The town of Harderwijk is a special place to visit in The Netherlands, and perfect as a day trip. Harderwijk is one of those magical and romantic towns in The Netherlands and one of the best destinations to visit in the province of Gelderland. What I love is that there are so many things to do in one day in Harderwijk.
From admiring stunning landmarks to getting lost in the beautiful streets in Harderwijk. And from free things to do in Harderwijk and the Gelderland region to tons of unique activities in Harderwijk. Whether you’re interested in museums, Harderwijk offers that for you, and if you’re more of a nature person, Harderwijk is also a perfect place to visit. And if you a fan of dreaming away in Medieval streets and want to see hidden gems in this European country, then Harderwijk is an absolute must-visit in The Netherlands.
Explore things to do in Harderwijk and where to go in the middle of The Netherlands. The Netherlands is filled with magical and unusual destinations to visit, and I hope that this Harderwijk travel blog shows you reasons to dive beyond the crowds.
One perfect day in Harderwijk: Enjoy this itinerary for things to do in a Hanseatic city in Gelderland, The Netherlands
There are countless of Hansa towns to visit in The Netherlands, such as Deventer and Zutphen. But Harderwijk is also one of them. The Hanseatic League is found in a prominent part of Europe, and the city of Harderwijk has been seen as a Hanseatic city in The Netherlands since the beginning of the 13th century. That means that the city is old, and luckily for you, still has plenty of monuments and historic buildings left for you to explore.
If you’re looking for the answer to the question of ‘Is Harderwijk, The Netherlands, worth visiting?’, then I can only say: yes. Yes, it is. There’s tons of sightseeing to do in Harderwijk, even if you visit for a weekend. But, I do want you to remember an important part, and that is the fact that Harderwijk is not found in the Holland region, but The Netherlands. Tourism in Harderwijk exists, but it’s still such a hidden gem in the centre of The Netherlands and gets most of its visitors during the summer months of July and August.
So, if you’re looking for what to see in Harderwijk, sights to explore and attractions to visit, then this Harderwijk itinerary is for you. You will discover the centre of Harderwijk, but also find more things to do in the Gelderland and Veluwe region.
I always recommend you to travel to more than just the highlights of The Netherlands, and I give you plenty of tips on day trips to take from Harderwijk (or any other place that I recommend you to visit in The Netherlands as a Dutch local). This way you won’t only visit Harderwijk, but will also find day trips from this Dutch fishing town and will explore tons of other small towns and Dutch nature reserves to visit in Gelderland.
I hope you enjoy this Harderwijk travel and city guide on things to see in 24 hours. And I hope that you will be able to travel to Harderwijk soon, so you can explore one of the best places to visit in Western Europe.
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History & Facts about Harderwijk
Harderwijk has existed for quite a while, but the early history of habitation in this Dutch region isn’t known. Nowadays, the population of Harderwijk is around 44.000, but that wasn’t always the case. People suspect that there was an estate and/or settlement with a church, called Sint Nicolaaskerk, near the Luttekepoort, which was one of the city gates in Harderwijk. The history of Harderwijk that is found in writing dates back to the 13th century. It was the year 1231 when Herderewich obtained city rights from Count Otto II van Gelre and Zutphen. It became the first city in the Veluwe region.
When the fortifications for the city were created, the Sint Nicolaaskerk was still functioning as a parish church outside of the city walls. At that time Harderwijk had six city gates and the Lage Bruggepoort (named Vischpoort after 1544), is one of them that remains. During the 13th century, Harderwijk was developing quickly into a trading city. The ships filled with wool, skins, herring and wood from Harderwijk were found in Flanders, Germany and England.
In the 14th century, Harderwijk became very active in the Hanseatic League. Fun fact: At that time Harderwijk was written down as Ardroick by sailors in the southern part of Europe. In 1326, King Waldemar III of Denmark confirmed the privileges of Harderwijk. The Swedish King gave Harderwijk several rights and more freedom in 1368. Harderwijk was occupied by the duchess of Gelre and count of Blois in 1372. But in 1376, the duchess had to sell the city, as she didn’t have much money anymore.
