Texel is an island with four types of landscape: dunes and beaches in the west, flatland and polders in the east and hilly in the center of the island (the remains of the ice age). Inland you find the fourth landscape - wetlands - with beautiful walking trails in the center west coast of the island, like The Slufter. Along the wadden-coast in the east there are comparably smaller Wetlands. In the dunes, valleys like The Muy are quite popular with tourists.
Both tourists and birds are abundant. The tourists visit mostly in the summer.
The islanders call their hilly area the Hoge Berg ("High Mountain"). Its highest point is about 15 meters above sea level and gives a fabulous view over the island. It's not the summit of the island. The dune Loodsmansduin in the south reaches 30 meters above sea level.
Originally, the locals spoke their own dialect, known as "Tessels". Nowadays it's dying out and is replaced by a more Standard-Dutch tongue, although still with specific words and accents. The inhabitants have their own name for the mainland: de Overkant, literally "the Other Side".
The official name is Texel. The x in it is normally pronounced as ss, so the name sounds like "Tessel". In Standard-Dutch, the correct pronunciation is Tessel, but a lot of Dutchmen pronounce it with an x-sound. The locals however always pronounce it as "Tessel".
The following villages are on Texel:
- De Koog (West side of island, by the beach.). The town where the sun lovers go. Small place, but busy. A bit trashy, lots of night life. Two supermarkets, lots of bars/restaurants, and not much else.
- Den Burg (Centre of island.). Largest town on island, home to about half the island's inhabitants. It has the most facilities and is the best shopping destination.
The information center is located in Den Burg:
- VVV Texel (tourist office), Emmalaan 66, Den Burg. Mo-Fr 9:00 - 17:30, Sa 9:00 - 17:00.
As Texel is an island, the only realistic way to get to it is by ferry. Teso operates a 30 min ferry trip from Den Helder to Texel. Ferries depart from 06:30 until 21:30, every hour, with less departures on Sunday. In summer and on busy days, two boats are deployed. Ferries dock at 't Horntje along the southern end of the island. From there, buses bring you to the larger villages.
Den Helder can be reached by train. The ride to Den Helder station takes 1 hour and 15 minutes from Amsterdam and 2 hours from Rotterdam. At the station, bus 33 takes you to the ferry pier, or you can walk the bit through town.
Getting there by car is also an option. From Amsterdam, take the A9 to Alkmaar. The A9 stops at the traffic lights in Alkmaar. From there, take a left at the roundabout as the road changes into the N9. Keep following the N9 till you arrive at Den Helder.
The island is best experienced by bicycle, in the summer. There are many place to hire bikes on the island.
Public transport busses run each hour to each village and connect to the hourly ferry services (but not to any additional sailings). You can buy tickets at the driver; a map of bus lines is available at the Connexxion website.
For parking at paid parking lots or parking zones you can either pay individually (€ 2,50 per hour in 2014), but in case you stay for longer than over the weekend, purchasing a yearly parking vignette might be a good idea (€ 15 in 2014). Add the vignette to the collection of dozens of other vignettes on your front screen and you can park in designated areas without additional charges. There are however some time limitations at some of the parking lots, which are explained in the brochure that comes with the vignette and the signs at the parking lots. The stickers can be purchased for example in the VVV information center in Den Burg or in supermarkets.
The whole western coast consists of the Duinen van Texel National Park, a protected nature reserve. It is a varied dunescape with heath, salt fens and grassland, and is the best attraction Texel has to offer. Some areas are protected as bird breeding grounds.
- De Slufter/De Muy (northwest of island). Den Slufter is a tidal inlet with marshes and a lagoon.
- Eierland ((English: egg land)) (north and centre of island). Eierland means "egg land" in Dutch. This is a breeding ground for 1000s of birds.
Some other attractions include:
- Texel Lighthouse (Vuurtoren Lange Jaap), Vuurtorenweg 184, De Cocksdorp, ☎ +31 222 317-741. Apr 10:00-17:00 daily, May-Sep M-Th 10:00-20:00, F-Su 10:00-17:00, Oct 10:00-17:00 daily, Nov-Mar W, Sa-Su 10:00-17:00. The lighthouse is one of the landmarks of Texel. The top is at 45 metres high and gives a great view over Texel and the Wadden Sea. The way up there is basically a museum, which explains the history of the lighthouse and its current purpose. €3.
