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Arnhem is the capital city of the province of Gelderland and is located in the eastern Netherlands. It’s just a few dozen kilometers from the German border. Arnhem lies along the banks of the River Rhine and is home to major historic sites and to Modekwartier, its renowned fashion district.
If there’s one thing Arhem is widely known for, it’s the battles that have been fought here. Due to its location, Arnhem has been the site of some of Europe’s most pivotal clashes, including two where both Dutch and English troops fought side by side against foreign invaders centuries apart!
Whether you want to design your next holiday around a great nightlife or the great outdoors, Arnhem has plenty of tourist attractions for everyone. Join us for a look at what made this genteel resort town famous and why it’s worthy of a spot on your vacation wish list.
- Things to Do in Arnhem, Netherlands
- 1. Learn the History of Operation Market Garden
- 2. Royal Burgers’ Zoo
- 3. Visit Eusebius Church in the Old City Centre
- 4. Duivelshuis or the Devils House
- 5. Netherlands Open Air Museum
- 6. De Hoge Veluwe National Park
- 7. Kröller-Müller Museum
- 8. Arnhem Museum of Modern Art
- 9. Admire Arnhem’s Best Street Art
- 10. Enjoy Arnhem’s Best Shopping Districts
- 11. Park Sonsbeek
- 12. Bronbeek Museum
- 13. Check out the Local Nightlife
- 14. Nederlands Wijnmuseum (Netherlands Wine Museum)
- What is Arnhem Netherlands known for?
- What’s the best way to get around Arnhem, Netherlands?
- What are some traditional foods I can try in Arnhem?
- Best Activity For Adults – Nederlands Wijnmuseum
- Best Activity For Kids – Royal Burgers’ Zoo
- Best Free Activity – Walk Sonsbeek Park
- Best Food – The Green Rose
- Best Nightlife – Musis Arnhem
- Best Place To Stay – Hotel Molendal
Things to Do in Arnhem, Netherlands
1. Learn the History of Operation Market Garden
Arnhem has an incredible history that officially began in the Middle Ages when it was charted by Otto II in 1233. But its 19th-century reputation as a retirement town for rich former sugar barons and wealthy planters would be shattered when the 20th century ushered in World War II.
After being occupied by German forces, Arnhem would become the center stage for Operation Market Garden in September 1944, one of the most famous battles of the war. The ten-day Battle of Arnhem would become a vital part of the city’s rich history.
Designed to end the war in Europe by Christmas 1944, Market Garden hinged on the Allies capturing several bridges across rivers in the Netherlands and finally over the River Rhine into Germany. Arnhem held the final bridge. The task of capturing it fell to the veteran British 1st Airborne Division and the 1st (Polish) Independent Parachute Brigade.
Over 10,000 men dropped into Arnhem – around 2,000 would escape.
While Operation Market Garden was ultimately unsuccessful for the Allies, the Spartan-level bravery of those involved has never been forgotten. It even served as the inspiration for the 1977 blockbuster movie A Bridge Too Far. Featuring an all-star cast, it’s a remarkably accurate account of the operation – except for Gene Hackman’s “Polish” accent!
So it will likely come as no surprise that there are still plenty of war museums and memorials in Arnhem dedicated to this history of the battle. Here are some of the best museums and landmarks to visit during your journey.
Airborne at the John Frost Bridge
John Frost Bridge played a central role in Operation Market Garden. Over 10,000 men were sent to secure Arnhem and the bridge, but most were cut off. The battle for the bridge would fall on the shoulders of around 700 men, mostly from the British Parachute Regiment’s 2nd Battalion, under Lieutenant Colonel John Frost.
Outnumbered by German Panzer Divisions that “weren’t supposed to be there,” the paras held one end of the bridge for four days, twice as long as they were supposed to… with 700 men instead of 10,000.
In 1978, the bravery of John Frost and 2 PARA would be commemorated with the renaming of the bridge in honor of the airborne warrior.
Today, you can not only visit the John Frost Bridge but also an Airborne Museum extension called “Airborne at the John Frost Bridge,” which is located right next to it. The free exhibition offers visitors information about the soldiers who fought and died for Arhmen and freedom.
Airborne Museum Hartenstein
Address: Utrechtseweg 232, 6862 AZ Oosterbeek, Netherlands
Be sure you also experience the full Airborne Museum at Hartenstein, which has done a truly remarkable job of bringing history to life. The museum is set in Villa Hartenstein, a beautifully restored building that served as the actual headquarters of the British 1st Airborne troops during the Battle of Arnhem.
The museum invites visitors to experience the battle through the eyes of civilians and members of the Dutch resistance and British forces. The wide range of exhibits includes everything from interviews and military artifacts to interactive activities for the entire family.
Arnhem War Museum 40-45
Address: Kemperbergerweg 780, 6816 RX Arnhem, Netherlands
The Arnhem War Museum is unique because it was created by a group of private collectors who all brought their memorabilia together in one place. And by “memorabilia,” I mean everything from buttons, authentic uniforms, and weapons to World War II half-tracks and airplanes. It’s no IWM, but this is genuinely one of my favorite war museums in Europe.
Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery
Address: Van Limburg Stirumweg 28, 6861 WL Oosterbeek, Netherlands
Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery allows visitors to pay their respects to many of the soldiers who gave their lives in the Battle of Arnhem. Even freshly “badged” paratroopers are toured around these war graves by the British Army once they earn their wings. This cemetery serves as the eternal resting place of nearly 1,700 British, Commonwealth, and Polish servicemen killed during the battle, over 240 of which remain unidentified.
See Related: Netherlands Itinerary: How to Plan a 7-10 Day Visit
2. Royal Burgers’ Zoo
Address: Antoon van Hooffplein 1, 6816 SH Arnhem, Netherlands
Nope, the Royal Burgers’ Zoo doesn’t actually have anything to do with hamburgers (you’d worry about where they got the meat anyway). It’s actually a massive zoo that was first founded by a guy named Johan Burgers back in the early 20th century.
From the beginning, the 45-hectare zoo set out to do things differently. Rather than cages, the animals live in eco-displays that are designed to reflect their natural environment as closely as possible.
Today, visitors can explore mangroves, savannahs, oceans, tropical rainforests, and more, all on the same property. With a focus on sustainability, conservation, and research, the Royal Burgers’ Zoo has become one of the most visited zoos in the Netherlands.
For family-friendly accommodations, check out the Hotel Karel, which is situated 2.2km from Burgers’ Zoo and within 1.6 km of the nearest train station. Throughout your stay, you’ll enjoy amenities like bike rentals, board games, wine, and spa facilities.
3. Visit Eusebius Church in the Old City Centre
Address: Kerkplein 1, 6811 EB Arnhem, Netherlands
If you want to travel back even further in Dutch history, then head to the city center. There, you’ll find Eusebius Church, a massive Gothic cathedral that’s characterized the city’s skyline for hundreds of years.
While the original construction of the church dates all the way back to 1452, it suffered heavy damage during the Battle of Arnhem in 1944. After a period of major reconstruction from 1947-1964, the Eusebius Church has been returned to its former glory.
Today, visitors are invited to explore the church’s treasures, both old and new. At the top of the tower, you’ll find two glass balconies which offer anyone brave enough to use them the best views in the city!
See Related: Most Famous Landmarks in the Netherlands
4. Duivelshuis or the Devils House
Address: Koningstraat 38, 6811 DG Arnhem, Netherlands
Arnhem’s city center is also home to a 15th-century building nicknamed “Devils House,” which is ironically located right across the street from Eusebius Church! In 1828, the city of Arnhem purchased the building and gave it a whole new life as a town hall.
Rest assured, the building is not nearly as terrifying as it sounds, and its gorgeous architecture remains and is well worth checking out. Plus, the name has a double meaning.
The first is a reference to the satyrs featured in its architecture. The second is a reference to a nickname the British paras earned from the Germans, “The Red Devils,” dubbed for their maroon berets and their ferocity in battle. As the Battle of Arhmen was winding down, German troops kept captured “devils” in the cellar.
5. Netherlands Open Air Museum
Address: Hoeferlaan 4, 6816 SG Arnhem, Netherlands
While Market Garden dominates Arnhem’s history, do you wonder what life was like for Arnhem’s early residents? Find out for yourself with a visit to the Dutch Open Air Museum, a 44-hectare park that features historic buildings, mills, and farms from all over the Netherlands.
The museum even has presenters who portray the village’s rural population, complete with period costumes and exhibitions. Explore the antique furniture you’ll find in each of the buildings, the picturesque beauty of the park’s gardens, and more at one of Arnhem’s most popular attractions.
See Related: Essential Travel Tips for Visiting the Netherlands
6. De Hoge Veluwe National Park
A fun fact about Arnhem is that the city is flanked by several gorgeous natural parks, including Hoge Veluwe National Park. Located less than half an hour from the city center by rental car or ride share, the national park is well worth a day trip.
Whether you want to enjoy a day of hiking, horseback riding, camping, or hiking, De Hoge Veluwe National Park has got you covered. You’ll even find white bikes throughout the park that are available to ride for free.
There are also several wildlife observation decks where you can increase your odds of spotting wildlife like wild boar or red deer among the park’s woodlands and sand dunes. Be sure you also take a tour of the historic Sint Hubertus hunting lodge, as well as the Kröller-Müller Museum, which we’ll explore next!
Prefer to book accommodations outside of town? Check out this rustic two-bedroom vacation rental available in Driel, right on the outskirts of town!
7. Kröller-Müller Museum
Address: Houtkampweg 6, 6731 AW Otterlo, Netherlands
Okay, so a national park may not be a likely setting for an exceptional art museum. Yet the Kröller-Müller Museum at De Hoge Veluwe National Park has managed to pull it off.
The museum features the collection of Helene Kröller-Müller and her husband Anton Kröller, who assembled one of Europe’s most epic art collections in the early 20th century. At the Kröller-Müller Museum, you’ll find the second-largest collection of Vincent van Gogh’s work in the world, as well as pieces by masters like Monet, Picasso, and more.