Then in 1402, Duke Reinoud IV of Gelre confirmed the privileges, rights and freedoms in Harderwijk. In 1432, when another duke of Gelre took over, these were established once again. And in 1443, the staple right for fish was confirmed for Harderwijk, but people suspect it was already given at the beginning of the 14th century. This meant that traders and fishers, who were transporting goods through and near Harderwijk, were first to be stored and sold in Harderwijk before they were allowed to continue their trading in other places. This staple right was the reason why so many cities on the coast grew their economy exponentially during the Middle Ages.
This staple right involved all the fish that were brought to land between the town of Muiden and Kampen, except for the city of Elburg. The products arrived in Harderwijk through the Hoge Bruggepoort and left the city on its way to other destinations through the Vischpoort (fish gate).
In 1446, Harderwijk, together with other cities in the regions of Holland and Zeeland, conflicted with North-German Hanseatic cities. Eventually, a new peace treaty was signed in Harderwijk. In 1465, the rights and privileges of Harderwijk were, yet again, confirmed by a new duke. And the same thing happened several other times, with new dukes and rulers.
The beginning of the 16th century was challenging for the city of Harderwijk. In 1503, there was a massive city fire in Harderwijk which killed a lot of people and destroyed the most significant part of the city archive. Then there were several collisions with other regions and their armies, and Harderwijk had to surrender to the Burgundians. Then in 1506, the plague broke out in Harderwijk, and this also killed a lot of inhabitants. In the years after that, there were changes and fights to reconquer the city of Harderwijk, which happened in 1511.
But, the plague came back in 1512. And there was another city fire in 1528, after which the siege of Harderwijk happened. This left Harderwijk in the Habsburg Empire until the end of that year when it was returned to the Duchy of Gelre. In 1556, the iconoclasm took place in Harderwijk, and the city eventually chooses to be protestant. Between 1578- 1580, all monasteries had to give their possessions to the town of Harderwijk.
From 1648 until 1811, the city had a famous university: Universiteit van Harderwijk. Famous doctoral students were Herman Boerhaave, Carolus Linnaeus, János Apáczai Csere and Jacob Roggeveen. Plus, David de Gorter was one of the best professors that ever gave a class in Harderwijk. He left to become the advisor and personal physician of czarina Elisabeth Petrovna, the daughter of Peter the Great, in 1754.
On the 18th of June 1672, the French occupied Harderwijk. When the French left on the 5th of September 1673, they broke down the fortifications, blew up two city gates and lit the city of Harderwijk on fire from several sides. Luckily, only a school and thirty houses were burned down, because the people of Harderwijk succeeded to put out the fire.
Something else that is interesting to know about Harderwijk is that this city in Gelderland was home to the Koloniaal Werfdepot for the East India army was from 1814. This is where volunteers from all over Europe were brought to become a member of the military, as there weren’t enough people who applied (can anyone blame the people for not volunteering?). These volunteers often didn’t have the best background. This is the reason why the Koloniaal Werfdepot was also referred to as the gutter of Europe. These soldiers got quite some money from applying as a soldier, and most of the times even before they reached the Dutch Indies (nowadays Indonesia) a big part of the money went to the sex workers. The depot was closed in 1910, but from 1814 until 1910 this has brought almost 150.000 soldiers from Harderwijk to Indonesia.
Harderwijk became a garrison city from 1909 until 1996. This meant that there were several barracks found in Harderwijk and even a military hospital. The town also had several army units stationed as well as a training centre for the infantry troops and a school for the military intelligence service.
As Harderwijk was a Hanseatic league city, it was found on the edge of the water. Harderwijk used to lay on the shores of the Zuiderzee. This sea was the human-made province of Flevoland, together with the Markermeer and the Ijsselmeer and it streamed into the Wadden Sea directly. This was a very rough sea, which caused many floods and threats to the centre of The Netherlands. Later on the Afsluitdijk (between the Ijsselmeer & the Wadden Sea) was created, as well as two lakes and a new province to keep The Netherlands safer from the rough waters.
Before this was created, Harderwijk was a fishing city. People were fishing on herring, anchovies, shrimps, eel and so much more. Around 10-15 per cent of the working-class people of Harderwijk worked in the fishery, and the entire fishery fleet had between 130 and 160 registered fishing ships. Harderwijk lost a big part of its fishery income after the Zuiderzee was closed off from the Wadden Sea in 1932. Nowadays, industry and tourism play quite a significant role in its economy. As you walk through Harderwijk, especially along the boulevard, you can see their fishery past everywhere. At the boulevard near the Vischpoort, boats used to lay ashore to sell their fish on the Vischmarkt.
