The turreted beauties that are the castles in the Netherlands have somehow flown under the tourist radar. Discover the 16 most awe-inspiring and historically important Dutch castles to add to your bucket list on your next visit.
When visiting the country of windmills and storybook cities laced with flower-lined canals, a visit to a castle might not spring to mind. The Netherlands has a rich tradition of castles, at first they served as defensive forts, later on an outward display of wealth for the affluent merchants and nobility.
This article takes you through the fifteen most picture-perfect castles, from the oldest to the youngest (a mere 20 years old), their history and practical information for planning your visit.
These Dutch castles are dotted all over the country, if you are based out of Amsterdam and looking for castles easily reachable via train, read up on the castles near Amsterdam.
How many castles are there in the Netherlands
Reports vary on the number of castles and palaces in the Netherlands. Officially there are around 300 castles and fortified palaces dotted around the country.
Spend the night in one of the Belgian Castle Hotels. Kasteel van Ordingen is but one of the mesmerizing boutique castle hotels to stay in.
A brief history of Dutch castles
While in France and the UK, owning a castle was a privilege granted only to nobility, the Netherlands had a more enlightened view of the matter. Castles in the Netherlands served as an outward symbol of the status of one’s family, additionally owning a fortified countryside dwelling was a prerequisite to entering into the class of knights.
In practice, this meant many a wealthy merchant family poured their hard-earned pennies into building up opulent country homes (i.e. castles and forts) in the hopes of one day climbing the social ladder. This explains why the majority of the castles were built long before the Kingdom of the Netherlands was created in the 19th century by Napoleon I.
From an architectural point of view, any castles built before the 15th century had a decidedly fort-like appearance as they had an additional defensive purpose. After the Habsburgs reunited the 17 provinces in the 15th century the outward threat subsided and castles became the epicenter for leisure (think hunting lodges).
The 16 best castles in the Netherlands to visit
If there is one thing the Netherlands has in abundance it is castles. With over 300 to choose from it was hard to narrow down the list. Below are 16 of my favorites. To make things easier, I have split them up into castles in the northern, central, and southern Netherlands.
If you are a big fan of castles, the neighboring country Belgium has a staggering 3000 castles to visit. Check out the most majestic castles around Brussels, well worth planning a trip to Belgium for!
For castle lovers: Visit Vianden Castle, the biggest and best-preserved castle in Luxembourg.
Castles in Northern Netherlands
1. Martenastate Friesland
Martenastate Friesland is a fascinating estate and country house with a deep history. Originating at the beginning of the 15th century it was the home of Sytze Martena in the former Dutch state of Friesland. It remained in the Martena family for centuries until it fell into despair and was left to the church board, eventually being demolished in 1899.
The building of today is the work of architect WC de Groot and is now a miniature castle in Neo-Renaissance style. It is adorned with detailed stepped gables and an onion-shaped spire in the middle. Shield-holding lions from the old state and the former coat of arms complete with inscriptions dating back to 1687 have been preserved to showcase the rich history of the original castle.
Did you know: Upon entering, you walk through beautiful Baroque gates from 1620. These gates were originally part of Landscape House in Leeuwarden but have made up the entrance to Martenastate since 1955.
Practical details for Martenatate castle in the Netherlands
Tickets & Opening Hours: Only the grounds are open for a visit, the little castle itself is not open to the public. The park is permanently open and free of charge.
When to visit: The stinzen flora in spring it the perfect time to visit.
Tours: If you speak Dutch you can partake in a guided tour of the gardens (check official website)
2. Cannenburch Castle
This family-friendly water castle is perched atop the booming Veluwe in Vaassen. Originally built in the 16th century, the shape of this Dutch castle has been well preserved to the current day. It boasts influences of Renaissance architecture and is surrounded by water. Noteworthy is a towering onion dome centerpiece sitting proudly atop the castle, and the coat of arms of Hendrik Van Isendoorn above the entrance.
The Van Isendoorn family inherited the castle from its original owner Maarten Van Rossum and it remained in the family for over 300 years. It fell into German ownership in the early 1900s but was later confiscated by the Dutch government in the aftermath of the second world war.
Restoration works were completed in 1981 and this castle is now open to the public. Inside the castle, you can expect to unearth ancient treasures and affluently decorated rooms replete with paintings of significant families tied to the castle and the surrounding area.
Good to know: Cannenburch Castle is also said to be one of the best castles in the Netherlands for family days out, with fun activities including real knights and damsels who share the fascinating history of the castle.
