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Introduction

Ameland is one of the Wadden Islands and part of the province of Friesland. About 3,600 people live on Ameland permanently, many of them working for the tourism industry on the island. There are four main villages: Ballum, the official main settlement in terms of administration, Nes , where the ferry arrives, Hollum and Buren. Furthermore there are several small hamlets.

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History

First mentioned as Ambla in the eighth century, it paid tribute to the county of Holland until in 1424 its lord, Ritske Jelmera, declared it a "free lordship" (vrijheerschap).

Although Holland, Friesland and the Holy Roman Emperor contested this quasi-independent status, it remained a free lordship until the ruling family, Cammingha, died out in 1708. After that, the Frisian stadtholder John William Friso, Prince of Orange, became lord of Ameland and after him, his son the stadtholder of all the Netherlands, William IV, Prince of Orange, and his grandson, William V, Prince of Orange.

Only in the constitution of 1813 was the island finally integrated into the Netherlands into the province of Friesland. The monarchy of the Netherlands still maintain the title Vrijheer van Ameland today.

In 1871 and 1872, a dike was built between Ameland and the mainland by a society for the reclamation of Frisian land from the sea. The dike ran from Holwerd to Buren and was 8.7 kilometres long. The province and the Dutch realm each paid 200,000 guilders. In the end, it was unsuccessful; the dike did not prove to be durable and in 1882, after heavy storms in the winter, repair and maintenance of the dam were stopped. The dike can still be partially seen at low tide. The dam at Holwerd is the beginning of this dike.

In 1940 German troops were ferried to the island and within hours Ameland was under the control of the German Army. Because of its limited military value the Allies never invaded Ameland. The German forces on the island did not surrender until June 2, 1945, almost a full month after the defeat of Nazi Germany.

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Geography

Like all West and East Frisian Islands, Ameland is a unique piece of nature. The profusion of different plants on the island is caused by the immense variety of landscapes. One of the scenic areas is the Oerd, a large complex of dunes which is still expanding by the year. Because of the differing landscapes and types of flora, over 60 different species of birds are sitting there every year. At the eastern part of the Oerd lies a beach plain called the Hon. Besides dunes and beaches, Ameland has some woods, like the Nesser bos ("Wood of Nes").

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Cities

There are 4 towns on the island:

  • Hollum - in the west of the Island.
  • Ballum - very small town, just east of Hollum.
  • Nes - main town, centrally located, near the ferry to the mainland.
  • Buren - very small, just east of Nes.

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Sights and Activities

  • Lighthouse, Oranjeweg 57, Hollum, ☎ +31 519 - 542737. The striped, 1880 lighthouse on the west side of the island is open to the public. After climbing around 240 steps, you can look around on the balcony just below the light. Several floors in the lighthouse have exhibitions of, for example, old naval maps. Opening hours vary strongly per day and per season, but in Summer the tower is open every day and even some evenings (W-Su evening till 21:00). Check the website for details. Adults €4.50, children €3.25.
  • Sorgdrager museum, Herenweg 1, Hollum. This place in the charming village of Hollum focuses on the history of Ameland (mostly cultural) and has different exhibitions. Visitors can dwell through the museum using a podcatcher as a guide.
  • Abraham Fock rescue museum, Oranjeweg 18, Hollum. The rescue museum explains the history of the Koninklijke Nederlandse Redding Maatschappij (Royal Netherlands Rescue Society) on Ameland. About once a month the Abraham Fock museum launches a lifeboat using horses. This was used for real rescues until about 1988. Nowadays the KNRM has a station in the Ballummerbocht, south of Ballum.
  • Juttersmuseum Swartwoude, Hoofdweg 1, Buren. A fine little museum, giving an inside in the life of Ameland's rural communities in earlier times. It focusses on the two main activities: agriculture and beachcombing. €4.25.
  • Monumental buildings. The village of Hollum is a particularly good place to see some of the islands listed national monuments, mostly in the form of simple, old town houses. Other villages have examples as well though, and the countryside is dotted with historic farms.
  • Natuurcentrum Ameland, Strandweg 38. This museum like activity centre has expositions on Ameland and its history, mostly discussing animal and plant life and the influence of the sea on the island. There are also a few aquariums. €6.25.
  • Windmills. There are two windmills at the island, one in the village of Nes and one in Hollum. Both are well-restored and operative. Grain and mustard-mill De Verwachting in Hollum produces and sells local mustard. Although a mill stood here already long ago, the current one was rebuilt in 1988. The Phenix in Nes is an original 1880 grain mill, restored and now used to mill rye for the local bakery.
  • Ameland has a small airfield near Ballum. Aero Service Ameland provides tours and lessons from there. A tour of all villages on the island starts at €90.
  • The Strandexpress (only Dutch) takes you to the far east of the island over the beach. There is a stop and short walk about halfway where the driver explains a lot about the island, the dunes, animal and plant life and the sea. From the far east Schiermonnikoog is clearly visible.
  • Seals trip (Robbentocht), Kêkelburen 3, Hollum, ☎ +31 6 51000296, e-mail: robbentochten@ziggo.nl. A fun outing, especially with children, is a trip by boat to Robbeneiland. Robbeneiland is a sandbank off the coast near Hollum where at low tide many seals are lazing and sunbathing on the sandy beach. The trip takes 2¼ hours. Departure is from the pier at Nes. Combination trips are also possible. Popular is a trip to Robbeneiland, including a stop at the Schelpenstrand (shell beach) for a short walk. A combined trip takes 2¾ hours. Surcharge €3. See their website for the timetable. Adults €13.50, children €9.