Just after the German invasion of The Netherlands started, on the 11th and 12th of May 1940, Harderwijk took in 8000 evacuated people from Nijkerk which doubled the inhabitants of Harderwijk in a matter of a few days. The Germans occupied Harderwijk already before The Netherlands was capitulated, namely on the 14th of May. In the meadows of Harderwijk, the Germans built a radar station for the Luftwaffe. One hundred seventeen people from the Allied forces (British, Canadian, South Africans, New Zealanders and US Americans) died in and near Harderwijk. Seventy-two inhabitants of Harderwijk were brutally murdered by the Germans, of whom 21 were Jewish. On Wednesday the 18th of April 1945, Canadian troops freed Harderwijk.
Where to stay in Harderwijk
As always, I recommend you to spend at least one day in Harderwijk, and with that, I mean a full day, which includes the night. A place always changes during the evening and night, and Harderwijk is no different. It’s magical at night. Here you will find some of the best hotels and B&B’s in Harderwijk. So, if you are looking for places to stay in Harderwijk, then these accommodations will be perfect for you.
De Stadsboerderij Harderwijk: check rates & availability on Booking.com
B&B Het Vogeltje: check rates & availability on Booking.com
Bed & Breakfast Onder de Dekens: check rates & availability on Booking.com
Hotel Allure Lounge & Dinner: check rates & availability on Booking.com
Best breakfast cafes in Harderwijk
If you want to have a tasty breakfast in Harderwijk to start your one-day itinerary of on the right foot, then I can highly recommend you to visit Baron Eten & Drinken. Not only do they have excellent and tasty food, but they work almost entirely with local products from the Veluwe region. And you can definitely taste that.
Free walking tour Harderwijk
This Harderwijk free walking tour is around 4,5 kilometres long.
Fun fact about Harderwijk before we start one of the must do’s in Harderwijk. The town centre of Harderwijk is a protected cityscape since 1969. And it’s home to almost a hundred monuments.
We will start our self-guided and free walking tour in Harderwijk at Kerkplein 1. Here you will see the Grote Kerk in Harderwijk, which is a gothic cross-basilica that dates back to the 14th and 15th century. The church used to be a lot bigger, but due to the collapse of a tower, the ship was partly destroyed in 1797. The tower was never rebuilt, nor the part of the ship that collapsed. It was initially named the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk and dedicated to Mary. In 1578, when the reformation made its way to the city of Harderwijk, the Catholic faith was forbidden and ever since then, the church has been in use as a protestant church.
You can visit this church in Harderwijk from the 27th of April (King’s Day!) until the beginning of September from Monday until Thursday from 13:30 till 16:30. Don’t forget to check out the rare 16th-century murals that were discovered during a massive restoration from 1972- 1980.
Now, walk to Straat van Sevenhuysen 8. This building from 1441, is the former pesthuis, or house where people with the plague were placed together, involuntarily of course. From 1441 until 1580, this building was in use as a monastery for priests from Zwolle. It was as that time found in the Straat van Sevenhuysen, reason being: The street had probably seven houses in the Middle Ages, and ‘Seven’ is the old Dutch word for seven, nowadays the word is ‘zeven’.
At the time it was used as a monastery, it was nicknamed the ‘Fraterhuis’ as the Latin word frater meant brother. And ‘Fraters’ were monks. Fraters were mainly working in education as well as writing and binding books.
Around 1580, the city council of Harderwijk chose the side of the protestants during the reformation. The churches and monasteries of the Roman Catholic church became owned by the city of Harderwijk, and the Roman Catholic faith wasn’t allowed to be practised anymore. That’s the reason why the monks lost their housing and monastery, which then got used at the plague house from 1587 until 1771. The most destructive plague epidemic in Harderwijk was in 1636.
The street, in which the former plague house is located, used to be nicknamed the Pesthuisstraat, or the plague house street. But the people who lived in the street weren’t too happy with that nickname and asked the municipality of Harderwijk to change the name into Eendrachtstraat in 1920. Then in 1976, the original name of this street: Straat van Sevenhuysen, came back again.