Practical details for visiting the Dutch castle Cannenburg
Tickets: Purchased at the entrance €/$12
Opening hours: The castle grounds are open yearlong from sunrise to sunset. From November 1st to April 1st the castle is only open on specific days (this link is only in NL). During the year the castle is open Tuesday to Sunday from 11.00 am to 17.00 pm.
3. Almere Castle – An unfinished Dutch castle
If Martenastate Friesland is one of the younger castles to visit in the Netherlands then Almere Castle in Flevoland is practically infantile. It is a remarkable 23 years old and is a modern-day ruin. Founded in only 1999 in the Dutch town of Almere, it stands as a half-finished contemporary ruin after the building was halted in 2002.
The design was based on the 13th-century Jemeppe Castle in Belgium, but the build hit financial trouble and work ceased. Despite numerous attempts over the decade to restart the build and repurpose the space, including for use as an amusement park named WitchWorld, financing and final plans have never managed to be brought to fruition.
You would be forgiven for thinking the castle is a stone relic of years gone by mirroring the architecture and design of medieval castles, with its unfinished circular turrets remaining in formation, posed proudly on the Wetering canal.
Practical details for visiting the unfinished Almere Castle
Tickets & Opening Hours: As the castle is abandoned there are not opening hours or entrance fee to be paid.
Dutch castles around Amsterdam & Central Netherlands
4. Muiderslot or Amsterdam Castle
Top rated tours to visit Muiderslot
$ & Most sustainable: 3-hour e-bike rental in nearby Weesp (15 min bike ride from Muiderslot)
$$: Northern Highlights tour (includes Muiderslot and windmills at Zaans Schans). Duration 8 hours.
$$$: Highly rated private tour of Muiderslot and Utrecht city. Duration 7 hours.
Muider Castle, Muiderslot, or, as it is locally known, Amsterdam Castle is a beautiful 14th-century water castle. First built in 1280, but sadly completely destroyed in 1296, a mere 16 years after it was constructed. The castle you see today is the 14th-century rebuild.
Amsterdam Castle was built to protect the city of Amsterdam, this becomes clear right off the bat as you examine the strategic location of the castle on the Vecht river at the entrance of the city. Aside from being a beautiful piece of architecture, it is known for being the home of the illustrious Dutch writer P.C. Hooft.
The castle has wooed the hearts of many a traveler, as it is in fact the most visited castle in all of the Netherlands together with De Haar castle (more on that beauty below). When visiting make sure to invest in the audioguide at the entrance, it is wonderfully narrated and truly brings the long history of this castle to life (without providing an excess amount of details).
Practical details for visiting Amsterdam Castle
5. Keukenhof Castle
The best tours to visit Keukenhof
Recommended: Transfer + skip the line tickets to avoid hours of cueing in line
Top-rated tour: ($) Keukenhof gardens tour + cruise along the nearby windmills. Duration 7 hours.
Guided Tour and transport: Guided tour through Keukenhof + transport from Amsterdam. Duration 6 hours
Keukenhof is well known for the yearly feast of colors it provides come tulip season. Two hundred hectares of forests, meadows and beautiful landscaped gardens burst into bloom every spring and attract millions of tourists.
But, did you know that this beautiful park also has its very own castle? The 17th-century mansion was built for the former commander of the VOC, Adreian Maertensz. The building was given a slight makeover in the 19th century, with an addition of a tower to give it the castle-like appearance you see today.
The interior has been beautifully preserved to reflect the lives of the aristocracy that once lived on these beautiful grounds.
Noteworthy: The Keukenhof Castle is only open for guided visits. Tickets can be purchased at the entrance of the Keukenhof park for an additional €/$10 on top of the park. Currently, the attic of the castle is being restored and visits have been suspended
Practical details for visiting Keukenhof Castle
Tickets: Gardens: €/$19.50 book in advance. Or book skip the line and transfer tickets. Castle €/$10 on top of the entrance fee to the park.
Opening hours for the gardens: Daily 09.00 am to 17.00 pm (the castle is currently closed)
6. De Haar Castle
The largest castle in all of the Netherlands is De Haar Castle. This opulent masterpiece was built in the 13th century and to this day is privately owned by the affluent Van Zuylen family. Aside from the wonderful castle, the 135-hectare castle grounds are well worth visiting.
By the late 19th century, the castle had fallen on hard times. Architect Pierre Cupers, known for his work on the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, was called in to restore the castle to its former glory. A job that took a staggering 20 years to complete. This might be due to the overzealous nature of the architect who drew up plans for the castle, the grounds and the neighboring village.
Despite being privately owned, the castle is open to the public, that is for 11 months out of the year. Each year the family spends one month in the castle hosting lavish parties.
