Things to do in Hilversum: Loosdrechtse Bos, Hilversumse Hei en Zonnestraal

I wrote the majority of this post a few months back and never got round to posting it, but since visiting Vliegveld Hilversum (Hilversum Airport) over the Easter weekend, now seems like a good time to share it with you. I’m obviously slightly biased towards Hilversum because I live here… but if you happen to find yourself in the area, then hopefully I can provide some ‘insider tips’ to keep you amused. So here goes…

Loosdrechtse Bos

Loosdrechtse Bos (bos = forest / woods) is located at the edge of Hilversum, bordering Loosdrecht (hence the name) and Hollandsche Rading. If you put ‘Loosdrechtse Bos’ into Google Maps, it’ll direct you straight to the Zonnestraal compound, in the heart of the woods. (More on that later.)

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The woods are extremely beautiful and (as most woods are…) just a tiny bit spooky feeling… especially if you’re on your own. The perfect place for cycling and walking in Hilversum: loads of people take their dogs for a walk here.

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If you want to visit, but aren’t familiar with Hilversum: a well-known landmark is Zuiderhof, a cemetery on the edge of the woods. Aim for here and then enter the woods from either side of the cemetery. (Note: don’t enter the cemetery itself as it is a dead end. No pun intended. Argh!!)

Hilversumse Hei

Hilversumse Hei or Heide (meaning hay, heath or moor) refers to the large areas of open space in Hilversum. I’m a bit confused about what all the different parts are called, but according to Instagram tagging, the bit that we visit most frequently is known as Hoorneboegse Heide.

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There are cattle grazing in the fields so pay attention to the signs and keep your distance from them. You are in their home, so play nice and follow their house rules. Like me…

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Or be like the Dutchie and go in for the full on close-up… he thinks he’s bloody Rambo or something! 😉

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I’ve seen these things run, so I stayed well back!! Aside from the scary cattle, it’s a great place to walk around and explore. You could easily spend a couple of hours wandering around the heath and the woods. (Or run or cycle, whatever you’re into…)

Landgoed Zonnestraal

Slap bang in the middle of Loosdrechtse Bos is Landgoed Zonnestraal (meaning Sunbeam Estate). It’s a former sanatorium used in the 1920s and 1930s for patients with tuberculosis. It was designed by architect Jan Duiker and is an example of Nieuwe Bouwen (Literal translation = new buildings, meaning Modern Architecture).

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It’s a bit more run-down than I was expecting but still interesting to look at. The reason for the sheer volume of glass was to let as much light as possible to enter the patient’s rooms and help them feel better. Sun = happy, right? These days it’s used a conference centre which can be hired out. Many local businesses are also located here – mostly clinics and fitness-related.

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There’s not much to do here, unless you’re feeling peckish – then there’s a brasserie. I made a special trip by bike to take photos for this post as I’d never been before and I have to be honest and say I was a little underwhelmed. (Trip Advisor – you actually let me down this time!!) The buildings are different, that’s for sure, and if you’re really into modern architecture then I’m sure you’ll like it… but personally I wouldn’t make a special trip. If you’re already visiting the area and fancy a walk anyway, ok, but don’t come here especially.

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In fact, I found this building in front of the Zonnestraal much prettier, especially with a dusting of snow! (Told you I wrote this post months ago!!)

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Vliegveld Hilversum

If you’re walking / cycling in this area you may also come across Vliegveld Hilversum (Hilversum Airport) which does what it says on the tin.

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We went for a bike ride in the area on Saturday, well – actually we were planning on cycling to Loosdrechtse Plassen, but we never made it that far – so we stopped here for a bite and a borrel instead!

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The two female waitresses were really welcoming and the menu had a good selection of typical Dutch cafe food… broodjes, uitsmijters, borrelhapjes etc. We had the bittergarnituur mixed platter and for once I actually enjoyed the kaasstengels! It’s a miracle!

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With bitterballen, obviously. These only score a measly 6/10 but as I’ve said before: you can’t get bad bitterballen!

For some reason this place is ultra dog friendly, so if you’re taking a furry friend, there’s a special menu for dogs called “De Waf Kaart!” (In Dutch, dogs don’t say “woof woof” – they say “waf waf”!)

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Oh and a hondenbar! The owners must be dog-people…

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So there you have it. How to spend a few hours in Hilversum on foot or by bike. And if you’d like more info…

THE LOWDOWN:

ADDRESS: Various. To enter the woods on foot or by bike, aim for Zuiderhof, Hilversum. Or park at Vliegveld Hilversum and start there.
OPENING TIMES: Always. (However I did see a sign that you can’t enter certain parts of the woods between 8pm and 6am. Seems sensible!)
PARKING: Free street parking near Zuiderhof and at the airport.
MORE INFO: Landgoed Zonnestraal | Brasserie Zonnestraal | Hilversum Airport | Hilversum Airport Restaurant (Websites all in Dutch.)

Next on the ‘Things to do in Hilversum’ list is: Film Theater Hilversum.

Where are your favourite places in Hilversum / Het Gooi area?

Hayley x

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