Autumn is my favourite season. Simply, because I think The Netherlands are completely stunning in autumn. The leaves turn colour beautifully, dishes with pumpkins, chestnuts and game fill our table and it’s the perfect time of year to go for a long walk. So, bundle up, come on over to The Netherlands in autumn. These are the best places to visit in The Netherlands in autumn.
Autumn in The Netherlands? Plan your trip
- Check the cheapest flights to Amsterdam.
- Choose from the best hotels in The Netherlands or Airbnb’s in The Netherlands.
- Getting around The Netherlands is quite easy. Simply buy an OV Chip Card and hop on a train or bus (plan your journey online) or rent a car.
- Planning a trip to The Netherlands? Read my itinerary on how to spends 3 days in The Netherlands.
The Netherlands in Autumn: top things to do
- Dutch moorlands in full bloom
- Go apple picking
- Eat game, it’s the season for it
- Spend a night in Amsterdam’s top museums
- Visit a castle or palace
- Kröller-Müller Museum
- Hoge Veluwe National Park
- Taste some Dutch apple pie
- Sleepover in a Dutch castle
- Amsterdam Dance Event
- Spot fall colours in The Netherlands
When I say that The Netherlands are stunning in autumn, I am absolutely not exaggerating. From the beginning of September, the heather in the Dutch moorlands is in full bloom and big parts of The Netherlands are covered in a sloping blanket of 50 shades of purple and lilac. If you feel like taking a walk or a bike ride along the beautiful Dutch Moorlands (called ‘Heide’) take a look here to see which routes you can take or read my article about heather fields in The Netherlands.
When I am on one of my afternoon bike rides in autumn, I just smile when I see trees and trees full of red apples. Autumn is truly apple season in The Netherlands. You can pick apples that don’t grow on private property. But to be honest: basically, everything is private property in The Netherlands. So I won’t let you commit any offences and kindly point you in the direction of places where you can simply show up and do some apple picking. De Olmenhorst estate is a beautiful place for apple picking.
The end of October officially marks the beginning of game season and this is when dishes with game start appearing in restaurants all over The Netherlands. Most of the Dutch game comes from the east of the country and this is also where you can go for a really nice meal. You can expect dishes with venison, wild boar, wood pigeon, duck and hare.
Planken Wambuis is one of the most famous restaurants for eating game in The Netherlands and is located in Eede, not too far from Hoge Veluwe National Park. Chef Manfred Majoor and his team always let the seasons guide them and in autumn they find the most harmonious combinations. Do leave room for dessert.
Both the location and the menu of De Echoput are unique. The restaurant is situated near ‘t Loo, one of Holland’s most famous castles and in the middle of Hoge Veluwe National Park, where a lot of game comes from. De Echoput has been there for over 65 years and is famous for its dishes with Dutch game and wild mushrooms. If you’re after a real Dutch autumn experience, I highly recommend also spending the night at De Echoput, so you can enjoy the restaurant and the atmosphere to its fullest.
Orangerie De Pol
One of the most exciting restaurants in The Netherlands is tucked away in the woods near Doetinchem and Gaanderen in the far east of The Netherlands, where they know how to prepare game properly. Orangerie De Pol has constructed a beautiful glass dome to dine in, so you will always have dinner under the stars, no matter what the weather is like. From October until the start of January you’ll find some amazing dishes with game on the menu, as well as their home-brewed dark beer. Worth the try.
Museum Nacht in Amsterdam, photo by Bas de Brouwer.
With Dutch masters like Vermeer, Rembrandt and Van Gogh I do feel kinda proud when it comes to our museums. And so I should be, right? Personally, I think some of the Dutch top museums are so good you could easily spend a day and a night there, exploring some of the best art in the world. And the good news is: every autumn Amsterdam organises Museum Nacht (night of the museums) on which it’s possible to visit the cities’ most awarded museums at night, including the Anne Frank House, Hermitage, Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum. You’ll be able to roam the museums, see special exhibitions, join workshops and listen to live music. It’s one of the most fun events in The Netherlands in autumn. You can buy your tickets online: for €20 you can visit all 50 museums.
Recently, I have discovered this palace close to my home. I especially fell in love with the grounds surrounding the palace. Soestijk palace is a little hidden away, tucked away in the woods and surrounded by lovely gardens. When the leaves turn colour, it’s simply stunning to take a walk here. You can easily visit the palace, jump on a train to Utrecht or Amersfoort and a bus will take you to Soestdijk.
Kasteel de Haar
Kasteel de Haar is the largest castle in The Netherlands and I happen to be its neighbour. So I am not unbiased, yet I daresay that this castle should be on your must-visit list when you visit The Netherlands. And the castle looks even more spectacular when the surrounding woods and gardens are turning to the colours of fall. The castle may look like a proper medieval structure, it was actually built at the beginning of the 2oth century. The noble family owning the castle loved using it in the 60’s to entertain the world’s rich and famous and Coco Chanel en Roger Moore loved visiting this castle. It’s a fun castle to visit with children, as there are several scavenger hunts for them to discover the castle and large grounds by.
