Texel is the largest of the Wadden Islands in the North Sea – a chain of islands which string the coast of northern Netherlands and Germany.
With its pristine white sandy beaches and nature reserves, Texel (pronounced Tessel) is a popular weekend and holiday spot for both Dutch and Germans – although relatively unknown to other international tourists.
Texel is 25km long and 9km wide and is located only 3km north from the Dutch mainland. Texel is well known for sheep farming and is renowned for the quality of its lamb.
How to reach Texel
Texel is easily accessible from the Dutch mainland by a ferry service.
TESO operates regular ferries between Den Helder and Texel (‘t Horntje). TESO (Koninklijke N.V. Texels Eigen Stoomboot Onderneming) is a private non-profit company and has been operating since 1907.
The large ferries can take up to 1,750 passengers and 300 cars – there are cafe facilities on board. The trip across the Marsdiep only takes about 20 minutes.
TESO sails daily with hourly departures (on the half-hour from Den Helder, on the hour from Texel). The first boat leaves Den Helder for Texel at 0630 (Sundays 0730), the last boat of the day leaves at 2130. On busy days the ferry can run every 30 minutes.
Foot passengers on the ferry pay €2.50 whilst those with bicycles pay €5. A standard vehicle (including passengers) costs €26 (for outward travel on Tue-Thu) or €39 (Fri-Mon). All tickets are return tickets. There is no need to book a particular departure, just turn up at the terminal and wait for the next ferry. Prices are valid for 2023.
Amsterdam-Den Helder travel
You can travel Amsterdam to Den Helder as follows:
By train – Intercity trains from NS (Dutch Railways) operate 2x hourly and the journey time takes about 1 hour 17 minutes. Tickets can be purchased at the station, or at the official NS (Dutch Railways) site here
The Den Helder ferry terminal is about 1km from Den Helder train station – this is served by Connexxion bus 33 or you can walk the journey in about 15 minutes.
By car – Travelling by car to Texel is very popular as it gives a lot of freedom and convenience exploring the island. It takes about 1 hour to reach Den Helder from Amsterdam. You can book a rental car with Discover Cars here which checks all the main rental firms.
Note, there is paid parking in Texel (€2.50 per hour) from 0800-2000. It is possible to purchase a digital parking card called the Texel e-vignette which offers unlimited parking at all official parking spots. It costs €10 per day, €20 per week (8 days) or €30 for the whole year.
By bike – Some people cycle to the Den Helder ferry terminal and take their bikes across on the ferry. Cycling is a great way to get around Texel, although the winds can be very strong and hamper your efforts!
Day tour of Texel
If you lack the time to stay on Texel there is an opportunity to do a full-day tour around the island from Amsterdam. Outfit Dutch Tours offers a small group island tour which includes pick-up from Amsterdam, transport (including ferry) to Texel and a visit to beaches, villages and the national park. Lunch is included. Book your Texel full-day tour here
Getting around Texel
The TexelHopper minibus service can take you to/from any one of the 130 pick-up points spread throughout the island. A single ticket is €3.05, day ticket €7.70 and week ticket €38.50. Rides need to be booked online or by phone.
Bus line 28 runs between the Texel ferry terminal and the main towns of Den Burg and De Koog.
Where to stay on Texel
Texel has a wealth of accommodation options from hotels and B&Bs to camping and bungalow parks. You can check availability of all accommodation at the VVV Texel site here
The main town on the island is Den Burg, which is located centrally. Here you will find the town hall and reasonable shopping facilities including 4 supermarkets.
De Koog is a town located near the west coast and has a selection of cafe terraces, restaurants and a few nightclubs. De Cocksdorp is a village at the north of the island whilst Den Hoorn is a picturesque village in the south.
We have stayed at the Duinpark De Robbenjager which has a fantastic location at the very north of the island near the lighthouse and is in walking distance of great beaches. The chalets are stylish and very comfortable with free WiFi. Restaurant RJ is a classy establishment on site.
Tip: If you can, book chalet 20 or chalet 33 which have excellent locations and nice spacious garden areas. These were recommended by a member of staff and we have stayed in both.
For families we highly recommend Camping Loodsmansduin which has lovely luxury chalets and is located near the southern village of Den Hoorn. It also has fully-equipped tents, yurts, cabins and camping pitches.
It is only a few minutes drive from the ferry terminal and has a playground, an outdoor pool, onsite restaurant and is close to the Dunes National park.