Practical details for visiting De Haar Castle
Tickets: Can be purchased online (€/$18 including the gardens)
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday 11.00 am to 17.00 pm
7. Duurstede Castle
Duurstede Castle is one of the older castles of the Netherlands and is found in a true fairytale-like setting. This medieval relic dates back to the late 13th century when a freestanding keep was erected by Zweder I Van Zuylen van Abcoude. It remained in the family until the 15th century until they were forced to sell it to the bishops of Utrecht.
The castle’s history has seen it used for military and residential purposes. The original 11-meter-high building and 2.5-meter-thick walls portray its military origins. Later, in 1517 bishop Philip of Burgundy inhabited the castle and he lived like a true renaissance king. He kept court in the castle, fortified it, and embellished it in keeping with the grandeur of the renaissance era. He added 2 residential wings, large windows, and 57 separate rooms.
Until 1925 this castle could only be reached by a small ferry, whereas guests today can access the tree-covered castle by a singular bridge. You will find Duurstede castle surrounded by a moat and secluded gorgeous parklands, where the trees are said to be over 150 years old.
Tip: Every Sunday of the year between 12.00 pm and 17.00 pm the little bar on the inner courtyard of the castle is open to the public.
Practical details for visiting Duurstede Castle
Tickets: Free of charge
Opening hours: During the summer season (April 1st to October 1st) a visit inside the castle is possible between 10.00 am and 17.00 pm. Unless an event is taking place (the castle is a popular venue for weddings).
8. Loevestein Castle
This castle is another of Holland’s historic relics that have stood through centuries of warfare to be transformed into a dedicated archeological museum. Loevestein Castle, or Slot Loevestein, was built by the Knight Dirc Loef Van Horne at the end of the 14th century, where the Meuse and Waal rivers meet. It was part of the historic Hollandic Water line, which was the main dutch defense line through the years until the Second World War.
Interestingly this castle became an official state prison in the early 17th century and became the renowned location for the most famous prison break in Dutch history. The prisoner was Hugo Grotis, a Rotterdam scholar. The scholar would regularly receive a chest full of books and one day he climbed inside the chest and it carried him to his freedom when he then fled to France.
Today you can learn all about the story of Grotis and his fellow prisoners, together with the former knights and the history of the castle at its museum. You can also combine your visit with an idyllic walk around the surrounding quintessentially Dutch landscape.
Plan your visit to the Loevestein Castle in the Netherlands
Tickets: €/$ 14.50 to be purchased at the entrance
Opening hours: Daily from 10.00 am to 17.00 pm
9. Huis Bergh Castle
This impressive structure is one of the largest moated castles of the Netherlands and is found on the edge of the medieval town of s’Heerenberg. It originates as far back as 1240 when it was constructed by Lord Van Den Bergh. Over the centuries, it has changed hands many times, expanded, and been subject to very turbulent times.
The castle was badly damaged during the Dutch revolt in the 15-the 1600s and suffered lots of violence until it was completely burned down and left deserted in 1735. It briefly served as a seminary after this period but its poor condition saw it completely abandoned until it became the property of Jan Herman van Heck in 1912. Van Heck began reconstruction and archaeological digs which unearthed its extensive history.
Today Huis Bergh is open to the public and is richly decorated as though previous owners still live there. You can get lost in the traditional building whilst admiring works of art from the late Middle Ages. As an homage to its violent past the medieval tower houses an armory that boasts spectacular views of the surrounding area. What is more, you can even mint your own coins at the castle’s neighboring Mint.
You can stay here: Book an overnight stay in the defense tower’s converted luxury suites and indulge in a delightful three-course menu in the Castle Cafe Heeren Dubbel.
Plan your visit to the Huis Bergh Castle in the Netherlands
10. Sypesteyn Castle and Museum
The Sypesteyn castle might look like a medieval castle, but it is in fact a mere 100 years old. It is the culmination of Hendrik Van Sypestyns’ life work and ambitious dreams.
Van Sypestyn was born in a wealthy family. He held the strong conviction that his ancestors had noble roots (spoiler, they did not) and were once owners of a castle in this very region in the 16th century (they did!). His goal was to rebuild the family castle and fill it with his vast art collection.
As his goal was to rebuild the 16th-century castle, he used repurposed building materials e.g. parts of historical castles that were being demolished. And thus his dream finally came to fruition and he built his very own enigmatic castle, surrounded by a moat and a large garden.
The castle was turned into a museum right from the start and has continued to serve this function ever since. At the entrance you will be requested to leave your bags, as the castle is surprisingly small with plenty of narrow corridors, this is for safety reasons.
