The best way to explore Arnhem is with a tour. Whether you’re looking for the most beautiful streets and monuments in Arnhem, or activities to do, you have to add this free walking tour in Arnhem to your itinerary. You will discover anything from landmarks to a bridge in Arnhem. And from the best neighbourhoods to the areas in Arnhem you must visit. Travel to Arnhem and explore Arnhem off the beaten path with this travel guide and blog.
You will discover the best-hidden gems and secrets in Arnhem, The Netherlands here. I hope you will enjoy your stay in one of the beautiful cities you must visit in Gelderland, The Netherlands.
The best self-guided and free walking tour in Arnhem, Gelderland, The Netherlands
Enjoy your one day in Arnhem with this walking tour and discover some extra things to do and see in Arnhem when you visit. Have fun on this self-guided and free walking tour in Arnhem.
Note: This walking tour in Arnhem is around 15 kilometres. However, you could add some other spots to see even more of Arnhem, or you can leave a few places out. Those recommendations are found at the end of this article.
We will start our free walking tour in Arnhem at one of the top sights in Arnhem: The Eusebius kerk. This church in Arnhem has an interesting history, interior and exterior. They started building the church in 1452, but after financial issues, the church was finished a century later. It is the biggest and most important protestant church in Arnhem. Before the Protestant Iconoclast, the church was a part of the Roman Catholic church.
In 1930, not long before the start of the Second World War in The Netherlands, they finished renovating the most significant part of the Eusebiuskerk after a 36-year renovation. Unfortunately, during the Second World War, Arnhem was a battlefield, and the Eusebiuskerk was in the middle of the line of fire. One of the only things that remained was the tower of the Eusebiuskerk. But it was also mostly shot to pieces. This church in Arnhem was rebuilt from 1947- 1964. And now, the church is a symbol of the post-war reconstruction.
An interesting part is the glass lift in the church tower for a beautiful view and a look at the carillon, which is one of the biggest in Europe. The elevator in this church in Arnhem brings you to a viewpoint at 60 meters above the ground. You can visit an even higher point via stairs. As of now, there are two glass balconies in this church in Arnhem. From here you can enjoy the best view in Arnhem and take plenty of pictures at one of the best photo spots in Arnhem.
Fun fact: This building in Arnhem is the only church in Europe that has a lift, or elevator, in its tower!
Another thing that is interesting to know is that you can have a look at some very unusual statues on the top of the church when you stand on the platform. Because while this is the last thing that you will expect on a church, and even more so a Dutch church, are statues of several Walt Disney characters.
They were made for the tower of the Eusebius church by artist Henk Vreeling instead of gargoyles in 1962. You can discover Pluto, the Seven Dwarfs and a few comic book figures from Marten Toonder. Not everyone agreed with placing these figures on the church; in fact, most people weren’t a fan. Especially since the gargoyles had a function and the Disney (and other figures) are just for entertainment.
One of the people who were against it was a pastor. But that backfired as the sculptor gave one of the Seven Dwarfs the face of the pastor. So you can say that he didn’t succeed in his fight against the sculptures. He lost in a pretty miserable (for him) way.
Head inside one of the most beautiful buildings in Arnhem and get into the elevator. If you’re afraid of heights, or claustrophobic, this activity in Arnhem might not be a great idea. You can find more information about visiting the Eusebius Kerk in Arnhem here.
Up next we will continue to Markt 38. This building is the Stadswaag of Arnhem or weighing building. This kind of buildings are found throughout The Netherlands and was used to weigh goods. This monument in Arnhem dates back to 1761.
Now walk to Markt 12, which is where you will see the only remaining city gate in Arnhem. This gate is officially called the Sabelspoort but is also called the Eusebiuspoort and was first named in 1357. The city of Arnhem was home to four city gates, but as I said before, those are gone. This city gate was part of a fortified area that surrounded the city of Arnhem. Later, the gate was used as a jail for people with mental issues and prisoners.
That’s why it’s also called the Geckenpoort, or the crazy gate if it’s translated to English. It was restored in 1642 and was bordered by houses in the years after that. During the Second World War, the homes that were attached to the city gate were heavily damaged. Because of that, they were demolished after the liberation of Arnhem. That’s also the reason why this city gate is still standing on its own. The gate was also damaged and was rebuilt in 1952.
Walk along the Rijnkade and make your way to the Sfinx(street art) which is located right under the John Frost brug. This is the first piece of street art that we will see in Arnhem on this tour. After admiring this piece of art on the streets of Arnhem, you can have a look at the famous John Frost brug.