Then walk to Muntsteeg, Smeepoortstraat, Smeepoortenbrink, and at the end of this street, you will go to the left, through the part of the Medieval city wall in Harderwijk. It’s one of the best-kept parts in Harderwijk. It was built between the 15th and 17th century and continuously adapted. Interesting to know is that the city walls on the seaside of Harderwijk were initially been kind of low at around 2.20 metres. The reason for that is the fact that the threat wasn’t as grand from the sea as from land. So, they built the city walls higher on the other parts of Harderwijk.
Now walk to Friesegracht, Elleboogsteeg, Academiestraat, Doelenstraat and Klooster 2. Here you can find the former Sint- Catharijneklooster, or monastery in Harderwijk that dates back to the 16th century. Walk to Klooster 1, where you can admire the Sint- Catharinakerk which was part of the monastery, this church dates back to 1502.
Then continue one of the top things to do in Harderwijk to Academiestraat and then to Linnaeus toren. This little tower in Harderwijk is named after Carolus Linnaeus, who gained his doctorate at the University of Harderwijk, which existed from 1647 until 1811. The tower itself dates back to the 16th century. It was part of the commandry of the Johanniter monastery. Next to the Linnaeus tower, you can see a little gate that dates back to 1576.
After that, you will walk to Donkerstraat, Korte Kerkstraat and Achterom 2. This is a former clerical house, which dates back to the Middle Ages. Then head to Kerkstraat, Bruggestraat, Schoolsteeg, Vijhestraat, Buiten de Burggepoort, Wellenpad, Zeepad, Strandboulevard W, Hoogstraat, Schapenhoek and to Vischpoort/ Vischmarkt 1.
This is the only remaining city gate in Harderwijk that is found on the edge of the water. It is called the Vischpoort, Visch is the old Dutch word for fish (nowadays vis) and poort in the Dutch word for gate. This city gate was built at the end of the 14th century. During that time, and the centuries that followed, fish was brought from and to the boats that were waiting in Harderwijk.
The bigger ships that were transporting the fish couldn’t come too close to the shores of Harderwijk, so small boats transported the fish to and from Harderwijk regularly.
The city gate wasn’t only used to get fish into and out of the city of Harderwijk, but also to protect Harderwijk from its enemies and the water. When the water was too high, the city gate closed. But sometimes that happened too late, which is the reason why the houses at the Vischmarkt square (that you will walk to after admiring the city gate) are built a bit higher or have a particular flooding room for when the gate was closed too late.
On top of the Vischpoort, you can also see a small lighthouse that was built in 1851. When the Zuiderzee got cut off from the Wadden Sea and divided into the Ijsselmeer and Markermeer (both lakes), the light wasn’t needed anymore and was last used in 1947. Nowadays, the light only gets used on special occasions. Now walk further into Vischmarkt and then to Kleine Oosterwijck and Grote Oosterwijck.
Then admire Vischmarkt 45. Here you can find the smallest house in Harderwijk, which is very cute. Walk further on Vischmarkt and then Vischmarkt 57a. This building was part of the Agnieten monastery in Harderwijk and built in the 15th century. It was restored in 1577 and then changed into a city carpenters house and workplace. The rest of the monastery buildings were demolished over time.
Then head to Kaatsbaan, Keizerstraat, Zoutkeetstraat, Havendam and Havendijk 7. Here you can find the only traditional Dutch windmill in Harderwijk, called De Hoop (the hope). This mill is a replacement for the old windmill De Hoop which was destroyed by a fire in 1969. It was first opened in 1999. This Dutch windmill in Harderwijk can be visited every Saturday from 12:00- 17:00. Next to the windmill, you can find the Bottermuseum, where they renovate old Dutch boats, these boats in Harderwijk can also be rented for a day or so. If you’re headed to Harderwijk with a group, I would certainly recommend you to do that.
Now continue to Havenkade, Havendam, Scharrelsteeg, Molenstraat, Keizerstraat, Nonnenstraat and Grote Marktstraat. Then you’re going to walk to Grote Poortstraat, Schoenmakersstraat, Wolleweverstraat and Markt 1. Here you see the former town hall of Harderwijk that was mostly rebuilt in the neoclassic style in 1837. But the council chamber was created in the Louis XIV style in 1727.
