Herengracht 1, 1398 AA Muiden
Official site here; tickets are €13,50 for adults (>11yo), €9 for kids (4-11yo), free for <4yo
Muiderslot is the oldest, best preserved medieval castle in the Netherlands. It sits in Muiden, a province in North Holland, only about 15 minutes from Amsterdam (give or take a few). It’s a small castle, and good for a day trip. The best things about it include:
- Free guided tours of the preserved living, dining, and entertaining quarters
- Interactive exhibits that kids, especially, can enjoy (example: wooden horses you can do jousting simulations on, arcade games controlled by joysticks featuring tasks like firing canons to prevent enemies breaching the moat, and even real knight helmets you can try on for size)
- A maze/labyrinth and garden outside that’s lovely to explore on summer days
#2 Kasteel & Kasteeltuinen Arcen
Lingsforterweg 26, 5944 BE Arcen
Official site here; tickets are €14,50 for adults and €7 for children 4-17 years (<4 = free)
Last year, for our annual family reunion, we spent the day in Venlo (a municipality in Limburg, the southernmost province of the Netherlands). For lunch and the bulk of the second half, we went to visit a town called Arcen, which is home to a lovely castle and garden.
The castle is a stately palace, originally built in the Medieval years, but renovated and rebuilt several times thereafter. In the last couple of decades, its since been restored to its glory days (the 17th-18th century), and been converted to showcase both beautifully restored royal and aristocratic quarters, as well as exhibit unique artwork and photography. It also has several activities on the grounds to cater to its newer, diverse clientele (including a Japanese Zen garden, mini-golf, several restaurants, and available spaces to host weddings and the like).
It is most famous for its rose garden, but I also found the sculptures in the gardens, as well as the photography exhibit inside the castle to be particularly interesting. It’s a bit of a trek from Amsterdam (a little over 2 hours in a car), but well worth it for the day.
#3 Paleis Het Loo
Koninklijk Park 1, 7315 JA Apeldoorn
Official site here; tickets are €14 for adults (18+), €5 for children (4-17), and free for <4yo
Paleis Het Loo is a Baroque palace in Apeldoorn (about 1.5 hours away from Amsterdam). It was built in the 1600’s for Willem III, and his wife Mary II of England. The palace itself is gorgeous, with many rooms and exhibits to explore (from living and dining quarters in the castle, to the multiple royal carriages on display in the stables). There are even interactive historical exhibit screens and games to learn about Dutch royal history that were built to replace the horse stalls.
Possibly even more special than the inside of the castle, though, is the royal garden area outside – a beautifully landscaped area of greenery, fountains, various sculptures, a small labyrinth, and more. The grounds around the castle make for a great place for a leisurely stroll, and in the winter they convert a pond into an ice skating rink that children frequent.
After a relaxing walk around the grounds, you can treat yourself to a lovely afternoon tea, late lunch, or dinner, at one of the palace restaurants. There are quite a few to choose from, including:
- De Balzaal (which sits in the West Wing of the castle, and serves tasty Dutch meals and pastries, as well as offers a children’s menu and Afternoon or High Tea offerings).
- Prins Hendrick Garage (which is by the horse stalls and the plaza area where, in winters, the skating rink sits)
For easy family days out, any of these lovely castles will do. If you have any questions or are curious for more information feel free to drop me a note and I’ll try to be as helpful as I can!