Tip: If you can book outside of the Dutch school holiday season then prices will be significantly better value.
Things to Do in Texel
Climb the iconic Texel Lighthouse
At the very north of Texel lies the imposing red Eierland lighthouse (Vuurtoren Texel) which has become the principal landmark of the island
Historically this was the most dangerous part of the Dutch coast with scores of ships being lost by the mid 19th century. It was decided that a lighthouse should be built and the structure was eventually completed in 1864.
The lighthouse was badly damaged during heavy fighting in the Second World War. It was rebuilt after the war but the damaged inner tower with its bullet holes was kept as a memorial.
The lighthouse is 35m high (47m above sea level) and is still in use although since 1990 it has been fully automated with no need for lighthouse keepers.
You can visit the lighthouse which has a winding staircase with 118 steps (no lift) to the top with stunning views of the surrounding coast and dunes. There is an exhibition presentation at each main level. Note, the light chamber itself is not accessible to the general public.
Open daily 1000-1700 mid-February to October; Wed/Sat/Sun 1000-1700 rest of the year. Entrance is €5.50, children 0-3 free.
Texel Lighthouse, Vuurtorenweg 184, 1795 LN De Cocksdorp
Specatcular view from the dike at De Slufter
The entire western coast of Texel is made up of the National Park Dunes of Texel (Nationaal Park Duinen van Texel) which covers some 43 km2. These beautiful grassy dunes and salt marshes attract migratory birds, particularly around the De Slufter estuary at the north-west side of the island.
The best way to visit the park is on foot or by bike through the numerous trails and paths. There are no entrance charges.
It is well worth climbing up the dike at De Slufter which gives one of the most truly spectacular views anywhere in the Netherlands. To get there turn west onto the Slufterweg near the Texel airport. The cycle junction number is 27.
Visit the Battery Den Hoorn observation bunker
Another magnificent view can be had at the former observation bunker (Battery Den Hoorn) in the south-eastern part of the island. Built in 1938-39, it is located just outside of Den Hoorn village.
From the bunker at the top there are 360 degrees views of the dunes and the sea. To the south you can see Den Helder on the mainland and the nearby Lange Jaap lighthouse. You can often see TESO ferries making their crossings. On the eastern side you get a lovely view of Den Hoorn with its beautiful church.
You can take a look around inside the bunker itself and there is a roof periscope in one of the rooms. From the bunker there is a 2km footpath through the dunes to the beach.
See seals at Ecomare
Ecomare is a seal sanctuary and nature centre located right in the middle of the Texel Dunes National Park, not far from the town of De Koog.
The sanctuary cares for about 100 seals which are generally let back to the wild after recovery. The seals are fed every day at 1100 and 1530 with a presentation from one of the keepers.
Ecomare also has porpoises, sea birds, a sea aquarium, whale skeletons and an Insect Hall. The Dune Park has 1.5km of walking trails and a children’s playground.
Ecomare is open daily 0930-1700, entrance for adults (26+) is €15.00, children/youths 4-25 €10.25, children 0-3 free.
Ecomare, Ruijslaan 92, 1796 AZ De Koog
Visit Oudeschild fishing village (and have a great fish and chips!)
The old fishing village of Oudeschild is located on the east coast of Texel, not far from the main town of Den Burg. You can have a walk around the harbour or up on the dyke. You could also vist Kaap Skil (see further below), one of Texel’s main museums.
You can get a great fish meal at the popular Vispaleis en Rokerij Van Der Star, nextdoor to Kaap Skil on Heemskerckstraat.
Discover Novalishoeve organic farm
Novalishoeve is an organic social farm which provides opportunities for disabled people. It is located just outside of Den Hoorn, not far from the ferry port.
Visitors are free to roam the farm grounds. There is a farm shop which sells bread, dairy, vegetables, meat and other local products. The cafe onsite serves excellent coffee, cake, sandwiches and has lovely ice-cream.
It’s a great place for kids with a playground and selection of go-carts to get around on.
Open 0900-1630, Mon-Sat, closed Sundays.
Novalishoeve, Hoornderweg 46, 1797 RA Den Hoorn
Visit Kaap Skil Museum
Kaap Skil is a Maritime and Beachcombing Museum housed in a modern glass structure cladded with reclaimed wooden beams. Located in the fishing village of Oudeschild, it has a fine collections of beachcombing objects and dive finds.
