The most scenic 16 minutes in the Netherlands
Making its way through the wilderness of the Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve, the short route between the towns of Almere and Lelystad has been voted the most scenic route in the country. It is also an easy half-day trip from Amsterdam Central station.
The wetlands at Oostvaardersplassen – one of the newest national parks in the Netherlands – span 56 hectares and are home to a wide range of different species, including wild ponies, deer, cattle and eagles.
The railway, which opened in 1988, faced opposition from environmentalists concerned about the potential impact it would have on local wildlife. The tracks were largely rerouted to protect the reserve, but you still pass through pure, unadulterated wilderness – which in the densely-populated Netherlands is quite a rare experience.
With fog rising in the morning to reveal an eerie landscape, it’s easy to feel a sense of isolation as if transported to another world just a stone’s throw away from the hustle and bustle of nearby towns.
In a 2016 poll, 37% of Dutch railway users voted the 25 km route between Almere and Lelystad as the nation’s most scenic, leaving the Sittard–Maastricht (25%) and Haarlem–Zandvoort aan Zee (17%) routes in 2nd and 3rd place respectively.
At a mere 16 minutes long, the ride is short but impressive, treating you to views of grazing animals and serene nature. For even more beautiful vistas, go at sunrise or sunset. “I’ve lived here for 42 years and yet I still find Oostvaardersplassen captivating,” said one frequent traveller I met on my last trip there. “Nature’s changing and every season is different.”
Cover photo by © Richard van Egmond / Dynaries Photography