12 things to do in Doetinchem (Netherlands)

This growing city is the largest urban centre in the Achterhoek region of Gelderland.

The streetscape of Doetinchem is modern, following a devastating Allied bombing raid at the end of World War II.

The central Sint-Catherinakerk was quickly rebuilt and has some historic furniture and medieval fonts discovered during the restoration.

The Stadsmuseum is an excellent primer for Doetinchem and the wider Achterhoek region.

While the city isn’t tourist-friendly, it offers great facilities for families with young children, including a puppet-themed amusement park, petting zoo, and no shortage of well-maintained parks.

Come in early July for the quirky street theatre event, Festival Buitengewoon.

1. City Museum

City Museum

The building is considered the best Amsterdam school building in the Achterhoek area.

As we all know, “Het oude Postkantoor” is a former post office designed by Joseph Crawwell and built in 1920. At the entrance there is a pair of huge coats of arms with a lion on the side.

The museum displays paintings and drawings by Achterhoek artists, as well as old maps, detailed scale models of various periods in the city’s past, and archaeological finds such as Neolithic arrows and tools, Iron Age pottery and a sword from the early Middle Ages.

Other exhibitions include rooms decorated in Art Nouveau style, reconstructed school rooms and backgrounds for big local employers such as the Misset printing company and tire manufacturer Apollo Vredestein BV.

2. St. Catharines

St. Catharines

Doetinchem’s 16th century hall church was taken away by the fire that destroyed the old centre during the Allied bombing in March 1945. Restoration work was completed in 1952, and it was the second time that St. Catharines rose from the ashes, as the current design was completely destroyed by the fire of the city on Good Friday 1527. Tiny fragments of the old building have survived in fragments of the wall behind the organ, with a lettering in the niche of one of the pillars.

Newer fixtures include a 1774 oak pulpit, some sorting stones and the graves of former mayor QM Ver Huell and his wife.

It was commissioned in 1829 by their son Carel Hendrik Ver Huell, an admiral under Napoleon.

Glass panels on the floor of the building give you a glimpse of the devastation in 1945.

3. Randjan Klassen

Land Jan Klassen

Traditional puppet show character Jan Klaassen is the star of this theme park, serving young children not far south of Doetinchem.

Land Jan Klaassen has the largest puppet theatre in the Netherlands, as well as spacious outdoor and indoor playgrounds and water playgrounds.

Away from the all-day performances, little ones can climb, tumble and swing, ride the train through gnome villages, or gallop down the four-lane turbo slide.

Adults may be interested in the Puppet Theater Museum, which houses puppets and decorative theater productions for over 60 years.

4. Devore Moran

Devore Moran

De Walmolen (1850) is a famous landmark south of the city centre, so called because it was built on a large piece of Doetinchem’s ramparts.

The sails were 23 meters in diameter, but these were obsolete when steam engines were installed in 1910 and used until the 1950s.

At that time, the factory was in danger of being demolished as the last wall of Doetinchem was torn down and prepared to be turned into a parking lot.

But citizen protests saved the mill and restored the building, along with its gears, shafts, brake wheels and a pair of millstones.

For decades, Doetinchem’s Tourist Office (VVV) was located in this monument before moving to Burgemeester van Nispenstraat.

5. Recreating Stroombroek

recreated strumbrook

Stroombroek is a lake in southern Doetinchem formed by sand mining and is now a honeypot for summer families.

The lakeside recreation area includes a beach, fishing pier, volleyball court, children’s playground and BBQ area.

On the North Shore there is a cable station for wakeboarding and wakeboarding, known as the longest cable station in the Netherlands, suitable for children as young as ten.

South Bank is the beauty and wellness centre, Palestra, with steam rooms, saunas and a variety of therapeutic and beauty treatments for an afternoon of self-care.

To the south, you can see the 67-meter-high Mount Montevran rising behind the trees, a rare hilly terrain in this part of the Netherlands.