Muiderslot has recently been dubbed as Amsterdam Castle, due to its proximity to the Dutch capital. Though the castle is not actually located in Amsterdam, the castle is very easy to visit from there. From Amsterdam IJburg simply take the ferry to Muidersluit and fortress Island Pampus. You can simply use your I Amsterdam City Card for this and it’ll give you the perfect opportunity to discover the lovely village that is Muiden. Muidersluit, or Amsterdam Castle if you like, was built in 1285 and a visit will make you travel back to the middle ages as you walk up to the moated castle. Inside the castle the famous Dutch Golden Age plays the starring role, as all rooms have been brought back to how they looked in the 17th century.
Talk about beautiful surroundings. The cutting-edge Kröller-Müller Museum has works by the greatest painters, like Renoir, Monet and Picasso. The Van Gogh collection can easily rival that of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and includes pieces like Weavers and The Potato Eaters. The sculpture garden includes works by Rodin, making Kröller-Möller one of Holland’s top museums out of Amsterdam, and an absolute must-visit.
Kröller-Müller Museum is actually located at the entrance of the largest national park in The Netherlands: Hoge Veluwe National Park. So if you visit the museum, please take a few hours to hike or cycle through the national park. It’s one of the prettiest places to visit in The Netherlands in autumn. On the 5500 hectares of national parkland, you’ll cycle through marshlands, woods, moorlands, planes of drifts and in autumn your chances of spotting red deer, elk and wild boar are pretty high (make sure to keep your distance from them though). If you are pressed for time you can visit both Kröller-Müller Museum and Hoge Veluwe national park on a day trip from Amsterdam.
To me, autumn in The Netherlands isn’t complete without a steaming cup of coffee (or tea) and a large piece of real Dutch apple pie. So, if you are staying in an Airbnb, simply walk to the nearest bakery, get yourself some pieces of ‘appeltaart’, head back and curl up with this delicious Dutch treat. If you’re staying in Amsterdam, the best places to try some proper Dutch appeltaart are Winkel 43 and Patisserie Kuyt. Not in Amsterdam? In Utrecht, Bakkerswinkel is great for apple pie, as well as bakery and restaurant Vroeg in Bunnik. Dudok is also famous for its apple pie and has branches in Rotterdam, The Hague and Arnhem.
Landgoed Oud Poelgeest
Just north of Leiden you can spend the night in the gorgeous 17th-century castle Landgoed Oud Poelgeest, where Dutch scientist Herman Boerhaave used to live. You’ll be staying in comfortable rooms in the old carriage house and you can have dinner at the fantastic adjacent restaurant. On the grounds you can discover the lovely historical gardens, the old castle and chapel. Such a lovely environment. And the beach is only a stone’s throw away.
Stayokay Landhuis Rhijnauwen
I always love suggesting a stay at Stayokay Landhuis Rhijnauwen, in Bunnik, just outside of Utrecht. It’s actually quite an economical place to stay, but you’ll be in a lovely old mansion, surrounded by one of the loveliest forests in The Netherlands. It’s an amazing place to stay during autumn in The Netherlands, as the fall colours will be amazing. The hotel has double rooms, but also family rooms and larger rooms for groups available. Just a short walk away are three great restaurant options, but you can also simply cycle, hike or kayak (!) to the historical city centre of Utrecht. Staying at this castle simply offers the best of The Netherlands.
Kasteel Sterkenburg is located near Driebergen in one of the most beautiful national parks of The Netherlands, Utrechtse Heuvelrug, which looks simply stunning in full fall colours. Kasteel Sterkenburg really is a proper medieval castle with turrets, a mysterious history, family feuds and a murder that was never solved. The rooms are extremely comfortable, spacious and decorated tastefully, with just enough nudges to the past. You can even stay in one of the tower rooms. From the castle, you can enjoy hiking and cycling in a pretty environment and in the evenings you’ll dine in style in the hotel restaurant.
A proper chateau in The Netherlands? Oh, absolutely. Limburg, the most southern province of The Netherlands, is full of them. And Chateau Holtmühle is definitely one of the nicest castle hotels in the country. So if you feel like treating yourself, do go and spend the night there. It’s a proper escape to the Dutch countryside, as the castle is surrounded by lovely landscapes. Enjoy your dinner there and take some time to relax in the spa. Staying at Chateau Holtmühle is the perfect excuse to visit nearby Thorn and Maastricht and since the castle is so close to the German border a trip to Aachen, Cologne or Düsseldorf is well within reach.
Did you know that one of the most important Dutch export product is actually our Dutch DJ’s? DJ Tiësto, DJ Maxwell, Afrojack and Armin van Buuren have been on the top of the international list for years, so The Amsterdam Dance Event turning into one of the world’s most leading dance events is hardly a surprise Every October 120 famous DJ’s play in clubs all over Amsterdam.
Plan your trip to Amsterdam
I have serenaded the foliage in The Netherlands throughout this article and I will continue to do so now, as autumn is simply stunning. The woods simply seem to be on fire with all those different shades of yellow, red and orange. Some of the prettiest forests to take a walk in are:
The Netherlands in autumn
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This article was updated in autumn 2020