This absolutely stunning Muiderslot castle in the typically Dutch town of Muiden, where the locals will smile/converse with any friendly visitor, was first constructed in 1350 after being destroyed.
It sits on the edge of the former Zuidersee, which was a large body of water that comprised a significant portion of what is now the Netherlands. After a deadly flood in 1916, plans to reclaim the land began, so there’s a lot less water near Muiderslot that you would expect than in its heyday.
However, the location of Muiderslot was very important for many years as it was the gateway to the many prominent port cities that are now landlocked.
Due to its location guarding the entrance to the Zuiderzee, it had many defenses, which seem a bit much given that it was never formally under attack. It has an incredible moat and windows (murder holes) above the moat where soldiers could camp out to throw hot tar/stones onto invaders.
The castle has even installed a video game where you can practice doing this in the same spot. For both young and old, this castle has some of the best interactive exhibits, including a jousting game, that I’ve ever seen in a castle. It takes hours to explore properly and the gardens are also really beautiful. On some days, they also have falcons at the falconry.
This small castle situated between Amsterdam and Utrecht in the city of Breukelen (the namesake of the Brooklyn in NYC!) is a beauty that I stumbled upon after getting very lost on the way to Kasteel de Haar on bike. The Netherlands is full of these smaller castles that were used by families, rather than as fortresses.
Nijenrode castle was originally built in 1275 although it was rebuilt following a public auction. It was even up for rent part of the year under one of its owners. It was resold many times and eventually sold to the Nyenrode Business School (the only Dutch private university and a very good business school) following World War II.
The castle is generally not open to the public, however the grounds are although you can request a tour.
Het Loo Palace
This beautiful castle was built for William and Mary (yes, that William and Mary!). This is the Dutch Versailles, but a bit less elaborate. It’s quite epic looking and one of the more famous castles here in the Netherlands. The gardens are done in a Baroque Style.
Kasteel De Haar
The grounds are absolutely stunning and in the English style. Interestingly, prior to the reconstruction, the owners moved an entire village one kilometer over to ensure that they had a good road to the castle. For the romantics, you’ll often see couples in wedding attire getting married or simply faking photos.
Note on Public Transit/Biking: All of these trips from Amsterdam involve taking a NS train or biking. The trains and buses here in the Netherlands run great and assume they will be on time. This means that you will need to go to Amsterdam Centraal and buy a ticket beforehand from a booth/machine to your destination. For the buses, you will need euro coins to pay (it is about 2.50 at most typically!). The iAmsterdam card is NOT valid for this. (Click for a detailed explanation of how the Dutch trains work, ticketing, and what you’ll need to do to take the train.)
It is possible to bike to Muiderslot from Amsterdam and Nijenrode/De Haar from Utrecht. If you have rented a bike, you can buy a bicycle supplement that allows you to bring your bike with you on the train for the whole day although you’re not allowed to bring it on during rush hour on weekdays.
You will have no difficulty finding bicycle rentals for Utrecht and Amsterdam. The signage is typically very clear (no need to do a tour!) although I recommend maps.me for good off-line bicycle directions.
Kasteel Muiderslot looks great! If I visit Amsterdam next time, it would be a nice trip out of the city!
Wow the Het Loo gardens are amazing! I wish I had know about Muiderslot before my trip to Amsterdam a few years back as I would have loved to visit. Thanks for sharing!
Wow! I never even knew all this existed! Another one to add to the bucket list!
I’m a sucker for castles, but haven’t had a chance to explore any Dutch ones yet- this is going to on to-do list for sure!
It requires a little effort to go out to the castles here since they’re a little out of the cities, but so worth it!
I’ve got a Dutch friend planning a few outings for me when I head to the Netherlands later this year – I’ll be sure to get him to add the castles to the list. As an Australian, castles are insanely exciting to see!
I love castles! These are amazing. Definitely a few i need to add to my list. Also your photos are fab!
Really inspiring list – it will come in handy when planning a trip to the Netherlands. I love your pictures, by the way 🙂
Amazing list! Among all, I like Kasteel De Haar the most! Especially the landscape capture, nice! =)
I do love castles and love Netherlands. Have been just to Het Loo from your list. One good reason to come back! Thanks for sharing!
