15 Best Things to Do in Arnhem (the Netherlands)

Written by Veronique Raes
Updated on
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Arnhem is located in the east of the Netherlands close to the German border at Emmerich.

This municipality serves as the capital of the Gelderland province and has a population of approximately 151,000. Human presence has been found at Arnhem as far back as the Stone Age with the uncovering of various hunter camps and graves.

During the middle ages the settlement at Arnhem was granted city rights and also gained a network of fortifications.

In subsequent years, the ownership of the city changed hands many times until its liberation after World War II. Arnhem now stands as a thriving city full of fantastic sights, historical architecture and great nightlife and is a great destination to visit.

Lets explore the best things to do in Arnhem:

1. Netherlands Open-air museum

Netherlands Open-air museumSource: flickr
Netherlands Open-air museum

Located 4km to the north of Arnhem, this fantastic museum is one of the prime attractions in Arnhem and indeed the country.

Founded in 1912, the idea behind the museum was to preserve the traditional lifestyle and ways of the Dutch people living in a rural population.

Here you can see what it was like in previous eras for farmers, fisherman and craftsmen, and what they had to go through on a daily basis to survive.

See actual reconstructed buildings such as windmills and workshops, and watch people demonstrating age old techniques that would have been used centuries ago.

A truly wonderful educational museum, it is easy to see why this is such a popular attraction.

2. Sonsbeek Park

Sonsbeek ParkSource: flickr
Sonsbeek Park

As the most famous and visited park in the city, Sonsbeek covers a vast expanse of open natural landscape with over 200 hectares of woodland, fields and park.

A bulk of this fabulous park is taken up with a beech forest – These stunning trees provide a great setting to walk through and admire the many ponds and fountains that are hidden here.

Two waterfalls are also present, one of which has a rock face that can be scaled (if you are careful!). Designed in the style of an English landscape garden, the forests, manicured lawns, and the beautiful white house building give this park an air of decadence and grandeur.

3. Burger’s Zoo

Burger’s ZooSource: flickr
Burger’s Zoo

For a wonderful day trip, why not combine a trip to the Open-air museum, with a morning at Burger’s Zoo – These two attractions are located next to each other and are both great places to visit.

Burger’s Zoo has a myriad of fantastic animals, reptiles and sea life to discover and the exhibits include an ocean environment complete with coral reef and a desert featuring snakes, African cave crickets and bighorn sheep.

When you have seen the oceans and deserts, transport yourself to the mangrove and see the 30+ botanical plants and then look down into the tree roots to see archerfish and King Parrots.

With a huge variety of animals, Burger’s Zoo is truly fantastic and the condition of the exhibits is second to none.

4. Arnhem War Museum

Arnhem War MuseumSource: flickr
Arnhem War Museum

World War II plays a large role in the modern history of Arnhem – This city saw great amounts of conflict between English, Polish and German troops with a culmination at the Battle of Arnhem.

Due to this fact, Arnhem has many museums dedicated to the war, one of which is the Arnhem War Museum.

Located in the northern regions of Arnhem, this museum holds a wonderful array of war memorabilia, artefacts and vehicles.

The displays and exhibitions will transport you back in time, outside you can see various tanks, transporters and gun platforms, while inside there is a host of information about Arnhem and how the war was conducted here.

5. Eusebius Church

Eusebius ChurchSource: flickr
Eusebius Church

Also known as the Grote Kerk, St. Eusebius Church stands in the centre of Arnhem in the Kerkplein and has towered over the city since its construction in the 1500’s.

Built in a Gothic style, the central bell tower stands at 93m making it the tallest structure in Arnhem – Visitors can take an elevator up to the top of the tower to view the cityscape of Arnhem in all its glory.

As the church was extensively damaged during WW2 there is a paratrooper memorial that hangs from the ceiling in the main aisle.

Furthermore, the crypts are open to the public and you can see several shallow graves and human remains.

6. The John Frost Bridge

The John Frost BridgeSource: flickr
The John Frost Bridge

Spanning the lower Rhine, this impressive arch bridge is named after Major-General John Frost who led British forces in the Battle of Arnhem to capture and defend the river in 1944. A bridge had been present at this location since the 1600’s, and German forces rebuilt it to allow movement of their troops during WW2.

After the failed attempt of operation Market Garden and the subsequent liberation of Arnhem, a new bridge was constructed in the same style and design as the original.

Stroll across the expanse of this bridge, admire the lower Rhine River, and marvel at the ingenuity of this structure.

7. Airborne Museum

Airborne MuseumSource: flickr
Airborne Museum

Another of Arnhem’s fine military museums, the Airborne Museum is dedicated to the Battle of Arnhem and what transpired here and in the surrounding villages during operation Market Garden.

Hartenstein which is the building that the museum is hosted in served as the HQ for the British 1st Airborne Division, now it hosts a fabulous collection of military memorabilia and artefacts from the operation.

Furthermore you will find videos, photographs and interviews with Allied soldiers that help you understand exactly what happened here and why it was such an important event.