You will finish your Harderwijk tour with walking to Hondegatstraat, Hoogstraat and Kleine Markstraat.
Discover one of the museums in Harderwijk
The first museum you should visit in Harderwijk is also one of the free things to do in this town in The Netherlands. The Palingmuseum, or eel museum, is where you will learn everything about the life of the eel, how it is processed, and you will learn about the former Zuiderzee region. This Dutch museum in Harderwijk can be visited for free from Monday until Saturday from 10:00- 18:00. Don’t forget to buy some fresh fish at their fish shop next doors!
Stephensonstraat 2, 3846 AK Harderwijk
Stadsmuseum Harderwijk is the perfect place to learn everything about the history of the city of Harderwijk. Beyond that, there are countless of temporary exhibitions in all sort of fields, such as art, history, etc. Their ground floor is freely accessible during opening hours, which includes their museum cafe and shop.
Donkerstraat 4, 3841 CC Harderwijk
Marius van Dokkum Museum Harderwijk
The Marius van Dokkum Museum is the only museum in The Netherlands that is dedicated to an artist that is alive. This art museum in Harderwijk is wholly devoted to the work of painter Marius van Dokkum. In 2018, the museum was opened, and it has around 55 paintings in its space. Sometimes you can even find the artist working here.
Academiestraat 7, 3841 ES Harderwijk
Eat the best lunch at these restaurants in Harderwijk
If you want to eat a delicious lunch in Harderwijk, then there are endless options. The first lunch restaurant is Brasserie De Bank, which is also home to a beautiful terrace. Luigi’s is another small restaurant that is good to visit in Harderwijk.
Then I can also recommend you to visit Walhalla, which is found at the city beach of Harderwijk. The atmosphere is excellent and the surroundings and pretty darn cool as well, plus, you can get a delicious lunch in Harderwijk here. De Boterlap is another fantastic restaurant in Harderwijk as well.
Go supping in Harderwijk
If you’re a fan of working out or simply of exploring the Dutch city of Harderwijk and its surroundings by the water, then I’ve got the perfect activity in Harderwijk for you here. Go supping in Harderwijk!
Harderwijk is a city that is home to a stunning marina, cool beaches, a cosy boulevard, and so much more. That makes Harderwijk and supping a fantastic combination. You can rent supboards in Harderwijk at Sup & Go.
Go shopping for souvenirs in Harderwijk
Buying local and regional foods in Harderwijk is always a great idea. I would certainly recommend you to head to the Ouderwetse Bakkerij (pictured below), for an authentic Harderwijker product, called Zeebeer. Also, get the best local chocolate at Bica’s. Buy the freshest fish at Dries van den Berg. Visit Het Melkhuisje for great local products, such as locally brewed beer in Harderwijk named ‘Het Brouwhuys’. I can also recommend you to buy ‘Bier van Plan100’ at the shop of Egbert van der Vegt in Harderwijk. And, last but not least, head to Ratatouille for some tasty things, as well as useful products for in your kitchen.
Go for a nice dinner in the best restaurants in Harderwijk
One of the best places to eat some good food in Harderwijk is the restaurant Holy Moly. This is a Mexican restaurant in Harderwijk and is perfect to visit for everyone. And, if you’re vegan and searching for restaurants in Harderwijk to eat at, head here. They don’t have anything on their menu that is entirely vegan but ask, and you will find that they make some pretty darn delicious vegan Mexican food in Harderwijk.
The next restaurant in Harderwijk is Ratatouille, which works with mainly local and organic products. The restaurant has several floors but still feels very cosy. I can also highly recommend you to visit Bistro Vismarkt 49. And at Da Gabriele, you can get great Italian food in Harderwijk, and even vegan & gluten-free pizza’s if you ask them for it.
Get the best ice cream in Harderwijk
Of course, after dinner in Harderwijk, it’s time for ice cream. If you’ve already had a dessert at a restaurant in Harderwijk, then you should make some extra space as these Dutch ice cream shops need to be visited (having two desserts in one day sounds pretty good to me). There are at least two excellent ice cream shops in Harderwijk. The first one is Patrijs and is one of the local favourites. The second shop in Harderwijk is called Het Boerinneke and has the creamiest yoghurt ice cream in Harderwijk (and other flavours).
