The endless narrow roads take us on an infinity of twists and turns through sleepy villages. I love driving on roads that seemingly lead nowhere. It's a lazy, sunny Sunday morning and we are the only people approaching De Haar Castle. Located in Haarzuilens, a small village in the Dutch province of Utrecht, De Haar Castle is meant to be one of those romantic buildings straight out of a Disney movie. A place of myths and legends, fantasy and fables.
It's around 10 am when we reach the castle gates. And so, as we enter the castle grounds, we step back in time, to the 13th century, Netherlands.
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Discover De Haar Castle
The history of De Haar Castle is full of mysteries. It is assumed that De Haar Castle was built in the 13th century as that's when it was first mentioned in writing but how the original building looked like, nobody knows for sure. The castle as it is today was rebuilt in the 19th century at the desires of Baron Etienne van Zuylen van Nijevelt. Baron Etienne van Zuylen van Nijevelt decided to employ the renowned Dutch architect Pierre Cuypers, who built the Central Station in Amsterdam who agreed to restore De Haar Castle according to its original contours.
Although the castle itself has a neo-gothic architecture with strong elements from the Middle Ages, the interior of the castle is far from medieval. Baron Etienne van Zuylen van Nijevelt and his baroness had a decadent modern comfort, with hot and cold running water, central heating, electricity and an incredibly modern kitchen for the era.
Beyond the luxurious interior of the castle, you will immediately fall in love with the castle park. And endless area of green landscape, dotted with trees, flowers and rose shrubs. The park features a lake with swans, which makes De Haar the ultimate romantic escapade for couples.
Visiting De Haar Castle
The moment you enter the castle grounds, you leave reality behind. A fairy tale unravels with every single step you take. You'll be welcomed by the English garden, a magical place full of English roses, then continue towards the French landscape with perfectly arranged flowers, grasslands and romantic paths.
One quick search and you will notice De Haar Castle is one of the most popular castles in the Netherlands. This, of course, makes it difficult to take those ethereal pictures of just you and your loved ones. A little wit and a bit of planning, and you can avoid all crowds and have De Haar all for yourself.
We visited first thing on Sunday morning. The park opens at 9 am whereas the castle only opens at 11 am. Since the castle itself is the main attractions, tourists and travellers usually arrive at around 11 am. But if you want romantic pictures, we advise that you get there for 9 am and start by exploring the park and gardens first. You will have 2 hours of solitude during which you can photograph the castle from all angles and explore the beautiful park alone. We know crowds can really ruin a place, so we wanted to visit De Haar Castle and experience it as the Baron and his Baroness used to back in their days. We walked hand in hand for a couple of hours and got the chance to feel like royalty together.
Accommodation near De Haar Castle
Situated 10km East-West from Utrecht centre, the castle is about 10 mins drive or an hour bus ride away. Below, we have collected the closest hotels which you can stay in when you drive. If you are planning on taking public transport, we recommend picking a hotel in Utrecht city centre.
You can visit the castle every single day, between 9 am - 5 pm. Remember, the park and shop open at 9 am whereas the castle itself opens at 11 am. Between 20 - 25 November you should visit for the Country & Christmas Fair. On December 31st, the castle closes at 4 pm and on the 1st of January, the castle and park are both closed.
Opening Times (Mon-Sun)
|Ticket desk||9 am - 4.30 pm|
|Castle Park||9 am - 5 pm|
|Caste (last entry, 4.15pm)||11 am - 5 pm|
|Caste Shop||11 am - 5 pm|
|December 24th||Castle Closes at 4 pm|
|December 31st||Castle Closes at 4 pm|
|January 1st||Castle and park closed|
|June 30th||Special Event. Check opening times.|
The entry fee to the Castle and Park is 17 EUR for adults. You can explore the castle park only, which case the entry fee is only 6 EUR.
Ticket Prices - Park only
|Child 4-12 years||4 EUR|
|Child up to 4 years||Free|
|with Museum card||Free|
Ticket Prices - Castle & Park
|Child 4-12 years||11 EUR|
|Child up to 4 years||Free|
|with Museum card||Free|
Ticket Prices - Car Park
We hope you will love De Haar Castle just as much as we did. It was the highlight of our Utrecht visit and for good reason: we both love a bit of dreamy travelling romance.
Thank you Visit Utrecht for organising our trip to your beautiful city. Utrecht was a dream come true and a destination worth visiting over and over again. Thank you for your tips and for organising our entrance to De Haar Castle. We had an amazing time and we hope to see it again, soon. As always, all opinions are our own and ever since we returned from our trip to Utrecht, we can't stop telling our friends and family how incredible this place is.