Just a short hop from Amsterdam lies a magical outing for aspiring damsels and knights.
Muiderslot is a magnificent UNESCO-listed 13th century castle. This Medieval masterpiece is surrounded by a moat and complete with a drawbridge, 5 turrets, ramparts, battlements and a courtyard that couldn’t have been designed more perfectly by Walt Disney himself – so it’s not surprising it has featured regularly on film and TV.
Our kids were enchanted by their visit. The castle is the perfect size for little legs, and has just the right balance of traditional activities presented in a dynamic, engaging way to inspire young minds.
Whilst there are guided tours (available in English) and self guided Knight’s routes through the castle with children collecting stamps and a reward at the end, the truth is, simply running around and exploring turned out to be the most thrilling part of the adventure for the boys. There was much debate as to whether the best thing was the 83 step staircase into the turret, the drawbridge entrance, the long-drop toilet (!) or the wishing well.
There are also numerous hands-on activities to get stuck into. From a jousting game to archery, cannon shooting to map games, ours were captivated, to say nothing of the opportunity to try on costumes and find out more about armour.
Surrounding the castle is a lovely traditional garden, a little amphitheatre and, in peak season, a falconer introducing birds of prey.
Food-wise there’s a fairly basic cafe on site, but it transforms in Summer with seating in the courtyard filling the place with life. There are also benches outside for picnickers.
And as if that wasn’t enough, the little village of Muiden is a short and glorious walk along the river Vecht. There you’ll find a sweet little bakery, the traditional Graaf Floris cafe and the fabulous if more upmarket Brasserie Herengracht with its lovely outdoor terrace in Summer.
Muiderslot is easily accessible by car or train. For cyclists, there is a fantastic cycle route (allow a leisurely hour) from Amsterdam’s Central Station which is fully detailed on the Muiderslot website with points of interest along the way. Or, in warmer weather, why not head over from Ijburg on a boat. Running 6 days a week throughout the season, the experience of drifting across the Ijmeer as the lwondrous castle draws closer is definitely something my kids are hoping for next time.
At the end of a happy couple of hours racing around the castle, I asked the boys for their rating.
“10 out of 10” they yelled in unison with 20 little fingers held high.
And it’s hard to disagree.