Arnhem has had a special connection to bridges ever since the 17th century. It already had a pontoon bridge in 1603. But at the beginning of the 20th century, Arnhem was growing rapidly that a permanent bridge was needed. The Rijnbrug, now also known as the John Frost brug, was built between 1932 and 1935. It was blown up by the German invasion in 1940. After the German capitulation, a temporary pontoon bridge was placed, while the bridge got restored. In August 1944, the bridge was finished. But this doesn’t end the story of this bridge because it was the final bridge that needed to be occupied during Operation Market Garden.
If the allied troops could occupy the bridge, the way to the rest of Germany would be opened. Airborne troops had to conquer the bridge from the northern part, and the allied army had to rise from the southern part of Arnhem. The battalion of John Frost succeeded as the only unit of the British troops to occupy the northern part of the bridge. But, the Germans fired at them from both the southern part of the bridge and the Germans that had held the northern part of the city of Arnhem.
The allied forces from the south arrived too late to occupy the bridge. To keep the Germans from reoccupying the Betuwe region, the RAF and USAF bombed the bridge. Eventually, it was restored in 1950, and the bridge was named after John Frost, because of his courage and leadership, in 1978.
Now we will visit the Airborne monument, which is a memorial for the battle of Arnhem in September 1944. The memorial exists out of a part of a damaged pillar of the Palace of Justice on a pedestal. During the battle for Arnhem, the courthouse was destroyed.
Continue your free walking tour in Arnhem to the Eusebiusbuitensingel, Parkstraat, Emmastraat and Spijkerstraat 217. Here you will find what we call ‘Brusselse Huizen’, or houses from Brussel, that dates back to 1877. These manor houses in Arnhem are all built in the eclectic style. And are also influenced by the French neo-renaissance. Now we will walk to another piece of street art in Arnhem. You will see several black figures on a wall, where your imagination can go wild.
As of next, we will visit Velperbuitensingel 20. This building that is currently an office building was constructed with elements of Art Nouveau at the beginning of the 20th century. We will continue our way to Velperbinnensingel 15, which is the location of the concert hall of Arnhem called: Musis Arnhem. The building is designed by Hendrik Willem Fromberg and dates back to 1847. It was built for a Dutch-German singing competition, and nowadays there are still concerts, club nights and other performances held.
Now we will go on to Steenstraat 7, which is the Sint Martinuschurch. This Roman Catholic church in Arnhem was built in a neo-gothic style between 1874 and 1876. Soon after the church was built, it already was too small for all its visitors. As of now, the church is currently in use by several communities.
Now we will visit a courtyard in Arnhem located at Hommelse weg 8 and called Luthers Hofje. This courtyard is found in the neighbourhood of Klarendaal and was found by the Evangelical Lutheran church in1860. In the beginning, the yard had 22 houses, but as of now, these houses have been combined into 13 homes.
Up next we are walking to Tellegenlaan 3, which is located in one of my favourites areas in Arnhem. Tellegenlaan 3 is more known as Huis, or House, Sonsbeek. This estate is housed in the biggest park in Arnhem: Park Sonsbeek. It’s on top of a hill (yes, they exist in The Netherlands), with the most beautiful view of the city of Arnhem. It dates back to 1744, and it’s one of the must-sees in Arnhem. There is a currently a grand cafe, plus several halls, in Huis Sonsbeek.
Our next destination in Arnhem is, yet another park, Gulden Bodem park. This city park in Arnhem is a former estate in the Northern part of the city and has been in Arnhem since at least the 18th century. Opposite from this park you will see an overtuin (or garden on two sides of a small river) from another estate called Zypendaal. The city park of Gulden Bodem in Arnhem was bought as an estate by the owner of the Zypendaal estate in 1757. He must’ve had a pretty magical area to live. The reason why it’s called Gulden Bodem (Golden Soil; gulden is an old Dutch word for gold), is because the soil is loess, which is very nutritious.
Now we will walk to Huis Zypendaal, which is located in Park Zypendaal. Together with Park Sonsbeek and Park Gulden Bodem, Park Zypendaal forms a green area of 200 ha in Arnhem. Huis Zypendaal was the estate of a noble family called Brantsen. The estate was built between 1762 and 1764, and the Brantsen family lived in the house until 1926. It was used as a hospital for wounded German soldiers during the Battle for Arnhem.
Park Zypendaal used to have an agricultural structure in and around the state, but nowadays the park has mainly gardens in the English style. The current garden design is from Eduard Petzold and dates back to 1864.
Now we will see a part of the ice basement (Ijskelder) in park Sonsbeek, or chamber, in Arnhem was built-in assignment of Theodorus Baron de Smeth in 1812. He was the owner, at that time, of House and Estate Sonsbeek. The ice basement was filled with ice from one of the ponds in the park during the winter. With the use of soil on top of the cellar and straw inside the ice room, the ice could stay intact for up to two years. Because of this, the family in Sonsbeek always has cooled products such as ice-cream, drinks and plenty of different foods. You can even visit this basement! If you are interested in that, you should go to De Molenplaats Sonsbeek and ask for information.
