15 Best Things to Do in Nijmegen (the Netherlands)

Written by Veronique Raes
Updated on
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Nijmegen, also historically known as Nimeguen is a city in the south east of the Netherlands in the Gelderland province.

Located on the Waal river, this municipality is close to the border of Germany and the towns of Kleve, Goch and Emmerich.

Considered to be the oldest city in the Netherlands, Nijmegen celebrated 2000 years of existence in 2005 and has seen some form of civilisation since the Roman period.

First mentioned in the 1st century BC, it was originally a military camp for the Romans and then developed into a city with many different influences from the Frankish Kingdom, to the Holy Roman Emperor’s.

Steeped in ancient history, full of wonderful museums, marvellous architecture and beautiful natural land, Nijmegen is a true gem in on the borders of the Netherlands.

1. Grote Markt

Grote MarktSource: flickr
Grote Markt

Continuing the tradition of European market squares, the Grote Markt in Nijmegen sits in the centre of the town not far from the river Waal.

As a central point in the city the Grote Markt offers the perfect location to explore Nijmegen from and also enjoy the local atmosphere.

On this square you will find the impressive Stevenskerk, together with a host of local restaurants and cafes, and shops.

The architecture creates a historical atmosphere, and the cafes and outdoor seating provide a place to relax and watch the world go by.

2. MuZIEum

MuZIEumSource: muzieum

A truly fine museum that offers something completely different, MuZIEum is a fun-filled and interesting sight in the heart of Nijmegen.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be blind and what challenges a blind person has to face on a daily basis? MuZIEum offers precisely that – The chance to gain a new understanding and perspective on life and see what a life without sight is like.

You will be blindfolded and undertake a series of challenges and activities without sight – How does this feel? How do your other senses compensate? For a true life-changing and humbling experience, the MuZIEum is a wonderful attraction in the centre of Nijmegen.

3. Kronenburgerpark

KronenburgerparkSource: flickr

The Kronenburgerpark is a wonderful public area to walk through and enjoy some beautiful scenery and old castle ruins.

Located in-between the main railway station and the old town centre, the park is easy to get to on foot.

Due to a murky reputation, the park was renovated in 2005 and now features a beautiful layout and modern facilities.

Inside the park you will find several ponds which are home two a pair of famous black swans and their offspring, a children’s playground and also a small animal park containing deer, goats and peacocks.

Aside from the attractions, the plants, trees and old castle ruins make this park a pleasant place to spend an afternoon.

4. Valkhof Park

Valkhof ParkSource: flickr
Valkhof Park

Another fine public park just on the edge of the river Waal – The Valkhof Park sits on a small hill and offers fantastic views of the river and the city of Nijmegen.

Valkhof and its surrounding area has been host to a castle and grounds for many years and today you can still see some of the remains of the buildings that once stood here.

At the side of this park lies another overlapping public area known as Hunnerpark and both combine together to form a wonderful natural place to explore.

In the centre of Valkhof sits the chapel of Saint Nicholas which has stood for many years and features a fantastic circular brickwork design.

5. National Liberation Museum

National Liberation MuseumSource: bevrijdingsmuseum
National Liberation Museum

Located on the actual spot where paratroopers from the 82nd US Airborne division landed during World War II in operation Market Garden, this museum is dedicated to this period of the war and the operations that took place.

On the outskirts of the quiet town of Groesbeek you will find this interesting museum.

Inside you will find many exhibits on the exploits of the British, American, Canadian and Polish troops and come to understand what life was like in occupied Holland.

With something for everyone, the educational value here is evident for both the old and young.

6. Stevenskerk

StevenskerkSource: flickr

Also known as the great church of St. Stephen, this magnificent religious structure is the oldest in both Nijmegen and the Gelderland province.

Although the church was recently restored in 1959, the actual original construction was much earlier and dates back to the 13th century.

With an exterior that features an ornate domed bell tower, various religious reliefs above the main doorway and a front open archway that extends out onto the street.

Inside, at one end there is a huge amount of detailed stonework on the floor, high marble arches and tall stained glass windows that let in a dazzling amount of light.

As the main parish church of the city, this really is a great building to admire.

7. Velorama National Bicycle Museum

Velorama National Bicycle MuseumSource: gelderlandwaterkant
Velorama National Bicycle Museum

This unusual museum offers something different in terms of historical value – A detailed look at the history of the bicycle.

Situated close to the river and the Waalkade promenade, the Velorama museum is right next to the beautiful Valkhofpark.

If you are looking for a fun-filled and quirky museum, this is the place to be – Inside is a fabulous display of bicycles ranging from trikes from the 1800’s, to the bizarre penny farthing and even folding bikes used in WW2 during operation market garden.