The open-air part of the museum has old cottages and De Traanroeier windmill which originally dates back to 1727.
The museum basement houses the world’s largest maritime scale model which depicts the Texel Roads (Reede van Texel), the offshore anchorage of Texel used by the Dutch East India Company as a departure point for expeditions to the Far East.
Kaap Skil is open 1000-1700 Tue-Sat, closed Mondays (except Jul-Aug). Entrance for adults (26+) is €11.00, children/youths 4-25 €7.50. Free entrance for children 0-3 free and Museumkaart holders.
Museum Kaap Skil, Heemskerckstraat 9, 1792 AA Oudeschild
Photograph the church at Den Hoorn
The reformed church (first built in 1425) with its beautiful white tower is the most photographed object on Texel.
It has a remarkable location on the outskirts of the village and is surrounded by the landscape. You are free to enter the grounds and if open, step into the church itself.
Kerkstraat 5, 1797 AD Den Hoorn
Watch the sunset on Texel
You can enjoy watching the evening sunset on most of the western-facing beaches on Texel.
The very northern beach near the Texel lighthouse (Paal 31) is a popular place to see the sunset. Due to its unique geographic position it is the only beach in the Netherlands where you can see both the sunrise and sunset.
Visit a Texel sheep farm
The Schapenboerderij Texel is a farm with 25 breeds of sheep which is open daily for visitors.
It’s a wonderful place for kids where they can cuddle new born lambs and other animals, ride on a pony and run around the playground. There is a daily demonstration by the farmer who rounds up the sheep using highly trained sheep dogs.
Open daily 1000-1600, demonstrations at 1100 and 1400. Entrance for adults is €6, children 2-12 €5, children 0-1 free.
Schapenboederij Texel, Pontweg 77, 1791 LA Den Burg
Take a sightseeing flight over Texel
Local airline Tessel Air offers scenic flights around the island using small Cessna aircraft. Flying between 1,000 and 2,000 feet, these low level flights offer fantastic views.
You have the option of 15, 30, 45 or 60 minute flights – the longer flights offer the possibility to fly over other Wadden islands, North Holland and Friesland. It is also possible to take flying lessons.
If you are more adventurous the sister company Paracentrum Texel offers tandem skydiving jumps and parachuting courses.
The Texel Aviation and War Museum (Luchtvaart en OorlogsMuseum Texel) is a small museum at Texel’s airport which tells the story of the island’s aviation history, particularly during wartime. Of particular note was the Georgian Uprising on Texel which was one of the last battles in Europe during World War 2.
Open daily 1000-1700, Apr-Oct.
Aviation and War Museum, Postweg 126, 1795 JS De Cocksdorp
Hit the Texel beaches
Texel has 30km of beautiful white sandy beaches mainly located along the western coast. Some have lifeguards on duty between March and September
The beaches are numbered by posts (paal) starting with Paal 6 – which marks the 6km distance to Den Helder – up to Paal 33 in the north.
Some of our favourite beaches are Paal 9 (at Hoorndeslag), Paal 28 (at Krimweg), Paal 31 (at Vuurtorenweg) and Paal 33 (at Volharding).
Most beaches will have a pavilion cafe/restaurant where you can lounge and enjoy a meal or drink.
Spot the Sommeltjes (mythical creatures from Texel)
The Sommeltjespad is a pleasant 1.5km trail in the woods made especially for children. It is located just south of De Koog.
Follow the path by finding the stone Sommeltjes, mythical goblin-like creatures and other hidden sculptures. Legend has it that the creatures come alive in the night!
The Sommeltjespad is at Pelikaanweg, 1796 NT De Koog within the National Park.
Try the local Texel produce
Texel is well known for its high quality local produce and is particularly renowned for lamb, potatoes, dairy and seaweed. You will find these on sale all over the island and most supermarkets will also have a local produce section.
There are a number of locally brewed beers, the most well-known of which is the Texels which is served in most bars/restaurants.
You can pick your own organic strawberries (May to October) at the Voedselbos Texel, which is located between Den Burg and Oudeschild. It also has other berries and tomatoes to pick when in season.
Other activities on-site include a gnome path, jeep go-karts, a sand pit and cafe-shop.
Voedselbos Texel, Middellandseweg 4, 1792 CG Oudeschild
This article was originally published in 2019. Last updated 7 January 2022.