Arnhem, the capital city of the Dutch province of Gelderland, is one of those unique cities that showcase both old and new. The city’s history dates back to as early as 1500 BC when remnants of ancient settlements were found. The city is also known for the Battle of Arnhem, which took place in World War II and destroyed much of the city.
Even though Arnhem has many monumental sights and buildings, this does not mean it’s stuck in the past. In fact, it’s one of the most visited cities in the province. Read on below for our tips on which attractions to visit.
Is Arnhem Worth Visiting?
In our view, Arnhem is definitely worth visiting! It may not be on your shortlist if you’re just visiting the Netherlands for a week, but if you’re staying longer or are living in the country as an expat then this city is most certainly worth your time.
Arnhem is a favorite family destination thanks to its museums, popular food hall, and the famous Royal Burger’s Zoo. But if you’re looking for nature, Arnhem has a lot to offer too thanks to its serene parks and the fact that the municipality’s northernmost point is a part of the Hoge Veluwe National Park.
The Nederlands Openluchtmuseum (Netherlands Open Air Museum) is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country. Established in 1912, the museum showcases Dutch culture and daily life from the 1900s. For example, you can enter an old-fashioned farmhouse, peek into its rooms and get an idea of how people decorated their homes and lived many years ago. There’s also an old Freia dairy factory where you can learn all about milk and cheese production in the olden days. With about 100 historic buildings, farmhouses and mills spread across 44 acres, it’s not surprising if you spend a whole day here!
Other notable museums in Arnhem: the Airborne Museum at Hartenstein (commemorating the battle of Arnhem in World War II), the Netherlands Water Museum (learn about water and why the Dutch are so great in water management), Museum Arnhem (modern art), and the Bronbeek Museum (colonial museum highlighting the lives and finds of Dutch soldiers posted in remote Dutch colonies).
Royal Burger’s Zoo
Another popular tourist destination is the Royal Burger’s Zoo, one of the country’s biggest zoos. The zoo, established in 1913, is popular for showcasing animals in their natural habitats called “eco-displays.” For example, an actual jungle was created to house the animals instead of placing jungle creatures in cages.
Nature conservation is also an important objective of the zoo. For this purpose, the zoo sponsors various nature foundations that aim to protect various endangered species and habitats.
Foodhall Arnhem is a must-see if you like food or anything related to it. The food hall has 13 different kinds of food from around the world. What makes this place special is that each kind of food is shown in its own real kitchen. The goal is to give visitors the right “cultural atmosphere,” as if they were ordering the food in the country where it comes from. Foodhall Arnhem, located on the Rijnkade in the city center, is open Tuesdays to Sundays, from 12:00 to 22:00.
City Center Strolls
Arnhem was known as the Green City on the Rhine and Park City as early as the 17th century, thanks to its numerous parks, the most famous of which is Park Sonsbeek. The park is in the very center of the city. It has an ice cellar from the 1810s and a wooden tower from the 1820s. Since the Netherlands is known for being “flat,” the elevations in the park, which were made by nature during one of the ice ages, make the park unique.
The Rijnkade is also great for a stroll, especially during spring and summer. It’s situated parallel to the River Rhine (from Nieuwe Kade to the Nelson Mandela Bridge), and it’s made lively by the numerous cafés and restaurants that line the boulevard.
Other notable parks in Arnhem: Immerloo Park, Park Angerenstein, and Stadsblokken Meinerswijk.
And don’t forget! The northern part of Arnhem is part of the Hoge Veluwe National Park, so you can start your journey into the Veluwe here.
Hiking & Biking
With 26 parks of various shapes and sizes, it’s no wonder that hiking and biking are favorite activities in Arnhem. Our tip is to go to Molenplaats Sonsbeek, which is a visitor center located on the edge of Park Sonsbeek, and then get walking and cycling maps there. Numerous hiking and biking activities are scheduled all year round, too, and you can find out all about them here.
Parking in Arnhem
Although parking is not as expensive in Amsterdam or Rotterdam, parking rates in the city center still run at €2.90 per hour. If you’re staying for more than a day, we recommend checking out parking garages in the area, such as Q-Park, and reserving a parking spot because 24-hour parking rates are usually cheaper. You can also try any of the “free” P+R Parking (Park and Travel) places in Arnhem. You can park for free in these places, but since they’re a bit further from the city center, you would need to take a bus to reach your final Arnhem destination.