Cycling plays a large part in Dutch culture, therefore this museum is well maintained and thoroughly entertaining.

8. Waalbrug

flickrSource: flickr

Spanning the river Waal, this monumental arch bridge stretches to an impressive 604m in length and the centre of the arch reaches to 65m in height.

Constructed in 1936 and opened by Queen Wilhelmina, this bridge is hugely important for Dutch road traffic.

From the bridge you can see across the river Waal and admire the large rail bridge that lies further down the river, you can also see the port, and the relatively low-rise skyline of Nijmegen city.

9. Africa Museum

Africa MuseumSource: afrikamuseum
Africa Museum

This fantastic indoor and outdoor museum is actually located to the east of Nijmegen in the small town of Berg en Dal – A bus will get you here in 15 minutes.

Concentrating on African history and culture, the museum has many indoor and outdoor displays covering the culture, music and architecture of Africa.

Also included are a fantastic display of traditional pieces of artwork and artefacts from locations like Ghana and Mali.

Marvel at the recreated Dogon house, or the pygmy village, and wonder at the detail of the Mau masks from the Ivory Coast or the Mbamba grave stones from Angola.

10. De Waagh

De WaaghSource: flickr
De Waagh

One of the most beautiful buildings in Nijmegen, De Waagh takes prime place in the Grote Markt.

Constructed in the 1600’s in an ornate renaissance style, the structure has been renovated in the 1800’s and now stands as a fine restaurant.

As a central point of interest in the market square, De Waagh is extremely beautiful and the restaurant that is open inside offers a ride range on quality dishes, served in a great atmosphere and location.

11. Lange Hezelstraat

Lange HezelstraatSource: flickr
Lange Hezelstraat

Hezelstraat is one of the oldest dedicated shopping streets in the Netherlands and one of the central shopping areas in Nijmegen.

Spanning from the northern edge of the Kronenburgerpark, to the small square at the intersection between Ganzenheuvel and Houtstraat, the street is lined with many different shops and restaurants.

You can find anything from vintage clothes stores, to record stores and liquor parlours, and the old architecture of the buildings also adds an extra depth to the character of the street.

For a enjoyable bit of retail therapy in a charming setting, Lange Hezelstraat is a true gem.

12. Stratemakerstoren fortification

StratemakerstorenSource: wikipedia

Nijmegen used to have an extensive city defence system as did many other European cities in the middle ages and later.

One such fortification can be seen in the form of the Stratemakerstoren museum that sits just south of the Valkhofpark and north of the river Waal.

This tower served to protect one of the main gates of Valkhof Castle.

You can still see the fortification today in all its glory and it provides a pleasant sight when walking down the Waalkade promenade.

13. River Waal boat cruise

River Waal boat cruiseSource: pannenkoekenboot
River Waal boat cruise

What better way to explore the beautiful river Waal than by taking a leisurely boat tour on its waters? Boat tours generally depart from the small docks near Valkhof castle and there are numerous operators who have a variety of different boats and tours.

Sail past the stunning countryside of Nijmegen and eastern Netherlands and under the immense bridges that span this mighty river.

Most of the tours will typically last for a minimum of 75 minutes and there are special tours available where you can enjoy a meal on the water or even delicious Dutch pancakes.

14. Museum Het Valkhof

Museum Het ValkhofSource: flickr
Museum Het Valkhof

Created in 1999, this museum is actually a combination of two former establishments and now boasts a wonderful art collection and a host of Roman archaeological finds.

At the edge of Valkhof Park, the Museum Het Valkhof is a great place to visit after a walk through the park.

Inside the museum is a range of ancient and modern art, a library and a collection of historical finds from the Gelderland region such as bronze statues, face masks and silver tableware.

15. Take a cycle tour through the countryside

Nijmegen Cycle routeSource: flickr
Nijmegen Cycle route

Nijmegen offers a range of cycling routes that take you right up to the German border and along the length of the Waal river.

One such route is the Nijmegen Cycle route which spans for some 46km in a circle with the starting point in the city centre.

From here you will make your way down the river passing by some fantastic sights such as the Millingerwaard nature reserve and For Panerden.

To enjoy some exercise, fresh air, and the pleasant and beautiful Dutch countryside, this cycling route has it all.

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

  • Grote Markt
  • MuZIEum
  • Kronenburgerpark
  • Valkhof Park
  • National Liberation Museum
  • Stevenskerk
  • Velorama National Bicycle Museum
  • Waalbrug
  • Africa Museum
  • De Waagh
  • Lange Hezelstraat
  • Stratemakerstoren fortification
  • River Waal boat cruise
  • Museum Het Valkhof
  • Take a cycle tour through the countryside