8. Doorwerth Castle

Doorwerth CastleSource: flickr
Doorwerth Castle

Approximately 15km to the west of Arnhem lies the quaint castle of Doorwerth.

This truly idyllic building has a history dating back to the 1200’s where it was originally a wooden structure that was later rebuilt in stone.

You would be hard pressed to find a more picturesque grounds and setting for the castle as it is surrounded by a moat on all sides and on the other side of the moat is a forest with many trails to walk through.

Standing proud in the centre of the moat, the castle has been restored to its former glory and every detail from the small iron framed windows, to the archways and shutters is simply delightful.

9. Hoge Veluwe National Park

Hoge Veluwe National ParkSource: flickr
Hoge Veluwe National Park

Who would expect to find sand dunes in the middle of the Netherlands? In the Hoge Veluwe National Park you can and this area of natural beauty is the largest continuous nature reserve in the Netherlands.

Established in 1935, the park mainly served as a hunting ground and the St.

Hubertus Hunting lodge was constructed to accommodate the hunters.

Hoge Veluwe is home to a variety of wildlife including Red Deer, Wild Boar and Mouflon and also badgers and foxes.

If you are looking for an adventure in the outdoors, this national park is a great place to explore with an abundance of trails and well developed walking paths.

10. Feestaardvarken

FeestaardvarkenSource: flickr

A giant red Aardvark wearing a party had and lying on its back in a sand pit? Yes, that’s exactly what the Feestaardvarken sculpture park is! Donated by Burger’s Zoo to the citizens of Arnhem, this sculpture is renowned throughout the city and is a great place to take children to explore, enjoy some climbing, or play in the sand.

Furthermore the neighbouring library features a lift that is free of charge which lets you see the Aardvark from a birds eye view to really appreciate this monumental structure.

Kids and grown-ups alike can enjoy this fun sculpture and the opportunities that it presents.

11. Museum Bronbeek

Museum BronbeekSource: flickr
Museum Bronbeek

A former royal palace, the Bronbeek is a stunning building originally constructed in 1945 by King William III. Located in the east of Arnhem and surrounded by parkland, the Bronbeek is both a museum and a home for elderly soldiers.

Concentrating on Dutch colonial history, the museum tells in detail of the nation’s exploits in India and the activities of the East Indies Army.

See the wide variety of artefacts from this period including cannons, soldier’s uniforms, weaponry and military equipment.

12. Amersfoort

AmersfoortSource: flickr

If you are looking for a day trip from Arnhem, Amersfoort is a delightful place to visit and is only 50 minutes via public transport.

Surrounded by a circular network of canals the old town centre is simply magical to walk through.

Full of historical architecture such as the Lieve Vrouwetoren tower, The Church of St.

Jori, and the Koppelpoort fortification, the sights are endless.

Furthermore the extensive network of canals and beautiful scenery that sits side by side with these waterways are purely sublime and it is clear to see why Amersfoort is such a popular destination.

13. Arnhem Museum of Modern Art

Arnhem Museum of Modern ArtSource: flickr
Arnhem Museum of Modern Art

Only 10 minutes from the main station in Arnhem, the Museum of Modern Art sits in pleasant grounds just off of the river Nederrijn.

Created in 1918, the museum features a fantastic range of contemporary art from the 20th century including figurative, decorative and visual displays.

Also included is a collection of artefacts from Arnhem and the surrounding regions.

If you are a lover of modern art, the exhibits on display here will interest you greatly.

14. Walk through the old town centre

Musis Concert HallSource: flickr
Musis Concert Hall

The old town centre is considered to be the Markt region in the centre of Arnhem next to the river Nederrijn and the Eusebius Church.

Aside from the fantastic church, the surrounding streets offer many opportunities for shopping, sightseeing and enjoying a meal or a drink in one of the many cafes and restaurants.

Stroll down the river promenade, walk past the John Frostburg bridge and into the beautiful Musispark, and see the stunning Musis Concert Hall in all its glory.

Arnhem is a fantastic place to take in, and a walk through the old town centre will help you really see what this city is all about.

15. Duivelshuis

DuivelshuisSource: flickr

Duivelshuis or the Devils House is a city castle that was created in the 16th century and sits in the centre of the Arnhem old town centre next to the Eusebius Church.

Named after the devil, the house was originally the home of Maarten van Rossum and now stands as part of the town hall.

Satyr statues that line the archways of the building give it its name – They are grotesque figures that are half goat and half human and appear daemonic.

As a fine piece of architecture, the Duivelshuis is a great place to see when walking through the old town centre of Arnhem.

15 Best Things to Do in Arnhem (the Netherlands):

  • Netherlands Open-air museum
  • Sonsbeek Park
  • Burger’s Zoo
  • Arnhem War Museum
  • Eusebius Church
  • The John Frost Bridge
  • Airborne Museum
  • Doorwerth Castle
  • Hoge Veluwe National Park
  • Feestaardvarken
  • Museum Bronbeek
  • Amersfoort
  • Arnhem Museum of Modern Art
  • Walk through the old town centre
  • Duivelshuis