Port of Arnhem
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The Battle of Arnhem, part of Operation Market Garden, was fought in September 1944 and involved three Allied infantry airborne landings aimed at taking control of three key bridges. The first two, in Nijmegen and Eindhoven, were successful. But in Arnhem it did not go according to plan, and the Allies suffered a major defeat. The 1977 movie "A Bridge Too Far" was based on the events that happened here.
If you're on a European river cruise that includes this port stop, you'll find yourself sailing under the famed bridge, since reconstructed and renamed. Near the bridge is a small information center detailing some of the key events that happened there, including moving audio testimonials from surviving soldiers and residents. Mostly destroyed during the war, Arnhem was rebuilt and most buildings in and around the city are fairly modern. A few key standouts, like the St. Eusebius and Walburgiskerk churches, still exist.
Arnhem is also a popular city for shopping. A frequent haunt of the early middle class in the Netherlands, the city had some 100 fashion boutiques as far back as the beginning of the 20th century. Today, the narrow streets in the city's center are dotted with trendy clothing and shoe shops.
Top Arnhem Itineraries
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Where You're Docked
Only riverboats can visit the small city of Arnhem, with all boats mooring along the Lower Rhine (or Nederrijn) between the Nelson Mandela Brug (Bridge) and the John Frost Brug (what was once the "Bridge Too Far").
There are no port facilities and no parking lot. You just walk off the boat, up the stairs and onto Rijnkade, a small street dotted with Turkish and Indian restaurants right along the water. From here you can make your way by foot further into city center. There are no buses in the immediate vicinity.
All boats dock along the river, within walking distance of the city's main shopping district, as well as the Battle of Arnhem Information Center at the foot of the John Frost Bridge. There are a handful of restaurants in the immediate vicinity and on a sunny day their terraces are a nice place to sip a drink and look out over the water. But for a larger selection of restaurants, bars and shops, you'll need to walk about 10 minutes further into the city.
Good to Know
In Arnhem, as in the rest of the Netherlands, it is imperative that you watch out for bicyclists and cars when walking around. Pedestrians do not have the right of way in the Netherlands. This is especially true where bicyclists are concerned. They do not slow down and they can come from any direction unexpectedly, so be sure to look every which way before stepping onto a bike lane. Additionally, cars and trucks will drive on many of the narrow streets -- and even in squares -- so always keep an eye and ear open for oncoming traffic.
Most of Arnhem's main attractions are too far afield to walk; an organized tour is your best bet as most itineraries do not spend a full day in the city and so your time is tight. A short walking tour through the city will take you past the Historic Cellars and St. Eusebius Church.
If your riverboat doesn't have bikes and you're interested in renting one for a few hours, head 10 to 15 minutes into the city to the central rail station and look for the "Fietsenstalling" sign where you can rent a bike for the day.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money
The Netherlands is part of the European community, and the euro is the official currency. For up-to-the-minute conversions, visit www.xe.com or www.oanda.com.
While credit cards are accepted in many stores, in almost all cases you need a card with a chip and pin, so cash is still the best way to pay. The best way to get money is at an ATM. There are a handful of banks in Arnhem, including two ING banks (just look for the bright orange lions on the sign) with ATMs; the larger of the two is on Willemsplein about two minutes away from the information center.
Dutch is the official language of Arnhem but almost everyone speaks English. Just say hello first and you'll be greeted in English.
Food and Drink
Admittedly, when compared to Amsterdam, the smaller city of Arnhem comes up lacking in terms of restaurant variety, but there are still more than enough choices for most visitors to find somewhere they'd like to eat. Most eateries, open during lunchtime hours, are fairly casual with a selection of soups, salads and sandwiches. And of course, it's not a Dutch lunch without pancakes on the menu.
Quick and Easy: In the city's small fashion district (Modekwartier Arnhem) you'll find Caspar, a casual bar and cafe perfect for a quick lunch stop and a pint of Dutch beer. Freshly made soups, salads and sandwiches are on the menu. (Elly Lamakerplantsoen 2; daily from 9:30 a.m.)
Centrally Located: Next door to St. Eusebius Church in a converted bank is Dudok, a cafe and brasserie, which in summertime spills onto a large terrace. Stop by for lunch or afternoon tea and choose from a menu of soups, salads, sandwiches, focaccia and fresh pastries baked in the onsite bakery. An English language menu is available. (Koningstraat 40; Monday - Saturday: 8 a.m. - 1 p.m., Sunday: from 10 a.m.)
For Pancakes: For Arnhem's largest selection of pancakes you'll have to go to Lizzy's Pannenkoekenhuis. This kid-friendly restaurant serves up traditional Dutch pancakes, as well as more modern variations like gyro or lasagna pancakes. Diners requiring gluten-free, lactose-free or egg-free variations can be accommodated. (Rijnstraat 79b; Monday - Friday: from 2 p.m., Saturday and Sunday: from noon.
Where the Locals Are: Located near Arnhem's theater district, Grand Cafe Metropole is the place for artists, actors and theatergoers to congregate. During the day you might not see as many artistes gathered for conversation, but you will find a nice selection of soups, salads and sandwiches, reasonably priced. On a sunny day, choose a sidewalk table for some great people-watching. (Steenstraat 68; Monday - Friday: 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., Saturday: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., and Sunday: noon- 4 p.m.)
World War II history buffs will want to pick up a book or two about the Battle of Arnhem.