Day six was a BIG driving day. It would only be just over six hours to drive from Soltau in Germany to Wingene in Belgium which is where our Airbnb was, but Ben fancied a scenic route along the bridges, water and coast in the Netherlands. Our journey from Germany to Belgium took ELEVEN hours in total!
We stopped for a couple of short stops along the way, but this was still far too long! It was good to see some of the sights, but I think we’d have been better arriving in Wingene in half the time and relaxing for half the day ready to spend a whole day in Bruges the next day.
E22 Netherlands bridge and motorway [Afsluitdijk major dam and causeway]
The first part of our journey was pretty standard and along roads that looked the same as all the other roads we had travelled on in Europe. Lots of flat land with farmers’ fields either side of the motorway. We took motorways, or autobahns as they are known in German, west across north Germany to the Netherlands.
The plan was to go across the E22 motorway in the Netherlands!
The E22 is a major dam and causeway that runs 32 kilometres from the North Holland to Friesland province. It was built from 1927 to 1932 and is very impressive!
Most of the Netherlands is below sea level and the dam works as a barrier stopping the inland from flooding.
It’s a crazy road to drive down as you feel like you are driving down the middle of the sea, which I guess you are! There’s just vast water either side! One side is the Wadden Sea and the other is the Ijsselmeer lake which is a freshwater lake created by the dam.
There’s an observation tower and café somewhere along the middle of the road which is worth stopping for to climb to the top and see the views off the balcony.
N57 motorway, South Holland and Zeeland
The most scenic and exciting part of this day of our road trip was the N57 motorway through South Holland and Zeeland in the Netherlands. We drove over bridges that connect the many peninsulas of these provinces and enjoyed the constant sea and water views all around.
We stopped at Brouwersdam Beach for the toilet and to have a look at the beach. It was littered with kite surfers and the beach itself was a ginormous sandy beach. We’ll definitely have to come back to this part of the Netherlands for a coastal road trip to explore these stunning beaches and intriguing peninsulas.
The Brouwersdam, which we drove over and stopped to see the beach, is part of the Delta Works which is a series of 13 constructions that prevent southwest Netherlands from flooding. They are the largest flood protection system in the world.
We only went to toilet at the beach as I needed to get going. I’m sure we would have stayed longer, but I had a stonking menstrual headache and so I wasn’t feeling great. It was really poorly timed to be in the car all day long in boiling heat! I just wanted to get to our destination, but at the same time I wanted to see all the sights. Ben said to me to sleep in the car, but I wanted to see everything especially as we had taken such a detour to have some good views! I didn’t want to miss them, so stayed awake the whole journey.
Western Scheldt Tunnel N62
The kids loved seeing the beach and really wanted to stay and play, but we had to crack on with our journey. They found it fun to go over all the bridges and see the water all around. Most fun though was the tunnels! Reuben especially loves going through tunnels!
We went through a 6.6km tunnel called the Western Scheldt Tunnel in the Netherlands that took us under an estuary.
It’s also a toll road, the first toll road we encountered, and we had to pay 5 euros to cross.
Not far from our accommodation, we had to wait for a boat to pass:
Arriving at our Airbnb in Wingene
We had left Germany at around 9am and we arrived in Wingene in Belgium at around 8.30pm! We were all pretty tired. My head was really bad so I tried to sleep right away, but the kids were excited to see a play area and sandpit at our accommodation, so Ben took them out to play for a short while before bed.
We stayed at an Airbnb in Wingene Belgium that was not far from Bruges and only £60 per night for a 2-bed apartment. This is where we stayed: Vakantiestudio 4 personen.
On first arrival the accommodation looked really good. It was very clean and tidy. It looked modern and the beds large. It had everything we needed to stay for two nights.
My complaints would be that the pillows were really lumpy and it’s in the middle of farms so there is that farm smell in the air constantly – not that they can do anything about the smell, but with my headache on arrival it didn’t help! Unfortunately the WiFi didn’t work either so this was a bit annoying, but there was 4G.
The greatest point was that it was only £60 per night in the school summer holidays and only a short drive from Bruges! We booked so last minute it was a bargain. The hotels I was looking at in Bruges were around £300 per night, so this was huge value in comparison and we had an entire apartment to ourselves with two double bedrooms.
Anyway, after 11 hours of driving all through the Netherlands, we were glad to arrive and ready to sleep!
Here’s all of of our 8 day European road trip blog posts: