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Besides being one of the most historically charming cities in Europe, Utrecht is also a major travel hub and has the largest train station in the entire country. This means that accessing other awesome Dutch destinations is a total breeze whilst staying in Utrecht.
Scheveningen is the most popular beach resort in the Netherlands and features many sights besides its sandy coastline. Its recently renovated pier, for example, has several awesome attractions including restaurants, stores, a bungee jump tower and gigantic ferris wheel. The area is actually part of the Hague and connects Utrecht via frequent train and bus services.
This rural Dutch village lies in the heart of the Hoge Veluwe National Park, where herds of wild deer, boar and horses have roamed undisturbed for centuries. Otterlo’s Kröller-Müller Museum owns the second-largest Van Gogh collection in the world alongside many other masterpieces from modern art history. While travelling to Otterlo takes slightly longer than other entries on this list, the journey is definitely worth it considering the variety of activities available inside or around the village.
Although de Haar Castle actually lies within Utrecht’s municipal borders, exploring its grounds often deserves an entire day. The castle was built in the late 19th century and was designed by the famous Dutch architect Pierre Cuypers, whose work also includes the Rijksmuseum and Centraal Station in Amsterdam. Much like Cuypers’s other creations, the Castle de Haar design is a homage to classical Dutch architecture while adding a measured dose of grandiosity. As the entire estate was built upon a much older fortification that dates back to the late Medieval period, its grounds are steeped in history.
Muiden predates a considerable number of settlements in the Netherlands, and historical records show that the city has existed at least since the 10th century. Due to its strategic location on the Vecht river, many fortifications have been built in Muiden over the years including its famous castle Muiderslot, which was completed in 1370. There’s also a former sea fort near to Muiden’s harbour called Pampus, which is accessible via a regular ferry service.
Utrecht’s only national park centers around an ancient, glacial ridge that formed hundreds of thousands of years ago. Over the millennia, many diverse landscapes have developed around this incredible geographic wonder and Utrechtse Heuvelrug National Park covers several distinct terrains such as dune lands, forests and flood plains. There are hundreds of footpaths and bike tracks through the park and it is around an hour away from Utrecht by public transport.
Nijmegen is the oldest city in the Netherlands and was founded over 2,000 years ago during a Roman conquest. Although the Romans eventually abandoned their outpost in Nijmegen, other settlements soon began to develop around their fortifications and many buildings in the city are built upon ancient ruins, or actually feature elements from this period. Besides its incredible heritage, Nijmegen is also one of the greenest cities in the Netherlands. It features several parks and hundreds of scenic bike and footpaths that trail beyond its borders into rural Gelderland province.