Plan your visit to Sypesteyn Castle and Museum
Tickets: Bought at the entrance €/$12 (including the gardens)
Opening hours: Thursday to Sunday 11.00 am to 17.00 pm (Closes from 1/11 to 31/3)
Castles in Southern Netherlands
11. Doorwerth Castle
This majestic piece of architecture is one of the oldest castles of the Netherlands, Doorwerth castle spans 7 centuries and dates back to 1260. The medieval Netherland’s castle is located on the meet-point of the lush banks of the Rhine and the nature reserve of Velwezoom and is surrounded by a picturesque bountiful moat.
Doorwerth passed through generations of nobility until it was bequeathed to English relatives by owner Charlotte Sophie in the 1800s. As the castle was seldom inhabited it fell into disrepair and was later badly damaged during World War II. After a 37-year restoration project in the 1900s, the castle was returned to its former 17th-century glory, which you can enjoy today.
The sheer depth of history of this monumental Dutch castle makes it worthy of a visit. It also houses three museums where you can learn the history of the castle, try on armor, and learn about forestry and hunting in the Netherlands. Marvel at the splendidly decorated period rooms and envisage how life might have been for the owners who once walked the grand halls of Doorwerth.
On the magnificent grounds, you will also find one of the oldest trees in Holland. The trunk of the Robinia (acacia) tree was thought to be planted around 1600 and has a staggering 7-meter circumference.
Practical details for visiting the oldest castle of the Netherlands
Tickets: €/$12 can be purchased at the entrance or online (NL)
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 11.00 am – 17.00 pm
12. Ravenhof Castle
If you are looking for unique castles in the Netherlands to visit then this has to be one of the best offerings. Although this castle has a deep history of expansion, name, and ownership changes dating back to around the 13th century, what makes this castle distinguishable is its geography.
This castle, commonly considered more akin to a grand residential home, sits on a nature reserve that straddles both Belgian and Dutch territory. Here, you can indulge in environmentally friendly tourism and hike and bike along both the Belgian and Dutch sides of the reserve.
You can amble along marked trails past beautiful beech trees and marvel at the ominous oaks that date back to the 18th century. Alternatively, take a gentle romantic stroll around the castle gardens. Plan your visit in advance and check out the various routes (website only available in Dutch).
Finally, follow your foray into nature up with a drink or meal at the converted Glorietta tea dome in the Coach House of the castle.
Practical details for visiting Ravenhof Castle
Tickets & Opening Hours: The surrounding park is open to the public yearlong, the castle, however, is in need of structural works, the local government has announced these are to take place however the exact dates are unknown. Until then, no visits are allowed inside the castle.
13. Duivenvoorde Castle
Medieval Duivenvoorde Castle was once the home of the Van Wassenaer family, one of the oldest aristocratic families of the Netherlands. The first mention of the castles dates as far back as the 13th century, though the version you can visit today is a 17th-century rebuild.
What makes this castle special is the fact it was never sold despite belonging to three different noble families. It was passed down as an inheritance, sometimes even along the female line (which was highly unusual before the 20th century).
Today the castle is still owned and inhabited by the Schimmelpenninck van der Oye family. Therefore only a part of the castle is open for visits. Do not fret though, the 14 grand and opulently decorated rooms are more than enough to keep one entertained. Make sure to get the audioguide when touring through the castle as there are few explanatory panels available.
Tip: I explored the castle during a weekend trip to Leiden. We rented bicycles and cycled 30 minutes from the city center to the castle (roughly 9 kilometers).
Practical details for visiting the Dutch castle Duivenvoorde
Tickets: €/$13.5, purchase online
Opening hours: Thursday to Sunday 11.30 am to 16.00 pm
14. Bouvigne Castle
The picture-perfect setting of this structure makes it one of the most beautiful castles in the Netherlands. The building is surrounded entirely by water and only accessible by a stone bridge.
Historically, the exact age of the castle is unknown but it is thought to date back to the mid-1500s, at which point it was referred to as a ‘stately moated house’ and was named ‘Boeverijen’. It later became the property of Philip William, Prince of Orange but despite its royal ownership it never bloomed as one of the grand palaces in the Netherlands.
Instead, the Prince and subsequent princes let the castle fall into disrepair to such an extent it was almost demolished. Before that could happen, it was fortunately snapped up by a wealthy coffee merchant who restored it beautifully and changed the name, giving it the French twist of ‘Bouvigne’ by which it is known today. The castle fell into the hands over the government in 1930/
Although entry to the castle is now very limited, the gardens offer up a perfect place to spend a few hours exploring and immersing yourself in the surrounding nature, forestry, and parkland. Three distinct types of gardens have been planted on the ground: French, English and German.
