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Naarden is a small town in the Gooi and Vecht region of the province of North-Holland, the Netherlands, some 20km to the east of Amsterdam. It boasts an almost completely preserved system of spectacular star-shaped fortifications dating from the 17th century. The town centre itself has also kept its historic character, making Naarden one of the destinations in the Netherlands you should not miss.



Aerial view of Naarden

Naarden was first mentioned in the 10th century, and received its city charter around 1300. At the time, the town was located more to the north. In the 13th and 14th centuries, disastrous floods washed away large areas of land, leading to the creation of the Zuiderzee. Because of the flood damage, the town was abandoned and relocated to its current location on higher ground in 1350.

The new Naarden prospered and became an important merchant town and centre of textiles industry. During the Dutch rebellion, Spanish troops launched a punitive expedition to Naarden in 1572, burning the town to the ground and massacring almost all the population, killing more than 700 people. This atrocity helped swaying the sentiment in the Netherlands in favour of the rebels, who had not been very successful up to then.

Once the Dutch had taken control of the region a few years later, they started to build the famous fortifications. These proved however of little use during the French invasion of 1672. Louis XIV, obviously hoping to stay, had the fortifications extended, but the French were quickly repelled. The final stage of the fortifications was finished in 1685, making it one of the best remaining examples of 17th-century defensive architecture in Europe.

Later, Naarden became part of the defence line of Holland, the Hollandse Waterlinie. The town however hardly ever had to serve its purpose; only in 1813-1814, French troops remaining loyal to Napoleon managed to withstand a Dutch siege for some time. It was only in 1926 that the military status of town was repealed; the fortifications were restored from 1932 on, and currently it is part of the Protected Cityscape of Naarden.

The town these days has about 17,000 inhabitants, most of whom live outside the small historic centre.

  • VVV Tourist Office, Ruysdaelplein 6M, +31 35 694 26 73 (), [1]. Apr-Oct daily 11AM-4PM Nov-Mar We, Sa, Su 12AM-3PM.  edit
Decorative gable stone commemorating the Spanish massacre of 1572

Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

The A1 motorway passes just north of Naarden. Coming from the A10 Amsterdam ring road, take the A1 in the direction of Amersfoort and then take exit 6 to Naarden-Vesting (travel time approx. 30 min). Free parkings are available outside the city walls.

By train[edit]

Railway station Naarden-Bussum has direct connections to Amsterdam (approx. 20 min) and Utrecht (approx. 30 min) via Hilversum. From there, it is a 20-minute walk to the town centre. For information on schedules and train tickets, see the NS website.

By bus[edit]

Bus 110 connects Naarden to Muiden and Weesp.

By bicycle[edit]

Cycling from Amsterdam Central Station to Naarden is 25 km (approx. 1h30m), with a possible stopover in Muiden. You can also rent a bicycle at the Weesp railway station and do a round trip of Weesp, Muiden and Naarden from there.

By boat[edit]

Naarden has a large marina with 1200 berths on the Gooimeer lake, where you can moor your own boat. However, it is not very close to town, so you will have to organize your own transport from there. Bus 110 stops at 5 minutes walking from the marina (stop Gooimeer Noord).

  • Jachthaven Naarden, Onderwal 4, +31 35 695 60 50 (), [2]. €1.90 per meter per day + €1.60 tourist tax.  edit

Get around[edit]

Since Naarden is very small, it is best explored on foot or by bike. Naarden does not have a bike rental. The nearest ones are in Weesp, Bussum and Huizen. Unfortunately, bike rentals at railway stations have become impossible if you don't have a Dutch bank account.

See[edit][add listing]

Most of the fortifications are accessible on foot. It is a very nice experience to walk the city walls and admire the views of the bastions and moats. Naarden's centre has a rectangular street plan, and is a Protected Cityscape, with many 17th-century houses.

