Veluwe and Gelderland

For many, the Veluwe is the most beautiful nature reserve in the Netherlands. The whole region is excellent for a nice trip with the campervan, car or motorbike. This road trip will bring you to some of the highlights of the region, such as the Hanseatic Cities and the Hoge Veluwe National Park, but also the lesser known places are definitely worth mentioning.


We start in Zwolle and first visit the Hanseatic towns of Hattem, Elburg and Harderwijk and then some castles around Apeldoorn. After that, we dive into the nature of the Hoge Veluwe to finish with the war history of Arnhem and Ede.


Total distance of the route: 222 km


We start our road trip in the old Hanseatic city of Zwolle, located at the river IJssel. A hanseatic League is a medieval trade association between several trading cities. Did you know that in the 15th century, Zwolle was much larger than the former Amsterdam? There are quite a few monuments and sights that testify of the rich past of Zwolle. For example, you can visit the Grote- or Sint Michaëlskerk. The church dates from the 15th century and is one of the most famous buildings in the city. Another classic is the Sassenpoort. The old city gate was built at the end of the 14th century and was part of the defence works. 3 of the 23 towers are still standing. The Sassenpoort is recognised as Unesco World Heritage.


After a nice day in Zwolle, we continue our route to some more Hanseatic cities. On that road, by the way, there are several places where you can spot the Big Five of the Veluwe. So keep your eyes wide open and maybe you will see a red deer, a wild boar, a roe deer, a fox or a Scottish Highlander.

Hanseatic Cities

Amsterdam and Rotterdam were still small villages when the Hanseatic League was a powerful trading centre. Harderwijk, Hattem and Elburg were cities that, like Zwolle, prospered thanks to their location on the IJssel and the Zuiderzee. We ride from town to town, starting with Hattem.


The glorious history of the medieval Hanseatic League has left clear traces in the town. Hattem itself is not large, but you can certainly spend some time in the beautiful nature areas around the IJssel, the woody Noord-Veluwe and the polder landscape in the north. In the centre of Hattem, you can enjoy authentic shops and nice terraces. Elburg is the fishing city of the Hanseatic League. You still have the feeling of being in the Middle Ages when you walk along the Oude Wallen or through the narrow alleys.


Finally, Harderwijk is a contemporary city with more than 100 monuments, beautiful streets and squares. Harderwijk has been a Hanseatic city since 1252 and was once located at the Zuiderzee. You can even find remnants of the old wall with impressive towers.

Cannenburch Castle

The history of Gelderland consists of a wealth of rulers who built fortified castles throughout the area from the early Middle Ages onwards. We will highlight some of them on our road trip through Veluwe and Gelderland. Cannenburch Castle is one of them. The richly decorated nobleman's house was commissioned by Field Marshal Maarten van Rossem and built on the ruins of a medieval castle. After paying an admission ticket, you can visit the castle, the building and the surrounding park freely. You can make use of an audio tour or app. In the castle, you imagine yourself to be back in the 18th century. You walk through the rooms of the original residents and children can marvel at the paintings that come to life and the fantastic attic of the castle. In the vaulted cellar you can enjoy a snack and a drink.


Before we drive into Apeldoorn, we turn off in the direction of Paleis Het Loo. The palace where the Dutch royal family lived and worked for 300 years. Currently, the palace itself is being renovated, but the enormous baroque garden can still be visited. The gardens were laid out in the 17th century, commissioned by King-Stadholder Willen III and Queen Mary II. The garden was supposed to give them status and prestige and above all impress visitors to the palace. And let's face it, the symmetrical palace garden still does.


In the vicinity of Apeldoorn, a visit to the Apenheul is also worthwhile. In the Apenheul, you can walk among a hundred monkeys that are roaming and swinging by!


After Apeldoorn, we drive towards Garderen. On the way, we stop at Radio Kootwijk, the famous former radio station on the Veluwe. The radio station was built at the beginning of the 20th century to communicate with the former colonies of the Netherlands. Around Radio Kootwijk you can also take lovely walks.


Garderen itself is a pleasant village with a beautiful church. The first tower of the church was already built in the 11th century. The current tower dates from the 14th century. Take a walk to the old windmill De Hoop. The mill dates from 1852 and is still used for grinding grain.

The Hoge Veluwe National Park

The Veluwe is perhaps best known for the Hoge Veluwe National Park. The global nature park consists of over 5,400 hectares of forest, heathland, grassland and sand drifts. The park is home to many wild animals such as red deer, mouflon, roe deer, wild boar, foxes and badgers. There are also three cultural destinations in the park: the Museonder, Jachthuis Sint Hubertus and the Kröller-Müller museum. In the Museonder you can obtain cycling, walking and GPS tours. The Kröller-Müller Museum is located in the middle of the park and houses the second largest collection of paintings by Vincent van Gogh.


Practical: the park has three entrances, each with parking spaces. At each entrance there are white bicycles that you can borrow for free to explore the park. You do have to pay for parking and access to the Hoge Veluwe.

Rosendael Castle

Rosendael Castle was the residence of the counts and later dukes of Gelre for more than 200 years. The castle and gardens have been restored to the image of the 18th century. During a walk through the gardens, you will encounter a shell gallery, the tea dome and the waterfall with statues of Mercury and Neptune. The rose garden is also worth a visit. Have you been surprised by the little swindles? They are part of a larger shell gallery from the 19th century. Hidden in the bottom of the shells are fountains that go on and off unexpectedly to startle visitors. You can admire the area around Rozendaal from above in one of the various lookout towers scattered around the Veluwe. One of these is the Emmapiramide. First, the Emmapiramide served as an old lookout mountain for forest fires. Later, a wooden watchtower was built to allow for an even wider view. Currently, the tower no longer serves as a fire tower but simply as a beautiful viewpoint. With a little luck of the weather gods, you can even see Germany.


Arnhem is the capital of Gelderland and a nice city where you can eat out, shop or just relax in Sonsbeek Park. If you read about Arnhem, your attention is quickly drawn to the Second World War and the infamous Battle of Arnhem. A visit to the Airborne Museum at Hartenstein will quickly teach you the whole story. Various museums, a centuries-old Hanseatic city and a lot of contemporary art make Arnhem a nice day trip. Under Sonsbeek Park - the green lung of Arnhem - lies well hidden the Dutch Water Museum. A unique do-museum where you can learn everything about water. The Nederlands Openluchtmuseum is a journey through history. Authentic buildings, objects and true stories take you on a journey through time. Fashion and design lovers will find their heart's content in shopping city Arnhem. Prepare yourself for an extensive, non-standard offer in the architectural Musiskwartier and the Klarendalse Modekwartier.


Last but not least: Ede, a medium-sized village with a spacious centre with many shops, restaurants and nature. We decided to visit mainly the surroundings of Ede.


First stop: the Doesburgmolen, one of the oldest mills in the Netherlands. The year 1507 has been scratched into the stand, although the mill was probably built later. The Ginkelse Heide nature reserve is an absolute must. You can wander for hours over the vast heath and through the woods. Prefer not to walk? You can also go cycling, mountain biking, kite flying, horse riding or wildlife spotting. In addition to being a nature reserve, the Ginkelse Heide is also a historical location. During the Second World War, hundreds of allied parachutists landed here during Operation Market Garden. If you time your motorhome route right you can attend the annual Airborne commemoration. Operation Market Garden was an attempt to capture the bridges near Arnhem and end the war. The Airborne Memorial commemorates the airborne landings and those who lost their lives. A worthy end to a particularly beautiful road trip.