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Europe is home to many of the most iconic castles in the world. Though not nearly as numerous or famous as the castles in Germany or France, the Netherlands has its fair share of beautiful castles. From fairytale-like medieval castles to impressive fortified castles, there’s a pretty wide array of them scattered across the country. Many of these castles are now museums while some are luxury hotels. Here are my 12 picks for the most beautiful castles in the Netherlands to visit:
My first 6 picks are easy day trips from Amsterdam, within an hour’s drive from the city.
1. De Haar Castle
Located in the province of Utrecht, about a 30-minute drive from Amsterdam, De Haar Castle is one of the largest and most beautiful castles in the Netherlands. This castle looks straight out of a fairy-tale. Designed by Pierre Cuypers, who was also responsible for Amsterdam’s Central Station and Rijksmuseum, the castle was built in the 19th century and boasts a fascinating jet-set history.
The castle and its expansive gardens are open to visitors. I recommend a tour of the castle, followed by a stroll around the park. Get tickets for De Haar Castle.
2. Muiderslot Castle
Muiderslot is a historic Dutch castle built in the 14th century in the town of Muiden. Situated at the mouth of the Vecht River, a major trading route in medieval times, the castle played a prominent role in Dutch history. These days, it’s one of the most popular castles in Holland to visit, being just 20 minutes from Amsterdam. Get tickets for Muiderslot.
Many other castles line the banks of the Vecht River. If you follow the river from the village of Loenen aan de Vecht southwards to Utrecht, you’ll pass numerous castles and stately villas. One of these castles, Nyrenrode, is now a business university. I was very honoured to give a lecture there once. A stone’s throw away from Nyenrode lies the small Oudaen Castle.
4. Slot Zuylen
Further south along the Vecht River, in the village of Oud Zuilen, you’ll find Zuylen Castle, a small 18th century castle that has its roots dating back to the 13th century. The castle is well-known for its exquisite tapestries made by the famous Dutch carpet weaver, Maximiliaan van der Gught, who supplied fine tapestries to royal houses across Europe.
5. Amerongen Castle
Situated in the province of Utrecht, Amerongen Castle was built in the 17th century on the site of a medieval castle that was destroyed by the French army in 1673. This Dutch castle is famous as the place where in 1918, Wilhelm II (the last German Kaiser or King), abdicated and stayed for two years. I recommend going on a guided tour of the castle to learn about its colourful past. The castle grounds are also home to a top-notch restaurant: Bentinck.
6. Duurstede Castle
This 13th century castle can be found in the town of Wijk bij Duurstede, southeast of the city of Utrecht, about an hour’s drive from Amsterdam. Partially in ruins, Duurstede Castle boasts an impressive tower and is completely surrounded by a moat. These days, it’s a popular venue for events and weddings. Don’t miss a visit to Wijk bij Duurstede, a lovely town to explore!
7. Loevestein Castle
Slot Loevestein is one of the most famous medieval castles in the Netherlands. Many Dutch know Loevestein Castle as the infamous prison from which Hugo de Groot, an influential lawyer and theologist in the 17th century, escaped in a book chest – this legendary story is told at schools across the country. It’s this fascinating history that makes a visit to Loevestein Castle absolutely worthwhile. Visit this castle as part of a road trip route around the Great Rivers region of central Netherlands. Get tickets for Slot Loevestein.
8. Ammersoyen Castle
One of the best preserved medieval castles in the Netherlands, the 14th century Ammersoyen Castle is a formidable sight. The castle is home to beautiful castle gardens and a charming B&B, a unique place to spend the night.
9. Doorwerth Castle
Located on the shores of the Rhine River in the province of Gelderland, Doorwerth Castle was built in the 13th century by the Van Dorenweerd family. Join a tour around the castle’s richly decorated state rooms, then wander around the castle gardens.
10. Huis Bergh
Huis Bergh is one of the Netherlands’ largest castles and is located in the province of Gelderland. This imposing 14th century castle, built on a fortified island, is often included in lists of the most beautiful castles in the Netherlands. The castle houses an impressive collection of medieval texts and early-Italian paintings. If you’d like to stay in a Dutch castle, check out the Huis Bergh castle suites!
11. Heeswijk Castle
Heeswijk Castle is an 11th century fortified castle in the province of North Brabant. The castle houses a fascinating exhibition detailing its history as well as the lifestyle of 19th century aristocrats. One of the most famous visitors to the Heeswijk Castle was King Louis XIV (the Sun King) of France who came here in 1672 to negotiate the surrender of Dutch rebel forces. Get tickets for Heeswijk Castle.
12. Hoensbroek Castle
Hoensbroek Castle, situated in the southern province of Limburg, was recently voted as the most beautiful castle in the Netherlands. It sure has a formidable appearance, with its fortifications, imposing towers and giant moat. Located on important trading routes, this 14th century castle became one of the largest between the Meuse and the Rhine rivers. Get tickets for Hoensbroek Castle.
There you have it! These are my choices for the most beautiful castles in the Netherlands. Are there any that you would like to add to this list?