Our land is quite flat, so no dramatic mountains over here in The Netherlands. But hey, we compensate it all with our skies. There’s never a a dull moment in the air! The Netherlands are well known for the tremendous clouds. Painters have been using them as their muse for centuries. Discover the best places for some scenical cloud spotting.
Inuits have a name for all kinds of snow, we name our clouds: sheep, anvils, stack, cauliflower. But there’s so many more forms, you might recognise animals, dragons and witches in them.
Mid 17th century painter Dutch painter Jacob van Ruisdael was the first artist that focused especially on the sky in his landscapes. He painted impressive and scenical clouds.
Later, impressionists like Hendrik Willem Mesdag, Jan Hendrik Weissenbruch and artists from Cobra and The Hague School (Haagse School) continued painting dramatic skies.
Jan Voerman senior, a painter who was admiring the sky above and along the river IJssel, claimed that his soul was reflected by the clouds, like here:
Why the clouds are that special in our country? It has to do something with cold air coming from the sea that bumps into the warmer land air.
The best days to go for cloud spotting are those when rain and shine are both predicted, our weatherman calls that ‘wisselvallig’ – in English that would be: changeable. So don’t be a softy, take your raincoat and go for a walk with the best views.
Here some cloud spotting tips:
Best spots to enjoy some cloud spotting
1. Radio Kootwijk
Hike: the 12 kilometer walk, that is indicated with red signs from Radio Kootwijk, a nature reserve from Staatsbosbeheer. This hike leads over the pretty hilly moors, that offer broad landscape views and the sky above.
Along the coast, the clouds are tremendous all the time. Painter Jacob van Ruisdael came from the close-by city Haarlem and got his cloud inspiration in right this region.
Hike: Park your car at Koevlak, Zeeweg 12 in Overveen. From here, several hikes are leading through the National Park Kennemerduinen, a large dune area. The hike indicated with the blue poles eventually leads to the North Sea beach. There’s a view point that gives you the opportunity to spot clouds in 360 degrees.
3. Wieringerwaard & Afsluitdijk
Instagram-friend Audrey proves that the north-eastern part of the province of Noord-Holland shows great cloud spotting opportunities. She recommends the Wieringerwaard and the Afsluitdijk.
In between former seas and all kinds of lakes, Flevoland shows cloudy skies everywhere. The polder land is super flat with almost only farmland, so the air seems broader and wider, like a big cinema screen. Go for a bike tour to admire the cloud show.
Info: cyling in Flevoland.
Tip: use the ‘Knooppunten’ to cycle from number to number.
Everywhere along the Wadden Sea there’s plenty of tremendous cloud skies shown ‘in 360’. Like here in Noordpolderzijl, spotted during a mudflat hiking tour.
There’s even hashtags for the cloud phenomenon in The Netherlands, find the best pics with #dutchskies.
7. Dutch museums
When it’s rainy, you might go to a museum to get inspiration from some cloud paintings:
- Jan Voerman Museum in Hattem
- Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem
- Mauritshuis in Den Haag
- Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam
- Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam
All over the world in the bigger museums with classical art collections, there are some Dutch cloud paintings in the collection. Like the Louvre in Paris, the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg/Russia, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston or Philadelphia, the National Gallery in London.