Vechtplassen, North Holland, Netherlands

Also known as:  Vecht Lakes, Loosdrechtse Plassen, Maarsseveense Plassen, Vinkeveense Plassen

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Vechtplassen — things to do, where to stay, fun facts, history, stats and more. Let’s dive in!

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All About Vechtplassen

The Vechtplassen or Vecht Lakes of North Holland are one of the most famous water playgrounds in the Netherlands. Man-made water bodies created by the harvesting of peat in the 17th century, the shallow lake systems stretch along both sides of the Utrechtse Vecht River. Fed by a tributary of the Rhine River, the Utrechtse Vecht meanders from the City of Utrecht to the IJsselmeer near Amsterdam.

Some references say the name Vechtplassen only applies to those lakes east of the River Vecht. Others name three lake systems: the Loosdrechtse Plassen and the Maarsseveense Plassen east of the river, and the Vinkeveense Plassen to the west. All three lake systems are considered part of the Vechtstreek, or Vecht Region, and all are popular recreational lakes with a variety of watersports. Marinas provide service and shelter to the many boaters who sail these waters. So vital a part of the Netherlands’ boating culture are the Vechtplassen that one can even find world-renowned custom boat builders and restorers located at local marinas on the Loosdrechtse Plassen.

The many lakes and canals form a maze of navigable waterways that require a good map to navigate. Fortunately, such maps are available for sale in several local businesses and internationally. The Vecht River itself is a major pleasure boating route; European boaters can travel through the Netherlands from Germany to Amsterdam. Canals, some with locks, connect the lakes to the river in several areas. A third waterway, the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal, handles most of the considerable barge and commercial traffic that used to navigate the Vecht River, leaving the Vecht a peaceful, scenic waterway to delight pleasure boaters. The Vechtplassen is the preferred place to harbor, swim, water ski, wakeboard, canoe, kayak and pontoon. So popular a stopping place is the lake system that there is even a four-star hotel provided with dock space for weary travelers. The marinas rent pontoons, motor launches and kayaks, repair boats, and offer food and fuel. The most-used lake system is the Loosdrechtse Plassen north of Utrechtse, where many lakes are separated by narrow tree-lined strips of land holding picturesque country homes.

Marshes and wetlands around the man-made lakes create an important and unique environment that was named a Wetland of International Importance in 2000 by The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. The margins, ditches and boggy areas around the lakes offer perfect habitat for a variety of waterfowl. This unique landscape has long been recognized, and the first area under protection was dedicated early in the 20th century. Now, over 11,000 acres are protected under both private and public control, and the area is part of the European Natura 2000 master plan. The unused canals and ditches created by peat harvesting provide ideal habitat for geese, and a purple heron breeding ground offers limited access from viewing blinds. Efforts are underway to restore the optimum chemical composition of the unused canals; changes in ground water levels and infiltration from the Vecht River have altered the chemistry of the water over time, changing the vegetation that grows there. This is a long-term project, requiring much trial and error, but scientists see some hopeful changes.

The entire area around the Vechtplassen is ideal for a scenic and serene North Holland holiday. The area along the Vecht River was the home to many rich Dutch families during the Dutch ‘Golden Age’. Castles and impressive manor houses dot the countryside, complete with well-groomed decorative gardens. The area is known for growing fruit, and bike paths abound. The marinas often rent bicycles so that yachtsmen can take a cycling day or two to tour the scenic countryside. One of the country’s most famous Medieval castles is the Rijksmuseum Muiderslot in Muiden. Located on the estuary of the Vecht, the castle was built around 1280 and is open to visitors. Another well-known castle is the Zuylen Castle, which was built around 1520 on the remains of an older castle. The 19th century English style garden is delightful. Many parks in the area sport nature trails and scenic views. Every body of water seems dotted with sailboats. Other entertainments in the area include hot-air balloon tours, amusement parks, Go-kart tracks and petting zoos. And, of course, there are golf courses, movie houses and plenty of restaurants, quaint cafes and shopping.

Scenic and historic, the old towns and cities along the Vecht include Loenen, Oud-Zuilen, Nederhorst den Berg, Maarssen, Breukelen, Weesp, Nieuwersluis, Vreeland, and Nigtevecht; all are worth a walking tour and a history lesson from the Dutch Golden Age. Visiting the Vechtplassen is the perfect way to learn about the marvels of Dutch ingenuity when one discovers that all of the fen lakes average about four feet below sea level. A visit to the mouth of the Vecht where it enters the IJsselmeer amazes visitors when they realize that the river itself is lower than the huge freshwater lake it joins; a lock separates the two most of the time except during the rainy season. Even more amazing is the fact that the IJsselmeer used to be an arm of the North Sea called the Zuiderzee that was dammed in the last century and much of the land reclaimed for agriculture. The lake soon became freshwater, and the dam has ended the catastrophic floods that doomed so many in centuries past.

Even non-boaters can enjoy the Vechtplassen area. Campgrounds, cozy inns, guest houses, apartments and hotel lodgings of every type can be found in the area. Because the lakes are only a short distance from Amsterdam, the lakes are an easy day trip or the perfect romantic weekend getaway. Serious boaters likely have the Vechtplassen on their list of ‘must-visit’ locations. But non-boaters can realize just as much enjoyment even when traveling light. Everything visitors need can be found here, so start planning your visit to the Vechtplassen.

Things to Do at Vechtplassen

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Playground
  • Amusement Park
  • Shopping

Find Places to Stay at Vechtplassen

If you’re considering a Vechtplassen lake house rental or hotel, we’ve made it super easy to find the best rates and compare vacation accommodations at a glance. Save time using this interactive map below.

Recommended Sites to Book a Vechtplassen Vacation

If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Vechtplassen lodging partners.

  • VRBO – Use VRBO to find the perfect lake rental home, condo, cabin, cottage or other vacation property.
  • – One of the world’s leading digital travel companies, connects travelers to everything from cozy B&Bs to luxury resorts.
  • Expedia – Expedia is a popular online travel agency with more than 140,000 lodging properties worldwide.
  • – With more than 325,000 hotels in 19,000-plus locations, is an industry leader in online accommodations.
  • TripAdvisor – Read traveler reviews and compare prices on hotels, vacation rentals and more at TripAdvisor.
  • Trivago – Trivago helps travelers compare deals for hotels and other accommodations from a variety of booking sites.
  • KAYAK – KAYAK scours hundreds of other travel websites at once to find the best deals on hotels and other travel-related services.
  • RVshare –RVshare connects travelers interested in renting a motorhome with owners who have RVs to rent.
  • CampSpot – Campspot offers premier RV resorts, family campgrounds, cabins and glamping options across North America.

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.

Vechtplassen Statistics & Helpful Links


Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): -4 feet

Average Depth: 6 feet

We strive to keep the information on LakeLubbers as accurate as possible. However, if you’ve found something in this article that needs updating, we’d certainly love to hear from you! Please fill out our Content Correction form.

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On Lake Time Custom Coffee Mug – 11oz or 15oz


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