6 Reasons why you (with or without kids) will enjoy visiting Muiderslot Medieval Castle near Amsterdam

About 15 kilometers southeast of Amsterdam, located along the Vecht river, that’s where you’ll find the beautiful Muiderslot, or Muiden Castle – the best kept medieval castle of Holland.

My man and I made sure to visit this magnificent historical site while road tripping from one Dutch city to another, with a Lonely Planet guidebook in my already very full handbag and my beloved camera around my neck, recharged and ready for action.

We had just left Amsterdam and was on our way to go to Haarlem, but made a little detour to visit what is known to be one of the most picturesque castles in the Netherlands. We obviously didn’t wanna miss out on something as spectacular as this!

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While my man was complaining about the weather not being that great that day (gray and cloudy) my only complaint was regarding my questionable choice of attire. I was wearing a miniskirt – the most inappropriate thing to wear while climbing the steep stairs all the way to the top of each tower. I’m sure my boyfriend enjoyed his view up my skirt, but I’m not sure other people enjoyed it quite as much. And there were lots of kids there. What an eyesore that must have been for those poor children!

We learned a lot of random facts about the castle and the location of it, while wandering around from room to room, tower to tower. Mostly about Count Floris V, the guy who built the castle back in 1280. The count was later kidnapped by Gerard Van Velsen and his comrades, and was later imprisoned in his own castle. When he tried to make his great escape, he was killed by Gerard Van Velsen who stabbed him 20 times. Brutal. Gerard Van Velsen’s wife was raped by Floris V, and this was allegedly the reason for the conflict between the two nobles.

Understandable, if you ask me.

After visiting the castle, we went to see the falconer. We hadn’t actually booked an appointment or anything – which is what you’re supposed to do. We just stumbled upon a bunch of school kids on a field trip and decided to hang around and photograph the birds of prey. I was ecstatic as I absolutely love owls and I’ve never been as close to an owl as I was there. I’ve never felt as happy and jealous at the same time. While the kids got to touch the owl, I couldn’t, as I was just an intruder and not part of the group. Or a child, for that matter.

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At least I’m left with some pretty cool photos. I guess that beats touching an owl once.

Those who know me well, know how much I love medieval architecture and history. The castles from the Medieval Period remind me of those illustrated in fairy tales and Disney movies. From a (sort of) young couple’s point of view, visiting historical sites like the Muiderslot is a great occasion to take photos, educate ourselves – and sneak around and hide behind a wall, or in one of the castle’s towers and kiss our partner. Yes, I find castles romantic. Don’t you?

Speaking of romance, did you know you can book this castle for your wedding?

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Besides photography and romance, let me give you 6 more reasons why you should take a day trip to Muiderslot from Amsterdam or nearby!

  1. You can visit Muiderslot by boat from Amsterdam with the Amsterdam Tourist Ferry! Now doesn’t that sound like a fun way to start your day trip? I sure think so! The ferry operates a daily service except from Mondays, and departs from the marina of Amsterdam IJburg, which is a 15 minute tram ride (nr 26) from Amsterdam Central Station. The ferry has an inside and outside area, toilets, heating and a bar.
  2. Muiderslot is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I don’t know about you, but in my opinion, if something is officially recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization it’s something worth adding to your bucket list.
  3. Get up close and personal with owls and falcons! Visits can be arranged (between April and October) to the falconer in the tent on the Bastion, next to the castle. You get to see the beautiful creatures up close and the falconer will tell you all about falconry in the time of Count Floris V.
  4. Fun and educational for kids! There’s plenty of games and entertainment for children at Muiderslot, as they explore the castle and its towers. You can buy them a small activities booklet from the ticket office, which adds a lot of interest and curiosity. They also get to dress up as knights and play with toy swords in the castle!
  5. Guided tour around the castle. Travel back in time to the 17th century, to the age of the most famous resident of Muiderslot; writer, historian and poet, P.C. Hooft. Visit the rooms used by the occupants of the castle, and learn all about the culture, customs and habits of the Golden Age.
  6. See the Water Shield and visit the historical gardens. I didn’t get around to doing this myself, as we had to make it a quick visit and prioritized seeing the birds over the gardens, but hopefully I’ll one day return and spend some time enjoying them – as well as the water shield pavilion (which is yet another thing your kids will enjoy)

Are you ready to visit Muiderslot? See, told you you’d love it!