As if that wasn’t impressive enough, the museum also happens to be surrounded by a huge sculpture park featuring over 160 sculptures! From natural beauty to priceless art, you’ll find it all at De Hoge Veluwe National Park.
See Related: Best Cities in the Netherlands to Visit
8. Arnhem Museum of Modern Art
Address: Utrechtseweg 87, 6812 AA Arnhem Netherlands
If you’re more into modern and contemporary art, then make sure to add the Museum of Modern Art Arnhem (or Museum voor Moderne Kunst) to your itinerary. As you may have guessed from the telltale name, the Arnhem Museum focuses on modern art and design from the 20th century onward.
The total collection is made up of over 25,000 items, ranging from paintings and sculptures to jewelry and ceramics. Visitors are also invited to check out the museum’s revolving schedule of activities and educational presentations.
9. Admire Arnhem’s Best Street Art
As you may have gathered, at its core, Arnhem is a pretty artsy city. So it may come as no surprise that not all the city’s art is tucked away in museums.
Consider signing up for a street art tour with a guide who will show you some of the best murals in the city center. From the inner city to the banks of the Rhine, this outing comes with plenty of great selfie opportunities.
See Related: Best Things to Do in Zwolle, the Netherlands
10. Enjoy Arnhem’s Best Shopping Districts
While Amsterdam may be home to the Negen Straatjes (Nine Streets) district, Arnhem is home to what locals call the 7 Streets. Located right in the heart of the old town center, this fun little shopping district is full of unique shops that sell everything from clothing to toys.
The 7 Streets district is also located within walking distance of Modekwartier, Arnhem’s main fashion district. Modekwartier is a true hub of creativity where you’ll find plenty of fashion, art galleries, workshops, and more.
The fashion district is also home to the Church Boutiquehotel, a former Luthern church that now serves as one of the most unique hotels in the city. Complete with an on-site restaurant, the hotel combines the church’s historical splendor with cozy, modern rooms that turn each stay into a unique experience.
11. Park Sonsbeek
Address: Zijpendaalseweg 24A, 6814 CL Arnhem, Netherlands
Not far from Arnhem’s central train station, you’ll find Sonsbeek Park, which is sort of like the Dutch version of NYC’s Central Park. The massive park, which has since joined forces with the nearby Park Zijpendaal and Gulden Bodem Parks, was the first large urban park in the Netherlands.
Today, park visitors enjoy miles of beautiful trails featuring gardens, woodlands, waterfalls, and bridges. But the park is also a popular attraction because it often serves as a venue for live performances and other special events.
If you want to stay in the area, then consider booking a room at the nearby Hotel Molendal, which is located in a stunning 19th-century Art Nouveau building. Because of its historic nature, the hotel doesn’t currently have an elevator or air conditioning, but otherwise, it oozes historical elegance.
See Related: Best Places to Honeymoon in the Netherlands
12. Bronbeek Museum
Address: Velperweg 147, 6824 MB Arnhem, Netherlands
A former royal palace, this historical museum has also served as a retirement home for military service members since the days of the Dutch East Indies. With a focus on Dutch colonialism in Indonesia, the Bronbeek Museum chronicles the story of the Dutch people from the 16th century until the Second World War.
Its exhibitions feature everything from authentic military uniforms and weapons to paintings, videos, and eyewitness accounts. If you consider yourself a history buff, then it’s worth dropping in to learn about the fascinating history of the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army.
13. Check out the Local Nightlife
Rest assured, Arnhem has plenty of great nightlife options, from great pubs to Michelin-reviewed restaurants like The Green Rose or Da Giulio. Enjoy a great meal before taking in a performance at Musis Arnhem, a 19th-century concert hall.
Or set out on a fun self-guided pub tour that will walk you through the city’s major landmarks as you journey to three of its best pubs. I’d particularly recommend dropping by Café De Beugel, a craft beer and whiskey cafe with a cozy ambiance.
See Related: Best Things to Do in Weesp, Netherlands
14. Nederlands Wijnmuseum (Netherlands Wine Museum)
Address: Velperweg 23, 6824 BC Arnhem, Netherlands
Wine lovers, prepare to enter paradise as you enter the underground cellars of the Netherlands Wine Museum. This place is lined with walls of casks, bottles, and artifacts dedicated to preserving the long history of Dutch winemaking.
You’ll learn everything you never realized you wanted to know about the history of vineyards, grape crushing, and more. And, of course, it doesn’t hurt that you’ll be invited to indulge in a little wine tasting while you’re at it!
What is Arnhem Netherlands known for?
These days, Arnhem is world renowned as the site of the Battle of Arnhem, one of the most famous battles of World War II. But it’s also famous for its many attractions, such as Burger’s Zoo, the Airborne Museum, and its excellent fashion district.
What’s the best way to get around Arnhem, Netherlands?
What are some traditional foods I can try in Arnhem?
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- About the Author
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Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He’s a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he’d heard.
Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he’s learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.
He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time.