Arnhem is famously known as the location for the Battle of Arnhem in 1944. Although its tragic history is preserved through memorials and museums, Arnhem has grown and rebuilt itself to become one of the most popular destinations in the Netherlands.
Nowadays, Arnhem is a modern, cosmopolitan city filled with lush green parks, design-centric buildings, and historic cultural attractions. It’s also known as one of the fastest-growing fashion capitals of the North, with the prestigious ArtEZ institute at its center. Arnhem tourism has never been busier, which means visitors will have plenty of things to do and see during their visit to Arnhem.
Arnhem is nestled on the banks of both the Nederrijn (a tributary of the mighty Rhine River) and Sint-Jansbeek rivers.
Located 62 miles from Amsterdam, Arnhem is the capital of the Dutch province, Gelderland. On a map, Arnhem Netherlands is roughly an hour’s drive southeast of Amsterdam.
Arnhem is only a couple of hundred miles from the German border which is why it was so important strategically during World War 2. Much of the medieval town center was destroyed in the ferocious battle for this city between the Nazi occupying forces and the invading Allied forces.
Arnhem Things to Do
In Arnhem, things to do vary between historical sights, fashion and arts and the great outdoors.
Open Air Museum Arnhem Holland
The Open Air Museum in Arnhem is one of the best places to learn more about Dutch culture and industry. It focuses on the lives and jobs of Dutch people throughout history and contains more than 40 different antique farms, houses, factories, and buildings from different time periods.
Inside each of the buildings, you’ll find re-enactors demonstrating how different products and items were produced. For example, you can visit a historic paper mill, brewery, and linseed factory.
Hoge Veluwe National Park
The Hoge Veluwe National Parks is a green space of nature reserves near Arnhem. It’s the largest forest area in the Netherlands and a great escape from city life.
Battle of Arnhem: John Frost Bridge
If you’ve ever read the book or watched the 1977 film, A Bridge Too Far, you’ll know that the iconic John Frost Bridge is one of the most recognizable Arnhem attractions.
During the 1944 Battle of Arnhem, the bridge was successfully protected against the invading German troops by Major-General John Dutton Frost (after whom the bridge was named.)
Arnhem WW2 Museum
The Arnhem WW2 Museum details Operation Market Garden when the Allied forces tried to wrest Arnhem from the occupying Nazi Germany forces during World War 2.
Airborne At The Bridge
Located near the John Frost bridge, you’ll find the Airborne at the Bridge museum, which details the accounts of the Battle of Arnhem.
The lavish Rosendael Castle dates back to 1616 when it was originally used as the home for the counts and dukes of Gelders. Although the castle went through multiple reconstruction phases over the next few centuries, much of the interior and décor remains intact. You’ll find vast collections of silver, silks, and antique furniture. The manicured gardens and dazzling fountains around the estate are equally as impressive.
Housing an expansive collection of modern and contemporary art from the 20th century, the Arnhem Museum is a must-see for art lovers who visit Arnhem, Netherlands.
It’s widely known for its Dutch neorealist exhibit, although several other noteworthy exhibits rotate each month. It’s worth visiting the outdoor garden on a sunny day: you’ll find sculptures from the Sonsbeek art period and enjoy the spacious grounds.
Arnhem City Center
The inner city of Arnhem is bursting with life at almost any hour of the day. From quaint cafes to gourmet restaurants, foodies will have no problem finding something delicious to indulge in.
Shoppers will also be pleased to find an array of stores, ranging from small Dutch boutiques to well-known international brands. The city center is a great place to base yourself during your trip, as it’s where most of the museums, parks, and other Arnhem attractions are.
It is known for local designers Viktor & Rolf and a bustling fashion district which is perfect for shopping. It also has a trendy 7 streets area similar to Amsterdam 7 Streets area.
Another cool thing is that there are medieval interconnected cellars underground in Arnhem. During the 14th century, shopkeepers in the historic town used to rent their cellars to wine traders for storage. Now it’s more a fun place to visit and also has a Dutch Wine Museum!
Arnhem has street art peppered throughout the town.
Among the more unusual sights is a sculpture of a giant red aardvark passed out on its back in a sandpit wearing a party hat. The aardvark statue was a gift from the Arnhem’s famous Burger Zoo to the city in celebration if the zoo’s 100th birthday. It’s a creation of Florentin Hofman who is famous for the giant rubber duck sent around the world.
It’s fun for the kids to clamber over the nearly 100 foot statue. If you go to the top of the library next door, you can have a bird’s eye view of the sculpture.
Eusebius Church Arnhem
Towering over the city is the largest building in Arnhem – the Eusebius Church. Although it dates back to the 15th and 16th-centuries, much of the original structure had to be restored after being destroyed in WWII. For picturesque 360-degree views over the city, take the elevator to the loft of the church or climb to the spire of the tower.
Arnhem Train Station
Unlike other train stations in Europe, the Arnhem Train Station is a stunning architectural masterpiece that shouldn’t be missed. Built entirely out of steel, the building features unique elements like twisting columns and flowing, trumpet-like designs that give the entire structure a more natural feel.
Getting to Arnhem
If you’re traveling from outside the Netherlands, you’ll want to fly into Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. You can take a train directly to Arnhem’s city center from the airport, which takes just a little over an hour.
Renting a car and driving to Arnhem is also relatively easy as the city is connected to several main highways. Parking in the city is easy. The center of Arnhem is compact with most things being walking distance.
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