The Dutch solution to the busyness that captivated the world

3 Min Read

Elzinga believes that it’s much better to do some sort of physical activity to distract you from your daily worries, preferably in nature. But luckily, in the Netherlands, there is a way to combine all these things – niksen, nature and movement.

While the country is not commonly known for its natural resources, the Dutch appreciate the little natural areas they have. Many dune areas – my favorite thing about The Netherlands – are a part of a large network of hiking and cycling routes crisscrossing the country. Even in large cities such as Rotterdam, The Hague or Amsterdam, you’re never too far away from a trail.

In cooperation with the Dutch Railway system, Wandelnet – a foundation devoted to creating and maintaining hiking routes – has created NS Wandelingen, a system of hiking routes that are easy to reach by train or other public transport. They range between 7km and 22km in length, making them perfect for a day trip. And given the many benches along the way, it’s even possible to fit in a little niksen break.

This leisure time is possible for the Dutch because the Netherlands is a country with an excellent welfare system, and while people tend to work hard, they also take (and are granted) many days off.

“Having a good social support system, having a lower stress level relates to feeling secure and in balance. So, I wouldn’t overestimate the importance of that,” said Elzinga.

And with everything going on in the world – the Covid-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine – relieving stress is more important than ever.

Why We Are What We Are is a BBC Travel series examining the characteristics of a country and investigating whether they are true.

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