  • Nederlands Vestingmuseum (Netherlands Fortress Museum), Westwalstraat 6, +31 35 694 54 59 (), [3]. Tu-Fr 10:30AM-5PM Sa-Su 12AM-5PM Mo closed. The Fortress Museum is inside the Oranje bastion, and provides information on the history of Naarden and its fortifications. If you feel like it, you can book a cannon shot demonstration for €32.50. Adults €7, ages over 65 €6, 5-12 €5, under 5 free.  edit
  • Comenius Museum, Kloosterstraat 33, +31 35 694 30 45 (), [4]. Tu-Su 12AM-5PM Mo closed. This museum is dedicated to the life and work of Jan Amos Comenius (1592-1670), a Czech teacher, educator and writer, who spent the last 14 years of his life in Amsterdam. He is often considered the father of modern education. You can also visit his mausoleum, designed by Czech architects in the 1930s. It is a popular destination for Czech tourists. Adults €5, ages over 65 €4, under 12 free.  edit
  • Weegschaalmuseum (Scales Museum), Turfpoortstraat 27, +31 35 544 71 53 (), [5]. Apr-Sep Tu-Su 11AM-5PM Mo closed,Oct-Mar Sa-Su 11AM-5PM, Mo-Fr closed. Museum with a collection of scales and other measuring instruments in the 14th-century Spaanse Huis (Spanish House), which used to be the town's Weigh House. Adults €5, ages over 65 €4, 6-12 €3, under 6 free.  edit
  • Grote of Sint-Vituskerk (Great Church), Marktstraat 13, [6]. Church: mid May - mid Sep Tu-Sa 10:30AM-4:30PM Su-Mo 1:30-4:30PM; tower: May-Sep We, Sa, Su 2-3PM. 15th-century church, still in use for Protestant services, with a beautifully painted wooden ceiling, best known for its annual Matthäus Passion performance (see Do section). The 45 m high tower offers a great view of the fortifications. Church: free; tower €3.  edit

Do[edit][add listing]

Cycling in the countryside near fortified Naarden
  • Fortificatons boat trip, +31 35 694 11 94 (), [7]. May-Sep 1PM, 2PM, 3PM, 4PM. 1h guided tour of the fortifications in an open boat. Adults €6.50, ages 4-12 €4.50, under 4 free.  edit
  • Speelpark Oud Valkeveen, Oud Huizerweg 2, +31 35 694 42 23 (), [8]. Mid Mar- mid Oct 10PM-5PM. Low-budget amusement park with playgrounds and plenty of activities for children. €9.95, ages under 2 free.  edit


Just outside town is the oldest nature reserve of the Netherlands, the Naardermeer lake. In 1905 the city of Amsterdam wanted to use the lake as a landfill site, but this was prevented thanks to the efforts of writer and teacher Jac. P. Thijsse, who established the first nature conservation organisation of the Netherlands, Natuurmonumenten (Natural Monuments), and bought the site before it could be destroyed. Today, it can only be visited with a guided tour by boat, but you can walk or cycle the 17 km perimeter to enjoy its wetlands and wildlife. There are five birdwatching stations around the lake where you can observe the many rare birds species in the area, including the egret and spoonbill.

  • Boat trip Naardermeer, Gasterij Stadzigt, Meerkade 2a, [9]. mid Apr - mid Oct only; consult the Natuurmonumenten activity calendar for exact dates and times. 2.5 hour boat trip to the cormorant observation post in the middle of the lake. €15 (members €10) ages < 12 €4.  edit


The area around Naarden lends itself very well to cycling. The system of Fietsknooppunten (biking nodes) makes creating your own routes extremely simple. Practical information on cycling in the region can be found here. There's also a list of places of interest on Google Maps.

  • Boerenlandroute (Farmland route). Signposted 25km round trip from Weesp railway station to Naarden en Muiden, passing by the Naardermeer.  edit


The Dutch Bach Society stages an annual performance of the Matthäus Passion at Easter in the Great Church, which is broadcasted on national television. It is the biggest event in town, tickets for which are sold out very quickly. If you don't feel like taking your chances, however, they also do other concerts throughout the year.

