The Wadden Islands in the Netherlands, or TVTAS, which stands for Texel, Vlieland, Terschelling, Ameland, and Schierkmonnikoog. In the summer, the Wadden Islands are a very popular holiday destination for many Dutch people, but also for tourists from neighbouring countries like the UK. However, the islands are also worth visiting during the winter. And did you know that the Wadden has the most hours of sunshine in the Netherlands? Also in winter! Although they're not the most well-known on British soil, we're going to unpack just why you need to pay a visit to these breathtaking islands this winter, plus give you the lowdown on the top 5 worth visiting.

Why you should consider a winter trip to the Wadden Islands

Located in the northern part of the Netherlands, the Wadden Islands might not be a familiar name to many British travellers, but they are a hidden treasure waiting to be explored. Here's why us Brits should consider a visit to these unique Dutch islands:

  • Proximity: The Wadden Islands are conveniently situated for British travellers. With easy access to the Netherlands via ferry services or short flights from major UK airports, you can escape to these islands in no time.
  • Untouched Natural Beauty: The Wadden Islands are renowned for their unspoilt natural landscapes. From vast beaches to peaceful dunes and vibrant salt marshes, these islands offer a different kind of beauty that's not often associated with typical beach destinations.
  • Unique Ecosystem: The Wadden Sea, which surrounds these islands, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the largest tidal systems in the world. It's a haven for wildlife and an excellent spot for birdwatching. The islands themselves are home to diverse ecosystems, making them perfect for nature enthusiasts.
  • Tranquillity: If you're seeking a peaceful and relaxing getaway, the Wadden Islands are a dream come true. Many of these islands are car-free, offering a sense of serenity that's rare in today's bustling world.
  • Rich History and Culture: The Wadden Islands have a rich maritime history, and you can explore their unique cultural heritage. From charming villages to lighthouses and local festivals, these islands have a charm of their own.
  • Activities for All Seasons: While this blog focuses on the winter wonder of the Wadden Islands, they are worth visiting year-round. Whether it's hiking, cycling, seal watching, or simply enjoying local cuisine, these islands have activities to suit every season.

So, if you're in search of a hidden gem for your next holiday that's not too far away from the UK, consider the Wadden Islands. They offer a unique experience that combines natural beauty, tranquillity, and a touch of adventure. Whether it's a winter escape or a summer retreat, the Wadden Islands are a delightful destination waiting to be discovered. Now, let's dive into the top islands to visit during your trip.

The 5 Best Wadden Islands

1. Texel

sheeps on the beach
When we think of Texel, we quickly think of a warm summer day on the beach, but did you know that the island also has so much to offer in winter?

What to do on Texel

Are you a real fan of nature? Then the southernmost tip of the island is definitely recommended. De Hors offers hours of hiking trails and beautiful dunes where you can relax. If you are fond of birds, you can spot beautiful birds on Texel, especially during the winter. You can do this at Utopia, on the mudflats, or on the dunes.

In the evenings there is also plenty to do. The quiet surroundings make it possible to stargaze on the island. And during the winter season, there are regular viewing evenings where you can learn more about the starry sky.
If you mainly come to Texel to relax, there are plenty of places you can go, from restaurants to wellness, everything is on the island. Would you like to warm up after a walk on the beach in one of the beach pavilions that Texel has to offer? Then visit poles 15,17,28 or 33. Here you are guaranteed a lovely spot including a snack and drink.

Wellness is slightly different on Texel, that's how they practice the so-called wool'ness. Here you can relax for half an hour while you are wrapped in sheep wool. During the wool bath at Boutique Hotel Texel, you will experience the effect of real Texel sheep wool.
Don't forget to visit Den Burg! You can explore the island further in different ways, namely on the bike or the e-bike.
The Fletcher Hotel-Restaurant Koogerend is located on the edge of the center of Den Burg and a few kilometers from the beach. This way you can easily combine both elements of the island.

2. Vlieland

During the winter period, it is a lot quieter on Vlieland, which means that you can enjoy what this beautiful island has to offer even better, in an oasis of peace.
boat Vlieland

What to do on Vlieland

Actually, the holiday to Vlieland already starts on the boat. Here you can enjoy the breathtaking view of the sea. When you have the early boat you can immediately enjoy the sunrise.

When you get off the boat you almost immediately walk into the shopping street, with all kinds of nice local shops and delicious restaurants. And I hear you think, walk? Yes, because the entire island is car-free, so extra peace and quiet!

If you also want to do something active during your stay on Vlieland, we definitely recommend taking a look at the natural ice rink on the island. As soon as it has sufficiently frozen, it is possible to skate on the Lange Baan ice rink, in the middle of the forest. And if you're really lucky, the water on the beach is also frozen and people skate on the beach, what an experience!

A beach walk should of course not be missed on an island. In winter the beaches are very quiet, so there is a moment to really relax. For example, you can walk through the dunes to the Posthuys and back via the beach. Or walk around the east point. Do you want to warm up after a walk? Then visit the beach pavilion 't Badhuys.

3. Terschelling

horse riding on the beach
Did you know that almost 80% of Terschelling consists of dunes, beaches, polders and salt marshes? That is why this island is the place to be for lovers of peace and nature. Terschelling is really an experience in the winter and we are happy to give some tips to do.

What to do on Terschelling

During the winter months, you certainly don't have to be bored on Terschelling. There is something for every age to experience:

Discover the extensive beaches and head to the easternmost tip of the island. Join the excursion and listen to the exciting stories the driver has to tell about the beaches, the rescues, and the ships. It is also possible to discover the island with a covered wagon or you can of course gallop across the beaches on horseback.

