There is little more that sparks our imagination than historic castles with turrets and beautiful palaces with graceful gardens. The kitch, the splendor, the glamor and the history will take you to another world. The Netherlands offers many opportunities to imagine yourself in medieval times with knights and princesses. We selected for you the most beautiful castles and palaces in the Netherlands that are open to visitors!
# 1 The Palace on Dam Square
Amsterdam | Website | In the heart of Amsterdam is one of the most beautiful palaces in the Netherlands. Do you remember the abdication of (then) Queen Beatrix? Or the Kiss of Máxima and Willem-Alexander on their wedding day? The Royal Palace has been the setting for many historical events. If the palace on Dam is not used by the royal family for state visits or other official events, you can come and have a look. Marvel at the impressive architecture and let the audio tour update you on the history of Amsterdam and the royal family.
# 2 Duivenvoorde Castle
Voorschoten | Website | This castle is quite small compared to the Dutch grand palaces, but a visit to this castle is one to remember. It is located on a beautiful estate between The Hague and Leiden, which is perfect for a nice walk. But don’t just stick to the gardens, as we definitely recommend a visit to Duivenvoorde itself. At fixed times you can learn more about its history dating back to the thirteenth century with a guided tour. Particularly unique is the original interior, which is absolute my soft spot when it comes to castles. It brings you closer to the lives of the old castle inhabitants.
# 3 Rosendael Castle
Veluwe | Website | This ancient castle is located at the Veluwe, close to the national park. During a guided tour you will learn about the rich history of the castle and its noble inhabitants. During the Second World War, the castle was hit by a bomb, after which it fell into disrepair. The last baron turned the castle over to the state and after a thorough restoration it is open to the public again! Make sure to take a walk through the landscape garden and make a stop at the Bedriegertjes (translated: Cheaters). This fountain floor is part of a shell gallery, designed by architect Daniel Marot from 1732. Subtle fountains have been incorporated in the mosaic floor that spray water at random moments, a unique piece of technology for that time!
# 4 Loevestein Palace
Poederoijen, Gelderland | Website| This medieval fortress takes you back to the time of knights and kings. Dutch readers may know this castle from the story of Hugo de Groot. Loevestein was once used as a prison and the scholar Hugo de Groot was also imprisoned here. He couldn’t live without books, so he got permission to receive books every once a while. His wife would be sending the new books to him in a wooden bookcase. At first this bookcase was thoroughly checked, but only at the begining. That’s when Hugo de Groot saw his chance and smuggled himself out hiding in the bookcase. The bookcase is now on display in the Rijksmuseum. In line with this story, Slot Loevestein now also has an escape room.
# 5 Zuylen slot
Oud Zuilen, near Utrecht | Website| This impressive castle is located just outside the city of Utrecht. The lovely garden is good for a short walk, but the castle itself is even more fascinating. It can only be visited with a guided tour and the tour guides make sure history comes alive. You will learn about the feminist Belle van Zuylen, one of the few female writers of her time, and a bizarre robbery in the 1980s when the castle’s unique weapon collection was stolen. In 2018, one of the special swords suddenly surfaced at an online platform and since then the castle foundation has been trying to find more of the stolen collection.
# 6 Heeswijk Castle
Heeswijk Dinther, Brabant | Website | This castle in the south of the Netherlands tells the story of Dutch dukes. History goes back up to 1000 years. The ancestors of the Dutch royal family conquered the castle during the Eighty Years’ War against Spain and the infamous French Sun King Louis XIV once slept on the castle. In the nineteenth century, the castle was bought by a local baron. He renovated the castle and allowed visitors to see his home by appointment. His sons continued that tradition and now the castle is a museum.
Tip: you can stay in a boutique tree house with sauna, breakfast and view within walking distance of the castle.
# 7 Royal Palace Het Loo
Apeldoorn | Website| The most famous palace in the Netherlands is of course Paleis Het Loo. Not long ago, the palace was still used by the royal family. Todays museum gives a glimpse of the royal history of the Netherlands. The palace was once bought by a great-grandson of William of Orange, the famous ancestor of the royal family, and it remained in the hands of the House of Orange ever since. Queen Wilhelmina has lived at Het Loo for a long time and her daughter Queen Juliana has also lived here in her young years. Beautiful old-timers from their time are exhibited in the Royal Stables, alongside historic coaches. The palace is currently under major renovations and will reopen in 2021.
# 8 Cannenburgh Castle
Vaassen, Gelderland | Website | This castle in Gelderland is fully furnished in eighteenth-century style. Much of the interior is original from the castle, so it was once used by the residents themselves. Cannenburgh was built by Field Marshal Marten van Rossem in the sixteenth century. After him his descendants modernized it and the castle got its fairytale look with its four towers. You can visit the castle with a guided tour, but also with an audio tour.
# 9 Muiderslot
Muiden | Website| When drawing a castle as a child, it looked like Muiderslot. It is the type of a classic castle with towers and a moat. You might already guessed that it was built to defend old Holland back in ancient times. Muiderslot was one of the first castles to become a museum, already in the nineteenth century which is much earlier than most castles and palaces in the Netherlands. King William I was responsibile for this. He had the castle restored to prevent it from falling into disrepair and opened it to the public. There is a free audio tour, which you can also download on your phone.
# 10 Castle De Haar
Haarzuilens, near Utrecht | Website| De Haar is one of the most biggest castles in the Netherlands and therefore the most visited. The castle dates back to the Middle Ages and has been the property of the eccentric Van Zuylen family for centuries. Until the 1960s, the castle was used in September for grand parties with celebrities such as Brigitte Bardot and Yves Saint Laurent. It is still associated with the noble family. They no longer own it, but can still live in De Haar for a month a year. It is wonderful to wander through the authentically furnished rooms. The higlight of a visit is the Main Hall, designed by architect Cuypers who also designed the Rijksmuseum and central station of Amsterdam. The Main Hall looks like a gothic church which is quite unique for castles.
# 11 Doorwerth Castle
Doorwerth, near Arnhem | Website| This medieval castle is close to Arnhem and the Veluwe National Park. It dates from an era of knights and princesses, as the knights’ hall still shows. Particularly unique is how the old prison and the kitchen have been preserved over time. The castle has been expanded and modernized for centuries, but the Second World War left it basically destroyed. Did you know that even more than a hundred hand grenades were found in the garden even last year? It has now been restored and open for visitors.
# 12 City Palace Markiezenhof
Bergen op Zoom, Brabant | Website | The Markiezenhof palace dates back to the Middle Ages and it eventually became a city palace of the lords and later the marquises of Bergen op Zoom. A museum about the region is now housed in the palace. A number of rooms have also been restored to their full glory and are part of the museum. That makes Markiezenhof not only a popular wedding location, but also worth a museum visit.
The My Maps map above summarizes all our tips. The menu on the menu has separate layers that mark the best coffee spots, sleeping places and highlights. Click on the star to save the map to your own Google Maps or open the map in a new window for a larger version. Enjoy!