Find things to do in Harderwijk in the evening
What is so lovely about Harderwijk is that it’s a city that feels like it’s a small town, but also that there are always tons of things to do in Harderwijk, including during the evening. The nightlife in Harderwijk is also bustling and great to enjoy.
Enjoy a drink in a pub and cafe in Harderwijk
There are tons of bars and cafes in Harderwijk where you can go for a nice drink. So, if you were wondering where you should go for a drink in Harderwijk, then this is for you. Head to Cafe De Boterlap, for instance, or to Cafe De Belofte.
Enjoy the city beach in Harderwijk
There’s something special about sitting at a beach in the evening. And although the beach in Harderwijk isn’t that long and spectacular as the Dutch beaches along the coasts of the Holland region, it’s definitely worth a visit. Put your toes in the sand and dream away. Think of how fun your day has been so far and how wonderful it was to visit such a lovely Dutch town in the Gelderland region. Oh, and there’s a cafe there as well, so you won’t be getting thirsty or hungry anytime soon.
Walk around the Waterfront neighbourhood in Harderwijk
The area around the street called ‘Langezand’ is such a beautiful and modern looking area of Harderwijk that still is home to the cosy feeling of the city. It has a different vibe than most of the town of Harderwijk, but it’s still worth visiting if you’ve got plenty of time to spare.
Witness a beautiful sunset in Harderwijk
One of the best things to do in Harderwijk has to be to watch a gorgeous sunset down at the waterside of Harderwijk. See how something so familiar completely changes an entire city. The atmosphere, the way people behave and admire the gorgeous light during the golden hour on the town of Harderwijk.
Experience the nightlife in Harderwijk
Sometimes you just want to party and show your best dance moves. Well, if you want to go dancing in Harderwijk, then there are a few places that I would recommend. Head to Cafe Gauwigheid, Cafe Ome Co, Cafe Spetters 2.0 or Cafe Stoppels.
More things to do in Harderwijk & its surroundings
Discover the best events & markets in Harderwijk
This is a yearly festival in Harderwijk in the second weekend of June. During that time, the centre of Harderwijk and the rest of the town are filled with music, markets, old crafts, traditional fishing boats, water sports and so much more. The Aaltjesdagen is one of the most significant yearly events in the Veluwe region and one of the things you must visit when you’re visiting Gelderland during the end of spring.
Every Saturday from 08:30 until 13:30, you can find a weekly market at Kloosterplein, with around 30 stalls. You will find bread, vegetables, fruits, flowers, clothing and plenty of more at this market in Harderwijk.
During the 3rd and 4th week of July (Thursday until next weeks Sunday), you can find the summer funfair in Harderwijk. Tons of attractions can be found in Harderwijk, plus there are quite some peeps that are partying.
Learn everything about the Dutch Schaapskooien in Ermelo
One of the top things to do in The Netherlands is to visit a Dutch sheepfold. Now, this might sound not that interesting, but it is. A sheepfold is a big, sort of, barn that is home to sheep. The sheep are walking around and grazing in heather fields during the day and will come back into their cosy barn often around the end of the afternoon.
The sheepfold in Ermelo can be visited, not from the inside, but there is a visitor’s centre next to the barn which explains everything you want to know. Plus, you will be able to see the sheep leave and/or return to the barn. The sheepfold of Ermelo is built in a traditional style and one of the biggest sheepfolds in Gelderland with around 300 sheep. During February and March, the sheepfold is filled with little lambs and their mums. The rest of the year, the sheep almost always walk to the heather fields with their shepherd and dog. Usually, the sheep return to the barn between 15:00 and 16:00.
Don’t forget to visit the shop at the visitor’s centre either, where you can buy local products, such as honey, jams and stews, as well as products made from wool. You can only pay by card.