Here’s some practical information:

The castle is open to the public all year around, but opening hours depends on the season.

From April 1st to October 31st,  visiting hours are between 10 am to 5 pm from Monday to Friday, and from noon until 5 pm during weekends.

From November 1st to March 31st, the castle is closed to the public during weekdays, and is open from noon until 5 pm during weekends. However, during school holidays from December 23rd until January 7th, you will be able to visit from noon to 5 pm, all week!

Visit the official website of Muiderslot for more information.

(below is the view from one of the towers)

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Middelburg, Netherlands: The hotel with the parrot and the desperate need of beer

While planning our cross-country Netherlands+tiny bit of Belgium road trip, a city called Middelburg made its way into our itinerary. Why Middelburg?

Well, we just needed to fill in a gap between Alkmaar and Ghent (Belgium) and had already seen most of the interesting cities and touristic sites in between.

And we wondered; would we enjoy Middelburg as something more than just a random place to pass through while on our way to somewhere else? Or would Middelburg just be the insignificant hook-up you have while getting over a relationship before jumping into another?

Unlike most of the other destinations on our trip, we had absolutely no idea what we’d get up to in Middelburg, apart from drinking beer at some terrace bar. And believe me, sticking to that plan was as easy as pie!

Upon arrival at the hotel (Hotel de Nieuwe Doelen) I was given the key to a suite. I didn’t even realize I’d booked a suite in the first place, so I was pleasantly surprised. Whether the hotel had made some kind of mistake, or I simply just happen to have goldfish memory, remains a mystery. Before you ask, I didn’t pay a high price for the room!

Our suite was enormous and even had a jacuzzi in the bathroom. Did I use it? Heck yeah!

Before heading out to explore the city of Middelburg, we also discovered that the hotel has its own mascot: a parrot. One that talks. Well, it mainly just says “hello”. But how freaking awesome is that? I’m jealous. I want my own parrot too!

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So what did we get up to in Middelburg?

Not much. We were way too warm, sweaty and sticky to even function like normal human beings and all we wanted was to sit down somewhere in the shade with an ice-cold beer.

But we did force ourselves to walk around a bit and actually see the town center before escaping the heat and seeking refuge at whatever bar we’d happen to find.

We had picked up a city map at the front desk of our hotel, and studied it while wandering around.

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What seemed to be the most interesting landmark in the city, was the beautiful town hall, which is also where most of the terrace cafes were located. How convenient!

We struggled to get any clear photos of the Town Hall due to the sun blinding my eyes, my lens, everything – and me not being tech savvy enough to figure out how to take good photos even when the sun is getting in the way (I’m a slow learner).

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We also saw the Abbey Tower of Long John. Apparently you can climb all the stairs to the top and get a great view of the city. We would have done that if we weren’t so dehydrated from the sun. And lazy.

By the canal, we saw a lot of beautiful houseboats of different colors, decorated with flowers. I could definitely see myself living in one of those and waking up to the view of the canal every day. Now, that would have been spectacular!

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We finished our walk around town, and treated ourselves with a couple of well deserved pints at a terrace cafe on the main square. In lack of better things to do, I did a whole lot of people-watching and completely ignored my boyfriend for a sec. Totally not on purpose. And just like a toddler, my boyfriend will also do anything to get my attention – especially things that piss me off.

This time, he decided it would be funny to take sneaky paparazzi photos of me from awful angles, while I was sitting there, looking at people, drinking beer or texting. They were the ugliest pictures I’d ever seen and he refused to delete them. Sadly, they’re also the only photos I have of myself from Middelburg, so I might as well post one. The only one where I was actually paying attention to him and mocking myself as much as he was mocking me. What a healthy relationship!

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So, is Middelburg worth your time?

As unmotivated as I may have seemed to be – it was mainly due to the weather and not the town itself. Middelburg is actually a pretty charming little gem and I’d love to go back. And stay at the same hotel, obviously.

Because, how could you not stay at a hotel that has its own parrot?!

What else is there to do in Middelburg?

  • Are you traveling with children? Do you like theme parks? Visit the Mini Mundi miniature park, amusement park and indoor play area!
  • Another activity for the kids is the Kinderboerderij de Klepperhoeve – a farm/petting zoo with plenty of activities for the little ones.
  • Do you like to visit botanical gardens? Bring your camera and prepare to take some stunning photos at Middellandse Zeetuin Uilenbroek.

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