Buy[edit][add listing]

Being close to the Gooi region, Naarden is a relatively posh place to Dutch standards. The town has its fair share of pricy boutiques, galleries, antique shops and vintage stores, but the thing worth a visit in itself is Het Arsenaal, a shopping centre for classy furniture in the old town armoury, including the studio of famous Dutch interior designer Jan des Bouvrie. It also features a restaurant (see Eat section).

  • Het Arsenaal, Kooltjesbuurt 1, [11]. Mo-Fr 10AM-6PM Sa 10AM-5PM Su closed.  edit

Eat[edit][add listing]

  • Arsenaal Restaurants, Kooltjesbuurt 1, +31 35 694 91 48 (), [12]. Tu-Fr 12AM-9:30PM Sa-Su 1-9:30 PM. French cuisine, well-reviewed. Mains from €25, menu €39.50.  edit
  • Lan Tin, Lambertus Hortensiuslaan 38-C, +31 35 694 43 15 (), [13]. Tu-Su 5-10PM Mo closed. Asian fusion on the road from the railway station to town centre, take-away possible. Mains around €19.50, menu €29.95.  edit
  • 't Vossenhol, Oud Huizerweg 2a, +31 35 678 23 48 (), [14]. Daily 12AM-7:30PM. Pancake restaurant next to the Oud-Valkeveen amusement park. Mains around €15.  edit
  • Mixit, Sint Annastraat 3, +31 35 694 66 05 (), [15]. Tu-Su 12AM-12PM Mo closed. International cuisine, with inner court and terrace. Mains around €20, menu €30.  edit

Drink[edit][add listing]

  • Café Demmers, Marktstraat 52, +31 35 694 54 78 (), [16]. The place for specialty beers in Naarden, 31 on draught.  edit

Sleep[edit][add listing]


Naarden only has one hotel, but you can also find accomodation in other places close by like Hilversum or Bussum.

  • NH Hotel Naarden, IJsselmeerweg 3, +31 35 695 15 14, [17]. checkin: 3PM; checkout: 12AM. Located close to the marina and the A1 motorway. Gym, terrace, free wifi and restaurant. Discount for marina guests. €85 for a standard double, prices fluctuate depending on season and availability. Breakfast €12.50. Parking €6.50 per day..  edit


  • B&B Naarden Vesting, Jan Massenstraat 17, +31 6 17 23 84 96, [18]. Luxury B&B in the historical town centre.  edit
  • B&B Buitenminsen, Oud Huizerweg 44, +31 35 526 69 36 (), [19]. B&B outside town with 3 rooms in farmhouse, close to the Oud-Valkeveen amusement park.  edit


  • Room One-Twenty-One, Ruijsdaelplein 4, +31 35 694 39 00, [20]. Modern apartment suite with kitchenette in the historical town centre. €121 (2 persons).  edit
  • Hoeve Welgelegen, Amsterdamsestraatweg 57, +31 35 694 54 06, [21]. checkin: 2PM; checkout: 11AM. Apartments in farmhouse outside town. B&B on request. €250 for a weekend (2 persons).  edit

Camp site[edit]

The Naarden marina also has a camp site:

  • Jachthaven Naarden, Onderwal 4, +31 35 695 60 50 (), [22]. €12 per tent (4 persons); camper van €16.50; cabin lodge €50 (5 persons).  edit

There is also a camp site in nearby Huizen:

  • De Woensberg, Woensbergweg 5, Huizen, +31 35 538 24 81 (), [23]. €11 per tent (2 persons); cabin lodge €37 (4 persons).  edit

Get out[edit]

Places close by:

And of course, Amsterdam and Utrecht are close by as well.

Routes through Naarden
AmsterdamMuiden  W noframe E  BussumEnschede

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