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This article is part of the project: Discover the Netherlands, Province by Province. Read the collection of articles here: Dutch Provinces: a Complete Guide.

Population of 2,084,478 as of November 2019 and a total area of 5,136 square kilometres.

Gelderland, also known as Guelders in English, is the largest province in the Netherlands (by land area), but the least populated. The provincial capital is the city of Arnhem. The province lies in the centre-east part of the country, at the border with Germany. This is an area rich in history, home to the oldest city in the Netherlands – Nijmegen, many castles and the very popular National Park de Hoge Veluwe.

Map provinces Netherlands
Image source: Wikipedia

Gelderland’s history began with the countship of Gelre, or Geldern, established in the 11th century around castles near Roermond and Geldern (now in Germany). The counts of this area acquired the Betuwe and Veluwe regions and, through marriage, the countship of Zutphen, setting the foundation of a territorial power which controlled the rivers Rhine, Waal, Meuse, and IJssel. In the 13th century, the city of Nijmegen was added to this countship, which then was raised to a duchy by the German king, Louis the Bavarian. After switching a few occupations along the years, Gelderland became a province of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1815.

The province is divided into four regions (or Gelderse Streken): Veluwe, Rivierenland (or Betuwe), Achterhoek and Arnhem-Nijmegen region.

I am excited to discover this province, because it’s one I haven’t seen much of and it’s home to a few places I wanted to visit for a long time. There are a few Hanseatic Towns in this province, and those are my main points of interest, as well as the Veluwe Park.

What to visit in Gelderland

Gelderland has a lot to offer, from historic cities to beautiful nature, from castles to rivers and dikes. City trips, weekends in the Veluwe park, castle visits and even wine tasting.

Notable cities and towns of Gelderland: Arnhem, Apeldoorn, Zutphen, Nijmegen, Doesburg, Elburg. There are many cute villages around the province, like: Buren, Zaltbommel, Batenburg, Borculo, Bredevoort, Bronkhorst, ‘s-Heerenberg.


In the Nijmegen-Arnhem areas, you can discover the oldest city of the Netherlands, Nijmegen, dating back to Roman times, look for Roman vestiges and learn about the past, or learn about the WW2 history in Arnhem. Arnhem is also known as a fashion city, and many go there for shopping. Go on a river cruise or a river safari, explore the river Rijn by canoe or small boat.

The Veluwe area is about forests and parks, a paradise for nature lovers, but also about the Hanseatic cities in the northern part of this area, like Elburg and Hattem. The Hanseatic cities were part of the Hanseatic League, an important trade network that stretched from Portugal to the Baltic States through Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, England, Germany, Scandinavia and Poland. The league existed from the 13th to the 17th century, and the cities along the river IJssel, part of this league, were very prosperous. More Hanseatic cities can be found in the neighbouring province of Overijssel.

Rivierenland (Rivers’ Land) is a fruit and wine paradise. There are fruit orchards all around the area (a third of all fruit produced in the country comes from here), and you can go on a ”Bloom Safari” in spring, to admire the orchards or pick fruits in late summer. Not very common for the Netherlands, the vineyards in this area can also be visited for a wine tasting!

The Achterhoek area is mostly agriculture land, but also home of one of important historical sites. Here you must visit the best preserved medieval towns in Europe, and also a Hanseatic town – Zutphen, and some of the castles and country estates.


Attractions in Gelderland

Gelderland is home to many attractions, some better known in the tourist circuit than others. Everyone might have heard of the spectacular Veluwe Park or the Kröller-Müller Museum, but not everyone knows about the Nederlands Openlucht Museum (Open Air Museum) in Arnhem or about the wine region of Betuwe. Other attractions are: Museum het Valkhof (Nijmegen), Freedom Museum (Groesbeek), Museum MORE, Afrika Museum (Nijmegen), MuZIEum, Kroondomein het Loo, De Veluwsche Steam Train.

Gelderland has many castles and manor houses (somewhere around 20 or maybe more), each one with a lot of stories to tell, inviting to a road trip around the province. To mention only a few: Paleis het Loo, Kasteel Cannenburch, Castle Huis Bergh, Kasteel and Park Rosendael, Kasteel Doorwerth, Kasteel Hernen, Keppel, Middachten, Ruurlo Castle.

Nature in Gelderland

Gelderland has a varied landscape, with forests and heathlands, large rivers and floodplains, and shifting sands. The region features several natural park reserves and forests, among which are the National Park de Hoge Veluwe, National park Veluwezoom, Ooijpolder, Duivelsberg, Mookerheide, Natuurgebied Loowaard, Wodanseiken, Wildhut.

Photo by Elly Kelders on Unsplash

A few links where you can read more about Gelderland:

Gelderse Streken

Visit Veluwe



Visit Arnhem

Visit Nijmegen

In Zutphen


Hot to get there

To plan your trip, use Google Maps, NS train schedule and

If you want to discover Gelderland with me, check out the articles I’ve written for this project.

Nijmegen old building

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