car you can enter the park in four different places. The biggest entrance in Oostzaan, Zuiderlaak (situated south west of the park) offers roads that let you explore the park in your car. Entrance fees through Zuiderlaak are €6 a day. Two other entrances only offers a short drive ending in a parking area; one is in Oostzaan, Twiskeweg and other one is on the Landsmeer side of the park, Polderweg. There’s also an entrance through Den Ilp This is the most North you can drive with your car into the park. I’m not sure if there is an entrance fee for this entrance.
You’re able to reach Het Twiske by public transportation if you don’t mind a little walk to reach it. The nearest bus stops are: Amsterdam, Pieter A van Heyningestraat; Landsmeer, Burg. Postweg; Den Ilp, Nr 93; and Oostzaan, Kolksloot. Busses run from Amsterdam and Zaandam train stations.
The easiest way to discover the park is by bicycle. Bikes are available for rent at Amsterdam Central station. Another option is to bring your own bike. Park your car at one of the free parking areas, or ride straight from the place where you’re staying.
Where to stay
The park doesn’t offer any places where you can spend the night. The North of Amsterdam and the adjourning Landsmeer and Oostzaan offer a variety off hotels and other facilities close enough to cycle into the park. There is also a campground that is very close to the park. I won’t be able to tell you about the quality of any of these places, since I’ve never needed to use them.
However the park does offer day camp spots, where you can put up your tent for the day.
Het Twiske offers a number of hiking trails. The park is a part of a long distance hike (LAW 2 – Trekvogelpad) connecting east and west of the Netherlands on a hike of 414 km. The largest loop of the park is 16 km long, showing you all aspects of the park. Many trails are not part of any specific route, so you can vary the routes you take. You can check out the hikes website to see what routes are available for you.
I find it very interesting to just take a path and see where it leads. It takes you away from the big crowds. There is no possibility of actually getting lost here as the dike and the ring of water are a sure signal to keep you within the park. You might not know where you are for a while, but that might just offer you the opportunity to discover new things.
Most of the routes throughout the park are on gravel paths. Here and there you’ll be walking on the cycle path. These are usually wide enough to offer space for everyone. When you’re out with a stroller or wheelchair the bike roads offer you enough options to explore the park.
Twiske Haven offers boats for rental. You’ll be able to take out a sailing boat, a kayak or rowing boat and more funny stuff. The Stooterplas lake is only for non motorized water sports which makes it a very interesting experience. During summer they have a coast guard present to keep an eye on people who might be in trouble.
Besides all the sports happening on water’s surface there is also a popular diving location. Since this lake a result of removing high quantities of sand, the lake is fairly deep (for Dutch standards). A diving landscape has been set up under water and the high water quality creates a great view (again for Dutch standards).
I’ve kayaked, sailed, surfed and swam in the lake, but I’ve never been diving there. Maybe one day I’ll be able to try that too.
As I said before, biking is the easiest way of discovering Het Twiske. Whatever we (my family and I) would set out to do there, 99% of the time we rode in with our bikes. If you are looking for a full day on the bicycle then I’d advise you to include the park as part of a larger route. Otherwise you’ll end up doing 3 circles of Het Twiske, and that might not be the most fun. The park is connected to a large range of cycle paths. The Netherlands enrolled a cycling network throughout the whole country. It’s a system of intersection points (“knooppuntennetwerk” in Dutch), where you ride from one intersection to the next. Maps are available to help plan your route.
Recently Het Twiske developed a mountain bike trail within the park. It’s not at all comparable to going through the Alps, but it offers a nice exercise. The trail is highly used throughout the year and is located in the southeast corner of the park next to De Breek lake.
What else to do
Once a year the Welcome To The Future Festival comes to Het Twiske. It’s a great festival that really connects with the landscape. The music is Minimal, Techno and House style. And the decorations and food are all connecting with the organic lifestyle.
Het Twiske is also equipped for horseback riding. Sandy trails, mostly apart from all other traffic, offer enough options to explore by horse.
Picnicking and barbecuing are also things that are widely enjoyed in the park. There are enough places within the park where you can park your car near a nice grassy meadow to place your picnic blanket on and relax there for the afternoon and evening.
The park has some very nice playgrounds to offer. The biggest one is an adventure playground where you use rope bridges to enter a different island, sewer pipes to crawl underground, big swings, many other ways to cross the water in a scary but fun way. It also offers enough space to have a nice picnic to gain some energy for the rest of the day. This is one of my favourite places in the park, even as an adult I can enjoy it (yeah there’s still a little child in me).
The park offers an interesting landscape that is quite rare. The grassy meadows and the high amount of water makes it very appealing for specific types of birds. Enjoy viewing the birds in spring and summer.
The park maintenance has changed a lot of asphalt over the last years in Het Twiske. This is ideal for skating. It’s great to explore the park in a completely different way. It’s possible to do a full round of the park which is about 12 km.
If winter is cold enough to freeze the waters, the park can be discovered from a whole new perspective. Unfortunately the opportunity seldom arises. Together with my dad I’ve done a full circle of the park on my speed skates, many, many years ago. It’s something I’ll never forget, mainly because my dad took a big fall on one of the crazy bumps in the ice under the entrance bridges. He fell hard on his back, got up, shook his head and then kept going, while I was freaking out that he got hurt. That memory still makes me laugh.
Historic information – https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Het_Twiske
Parks website – http://www.twiske-waterland.nl/
Campground – http://www.campinghetrietveen.nl/
Intersections for biking – https://www.anwb.nl/fietsen/fietsknooppuntroutes
Boat rental – http://www.twiskehaven.nl/bootverhuur/
Welcome To The Future – http://welcometothefuture.nl/