Practical details for visiting Bouvigne Castle
Tickets and Opening Hours: The gardens are open to the public Monday to Friday 08.00 am to 17.00; The castle itself is only open one day a year during the Brabantse Castle Days
15. Schaffelaer Castle
This former stately home is a one-of-a-kind castle with a fascinating history to match. It is named after Jan Van Schaffelaer. Schafflelar was a man who jumped off of the church tower in Barneveld and bizarrely this is the only connection the building and name share.
Its architecture echoes the rarely seen Tudor and late medieval gothic styles. The then-owner Baron Van Zuylen sought inspiration from this period and built the castle to include English-style turrets, battlements, and balustrades in 1852. This family lived in the Schaffalaer castle until 1935 when the expense of maintaining the building became too great. It was at this point the castle took a perhaps unexpected turn.
During World War II the Dutch castle served as an internment camp for ‘protected’ Jews. These chosen Jews were housed here as they worked for the Germans or fought for Germany in the first World War. Sadly they did not evade deportation. You will find a memorial for residents of De Schaaelear next to the castle.
Plan your visit to the Schaffelaer Castle
Tickets & Opening Hours: Today the castle is owned by the local government and is a venue for parties and events. Although the castle itself is not open to the public, the beautiful surrounding parkland is.
16. Hoensbroek Castle
This old beauty has roots dating back to 1250, although very little of this original structure remains. It was in the 14th century that the Hoen family built the second fortifications, of which the large round keep remains to this day. Throughout the centuries the castle was expanded upon by adding baileys, spiral roofs, and residential wings.
Somewhat impressively the castle remained within the powerful Hoen family until 1796. It later fell into abandonment and disrepair through the 18th and 19th centuries. It underwent its most recent restoration in the 1980s and remains the impressive monumental building you see today.
This Dutch castle is surrounded by a moat and is reachable by a bridge. The main building is made up of perfectly symmetrical square towers and the interiors will take you back in time. Inside you can delight in the magnificent ballroom, feel the chills in the depths of the dungeons, and climb over 60 meters to the top of the medieval lookout tower.
The castle is bursting with history, ancient monuments, and fascinating facts and legends pertaining to its steep history. There is fun to be had for children and adults alike through adventure hunts, and pop-up events such as fencing and sheep herding, and of course, there are plenty of hiking trails that take you all around Hoensbroek castle.
Practical details for exploring Hoensbroek Castle
Tickets: €/$ 13.5 purchase at the entrance or online
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday 10.00 to 17.30
Map of castles to visit in the Netherlands
All of the above Dutch castles can be found in this interactive Google Map or by taking a sneak peek at the below screenshot.
How to get around the various castles in the Netherlands
Types of trains to take to the Dutch castles
SPRINTER: Slow train – Usually stops in every small and large station. Tickets can be bought right before departure.
INTERCITY: Fast train – Usually only makes a halt in large cities. Tickets can be bought right before departure.
INTERCITY DIRECT: Fast train – Route: Amsterdam – Schiphol (the airport)-Rotterdam-Breda. This train also goes to Belgium (with stops in Brussels and Antwerp). Tickets to be bought right before departure.
Useful information: Check the latest timetables and book your tickets for both domestic and international trains online.
Purchasing tickets & taking the train
Getting around the various castles in the Netherlands can be done by relying on public transportation. Though you will need to look into a combination of train/bus as most of the castles are located outside of the city/village centers.
Purchasing train tickets can be done in three different ways: Online, at the station of departure at the ticket machine, or (if applicable) inside the ticket office at the station of departure.
Check the timetable and which train to take online (or use Google Maps).
FAQ about the palaces and castles of the Netherlands
How many castles are there in the Netherlands?
The official amount of castles has been set at 300.
What is the oldest castle of the Netherlands?
Doornenburg is the Dutch castle
MORE TRAVEL RESOURCES FOR VISITING THE NETHERLANDS
Amsterdam: The perfect weekend trips from Amsterdam
Amsterdam: Day trips from Amsterdam by train
Amsterdam: 16 Castles near Amsterdam to visit
Amsterdam: Practical guide to public transportation in Amsterdam
Leiden: Spend a magical weekend in Leiden
Flevoland: Things to do in the smallest province of the Netherlands
Friesland & West Frisian Islands: Practical travel guide & things to do
Frisian Islands: An adventurous guide to the Frisian Islands