Castles are one of my favourite things and we’re so lucky we have hundreds in the UK, of all types and styles. Loving your Photos of Kasteel Muiderslot, and De Haar….
I’m visiting Amsterdam in November, my first trip to The Netherlands. On a future trip I will look into visiting those castles. Great post, thank you
I love them too. I still need to visit England proper and hope to see the many beautiful castles! Thank you for the kind words about my photos and I hope you can go to one of them during your trip!
Beautiful pics. Autumn in Amsterdam looks absolutely perfect for visiting castles
I didn’t know there are castles in Amsterdam! We should have visited Muiderslot when we were there. Het Loo Gardens look like the Dutch version of Versailles. Great list! Will pin for later. Thanks for sharing! 🙂
Thanks for reading Melai! Well, they’re near Amsterdam, not in Amsterdam proper (namely because Amsterdam is actually quite small compared to some other cities). You’ll need to come back!
I imagine all of these would be beautiful to visit in the fall 🙂 Were you able to go inside most of them? When I think about traveling in Europe I never consider checking out the castles- totally forgot about that interesting history!
Hi Jessica, well there are no trees by Muiderslot, but the rest–definitely. There’s forest surrounding the others.
3/4 are open to the public although I didn’t have photos from the insides (I know!). Nijenrode is only by appointment.
I definitely recommend googling the castles near where you’re headed!. It’s surprising to realize how close some are to the main cities. 🙂
This is very interesting information. Our Amsterdam trip was very short and we couldn’t include this in our itinerary. But will make a note of it..there’s always a second time. 🙂
Wow dear, such a great post! I have not been to any of these castles yet and I have lived in Holland for more than 3 years already!! Such a shame, but so cool to find your post and definitely I have to go visit them. I would really want to go see the Kasstle de Haar because if the weather is not raining, it is going to look stunning with the fall colors. Thanks a ton for such a nice and off-beat post <3
I would love to see all these someday! Gorgeous!!
I love this post! I am Dutch and agree with you that we have some really nice castles in our little country. I visited het Loo Paleis and Kasteel de Haar already a couple of times and always love to be there. Although I visited Breukelen a couple of times, I never knew that Castle Nijenrode was located over there. Will definitely check it out next time!
Kasteel Muiderslot is our favorite of the beautiful list you put together! Do you know if any of them offer accommodation inside the castle? We already have our eyes on Ireland for a castle hopping tour where you can sleep inside them and their rooms are to die for! Just wondering if the ones in Amsterdam offers the same?
Hi, Thanks so much for reading. Muderslot is a museum, so I don’t believe it is possible to stay overnight there.
However, there are a lot of Dutch and Belgian castles not too far from Amsterdam (maybe 2-5 hours) where you can stay overnight,. You might want to look up in the Netherlands: CHÂTEAU St.. Gerlach, Kasteel Huis Bergh & Kasteel Terworm. There’s far more castle hotels in Belgium, so you might have some luck there. Rhine Valley is also fantastic for this and there are some gorgeous castle hotels there too. I wish you the best of luck finding a lovely castle to stay in although visiting a castle can be quite nice as well.
I can’t believe that I never heard of any of these places! Something to keep in mind for when we’re looking for some ideas for day trips. If you would have to pick just one of these – which one is your favourite?
These castles are amazing! I need to take notes here, as I’m planning a road trip through the Netherlands for my birthday in may (the big 30th birthday). They look like taken straight out of a fairytale. Simply amazing!
Kasteel Hoensbroek is a favorite.
Where are my castles in limburg, they are as beautiful as those up north
I have been obsessed with visiting a few of the ones in the South (particularly Limburg), but many are quite difficult without a car. I hope to visit many more in the south soon!
You have tot see Loevestein near the city of Gorinchem
I noticed Muiderslot and Castle De Haar close at 5pm. I will only be in town for work during the week, but would love to see a castle while visiting. Is it possible to see these from the outside after hours or are they blocked off enough that it would be hard to snap a picture?
I’m not sure that I’d go so far out of my way (1 hour) to just take a photo. You can see Muiderslot fairly well from the village of Muiden, but de Haar is too hard to see if it’s closed. Best of luck. You might want to check out the Royal Palace in Amsterdam, which can be viewed from the exterior.