We will, unfortunately, leave this green area in Arnhem, but stay here as long as you want. The next stop of our Arnhem tour is Sickeszplein 1. This building is designed in 1912 by architect Karel de Bazel. While the building seems to be symmetrical, it isn’t entirely that way. There’s a basement, or sous terrain, only on the western part of the building. The building is also filled with paintings of Richard Roland Holst, stained glass and other beautiful parts.
Walk to Willemsplein and then to Willemsplein 40. This house and the houses until Willemsplein 44 are five beautiful manor houses. So if you’re looking for instagrammable places in Arnhem, or photo spots, then this is a great location. They were created when the fortifications of Arnhem were demolished, on the site of a poor area in Arnhem. The local council wasn’t planning on destroying the old, tore down houses, but they wanted to make a wall in front of these houses. Hendrik Willem Fromberg had different plans and wanted to build seven manor houses on this location which were finished in 1854. Fun fact: The homes have one big facade.
Now we are making our way to Jansbuitensingel 5. This building is designed by Willem Diehl, who has designed quite a few buildings in the town of Arnhem. This house is designed in a Neoclassic style and was finished in 1932.
We will continue our journey through Arnhem to the Jan Dommeringpad. On the beginning of the street, you will immediately see a piece of street art that is incredibly beautiful. When you have admired this art in Arnhem, we will walk to yet another stunning street art piece at Brigant Cafe in the Apeldoornsestraat 4. This piece of art is painted right next to the cafe, and it’s impossible to miss.
With this self-guided- and free walking tour in Arnhem, we are now headed to the Roggestraat, to end up at Bovenbeekstraat 21. This is another monument in Arnhem and is unique because of its Louis XV facade, which is mainly known for an asymmetrical curl. Continue to Koningstraat 1. When you stand still in front of this building, you have a beautiful view of two beautiful streets in Arnhem. After that, you will go to Nieuwstad 70, where you will see a house from 1830, with original sliding windows. Now you will walk through another small city park in Arnhem; Lauwerspark. When you’ve seen enough trees for your day in Arnhem, then you will head to Beekstraat and Gasthuisstraat 1.
This is the old Waalse Kerk, or Agnieten chapel, in Arnhem and dates back to the 15th century. It is the only building that remains of the former monastery that was once located there. The monastery belonged to the Franciscan sisters and was built in a Gothic style. In 1636, they had run out of nuns who wanted to live in the monastery. The church has been in use by the Walloon Reformed Church since 1751.
Then we will go to Sint Walburgisplein 1. This church is the oldest in Arnhem and was founded around 1375. While it is a relatively simple church with a Gothic style, that doesn’t make it any less unique. After the Catholic faith was forbidden, the church was used as several things such as a prison, armoury etc. The church was given back to the Catholics by Napoleon, the first King of Holland (the region), in 1808. During the battle of Arnhem, the church burned down completely. After the war, this church was rebuilt and even expanded. Pope Paulus VI made it a basilica minor in 1964. However, it is not a basilica anymore after the last church service in 2013.
When you continue your walking tour in Arnhem, you will go to Koningstraat 38. This building is an old city castle in Arnhem that dates back to the 16th century. Its nickname is the Duivelshuis or the devil’s house. The reason for that is because of the satyrs on the building. It’s currently a part of the city hall of Arnhem. Have a look at the stained glass as well, as it was a tradition that every retiring mayor had its stained glass window.
Now we will walk through a few beautiful looking streets in Arnhem to continue our free walking tour. Go to the Koningstraat, Arke Noachstraat and Bentinckstraat. The last two streets belong to the seven streets area in Arnhem. Together with Eiland, Kerkstraat, Pastoorstraat, Wielakkerstraat and Zwanenstraat, this area is great for finding interesting shops, as well as some excellent small restaurants and cafes. We will visit all of the other streets as we continue our travels through Arnhem.
Now we will go to Eiland, Zwanenstraat, Ketelstraat, Jansplein, before stopping at Gele Rijders Plein 2. This building is a former school where people learned to draw. The building is made in a Neo-Classical style and has big windows. It was first in use in 1846. After that, we will have a look at another church, called the Koepelkerk.
The Koepelkerk can be found on Jansplein 60, which is in the centre of Arnhem. The Dutch Reformed church needed a new church, as the Sint-Eusebiuskerk was getting too crowded in 1817. That’s why the Koepelkerk was built, which was referred to as the new church in the beginning. The construction of this church started in 1837 and finished in 1838. It’s, in my opinion, one of the most extraordinary buildings in Arnhem. In 1961, the church was sold to the Reformed church, and it was renovated in 1976. As of today, the church is still in use by a local church community.
