National Park Lauwersmeer

Lauwersmeer Lake National Park is a unique landscape located on the edge of salt and fresh water. It's also the youngest landscape along the Wadden coast at just a little more than half a century old. A wonderful area to stroll around in during the day but maybe even more spectacular in the darkness of night. It's no coincidence that it's one of the two Dark Sky Parks in the Netherlands.


fresh and salty

Despite strong protests from the Groningen side of Lauwersmeer Lake, in particular the Zoutkamper fishermen, the estuary was finally closed off from the Wadden Sea permanently in 1969 after centuries of planning. Right after it was closed off the former Lauwerszee Sea looked just like the Wadden Sea at low tide. Winding gullies and creeks formed on the salty seabed. Because no more salt water flowed in and both Groningen and Friesland discharged fresh water into the area, it became a new freshwater lake within a few short months. This is how a freshwater lake was created in an otherwise saline environment.

When the salt had been removed from the seabed, grasslands, winter barley, rye and around 350 hectares of forest were created. The result is a diverse, open landscape that attracts vast numbers of birds, even sea eagles. Large grazers roam the area, keeping it open. Without them the Lauwersmeer area would turn into a swamp forest in no time at all.

Rugged nature and agriculture

There are also around 250 Konik horses in the area. The Scottish Highland cattle graze happily here and with their rugged appearance they fit in perfectly with the landscape. Very photogenic, especially the fluffy calves in the spring. But make sure to keep your distance, for your own safety and theirs'. Petting or feeding the Konik horses can lead to aggression or dangerous, pushy behaviour, which could make them unsuitable for nature management.

In addition to areas where nature more or less has free rein, agricultural land also surrounds Lauwersmeer Lake. Farmers grow their crops on a so-called freshwater lens that floats above the more salty groundwater. Climate-proofed agriculture experiments are carried out to ensure a future for the farmers. Experimental farm Kollumerwaard is one of them. The patchwork quilt of fields discloses that this is no 'ordinary' farmland.

Cycleroute: A trip around Lauwersmeer Lake

Cycling in the impressive and beautiful nature around the Lauwersmeer. This bicycle route in the northern border region of Groningen and Friesland takes you through the unique and beautiful landscape of the National Park Lauwersmeer.

Distance: 48,4 kilometers | Length: 2 hours and 20 minutes

View the route

Discover more? - The nicest locations near National park Lauwersmeer

Continue reading? - Also discover these stories of an Ode to the Landscape

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