De Biesbosch National Park – Outdoor Adventures and More

Located not far from Rotterdam, De Biesbosch is one of the largest national parks in the Netherlands. Read on and find out why this unique wetland area is the perfect place for outdoor explorations!

Summer in the Netherlands is the perfect time to venture out of the city and enjoy some time in nature. One of our favorite spots to visit is De Biesbosch National Park. This nature reserve is located in the largest freshwater tidal area in Europe, which makes it a pretty unique place.

Covering an area of approximately 9,000 hectares, De Biesbosch is a labyrinth of rivers and islands that is rich in diverse flora and fauna. With such a significant natural heritage, it is no wonder that the authority governing the park is focusing its efforts in sustainable tourism initiatives.

De Biesbosch – Interesting Facts

  • The national park was established in 1994.
  • De Biesbosch lies in two provinces: Zuid-Holland and Noord Brabant.
  • Its name means “Rush-woods,” a reference to the abundant aquatic grass-like plants that populated the area.
  • For centuries, parts of De Biesbosch were used as willow plantations.
  • Beavers were introduced in the park in 1988, as an experiment.
  • Access to the park is free.

The Biesbosch Museum

One of the first things that made me want to visit De Biesbosch national park was reading about the Biesbosch Museum. After a full renovation and expansion in 2015, the museum now features some very innovative design to minimize energy consumption. 

Behind that very modern cutting-edge facade, the museum houses an excellent display focused on the past, present, and future of this unique area in the Netherlands. It was fascinating to learn about how De Biesbosch came to be and its cultural heritage.

Things to Do in De Biesbosch


With walking routes ranging from 1.5 km up to 20km, we can always find something suitable for our mood. For example, during our last visit, we did a short walk (3km / 1,86 miles) around the Jantjesplaat, one of the newest additions to De Biesbosch, which used to be an agricultural polder until 2013.

Also, some routes are only accessible by boat. And dogs are allowed on some trails. You can find more information about the different walks at any of the three visitor centers in the park. And here you can download a map with some of the trails that take you to some beautiful photo spots.


The many winding creeks in the national park make it an ideal destination for a canoeing excursion. You can choose to go for a relaxing two-hour ride, a whole day adventure, and even an overnight stay (only in designated places, though). And with a canoe, you can also access some great hiking routes.

Some of the routes are signposted. Also, several places offer canoe rentals and can recommend an itinerary according to your wishes and experience.


Cycling in De Biesbosch is possible but not always easy. With its many waterways and wetlands, it is always a good idea to know where you can go. For example, this map shows you the cycling routes available within the park.

Another option is to follow the routes on the area around the national park, which will take you past polders, meadows, and fields. If you don’t have your own bike, there are several places where you can rent one.

Bird Watching

The unique setting of the national park attracts large numbers of water and marsh birds all year round. In fact, hundreds of different kinds of birds breed in De Biesbosch, including kingfishers, nightingales, and bluethroats. You can also see great white herons and egrets here and there. And, if you are fortunate enough, you might even spot an osprey or a white-tailed eagle! 

If you want to find the best birdwatching spots, this map shows some places where you are likely to see eagles. Also, this website is a great resource to learn about the latest observations in the area.

Beaver Spotting!

The most special animal in De Biesbosch is, by far, the beaver. Back in 1988, five beaver couples from Germany were first released in the park as an experiment. Today, the beaver population has grown to about 300 individuals. So, if you at the right place at the right time, you have a good chance to see them in action!

Where to Stay

Within the national park itself, accommodation options are limited to a couple of places to camp. However, just around the park, you can find some interesting lodging options that offer comfort and easy access.

Wild Camping in De Biesbosch

As you probably already know, wild camping in the Netherlands is forbidden except for a few designated spots, which are called Paalkampeerplaats (pole camping places). In De Biesbosch, there are two of those locations, which can only be reached by canoe or rowboat. They are free to use, and you don’t need to register anywhere, but they offer no facilities. For more information, ask at the visitors center.


During our last visit to De Biesbosch, we stayed with our campervan at the Natuurkampeerterrein de Knotwilg, a small campsite in Werkendam. This site is part of the De Groene Koepel network of nature campsites, so you need a membership to camp there (€15,95 per year) apart from the camping fees.

For those planning to camp around the Netherlands, it is worth it to get a membership, which gives access to all the nature campsite in the network. We’ve had a membership for a couple of years now and really enjoy camping at these nature spots.

You can also camp with your own tent at the Biesboschhoeve, a farm set on an island in the middle of the park. The site is, of course, only reachable by boat or canoe and the facilities are pretty basic.

Other Options

If you want to enjoy a little extra comfort while still being close to nature, the Stayokay Dordrecht offers two unique lodging options. First, you can stay in a Wikkelhouse (a sustainable cabin made of recycled cardboard) located at the edge of the national park. The cabins can host up to four people, are beautifully designed and equipped with modern amenities (except for a TV).

Alternatively, you can choose to stay in their Ecolodge, a floating hotel room located about 2 km from the hostel, in the middle of Biesbosch National Park. You also have a two-person canoe and bicycles at your disposal during your stay. This option can be only booked from April 1st till October 31st.

How to Get There

There are three visitors centers in the park: one in Drimmelen, one in Dordrecht and another one at the Biesbosch Museum in Werkendam. If you are coming from Breda, which is a place where you can find great street art BTW, the center at Drimmelen is your best option.

If you are coming via Rotterdam (especially if you are using public transport), then the visitor center in Dordrecht is a better option. In fact, in summer there is a bus that departs from the train station every hour.

Pro Tip: if you are visiting de Biesbosch from Rotterdam, you can catch the Water Bus! With a Day Ticket you get unlimited travel for one day.

If you buy your ticket online, you get a 10% discount. You can also buy the tickets at the water bus, but payments are cash only then.

The Biesbosch Museum is located further into the national park. Getting there with public transport is difficult. You’d first need to make it to the visitor center in Dordrecht, and then you cycle for about 10 km to get there.

Finally, to get a better idea of what nature in De Biesbosch looks like, have a look at this video:

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De Biesbosch National Park

Have you been to De Biesbosch National Park? Leave a comment and tell us about your experience!

Bianca Bauza

Bianca Bauza

Travel Writer

Bianca Bauza is a world citizen who spent almost four years traveling around South America and Europe. Her passions include photography, street art, outdoor sports, and cooking exotic dishes. She’s now based in the Netherlands where she lives with her partner and young daughter. She still enjoys traveling, on her own or with her family, and is always looking for an opportunity to see new places.

2400 1600 Bianca Bauza

Bianca Bauza

Bianca Bauza is a world citizen who spent almost four years traveling around South America and Europe. Her passions include photography, street art, outdoor sports, and cooking exotic dishes. She's now based in the Netherlands where she lives with her partner and young daughter. She still enjoys traveling, on her own or with her family, and is always looking for an opportunity to see new places.

All stories by : Bianca Bauza

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