When it comes to destinations with historic castles, the Netherlands might not immediately spring to mind. However, the Dutch have some pretty breathtaking castles that you shouldn’t miss out on!
Here is a quick guide to eleven of the most beautiful castles that the Netherlands has to offer.
Coronavirus update: Many historic and cultural sites have opened in the Netherlands, but it’s a good idea to check each website before you hop in your car. Many locations require you to provide a negative test, so also check the requirements of each place you want to go to. Also remember to wear a face mask when inside and to keep a 1.5m distance at all times.
1. De Haar Castle, Utrecht
De Haar Castle in Utrecht is considered the most luxurious castle in the Netherlands. Dating all the way back to 1391, the castle grounds cover more than 135 acres. Even though many of the original gardens were destroyed during World War II, today they have been restored back to their former glory.
You can find multiple beautiful lakes and charming bridges scattered across the castle’s grounds. However, the highlight of the garden remains a remarkable maze. The castle also functions as a site for multiple festivals and events. The most exciting (and dorky) is the Elf Fantasy Fair, where participants get to dress up as magical creatures and party all night long.
2. Muiderslot Castle, Muiden
The Muiderslot Castle in Muiden is a medieval castle that was built in 1370. It’s located close to Amsterdam, so it’s perfect for a quick visit if you happen to be in town. The castle is also included in the UNESCO World Heritage List and has featured in many movies and TV shows that are set in the Middle Ages (sadly not Game of Thrones). Today Muiderslot operates as a national museum and is open for tours to the general public. In order to make the visit even more exciting, the castle has been restored to look as it would have during the 17th century.
3. Doorwerth Castle, Arnhem
The Doorwerth castle near Arnhem is located along the river Rhine and is now home to three separate museums. It has a health of beautiful forests, meadows, and fields are located just behind the castle where visitors are allowed to cycle or hike through. Unfortunately, the castle suffered great damage during World War II. Today, the interior of the castle has been restored back to its 18th-century glory.
Doorwerth is also rumoured to be haunted!👻 The TV show Most Haunted featured it on an episode in 2004 in an attempt to find paranormal activity. Today the castle operates as a hotel and a restaurant. So if you’re looking for a bit of a thrill and maybe want to see a ghost, this is your chance!
4. The Royal Palace, Amsterdam
Right in the heart of Amsterdam, the Royal Palace is the largest and most distinguished building from the Golden Age. One of the most cherished monuments in the Netherlands, it has set the stage for many of the country’s greatest events — like King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima’s wedding reception.
When it’s not being used for extravagant royal events, the palace opens its doors to visitors. You can listen to an audio guide as you wander the historic corridors, staring in awe at the imposing architecture.
5. Duurstede Castle, Wijk bij Duurstede
The one thing that stands out in Duurstede Castle is its tower, which looks like it could be home to Rapunzel. This 13th-century medieval castle is located in Wijk bij Duustede, which is in the Utrecht province.
Originally built as a defensive structure, today the castle operates as a catering firm. To this day the castle is still surrounded by a moat, so the only way you can access it is via the drawbridge (or swimming). Even though the castle is not open to the general public at this time, it’s still good for a quick picture if you happen to be in the area.
6. Duivenvoorde Castle, Voorschoten
When your Instagram account needs a little updating, head to the Duivenvoorde Castel. This beauty and the surrounding grounds make the picture-perfect backdrop. It’s one of the oldest castles in the Netherlands, dating back to 1226.
Several nobel families have lived here, but for the first five years of its existence, it was owned by just one family — the Van Duivenvoordes. If you visit, an audio tour will inform you of the castle’s long and rich history. Be sure to spend some time in lovely gardens as well.
7. Slot Loevestein, Zaltbommel
Slot Loevestein roughly translates to “Loef’s stone house”. Historians believe the castle was constructed between 1357 and 1397, even though there’s no official documentation to prove it. Slot Loevestein’s initial function was to collect tolls from trading ships passing through the river. However, with time the construction grew bigger until it became a full-grown castle (whoopsie).
The castle’s museum features three important eras in the structure’s history: the Middle Ages, the State Prison period, and the Dutch Waterline period. The castle houses multiple events throughout the year. The most popular is the Winterfeest celebration during the holiday season.
It also has a famous history with Hugo de Groot, you might want to read up on that story. 👀
8. Rosendael Castle, Arnhem
Just outside Arnhem and the Veluwe National Park, the Rosendael Castle is a beautiful place to visit for a good heavy dose of both history and nature. Built by the Duke of Guelders more than seven centuries ago, this impressive castle is chock-full of extravagant surprises.
The castle fell into disrepair after being struck by a bomb during WWII. Fortunately, it’s since been through a full restoration and is now open to the public. You can learn all about this and more during a guided audio tour, as you browse the impressive display of silver, porcelain, and furniture.
9. Huis Bergh, ‘s-Heerenberg
We don’t know much about the history of Huis Bergh (but we do love a bit of mystery)! The castle dates back to the 13th century and is among the biggest castles in the Netherlands. It’s also surrounded by a moat, which defended the castle during the Middle Ages. Currently, Huis Bergh is home to a large collection of early Italian paintings and extraordinary medieval handwritings. The castle also hosts weddings, so it’s perfect if you want your special day to be like a fairy tale.
10. Zuylen Slot, Utrecht
Just north of the city of Utrecht, in the village of Oud-Zuilen, this 13th-century castle. The lush garden is perfect for a stroll, and the castle itself will wow you with its rich history of feminism, literature, weaponry, and robbery.
Zulyen Slot’s biggest claim to fame, however, may be the fine tapestry it holds. It was made by the prestigious Dutch carpet weaver, Maximiliaan van der Gught. He was one of the best in Europe, supplying such tapestries to the royal houses of Poland and Sweden, among others.
11. Paleis het Loo, Apeldoorn
Paleis het Loo was built between 1684 and 1686 for stadtholder-king at the time William of Orange and his wife Mary II of England. The palace today is a state museum that is at all times open to the general public. Its interior displays original furniture, as well as objects and paintings of the House of Orange-Nassau.
Paleis het Loo is also home to a library devoted to the House of Orange-Nassau. It also houses the Museum of the Netherlands Orders of Knighthood’s Chancellery displaying books and other pieces such as decorations and medals. The palace was appointed national monument status and is among the Top 100 Dutch heritage sites. The palace’s Dutch Baroque garden is often referred to as the “Versailles of Holland”. The garden has been constructed in perfect symmetry with fountains, basins, and statues scattered around its grounds.
Bonus Round: Valkenburg Castle, Valkenburg aan de Geul
Unfortunately, what remains of Valkenburg Castle are only ruins. It dates back to the 11th century and it’s considered unique in the Netherlands since it’s the only castle built on a hill. Over the years, it was destroyed on multiple occasions during sieges. Its final destruction took place on December 10, 1672, at the hands of Stadtholder Willem III. Today the remains of the castle are open for tours, allowing visitors to walk through the remains of what used to be a prod fortress in the Geul Valley. It’s the perfect place for a day trip!
Are there any breathtaking castles in the Netherlands that we missed out on? Let us know if there are any other amazing castles we should visit!
Feature Image: Microtoerisme/Wikimedia
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in May 2018, but we gave it a cut and polish in June 2021 for your reading pleasure.