As we slowly continue our trip in Arnhem, you will have to walk to Jansplaats, Jansstraat and Korenmarkt, before you’re headed to your next interesting building and street art in Arnhem.
At Korenmarkt 26 you will find a former Lutheran church, called the Lutherse Kerk. The church was built on the location of a house called Bontenburch; this house was the place for church services since 1657. The current church was built between 1735 and 1737. You will see decorations in the Louis XIV style on the church. But also the figure of a swan, which is a sign of the Lutheran faith. When the French occupied The Netherlands, the church was used as accommodation for soldiers. It hasn’t been used as a church since the Lutheran community moved to another church in 1898.
When you walk to Varkensstraat 24, there’s one thing that you will notice. At least, I hope you do. And it’s this street art. It’s one of the most famous art pieces of Arnhem and rightly so. It’s pure art.
At Vijzelstraat 7 you will find one of the oldest stone houses in Arnhem. After that, we will make our way to Vijzelstraat, Wielakkerstraat, Bakkerstraat, Pastoorstraat and Pastoorstraat 17A. Here you will discover a synagogue in Arnhem.
There has been a Jewish community in Arnhem at least since 1237. The Jewish community was persecuted during the Middle Ages and centuries after that. Only when the French came to conquer Arnhem the position of the Jews changed. In 1796 the Jewish community received the same rights as any other citizen. At that time they housed their synagogue in three houses, but as the community grew and grew, the Jewish needed another place. In 1852 the construction of their temple started, and it was opened in August 1853. When the Second World War arrived in The Netherlands, the Jewish community had around 1700 members, but unfortunately not many returned as most were murdered in concentration camps in Germany.
We are going to walk just a little further to the Kerkstraat and Kerkstraat 19. This building is called the Presickhaeffs Huys, and it is a medieval house in the centre of Arnhem and was built in 1354. It’s one of the few, ancient buildings in Arnhem that has remained. During the 16th century, this house was the home of the mayors of the city. After that, this building was used as a catering facility and office place. Now it’s time to head to a fascinating piece of art in Arnhem.
The Feestaardvarken is a very extraordinary statue in Arnhem. It’s an aardvark and was given by Burger’s Zoo on its 100-year jubilee on the 12th of September 2013. The aardvark is not just any animal, because this one weighs more than 150.000 kilograms.
Up next we will walk to Rijnstraat and Rijnstraat 64. Here you will see a sign of three fishes on a gate. These refer to a warehouse that is named De Drie Haringen, or the three herrings, that is located behind the gate (which you cannot enter). The warehouse was owned by a member of a guild that had a coat of arms of three herrings. Now you will walk to Rijnstraat 71.
This is a former hospital in Arnhem and was built around 1354, but only used as a hospital in 1407. The entire complex has been expanded several times. It has been an office space since 2015.
Get a map of this self-guided and free walking tour in Arnhem
If you want to add some extra spots to this free walking tour in Arnhem, then I would recommend you to do the following:
After the Luthers Hofje (the courtyard) walk to Molen De Kroon. This old Dutch windmill in Arnhem was first named Molen De Hoop (windmill the hope) and built-in Arnhem in 1870. This windmill grinds grains and is still in use of today. The windmill and the shop (with freshly made flour and other produce) can be visited two days every week. Friday 13:00-16:00 and Saturday 10:00- 16:00. During these opening times of the windmill in Arnhem, you can learn more about the windmill from volunteers and see the inside of the mill.
After that you walk to Verlengde Hoflaan 74, here you will find another Roman Catholic church, called the Sint-Jan De Doper Kerk. It was built in a neo-gothic style in 1894/1895 and has been in use since the 17th of May 1895. Arnhem was a city that grew rapidly at that time, and the neighbourhood Klarendaal especially knew a lot of Catholic members. That’s the reason why this church was built. Due to declining church attendances, the church hasn’t been in use since mid-2011.
Then we will head to the Velperweg 137. This building is located in park Angerstein and currently in use as an elderly home. The estate was built in 1830. After that, you will continue your way with the rest of the Arnhem free walking tour toTellegenlaan 3 (Huis Sonsbeek in the Sonsbeek Park).
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I hope that you’ve enjoyed this walking tour in Arnhem. Whether you’re staying for two days or just a few hours in Arnhem, a self guided and free walking tour is always a good idea. This Arnhem city guide and blog brings to to the best places to visit in this city. And the tour in Arnhem has brought you to the most special squares, churches and areas in Arnhem that you must see. Share this post!!