Not so much of an outdoor person? There are also plenty of indoor activities! This way you can go for a swim in the indoor pool De Dôbe in West-Terschelling. From slides to bubble baths, there is something for everyone. Or you can visit the Wreck Museum and learn all about the island.

If you are on Terschelling during Christmas, there is also plenty to do. From specially organized excursions to Christmas markets and a live nativity scene, during the Christmas holidays. And on Boxing Day, you can walk off the calories from Christmas dinner during 'The Christmas Walking Tour'. Do you want to end the holidays with a splashing New Year's Eve? Then go to the port of the island and watch the ships lit up and enjoy beautiful fireworks.

For the younger ones among us, the island also has a pub, the Groene Weide. Here is extensively sung along with all kinds of different genres.

4. Ameland

Going on holiday in the winter? Then we naturally quickly think of a winter sports holiday or a sun holiday to avoid the cold. Ameland should certainly not be missed on the list of perfect winter destinations!
The beautiful winter sun, the dunes covered with a layer of ice, and the cold sea air, make Ameland beautiful in its winter jacket. Now you are probably curious about what you can do on Ameland. We are happy to list it for you.
lighthouse ameland

What to do in Ameland

The fairytale-like Ameland has so much to offer in winter:

Ameland has a total of four different villages, which are worth a visit. Ballum is the smallest village and with its 18th-century houses has a certain atmosphere that you do not want to miss. If you are looking for more excitement, Nes and Hollum are the perfect villages to visit for a day or several days. You will mainly find many shops, restaurants and, last but not least, a supermarket.

Of course, a beach walk should not be missed on Ameland. The beach can be found along the north and west sides of the island. In the dunes, you will also find a beautiful walking/cycling route. So you can walk across the beach and back via the dunes, the perfect combination. The four beach pavilions on the island are open all year round! If you need some warmth after a long walk in the cold, you are more than welcome here for a snack and a drink.

One of the island's landmarks that you really can't ignore is the lighthouse. The lighthouse can be found just outside Hollum and is also open to the public. You can visit the lighthouse for 5.25 euros and enjoy the overwhelming view.

Don't forget to sample some local produce while you're on the island. They really have everything to offer when it comes to local produce. Ameland has its own honey, croquettes, and mustard.
If you want to stay in a central location on the island, so that all sights are nearby, we recommend the Fletcher Resort-Hotel Amender Kaap.

5. Schiermonnikoog

Schiermonnikoog is the smallest inhabited Wadden Island in the Netherlands, it is only 39 km2, 18 kilometers long and 3.5 kilometers wide. Not even 1000 people live on the island. Schiermonnikoog is also car-free, which means that when you get on the boat, you leave your car on the mainland. Schier, as the residents call it, is mainly visited for the beautiful nature.

What to do on Schiermonnikoog

On Schiermonnikoog you mainly enjoy nature and the peace and quiet also during the winter period. However, there is more to experience than just nature and tranquility.

It is recommended to rent a bicycle during your stay on the island. After all, it is not possible to take another means of transport on the island.
You can find various cycling or walking routes online or ask at the tourist information point on the island. These routes lead you past all the sights on the island. During your route across the island, don't forget to visit the oldest house on the island, Huis Martens.

A beach walk is self-evident on each of the islands. When you are on Schiermonnikoog, this is a completely different experience, and do you know why? The beach is the widest beach in Europe, in some places even over 1.5 kilometers. Enough beach for a perfect walk!

Would you rather find out more about Schiermonnikoog? Then visit one of the two museums on the island. In the Shell Museum, as the name implies, you will mainly find shells and other finds, but this is not the only one. A real connoisseur will give you an explanation about different mollusks.
When you visit the Bunkermuseum Schlei you go back in time. Here you can learn everything about the war years on Schiermonnikoog.

The Wadden Islands in summer

There is something for everyone to experience on the Wadden Islands! Also in summer, the islands are a wonderful holiday destination for many of us. There are a number of activities you can enjoy:

  • Seal shelters Ecomare (Texel)
  • On the road with the Vliehorst Express (Vlieland)
  • Rafting at sea (Terschelling)
  • Climb the lighthouse of Hollum (Ameland)
  • Yoga on the beach (Schiermonnikoog)
  • Discover the beach (all islands)

Empower Someone to Explore the Wadden Islands with a Gift Card for Hotels

wadden islands beach in the winter
Now that you've discovered the serene beauty and endless wonders of the Wadden Islands in winter, you might be thinking about how to make the season even more special for your loved ones. Consider buying a gift card for hotels and allow them to experience the magic of these islands in their own way.

Imagine the joy on their faces as they unwrap the promise of a restorative stay at one of the finest hotels on the Wadden Islands. Whether they prefer the tranquil beaches of Texel, the car-free paradise of Vlieland, the natural beauty of Terschelling, the fairy-tale charm of Ameland, or the untouched nature of Schiermonnikoog, your gift allows them to explore these islands and create their own winter memories.

But here's the exciting part: if the Wadden Islands aren't quite their ideal winter getaway, they have the freedom to choose from a vast selection of hotels worldwide such as:

Plus redeeming a gift card for hotels is super simple and can be completed entirely online. You can also add a personal touch to your gift voucher for hotels by including a cherished photo and a heartfelt message. This way, your hotel voucher becomes a unique reflection of your love and appreciation for the special people in your life.

This holiday season, give the gift of travel and open the door to a world of possibilities, love, and cherished experiences. Whether it's the Wadden Islands or any other corner of the globe, with a gift card for hotels, your loved ones can turn your thoughtful gesture into their dream adventure. After all, the best gift is one that creates memories that last a lifetime