- Maritime & Beachcombers Museum (Maritiem & Jutters Museum), Barentszstraat 21, Oudeschild, ☎ +31 222 314-956. Jul-Aug M-Sa 10:00-17:00, Su, hols 12:00-17:00, Sep-Jun Tu-Sa 10:00-17:00, Su, hols 12:00-17:00. This museum makes for a delightful visit. In past times many ships sunk around Texel due to stormy weather, so a lot of treasures have been found in the surrounding area. This museum shows what kind of stuff they have found, and the collection is truly amazing (almost funny). The outdoor section show demonstrations by craftsmen, such as rope-making and blacksmithing. €6.50, children €5.
There are many activities you can do on the isle of Texel. Just some of them include swimming, sunbathing, kitesurfing, golfing and go-karting. Cycling and hiking through the nature reserve is particularly popular. You can rent bicycles at the ferry pier 't Horntje and in the other villages.
There are numerous possibilities for cycling. English-language cycle routes are the Texel South Cycle Route and the Texel North Cycle Route, which can be combined into one long trip around the whole of the island.
Den Burg has the largest facilities for shopping.
- Bij Jef, Herenstraat 24, Den Hoorn, ☎ +31 222 319-623. Feb-Dec Su-F 18:00-late, Sa 19:00-late, Jan closed. This is a highly appraised French restaurant that has one Michelin star since 2009. Excellent food and service as the chef informs about your personal wishes. They also have an excellent wine list. And they even bring you home when you're done eating. But of course this all comes at a price. €45-100.
- Van Der Star, Heemskerckstraat 15 , Oudeschild, ☎ +31 222 312-441. M-Sa 09:00-18:00. This seemingly simple eatery serves some of the best seafood on Texel. Their specialty is smoked eel from the North Sea. They also have mussels, cod, prawns and fish soup. It is also a stand-alone shop with fish and bread for take-away. €10.
- Texel Catering en Banket Service (Ruud Boom), Stoompoort 16, ☎ +31 222 313 791. 6am to 11pm. Catering food delivery company serving food for groups of 10 and above (up to 200 should not be a problem). Budget groups can have dinner from €6 p.p., more luxurious meals are also available. Ruud speaks only a little English, but their website shows many options - thus you should be fine.
Booking several days in advance is recommended. However, ordering for the next day (or even later that day) is often possible for simple meals. €5-50.
As most travellers stay in De Koog, this is where the island's nightlife takes place. There are many bars and cafes, and it even feels a bit seedy at night.
A lot of hotels and campsites are found on Texel.
- Hotel 't Anker, Kikkertstraat 24, De Cocksdorp, ☎ +31 222 316274. A very nice but relatively small hotel. € ± 40,- per person per night.
- Holiday-Park de Krim, Roggeslootweg 6, De Cocksdorp, ☎ +31 222 390112. With spacious bungalows, luxury chalets, a five-star campsite and many other facilities.
- Vacation home Rabbit, Roggeslootweg 393, De Cocksdorp, ☎ +49 2261 41495. Check-in: Friday, check-out: Friday. Vacation home in Holidaypark De Krim, onlinebooking.
- Vakantiebungalow Leeuwwitje, Gerritslanderdijkje 284, Den Burg, ☎ +31 6288 36956. Check-in: Friday, check-out: Friday. Holiday home Leeuwwitje, luxury bungalow, sleeps six, private forest, whirlpool, fire place, online booking.
- Hotel De Branding, Boodtlaan 6, De Koog, ☎ +31 222 317-233. This hotel has 30 modern rooms, each with their own bathroom seating area and television. Only the rooms on the ground floor have outdoors seating. €45-77.
There is a post office in the centre of Den Burg, at the corner of the Burgwal and Parkstraat.
During the summer a special touristic boat service to the neighboring island of Vlieland, is available. This boat leaves near De Cocksdorp. The Wadden Sea sealife is also seen on this trip.