The Wadden island of Terschelling consists of 80 percent nature, and is the most varied compared to its neighbours. West is connected to East via a main road, and small villages are dotted around the landscape. Your starting point will be West, as the ferry will dock there, but make sure you will visit the other side of the island as well. Because at East you can truly experience the dark while gazing at the Milky Way at Dark Sky Park 'De Boschplaat'. In this blog post I will share my experiences on 'the taste of the Wadden' and its 'darkness'.
Travel tips for Terschelling:
See and do at Terschelling
The first thing you will see when approaching Terschelling is the lighthouse. As of 1549 The Brandaris has been functioning as a beacon for seafarers until today. It is the oldest operational lighthouse in the Netherlands, and not to be missed.
West-Terschelling is the largest village on the island with around 2.500 inhabitants. The town has narrow cobbled streets with charming houses.
A nice walking route of 4,5 km (27.96 mi) will take you to viewpoint Seinpaalduin, which will give you one of the best views over the island. The 'seinpaal' is a signal post which beams different colours of light, relaying information to ships about storm wind forecasts.
The Terschellinger harbor is the only natural bay in the Netherlands and has been the home port of the Terschellinger fishing fleet for centuries. Nowadays the fleet consists of a small number of fishing vessels which mainly fish for shrimp.
Wadlopen (mud-walking) is one of the most famous activities of the Wadden islands. It's in my opinion a must do, to experience this UNESCO world heritage site during low tide. An experienced guide will take you on a 2 hour informative walk to see, feel and taste the Wad. The start time depends on the tide. Check out the time table here.
Important to know: You can rent neoprene shoes, so you can keep your own shoes dry and clean. Make sure you are prepared for different weather types. During our visit (in august) it was sunny, but very windy and chilly, so I was glad I was wearing my windproof raincoat.
During mud-walking you can literally 'taste the Wadden' and learn about what's edible, and how you can prepare it. Bladder wrack (blaaswier) has a mild, salty-sweet taste that can serve as a flavour enhancer or salt substitute in various dishes.
Sea lettuce (zeesla) is an algae species with lots of nutrients. It contains about 20% protein, minerals, calcium and iron for example. You can use it in a salad, as a seasoning in soups, or in fish- and vegetable dishes.
If you want to know (and taste) more of these local and salty delicacies, you might want to visit the Zilte Tuin (Salty Garden) from 'Stichting De Zilte Smaak'. One of the initiators is Flang Cupido of cooking studio 'Flang in de Pan'. Flang offers workshops and excursions where you can experience pure Terschellinger products.
We have visited the Zilte Tuin to taste some of the salty vegetables. Here you will find sea aster (zeeaster), oyster leaf (oesterblad), glasswort (zee kraal), sea banana (zeebanaan) and ice plant (ijskruid) to name a few.
A nice 'souvenir' are crisps seasoned with zeekraal (glasswort) from de Zilte Tuin.
De Bessenschuur (Cranberry Shed) was built over 85 years ago (modelled on an original American design), and is the only original cranberry barn in Europe. Nowadays it's a cranberry museum, café and shop with local foods. The flowering period with purple/pink flowers is between the end of May and June. The harvest is from the first week of September.
The collection of the Wrakkenmuseum (Shipwreck Museum) has been emerged from the sea by owner and wreck diver Hille. As of 1975 Hille has found thousands of objects from around 1650 to the present day. The museum itself is situated in an old farmhouse from 1906, which was built with the wreckage from the ship the Cyprian. I would advise this museum especially for families with children.
One of the island's greatest assets is its Dark Sky Park called 'De Boschplaat' as Terschelling is one of darkest areas in Europe. It is one of the two Dark Sky Parks of the Netherlands (the other one is National Park Lauwersmeer in Friesland, read my blog post here).
On clear days you can see the Milky Way, and when you're lucky you might even see the northern lights. It was cloudy during our visit, so no starry night for us, but it was still very impressive.
Het Eilandmeisje Marloes will take you on a 2 hour walk through the twilight until dark, and will tell you many stories about the landscape and the island (in Dutch).
I took this picture of the lighthouse close to midnight, from the path towards Seinpaalduin. The path 'sparkled' every time the light beam turned.
Coffee at Terschelling
Pura Vida Foodbar has got two locations, one in Midsland and the other one in West-Terschelling. These are probably THE places to go to for a vegetarian/vegan breakfast, lunch and/or dinner. Helga and her son Yorick are the driving forces behind these foodbars, which are named after the well-known Costa Rican saying 'Pura Vida!' (pure life). All smoothies, juices and power shots are freshly made, and cakes are home made by Helga. We went twice to the location in West-Terschelling for a cup of coffee (plant based milk is available). Coffee comes from Dutch Beans, a roastery where freshness and direct trade are of great importance.
Midsland ☞ Oosterburen 36
West-Terschelling ☞ Boomstraat 17
(Vegetarian) food at Terschelling
LOODS is situated between the marina and the town of West-Terschelling. Here they try to use as much local produce as possible. The lunch and dinner menu contains several vegetarian options, like for example a soup, veggie burger, sandwiches, croquettes made of forest mushrooms and salads.
't Lokaal is a combination of a charming local store and breakfast/lunch/coffee shop, where you can buy and eat tasty local produce. I really enjoyed the warm, welcoming and positive vibes at this wonderful place. It's a stone's throw away from the harbor, and therefore a perfect spot to start (or end) your trip to Terschelling.
The wooden beach bar West aan Zee is a great place for a sunset dinner (or drinks) with amazing views over the beach and dunes. They have several vegan and vegetarian options on the menu, and I have tried the tasty vegan burger and chocolate dessert. Here you can also enjoy Scelling, a beer from a local micro brewery made with Terschellinger ingredients.
Pura Vida Foodbar has got two locations, one in Midsland and the other one in West-Terschelling. We've had a great (vegetarian) dinner at the beautiful location in Midsland. On the menu are many vegan and vegetarian options. There are bowls, burgers, finger food, soups, (toasted) sandwiches and sweets to choose from.
West-Terschelling ☞ Boomstraat 17
Hotel at Terschelling
De Zeeboer van Schylge is a renovated farmhouse dating back to 1864. This charming building contains 5 stylish and comfortable apartments with a capacity ranging from two to six people. Each apartment has a fully equipped kitchen, private terrace and parking lot. There is a communal terrace and garden with a playground as well. The house is conveniently located within walking distance of the dunes, forest and beach. We have stayed in the beautiful 'Green' apartment, which can accommodate four people (1 double bed and 1 bunk bed).
Getting there and around at Terschelling
You can reach Terschelling by Rederij Doeksen from Harlingen by to types of ferries:
- a regular ferry (2 hours)
- a fast ferry (50 minutes)
Extra tickets can be booked for cars (only on the regular ferry) and for bikes (on both ferries).
Dogs are very welcome, and can travel free of charge.
Location of departure ☞ Waddenpromenade 5
Find out here where to park your car in Harlingen.
When you leave your car on the mainland, it is recommended to rent an (electric) bicycle at one of the bike rental companies.
There is a cycle path along the coast of the Wadden Sea with beautiful views. So don't forget to stop every now and then, to climb up a sand dune, and look as far as the eye can see.
If you need extra information about excursions, activities and/or events, you can stop by at the tourist office VVV Terschelling which is opened every day from 09:45 until 17:30.
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Please note: I was invited by Visit Friesland to experience a weekend at Terschelling.