Postweg 50, 3852 PK Ermelo
Enjoy the nature reserve Ermelosche Heide
When you’re visiting the sheepfold in Ermelo, there’s one thing that you need to know. That is that the sheepfold is grazing on the Ermelosche Heide or the Dutch heather fields in Ermelo. Start at the visitor’s centre, which is the same as from the sheepfold, and then explore the area. This is one of the best locations to visit in The Netherlands to see heather fields. It’s around 343 ha, and the highest point is ‘Paalberg’. You can find walking and cycling routes throughout this heather region in The Netherlands. Fun fact: Around the year 170, there was a Roman camp of 9ha found here, which had space for around 4000-6000 soldiers. You can still see the contours of the base in the Dutch heather landscape.
Oh, and when you’re near the town of Ermelo anyway, I would highly recommend you to visit Speciaalbier café de Hazeburg for excellent Dutch craft beers in Gelderland.
Discover the traditional Dutch town of Spakenburg
The small Dutch fishing town of Spakenburg is one of the only places in The Netherlands where some people still wear traditional Dutch clothes and where their village culture is more alive. It was located on the former Zuiderzee and had a completely different character than the surrounding villages, as it’s a fishing town.
It was more different around 10-20 years ago, as nowadays the culture has changed quite a bit. However, you can still find a different mentality in Spakenburg and will enjoy seeing traditional Dutch crafts and clothing, and the remains of their fishing history. You can visit places such as the Klederdracht- en Visserijmuseum, or the traditional clothing and fishery museum of Spakenburg. Here you will see the traditional clothing in Spakenburg, learn about the importance of the fishing industry and so much more. Don’t forget to visit Museum Spakenburg either. But there are actually tons of things to do and see in Spakenburg, which you will discover when you bring it a visit.
Explore museum Aviodrome in The Netherlands
The aircraft museum and theme park of Aviodrome is an incredible place to visit in The Netherlands, especially when you’re a fan of aeroplanes. There are more than 100 aircraft to be found, and you can step inside a real Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet, learn more about the history of Dutch aviation, hop into flight simulators and so much more.
Visit the Walibi theme park
The Dutch theme park of Walibi Holland is located in the province of Flevoland and found at only a 30-minute bus ride from the train station of Harderwijk. This is one of the best Dutch theme parks you can find in The Netherlands and is filled with tons of great attractions (including amazing rollercoasters) and so many other things to do.
Walk in the area of Harderwijk
Harderwijk is located in a beautiful region in The Netherlands and home to plenty of unique Dutch nature. Walking routes in and from Harderwijk aren’t hard to choose, but it all depends on the number of kilometres you prefer and the surroundings. Walk to Leuvenum or Staverden, for instance. There are plenty of opportunities.
Explore the town of Elburg
One of the beautiful towns that you need to visit in the province of Gelderland has to be the Hanseatic Dutch city of Elburg. Elburg is a fortified Dutch town in the centre of The Netherlands and filled with incredible monuments to see, exciting museums to visit and tons of picturesque streets. Add amazing restaurants to the mix, and you have a magical combination.
Rent a boat and explore the Veluwemeer lake near Harderwijk
I can highly recommend you to rent a boat in Harderwijk to explore its waters. There are quite a few beautiful Dutch lakes to visit in this part of The Netherlands, and some even have small islands in them. You can rent your boat at these places in Harderwijk.
If you’re looking to relax and ultimately wind away from your feelings, then heading to a spa in Gelderland is a perfect idea. It’s located in the town of Hierden, which is very close to Harderwijk. Get a massage, enough their spa facilities, and so much more!
Don’t forget that saunas and spas in The Netherlands are places which you are mostly only allowed to experience without wearing any clothes, except for a few special ‘badkledingdagen‘ or bathing suit days every week where you are allowed to wear a bathing suit.
Discover the Hoge Veluwe National Park
Hoge Veluwe is The Netherlands most famous and visited National Park, and it’s easy to see why. It’s filled with heather fields, thick forests, wildlife and so much more. This is one of the few National Parks that you need to pay an entry fee to be able to enter, but it’s worth it. I would recommend you to head to the Hoge Veluwe National Park outside of the weekend, as it can be busy in the areas where you’re allowed to visit.
Rent bikes in Harderwijk and explore its surroundings
I would certainly recommend you to rent bicycles when you’re in Harderwijk, especially since that makes it very easy to explore the beautiful Dutch countryside of Gelderland. Whether you want to rent tandems, electric bikes, E-choppers, mountain bikes or standard Dutch city bikes in Harderwijk, there’s one place that I am aware of that offers them all. You can rent bikes and more in Harderwijk at Veluwe Specialist.
