The Netherlands is home to some of the most picturesque castles in Europe, including many that are steeped in history yet wouldn’t look out of place in a fairytale. These are the 10 Dutch castles well worth adding to your holiday itinerary.
During the 13th century, Count Floris V of Holland commissioned a series of castles, but this is the only one left standing. Rather than being a royal abode, this castle has mostly been used as a prison—and art storage: Rembrandt’s famous painting "The Night Watch" was temporarily stored here in Sept. 1939 for safekeeping during the war. There is plenty to see and do at this castle; the agenda is always packed with concerts or special events, so it’s worth checking the website before you visit. The museum explores the struggles between the Dutch and Spanish, while the audio tour through the castle delves into the history of Count Floris V. There is a cafe where you can book high tea or high wine, a boozy take on a traditional afternoon tea.
You can explore this medieval fortress that has been both a home and a convent since it was built in the 14th century, on your own, or join one of the guided tours. Inside, you can explore the knight’s hall, women’s quarters, see medieval weaponry, and armor, as well as see artifacts found in the moat below. There is a tavern where you can head for a drink and a bite to eat after taking in the castle’s history.
This medieval castle situated on a small island is known for its impressive tower, referred to as the Bourgondisch Toren. It was a modest building in the 13th century but was extended in the mid-15th century by the bishop of Utrecht to include 75 rooms where festivals of art and culture took place. However, the castle fell into disrepair, and over the years, restorations have taken place with works completed in 2013. Nowadays it’s a wedding venue, but you can visit Monday through Saturday during the summer. Private events can close the castle to the public, so it’s worth calling ahead.
This 13th-century castle is widely acknowledged as one of the best-preserved castles in the country. It’s situated a stone’s throw from the Linge river and near to the Rhine and Waal rivers, with the surrounding countryside being beautiful to explore on foot or by bike. Daily tours take place at the castle and its museum, and there is an inn where you can grab a bite to eat.
Kasteel De Haar
Kasteel de Haar is not to be missed. It’s an opulent castle, with early 20th-century Gothic Revival interiors, thanks to the restoration by the famous Dutch architect Pierre Cuypers, who is responsible for the breathtaking Rijksmuseum and Amsterdam’s Central Station. The castle boasts so many beautiful things to see, but the spectacular kitchen, ornate main hall and two 16th century tapestries are worthy of note. The castle is open daily, with some exceptions throughout the year.
At Loevestein Castle, a medieval fortress and jail for political prisoners, every guest gets their own key to explore the rooms and exhibitions within. There is a tavern that serves food daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (except on some public holidays). You’ll learn about the castle’s most famous prisoner, the lawyer, poet, and politician Hugo de Groot, who was sentenced to life in 1619. However, thanks to his wife’s cunning plan, he managed to escape the prison in a book chest, later becoming the Swedish Ambassador to France.
Kasteel Huis Bergh
One of the largest castles in the Netherlands, Kasteel Huis Bergh, was the home of lords and then counts for hundreds of years. Surrounded by a moat, it boasts the Netherlands' oldest working windmill. Inside the castle, you can explore the stately rooms and the impressive collection of Italian paintings, portraits, medieval coins, and more.
Arguably one of the most beautiful and best-preserved castles in the country, Muiderslot was saved from demolition in the 1800s and turned into a museum where you can discover medieval armor, 17th-century paintings and more inside. Head into the gardens, and you’ll find sculptures dotted around the grounds. There is a falconer on-site and the castle regularly hosts different events such as medieval re-enactments complete with knight duels.
A Dutch national monument, Ruurlo Castle is worth a trip. Inside is a museum with a rotating exhibition of the Dutch painter, Carel Willink’s works. Inside the castle is beautifully maintained with grand, vibrantly decorated rooms. The orangery is a wonderful place to stop for lunch before heading outside for a gentle stroll around the English-style landscaped gardens.
One for adventurers, there's a network of hidden caves beneath the ruins of this medieval castle. On certain days, there are birds of prey shows you can watch, and during the festive period, there is a Christmas market on the grounds. After all that exploring, you can recharge in the De Haselderhof restaurant.