Explore the Hanseatic city Harderwijk

Harderwijk is an old trading town in the heart of the Netherlands and is well known throughout the country because of its history and of course the Dolfinarium. Many people have had reason to visit Harderwijk in the past, maybe as children on a school trip, or later on as members of the Dutch armed forces stationed here.

Welcome to Harderwijk

Or perhaps for a visit to the Zwaluwehoeve, the friendly sauna and beauty resort, or….just to wander through the shopping streets or to enjoy a walk along the promenade. There is so much to enjoy in Harderwijk that one day is just not long enough. Harderwijk keeps you coming back for more!

History is now

Harderwijk has a rich history, which can be seen all over the town.

The town wall still stands proud and strong, and remains of the town’s past can be seen everywhere. In the centre of the town are the buildings of the former university and cloisters, and the grand homes of prominent merchants can be seen at various locations throughout the town. In its long history, Harderwijk has been a member of the Hanseatic League, a seat of academia, a garrison town and a fishing port. Artefacts from this rich history are on display in the town museum (Stadsmuseum) in the Donkerstraat. However, what is even better is that many of these ancient buildings have found a new use as shop, restaurant, art gallery or residential complex. In this way these buildings have a new function and every right to exist in today's town. The sound of the blacksmith's hammer can once again be heard in the shipbuilding yard, and there are ships on the slipway once more. The lighthouse of the Vischpoort, formerly a beacon for fishermen, shines out just as it used to. Harderwijk may have changed a great deal through the centuries, but much that was beautiful has been retained.

Watery riches

In the olden days the Zuyder Zee was a rich source of fish. The sails of the fishing smacks have now disappeared, replaced by the silhouettes of wind turbines and new villages on the far banks of the Veluwemeer. This lake - formed by the creation of the Flevopolder in the former Zuyder Zee - has been given a new purpose as a recreation and water sports area.

Sporting types who enjoy a challenge will find plenty of opportunities for sailing, windsurfing and kitesurfing, and those who find this just a little too exciting can enjoy a relaxing boat trip. Harderwijk has three marinas, and the fishing harbour provides a popular berth for chartered sailing and traditional motor vessels. Each year during Visserijdag the harbour is restored to its former glory and the smell of the traditional tarred vessels fills the air. The harbour offers much more enjoyment for visitors on warm summer evenings, and the Dolfinarium with its marine celebrities is always a popular place to visit, as its sealions, walruses and dolphins steal the show time after time.

Next door to the Veluwe

Less than ten minutes from the town is a whole new world: the Veluwe, a wide open countryside area characterised by green and tranquillity. Woods, heath and ever-changing areas of inland dunes offer a counterbalance to the rush and bustle of the town. In addition to the woods of the Harderwijkerbos are the shifting sands of the Beekhuizerzand with their unique flora and fauna. The countryside around the brook the Hierdensebeek is truly stunning, as is rural Hierden with its beautiful farms and country estates such as De Essenburg.

The best way to explore the Veluwe and its surroundings is by bike as there are hundreds of kilometres of special cycle paths. And there are plenty of other opportunities for sporting recreation as the extensive Veluwe area is perfect for walking, horse riding and mountain biking, all in abundant fresh air and healthy surroundings.

Experience the town

Harderwijk is not only a historic town; it is also a town with plenty of recreational facilities. Hardersplaza is a fantastic recreation centre with a number of discos, and sporting fun in the adjacent Indoor Karting complex. The Zwaluwehoeve is one of the Netherlands’ most popular Wellness Centres, and top chefs in restaurants on the Vischmarkt compete with one another for Michelin stars.

An extensive events diary offers numerous highlights throughout the year, beginning with the New Year’s Swim on 1 January and ending with the skating rink on the Market Square in December. In between are special events such as Aaltjesdag, Kulting, Veteranendag and Visserijdag,

But Harderwijk is well worth visiting even on an ‘ordinary’ day: for a guided tour around the town or a museum visit, or a cycle ride followed by a drink at one of the open-air cafés on the Market Square, or maybe you would prefer to enjoy the art and culture offered by the town’s many art galleries. Then of course there is the wide variety of shops in the main shopping streets and tucked away in little alleys. And in the evening Harderwijk has a lot to offer in the way of entertainment, ranging from traditional cafés and bars to discos, from theatre to cinema.

You don’t just visit Harderwijk, you experience it! Experience the smells and sounds, feel the wind in your hair, hear the walruses, see the fishing smacks, enjoy a drink on a pavement café, relax in the sauna and let yourself go in the disco.


In addition to its rich past and beautiful present, Harderwijk is working on its future. It is developing a number of initiatives for safety and good accessibility for the town. There is no shortage of plans for the future. The latest challenge in the area of spatial planning, recreation and tourism is called Het Waterfront. This ambitious plan shows Harderwijk at its very best. Information about Het Waterfront (in Dutch) can be found at www.waterfrontharderwijk.nl Harderwijk’s character is undergoing radical adjustments to bring it in line with modern requirements.

Harderwijk has so much to offer that one day just isn't long enough.

Harderwijk keeps you coming back for more!

Pictures of the Hanseatic City of Harderwijk


Gemeente Harderwijk
Frau van Straten
Havendam 56
3840 AC, Niederlande