A cycle route from Harderwijk could be Harderwijk – Ermelo – Putten (You can cycle to Putterbrink in the town of Putten, where you can find old Dutch farmhouses) – Steenenkamer – Telgt – Harderwijk. Or you could follow Harderwijk – Leuvenum – Staverden – Speuld – Drie – Ermelo – Harderwijk. But there are plenty of other options for cycling routes in the Veluwe region that you can choose from.
Visit the Sand Sculpture Festival near Harderwijk
Every year ‘t Veluws Zandsculpturenfestijn is created in the town of Garderen, near the sculpture garden or Beeldentuin in Dutch. This festival is so big that it’s home to more than 4000 sculptures. Visiting the Veluws Sand Sculpture Festival is one of the things you have to do in the Veluwe region.
Get to know the smallest city in the Benelux
Several cities claim they are the smallest in The Netherlands, such as Bronkhorst. However, Staverden is set to be the smallest city in The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. Staverden essentially exists out of a significant estate, which includes a castle/ manor house, a park, coach house and an orangery. In the park, you can spot deer, wild boars, white peacocks and plenty of more animals.
What’s also very cool is that a small beer brewery is found in the coach house of Staverden, called Bierbrouwerij De Uddelaer. You can visit their brewpub, go on a tour through the complex and taste their beers on a tasting. You can reserve a spot via their website online. ‘Bierproeverij met rondleiding, individuele reservering’ is the one you should select if you want to go on a tasting and tour throughout this local Dutch craft beer brewery in Gelderland.
There’s a local story that takes place around the Castle of Staverden. It is said that a woman of Staverden died due to having her heart broken. People say that her ghost still can be found around Staverden and that she can be heard crying at night.
Visit the Zomerbraderie (summer market) in Ermelo
Every year during the summer season, Ermelo houses a summer market. Every Tuesday from the second (or third) Tuesday of July until the third Tuesday of August, you can find a market in the centre of Ermelo. It takes place from 18:00- 21:00, and when that ends, there are several DJ’s and bands on one of the main squares in Ermelo.
Enjoy the Speulder- and Sprielderbos
Two of the best forests to visit in The Netherlands has to be the Speulderbos and Sprielderbos. Within the Dutch community, these forests in Gelderland are known for its beautiful rays of the sun that are slowly peeking through the thick leaves of the trees. It’s also a peaceful area in The Netherlands that is perfect for getting active: go hiking and cycling, for instance.
How to get to Harderwijk
I would always recommend you to use 9292.nl/en to plan your current trips by public transportation in The Netherlands. This is only used to give you a quick idea on the arrival time and how you roughly can travel to Harderwijk.
From Amsterdam: To get from Amsterdam to the town of Harderwijk by train, you’d have to take a train to Amersfoort Centraal station. From there you must transfer to the sprinter train to Zwolle, get out at Harderwijk train station. It will take you a bit more than one hour to get to Harderwijk from Amsterdam.
From Utrecht: To reach Harderwijk from the city of Utrecht, you must take a sprinter train in the direction of Zwolle. Get out at Harderwijk. It will take you around 45 minutes to get from Utrecht to Harderwijk by train.
From Rotterdam: From Rotterdam Centraal train station to reach Harderwijk station, you must take a train to Utrecht Centraal train station. From there you need to transfer to the sprinter train to Zwolle and get out at Harderwijk. It will take you around 1,5 hours to get to Harderwijk from the city of Rotterdam.
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Other Gelderland travel blogs and guides you’ll love
I hope you enjoyed this Harderwijk city blog and that you’ve found, not only, fun things to do in Harderwijk, but also must-sees and cities to visit in the province of Gelderland. Now you know that Harderwijk is filled with activities and places to see, and why it’s a perfect city to visit during your The Netherlands vacation.
Enjoy spending one day in Harderwijk and discovering one of the best places to visit in Gelderland. I hope you also learned the answer to ‘Where is Harderwijk, The Netherlands?’ and that you now know what to do in Harderwijk. Share this post!
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