6. Hamburg Street

hamburg street

One of the biggest attractions of Doetinchem, a regional shopping city, is the 200-meter boulevard that runs southeast from Simonsplein to where the city walls are located.

Many mainstays of Dutch high street are located on Hamburg Street, such as C&A, Jack & Jones, HEMA and Miss Etam.

At the foot of the Sint-Catherinakerk in Simonsplein, you can choose from a wide variety of venues for coffee or a meal after a shopping spree, all with terraces and views of this stately monument.

The Hamburgerstraat continues as the Catherinastraat on the north side of the square for more brands such as H&M.

7. Deco Kendall

Deco Kendall

For an escape from nature, take a short excursion to this vast park that occupies most of the countryside between Doetinchem and Gaanderen in the south-east.

The park has a herb plantation, a playground and a small animal farm where children can hand-feed goats.

De Koekendaal is suitable for strollers and wheelchairs, and most of its paths are paved with asphalt.

Hiking trails are marked by length of 10, 15 and 45 minutes, while Het Onland on the southern edge of the park is a hotel and restaurant with its own petting zoo and playground.

8. Kinderboerderij Kokiezier

Kinderboerderij Kokiezier

There is another petting farm in the idyllic setting between the villages of Doetinchem and Wehl.

Here, kids can get up close and personal with ponies, donkeys, goats, cows, sheep, ducks and chickens.

You can buy grain to feed your goats and poultry, and there is also a kiosk selling coffee, tea, soft drinks or snacks.

Children can burn off excess energy on the farm’s tricycles and bicycles.

The farm is right on the western edge of town and can be combined with cycling or walking in Wehlse Broeklanden, which we outline below.

9. Wehlse Broeklanden

Wehlse Broeklanden

The countryside west of Doetinchem is beautiful and relaxing.

Passing through Wehlse Broeklanden, you’ll see many farms, hedges, quiet country roads and bumps in the dune-formed landscape.

The tourist office has a flyer about newly paved trails leading into fields where cattle are grazing, and through wet grasslands embroidered with wildflowers in summer.

One way to get outdoors is to play a casual game at the 18-hole Pitch & Putt Doetinchem, which also has a mini golf course and a pedal golf course.

10. Natural Park Overstegen

Natuurpark Overstegen

The Overstegen district was created in the 60s and 70s when Doetinchem expanded eastwards to address a housing shortage.

In the 1990s, an urban park built for the new district was transformed into an ecological park, with free-roaming highland cattle grazing alongside a meandering stream excavated as part of the project.

The park is naturally managed, which means that natural processes have replaced typical maintenance tasks such as mowing and planting.

When the trees fell, they were left in place, with a team of volunteers trimming vegetation and clearing paths to keep park visitors friendly.

11. Weekend Market

market square

Doetinchem is really buzzing on Tuesdays when the weekly market unfolds at the Marktplein in front of City Hall.

It used to be a textile market with a few food stalls, but now it’s all-encompassing, including home appliances, fashion accessories and more.

The market was voted the second largest market in the Netherlands in 2013, attracting shoppers from the Achthuk region and the German border.

There are cheeses, flowers, herbs, meats, seasonal fruits and vegetables, seafood, local condiments like mustard and a whole kaleidoscope of fabrics.

A smaller market is set up on Tjalmastraat every Saturday.

12. Buitengewoon Festival

Ritual Baiteng

In early July, this street theatre festival will transform the city centre, making it a good time to arrange a trip to Doetinchem.

The 2018 Buitengewoon Festival celebrates its 25th anniversary. The event starts mid-week and runs for five days.

The best time to come here is on the weekends, when the streets are an outdoor stage for fun, exciting or moving performances.

The imagination in the performances, costumes and props is often unbelievable.

The 2018 event brought “vertical dance” performances, the world’s smallest concert hall, giant soap bubbles, fry-pan DJs, a bunch of giant robotic animals, crazy unicycle juggling and all sorts of other oddities.

Where to Stay: The Best Hotels in Doetinchem, The Netherlands
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