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Getting There

A ferry service runs from Holwerd, Friesland at least 6 times per day, but double as often in high season. It's operated by Wagenborg Passagiersdiensten and costs €12/14 in low/high season. The trip to Ameland takes 45 minutes and the ferry arrives in the harbour of Nes.

To get to Holwerd, you can make use of a bus service from train station Leeuwarden to the ferry dock. If you're travelling by car, you can best leave it at the parking space in Holwerd as you will not really need it at the island and the ferry ride will cost up to €95 for the car alone.

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Getting Around

The island has three bus lines, of which one only operates in the peak season. The two lines that operate all year will take you to all four villages. The bus lines are operated by Arriva.

There are many bike rental companies in the villages, that can provide all sorts of bikes. Most of the hotels have bike rental services too.

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Eat

All villages have many restaurants, offering all sorts of food.

  • On the west side of the Island in Holum there is Cantina Dolores. A Mexican restaurant/tapasbar/steakhouse; well worth a visit! Take a look at their menu.
  • Nobel, Gerrit Kosterweg 16, Ballum, ☎ +31 519-554157. Part of a high-end hotel, this is one of the best restaurants around. It serves French cuisine. Complex dishes, nicely presented and usually friendly staff. €40.
  • Rede van Nes, Maarten Janszenstraat 2, Nes, ☎ +31 519 542 030. This restaurant in the village centre started as a fish restaurant, but has dropped that title since, as it now also serves a good range of other dishes. The starters, mains and desserts on the menu have one fixed price, and alternatively they offer a "shared tasting" of 5 five dishes for €30 p.p. €18.50 for a main.
  • Nescafé, Van Heeckerenstraat 10, Nes, ☎ +31 519 542 760. This cosy place in the Nes village centre uses good quality produce to prepare simple bistro style dishes, and a range of grilled dishes from the Green Egg grill. It's open for lunch and dinner. Mains from €20.
  • Cafetaria De Fretpot, O.P. Lapstraat 2 Hollum, ☎ +31 0519 554667. April – October: Su–Tu 12:00–21:00, W–Sa 12:00–23:00; July–August: 11:00–23:00; different opening hours in winter.
  • Strandpavillon "The Sunset", Oranjeweg 61, Hollum, ☎ +31 0519 554280.
  • StrAnders, Strandweg 71, Buren, ☎ +31 0519 543029. Tu-Su from 12:00. Lunch from €3.75; soups €4.75-6.50; appetizers €6.95-9.95; fish €13.95-19.50; meat €15.50-19.50; vegetarian €11.95-13.95; desserts €2.95-5.95.

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Drink

A definite must is a taste of Nobeltje. This punch is sold at Cafe-Hotel-Restaurant-Liquor-Store Nobel in Ballum. Nobeltje can be served in combination with coffee (Amelander Koffie), served on ice, but is also good on top of pancakes. As Nobeltje is mainly (but not only) sold in Ameland, tourists, especially those coming to Ameland with their own boat, are known to buy large quantities of Nobeltje in order to have a stock large enough to survive until they are able to return to Ameland.

There are some other liquors which are only sold on Ameland: Torentje is sold in the C1000 in Hollum, Amelander Kruidendrank and Commandeurtje are sold in the Gall & Gall in Nes.

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Sleep

There are several hotels in Ameland, many in Nes. You can also rent houses or apartments from private owners, often through the tourist office. As on all the islands, prices for accommodation rise in high season, sometimes quite steeply, and are often also higher on weekends.

