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14 Best Things To Do In Arnhem, Netherlands

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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.

TL;DR

  • Activity for adults – Nederlands Wijnmuseum
  • Activity for kids – Royal Burgers’ Zoo
  • Free activity – Walk Sonsbeek Park
  • Place to eatThe Green Rose
  • NightlifeMusis Arnhem
  • Best Place To StayHotel Molendal

Things to Do in Arnhem, Netherlands

1. Learn the History of Operation Market Garden

Operation Market Garden in Arnhem
Esten Jack (Daily Herald photographer) / Wikimedia Commons, Public domain

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 became 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 became 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 inspired 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 the battle’s history. Here are some of the best museums and landmarks to visit.

Airborne at the John Frost Bridge

John Frost Bridge in Arnhem, Netherlands
photosis / Adobe Stock

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 by renaming the bridge in honor of the airborne warrior.

Today, you can visit the John Frost Bridge and 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

Airborne Museum Hartenstein building exterior
Airborne Museum ‘Hartenstein’ / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

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 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 exhibits include everything from interviews and military artifacts to interactive activities for the entire family. 

Arnhem War Museum 40-45

Arnhem War Museum 40-45 building and a military tank
Bob C / TripAdvisor

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 one of my favorite European war museums.

Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery

White tombstones at Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery in Oosterbeek, Netherlands
OldskoolPhotography / Adobe Stock

Address: Van Limburg Stirumweg 28, 6861 WL Oosterbeek, Netherlands

Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery allows visitors to pay their respects to many soldiers who died 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

Elepehant in Burgers' Zoo
Burgers’ Zoo / Facebook

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 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, located 2.2km from Burgers’ Zoo and within 1.6 km of the nearest train station. You’ll enjoy amenities like bike rentals, board games, wine, and spa facilities throughout your stay.

See Related: Types of Dutch Wine to Try

3. Visit Eusebius Church in the Old City Centre

Eusebius Church, Arnhem, Netherlands architecture
HildaWeges / Adobe Stock

Address: Kerkplein 1, 6811 EB Arnhem, Netherlands

If you want to travel back even further in Dutch history, head to the city center. There, you’ll find Eusebius Church, a massive Gothic cathedral that has characterized the city’s skyline for hundreds of years.

While the church’s original construction dates back to 1452, it suffered heavy damage during the Battle of Arnhem in 1944. After major reconstruction from 1947 to 1964, the Eusebius Church has been returned to its former glory.

Visitors are invited to explore the church’s old and new treasures today. At the top of the tower, you’ll find two glass balconies that offer anyone brave enough the best views in the city!

See Related: Most Famous Landmarks in the Netherlands

4. Duivelshuis or the Devils House

Devils House building architecture in Arnhem, the Netherlands
HildaWeges / Adobe Stock

Address: Koningstraat 38, 6811 DG Arnhem, Netherlands

Arnhem’s city center is also home to a 15th-century building nicknamed “Devils House,” ironically located right across the street from Eusebius Church! In 1828, the city of Arnhem purchased the building, giving it a whole new life as a town hall.

Rest assured, the building is not nearly as terrifying as it sounds. 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 refers to a nickname the British paras earned from the Germans, “The Red Devils,” dubbed for their maroon berets and ferocity in battle. As the Battle of Arhmen was winding down, German troops kept captured “devils” in the cellar.

5. Netherlands Open Air Museum

Netherlands Open Air Museum in Arnhem, Netherlands
John Hofboer – stock.adobe.com

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 with 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 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

Group of people cycling in De Hoge Veluwe National Park
Mira Drozdowski / Adobe Stock

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 other activities, De Hoge Veluwe National Park has 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 to also take a tour of the historic Sint Hubertus hunting lodge and 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

Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo, Netherlands
Kröller-Müller Museum / 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 worldwide, 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! You’ll find everything from natural beauty to priceless art at De Hoge Veluwe National Park.

See Related: Best Cities in the Netherlands to Visit

8. Arnhem Museum of Modern Art

Arnhem Museum of Modern Art building exterior
Arnhem Museum of Modern Art / Facebook

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 comprises 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

Street Art in Arnhem
FakirNL / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

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: Things to Do in Zwolle, the Netherlands

10. Enjoy Arnhem’s Best Shopping Districts

7straatjes in Arnhem, Netherlands
Management / TripAdvisor

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 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

Park Sonsbeek in Arnhem, The Netherlands
Milos / Adobe Stock

Address: Zijpendaalseweg 24A, 6814 CL Arnhem, Netherlands

Not far from Arnhem’s central train station, you’ll find Sonsbeek Park, 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 popular 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 have an elevator or air conditioning; otherwise, it oozes historical elegance.

See Related: Best Places to Honeymoon in the Netherlands

12. Bronbeek Museum

Bronbeek Museum in Arnhem, Netherlands
Roger Veringmeier / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

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. Focusing 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

Front of the The Green Rose in Arnhem
Ad W / TripAdvisor

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 recommend dropping by Café De Beugel, a craft beer and whiskey cafe with a cozy ambiance.

See Related: Things to Do in Weesp, Netherlands

14. Nederlands Wijnmuseum (Netherlands Wine Museum)

Nederlands Wijnmuseum wine barrel exhibit
Nederlands Wijnmuseum / Robbers & van den Hoogen

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!

FAQs

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?

Arnhem has an excellent public transportation system with four train stations, a bus system, and even trolley buses. The easiest way to pay is to purchase an OV card, which can be used for multiple travel options throughout the city.

What are some traditional foods I can try in Arnhem?

Head down to the local cheese shop Kaashandel Van Dee to try out Kernhem, a creamy cheese native to the Gelderland Dutch province! Then pay a visit to Grand Café Arnhems Meisje to try out their Arnhemse meisjes, traditional Dutch cookies invented by an Arnhem baker in 1829.

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