The oldest known reference to Apeldoorn, then called Appoldro, dates from the 8th century. The settlement came into being at the point where the old road from Amersfoort to Deventer crossed that from Arnhem to Zwolle. A 1740 map refers to it as Appeldoorn.
Close by is the favourite country-seat of the royal family of the Netherlands called the palace het Nieuwe Loo (now Het Loo). It was originally a hunting lodge of the dukes of Gelderland, but in its present form dates chiefly from the time of the then Stadtholder William III of England (1685–1686). The younger sister of Princess Beatrix, Princess Margriet, lives nearby the palace Het Loo, with her husband Pieter van Vollenhoven.
Apeldoorn was a relatively insignificant place until the major building projects of the 19th century and those of the period following World War II. The Protestant church was restored after a fire in 1890. The Roman Catholic Mariakerk is a national monument.
Apeldoorn possesses large paper-mills, many offices (Centraal Beheer, an insurance company; the Dutch Tax services; the "Kadaster", the government land registry service; and some more), a newspaper company, some hospitals and nursing homes. With over 95,000 people working in the municipality, Apeldoorn is one of the most important employment centres in the eastern Netherlands. Apeldoorn also has several important educational institutes, such as the Saxion University of Applied Sciences (hotel and facility management), the Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences, the Netherlands Police Academy and the Theological University of Apeldoorn.
Apenheul is a zoo which hosts a number of different types of apes and monkeys, some of which are free to walk around the visitors. It is situated at the western edge of Apeldoorn and can easily be reached by local bus 2, 3 and 5 (see Apeldoorn railway station, Bus Services). There is also an amusement park situated in Apeldoorn, called the Koningin Juliana Toren (Queen Juliana Tower). It is situated nearby the Apenheul and lies on the road to Hoog Soeren. It is called the Koningin Juliana Toren because of the tower, which was built in 1910 and was later named after Queen Juliana.
The local hospital is the Gelre Hospital "Lukas", offering secondary health care to Apeldoorn and the surrounding towns.
Apeldoorn railway station is, among regular national and international services, the terminus for the Veluwse Stoomtrein Maatschappij, a preserved steam railway that runs to Dieren via Beekbergen.
The southwestern corner of the municipality is part of the Hoge Veluwe National Park. It is the final Battle Honour of The Royal Canadian Regiment who took part in the town's liberation in World War II.
Famous Amsterdam residents included Anne Frank the diarist, the artists Rembrandt van Rijn and Vincent van Gogh, and the philosopher Baruch Spinoza.