  • Hotel Dolores, Hollum. a small-scale hotel restaurant with spacious hotel studios (34 m²) for 2 persons. It is situated on the edge of the picturesque village of Hollum on the island Ameland and lies near the sea and the forest. The studios are provided with a separate sleeping area. The bathrooms are equipped with massage shower and sun shower (solarium under the shower). In addition all studios have a comfortable sit-down and a private roof terrace. In the entire hotel you can make use of the free wireless Internet. Breakfast is served in the room as a generous breakfast basket. The golf course is 400 m away.
  • Zee van Tijd, Rixt van Doniastraat 18, Nes, ☎ +31 519 - 543 003. Great hotel in the centre of the village, with modern suites varying in size and amenities, a good in-house restaurant and fine staff. The mini-suite is good and much like a small, standard hotel room while the royal suite is even better and over twice the size. From €75 for the mini-suite of €105 for the royal one.
  • Strandhotel Buren aan Zee, Strandweg 85, Buren, ☎ +31 519 542110. This beach hotel indeed sits right on the beach. Its rooms have great views over sea and the hotel has good wellness facilities including a sauna. The staff is very helpful and the hotel is a few minutes walk from the public indoor pool. From €69/99 for singles/doubles.

Camp sites

  • Camping De Kiekduun, Strandweg 65, Buren, ☎ +31 0519 542389. "De Kiekduun" is aimed at families. Washing machines and Wifi available. tent €5.25; Trekkers-tent €4.10; caravan €9.15; adult €4.50; children (-14) €3.70; warm water €0.50; cars €3.70; motorcycles €3.85; Tourist tax €1.10.
  • Tussen Wad en Strand, Smitteweg 8, Ballum, ☎ +31 0519 542941. Quiet campsite in a farm environment All-in-price (2 people) pre-/post-season €20; high season €25; children €3.50; adults €5; dog €2; small tent €5.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafés are not as widespread as you would expect, but you can easily find one in the popular cities. Most hostels, hotels and camp sites have several computers, so you can keep connected with folk at home. Here is a list of internet cafés that could come in handy for travellers. Otherwise, most libraries have lots of computers and prices are around the €2-3 per hour range, although sometimes it can be even more expensive.

Wireless internet access using wifi is becoming more popular and is usually available at most hotels and increasingly at train stations. Also in trains (at least in most first class wagons, but also more and more in second class) and some buses you can use wifi. Finally, places like McDonald's and Starbucks have free wifi, and smaller individual business like cafés and restaurants are on the rise too offering these services. More often than not, these service tend to be free of charge, though there might be a limited time you can use the internet.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The country code for the Netherlands is 31. The outbound international prefix is 00. The general emergency number is 112, like many other countries.
0800 numbers are toll-free and for 09xx numbers are charged at premium rates. Mobile phones have numbers in the 06 range, and calls to cell phones are also priced at higher rates.

From internet cafés, it is also usually possible to make long distance international calls. Like in other countries, telephone booths have almost disappeared, though some are still found around public transport stations, where you can use a few coins to make calls. It is only recommended for local calls.

The cellular phone network in the Netherlands is GSM 900/1800. The main providers of cell phone networks are KPN (Dutch only), T-mobile and Vodafone, who cover the whole country. Other operators, like Hollandsnieuwe, Simyo or Tele2, use one of these 3 networks basically.

It is best to buy a SIM card when in the Netherlands for use in your cellphone, as this usually works out cheaper than using the one from home. If you are planning to study or work in the country and stay for several months, buying a cellphone is the best option. A simple one, sometimes with €10 worth on it, can be bought from around €25. The simplest smartphones are around €75.

Post

The rate for sending a postcard or letter up to 20 grams within the Netherlands is €0.64 (2014). Since 2010 there are stamps available for domestic post which no longer include the value in €. Instead, there are stamps available with either a '1' or a '2' as a substitute for value. The '1' can be used for letters and postcards up to 20 grams, while 20-50 grams require you to use the '2'-valued stamps (or two '1'-valued stamps of course).

Sending items to other EU countries and the rest of the world (there is one price since 2014) will cost €1.05. Stamps are sold at post offices, supermarkets and smaller shops/kiosks; often the place where you buy your postcards can also supply you with stamps.

Sending parcels abroad is more costly. A standard-sized parcel between up to 2 kilograms will cost you €9 for destinations within the EU and €18 (both without Track & Trace) to the rest of the world. Prices with Track & Trace start at €13 and €24.30 respectively. Parcel service is available from major post offices only; standard-size boxes are on sale there as well. For sending parcels, it might be just as competitive and fast to use a company like TNT, UPS or DHL.

If you need to receive mail while moving around, you can have it sent poste restante (to be called for) to a post office of your choice, where it will be kept for a month. If you come to claim it, bring a valid ID, and make sure to have told the sender that the name on the envelope must be an exact match with that in your passport. For addresses of post offices, as well as more information, consult the TNT website.

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This is version 2. Last edited at 9:28 on Sep 19, 18 by Utrecht. 4 articles link to this page.

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