Arnhem is a Dutch city in the Eastern part of the Netherlands. This part of the country is actually well-known for its abundant share of historic cities, charming villages and scenic landscapes. More than 150,000 people live in the city of Arnhem and there are a lot of things to do and places to see!
Arnhem is one of those Dutch cities with lots of history. One of the first written notifications of the city dates back to the year 893. It has grown to become one of the most important cities in the Eastern part of the Netherlands. Arnhem is well known for its green surroundings with beautiful (national) parks and estates all around. Families love to visit the city because of two big kid-friendly attractions: Royal Burgers’ Zoo and the Dutch Open Air museum.
We will help you with your plans to visit Arnhem with your kids. So whether you want to visit the city over the weekend or just visit for a day, here’s some guidance based on our recent stay.
We start at the end of the day when you have just arrived in Arnhem.
Day 1 – 17.00h
Quick dinner Dutch style
After your trip to Arnhem you probably want to grab a quick dinner with your kids. In the area you find various pancake restaurants (Pannenkoekenhuis in Dutch – try to pronounce that as non-Dutch speaker) that serve a tasty pancake with either sweet or savory filling. We had a great one at the Pannenkoekenhuis in Schaarsbergen (just outside Arnhem). This one is typical Dutch style: the red and white checkered table cloths, sugar and syrup in Delft Blue pottery style, it’s all there. There is no need to book a table in advance. The pancakes are served quickly so you can be in and out within the hour if you have to.
We spent our first night at the Buunderkamp Bilderberg hotel near Wolfheze (near to Arnhem, not far from the pancake restaurant). The hotel isn’t spectacular looking and some of the furniture in the rooms need a modern upgrade, but with very friendly personnel, peace and quiet in a rural location we did enjoy our stay. Your kids will love the swimming pool while you are having drinks in the bar next door or take a sauna or steam bath yourself….
During the week this hotel is used as a conference hotel mostly and in the weekend it caters to people who are looking to rent bikes or go hiking in the forest. It sure has all the facilities you need. We liked the Buunderkamp Bilderberg for the generous breakfast buffet, the beautiful green surroundings and the relaxed atmosphere.
I mentioned earlier that the Eastern part of the Netherlands has some very scenic landscapes. This picture was taken on the road from Arnhem to Wolfheze: beautiful!
Day 2 – 09.00h
Travel the world at Burgers’ Zoo
After a lovely breakfast it’s time to pack and really start exploring Arnhem. You know that almost every kid loves a good zoo. Burgers’ Zoo in Arnhem recently (2013) celebrated its 100th birthday and the zoo offers you a chance to travel around the world in just a couple of hours: The Bush (jungle forest), the Desert, the Safari plains, the Ocean, the Mangrove, etc. And these are not just your standard zoo areas. Burgers’ Zoo was one of the first in the world to offer a real experience: the Bush was opened in 1988 and was the first tropical rain forest eco system.
The (indoor) Desert was opened in 1994 and is connected to the Bush by an underground tunnel in the shape of a deserted mine! You do notice some of the areas to be a couple of decades old, but it for sure is one big adventure for your kids. For your reference: the zoo attracts over 1 million visitors a year…
Our kids loved the Ocean the most. Watch the stingrays, sharks and other beautifully colored fish gracefully move from left to right (or right above you in the ocean tunnel). Of course your kids will try to find Nemo as well as Dory en they will succeed! The pride of this aquarium is the large living coral reef.
City center with the funny Aardvark
It’s time to head to the city center! Make sure not to rush but to enjoy the surrounding areas of Arnhem. The hilly area is full of stunning estates and castles. For example, this Huis Zuypendaal is worth a stop. I found a website for you with an overview of multiple castles, estates and fortresses that you can visit in the area.
Park your car right outside the historic city center and start exploring. Some of you might not be able to withstand the shopping area (with beautiful shops like Loft on the picture below) but there is much more to see.
If you are interested in architecture you have to visit the Rozet building. This is the center point of culture and education in Arnhem. The Rozet building is actually on the shortlist of RIBA (Royal Institute of Britisch Architects) for the 2016 Best Building in the World. That’s quite an achievement.
In 2014 it already won the award for Best Dutch Building. Entrance is free and you can even go up the roof for a nice view over the city.
From the Rozet roof you can see another great structure (although from a totally different kind): Aardvark! This Party Aardvark (it really wears a partyhat…) was a gift to the city from Burgers’ Zoo celebrating their 100th birthday.
This climbable Aardvark, from artist Florentijn Hofman, draws a lot of kids. Right across you can have a drink at one of the cafés while watching your kids have fun.
If you by any chance pass by the Eusebius church and the weather is nice, your kids can cool down in the square water fountain.
Architecture lovers also have to visit the brand new Central Station. It’s a modern piece of art if you ask me.
By now you know that the Arnhem area is a hilly one (if you haven’t noticed it yet, you will tomorrow when we visit the Sonsbeek park….).That hilly landscape inspired the architect to create this wavy design that has made this train station one of the most impressive ones in the country.
Drinks & Dinner
Now it’s time to relax after a very busy first day! Arnhem offers some great bars and restaurants. Find those little squares where you can choose from multiple bars. For your dinner I have a special surprise… but that will only be revealed in part 2 of this post! This special restaurant offers an award-winning dish and probably one you would not have thought of…
We were invited by VisitArnhem. We had a wonderful stay and would like to thank VisitArnhem for the opportunity! Of course all opinions are ours and ours only.
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