The north of Holland and especially the city of Den Helder and its surroundings are really worth a visit. There is so much to see, do and discover. By thinking of Den Helder, you may think of the ferry to the island of Texel and the start of the Afsluitdijk. But Den Helder has more, much more. Den Helder has beaches, fortresses and forests, and a fascinating history. This city and its surroundings are really worth wandering around for a few days.
The city of Den Helder is the most northern city on the mainland of the Dutch province of North Holland. This northern point is also called “Kop van Noord” which you can translate as “Head of North”. The port of Den Helder is the base of the Dutch Navy. Moreover, it is a fishing port. Around Den Helder you find an amazing dune area and south of Den Helder, you find a vast area with Dutch bulb fields.
The strategic position of Den Helder along the seaside; its natural port and its position at the gate to the Wadden Sea make its harbor of great military importance. The port dates back to the fifteenth century. The city was bombed several times during the second World war and rebuilt in the fifties of the last century.
So what to do and see in the northern city of Den Helder and its surroundings:
Harbour | Port of Den Helder
Take a walk around the port of Den Helder and watch the ships sail in and out of the harbor.
Marine Museum | Navy Museum
The Navy Museum is located at the Oude Rijkswerf, also known as Willemsoord. The grounds belong to the Royal Netherlands Navy, which still uses some of the buildings. What makes a visit to the Navy Museum in Den Helder special? You can enter a submarine and wander around in it.
The Navy Museum has a grand collection of historic nautic objects.
Lighthouse, Fortress, North Sea Aquarium, and Atlantic Wall Museum of Huisduinen near Den Helder
Huisduinen is a former whaling village, this village borders Den Helder. This coastal town has a lot to offer:
Lighthouse The Tall Jaap
One of the oldest lighthouses in the Netherlands and the highest cast iron lighthouse in Europe, the lighthouse is called “The Lange Jaap” | “The Tall Jaap”. The lighthouse is a real eye-catcher.
Fortress Kijkduin and the Nor Sea Aquarium
The biggest tourist attraction of Huisduinen is Fort Kijkduin. This fortress was commissioned by Napoleon. The Napoleonic Fortress Huisduinen contains a museum and the North Sea aquarium. The Museum Fort Kijkduin shows the history of the fort, its inhabitants, and the environment.
The North Sea aquarium of Fort Kijkduin was the first in the Netherlands to have a 15-meter walk-through tunnel where visitors could walk underwater and see fish as sharks and rays swimming around and above them. How special was that? Fort Kijkduin with the North Sea Aquarium is located in the dunes and can be reached via various walking and cycling routes.
Address: Admiraal Verhuellplein 1, 1789 AX Huisduinen
Atlantikwall museum | The Atlantic Wall Museum
Den Helder had an extremely hard time in the second world war. In the Atlantic Wall Center, you hear and see the story of the Second World War in Den Helder and the Atlantic Wall. It is one of ten Atlantic Wall locations that are open to the public in the Wadden area. In the Atlantic Wall center, you learn about the bizarre period of the Second World War. Do you want to know what life was like in Den Helder during the 2nd WWO, and what a German soldier did during these horrible 5 years? Where have the people gone who had to flee or were evacuated? How the city of Den Helder was destroyed by the many bombings. Discover what the Atlantic Wall is and why it was built. The whole of Den Helder was declared a restricted area during the Second World War. Around these forbidden places were mines and barbed wire. Entirely old Den Helder and the houses around the canals were demolished for this kilometer-long Atlantic Wall. Den Helder was brutally robbed of her past as a result. After the war, the city of Den Helder was built up at an accelerated pace. war accelerated. The museum shows impressive films and stories from eyewitnesses.
Address: A.W. van de Wintstraat 41, 1789 BB Huisduinen
Den Helder, is the last city on the mainland of North Holland. Experience Den Helder
Den Helder is nice, so nice that you want to stay for a couple of days
How nice is it to sleep under the lighthouse Tall Jaap.➔ Book here Hotel Onder de Lange Jaap
Nature park and Art project “De Nollen”
Southwest of Den Helder is a nature area called De Nollen. This area has several layers of higher located Wadden Island. These Wadden islands consist of dunes. These dunes also remained dry at high tide. De Nollen is a remnant of one of these higher areas. Deceased Reindert Wepko van de Wint also known as Ruud van de Wint has made from “De Nollen” an art project of unparalleled beauty. After exhibiting in European museums, Ruud van de Wint withdrew in 1980 to the old inner dune house in the De Nollen where he concentrated on making paintings, structures, and sculptures in connection with the dune landscape. Ruud Van de Wint is known for his paintings in the House of Representatives and ceiling paintings in the Groningen city hall and Noordeinde Palace. De Nollen can only be visited with a guided tour, which can be booked online. The tour starts in the artist’s former studio.
Address: De Nollen, Burgemeester Ritmeesterweg 10, 1784 NV Den Helder
Shopping, drinking, having a lovely meal, enjoy freshly baked fish in Den Helder
After all this sightseeing it’s nice to do something else. The center of Den Helder is very pleasant. There are many new attractive trendy shops and you will also find plenty of shops with healthy local products. Besides shopping, you can have a coffee or a bite at one of the cozy terraces, cafes, and restaurants in Den Helder. Don’t forget to eat delicious freshly baked fish at one of the fish stalls or fish restaurants in the cozy harbor of Den Helder.
The best things to do in Den Helder
- Take a walk through the port. The navy and coast guard are always present over here. In the port, you find the impressive Navy Museum.
- Visit the fortress Kijkduin, built by Napoleon who thought Den Helder could become the Gibraltar of the north.
- The yearly Summer Carnival in Den Helder the second weekend in the month of July is quite a party. The Carnival is part of the “Helderse Zomerfeesten”.
- Two times in three years, most times in the month of July is the two days event “Open days of the Dutch Navy “. . This event attracts a lot of visitors. They are also called “Marine dagen” or “Navy days”.
- The Botanical Garden “Hortus Overzee” offers a fine collection of plants.
Major things to do in and around Den Helder
- Make a long walk along the blooming tulip fields of Zijpe in April and the beginning of May. Here you find an important area with Dutch bulb fields.
- Take the ferry to Texel. The trip lasts approx. 45 minutes. Enjoy the Wadden Sea.
- Climb to the top of the Light House in Huisduinen and enjoy the great view over the city, the sea, and a dune landscape.
- Go on a nature trip and visit: the “Donkere Duinen”, “Mariendal”” and “The Helderse Vallei”.
- Visit the Zoo Hoenderdael in Anna Powlona Address: Van Ewijckskade 1, 1761 JA Anna Paulowna.
More things to do in Den Helder
The Navy days in Den Helder are a major event. Usually, this event is combined with Sail Den Helder. This event took place on 9 and 10 July 2022. The expectation is that the next open days will be organized in 2024.