For anyone interested in culture, history and heritage, North Brabant has plenty to make sure they don’t get bored. Even though many locations cannot be visited at the moment, there is plenty of culture to be experienced in the open air. Admire the wonderful cathedrals, photogenic castles and beautiful watermills. Go on a lovely city walk, cycle through the world of Vincent van Gogh or visit one of our amazing fortified towns. And of course, your experience is only complete when you have visited one of our wonderful museums or heritage locations.
The first time you visit ’s-Hertogenbosch, you won’t believe your eyes. You can walk from one picturesque lane to another in the town centre and there are interesting spots everywhere. You can walk into the Bossche Broek nature reserve from the town; nowhere in the Netherlands is there a nature reserve so close to a town centre. You will get wonderful views of the city from the reed beds. The imposing St John’s, the largest cathedral in the Netherlands is in the old centre, and you can literally sail under the town through the Binnendieze waterway. Or you can find out more about Hieronymus Bosch who was born here. And did you know that ‘s-Hertogenbosch is the only place in Brabant where you can see works by Vincent van Gogh? There is a complete exhibition gallery dedicated to this master painter in the Noordbrabants Museum. Highly recommended!
So you can see works by Vincent van Gogh in ’s-Hertogenbosch, but you can follow his trail in numerous other locations in North Brabant. Such as Nuenen, with 23 buildings or locations, each with its own story – or Zundert, his birthplace. You can become acquainted with a relatively unknown part of the world-famous painter’s life in Etten-Leur. The 435 km long Van Gogh Cycle Route takes you past almost all the Van Gogh heritage locations. If you already know about the Van Gogh murals, go on a journey of discovery in Eindhoven, Tilburg, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Helmond and Breda, and discover the most wonderful artworks in the streets.
Anyone walking through this ‘Nassau town’ cannot ignore ‘the pride of Breda’: the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwenkerk (Church of Our Lady) rises out above the town from every corner. Breda is a town that is bustling among water, greenery and ancient monuments. The Begijnhof, an inner courtyard with botanical gardens and a museum, is somewhere you can imagine yourself going back centuries in time. And if you want to find out more about the town’s history, visit the Stedelijk (Municipal) Museum or walk along the Blind Walls Gallery, where you will get to know the town through its wonderful murals. To enjoy yourself among natural greenery, go to the Valkenberg city park or the Mastbos woods. This wood on the edge of the town is full of ancient trees. Walk along the ‘Topnatureroute’ here which follows the network of routes. Being just 5 kilometres long, and with a real adventure forest along the route, this is also perfect for children!
The fortified town of Heusden is a wonderful destination for lovers of art, culture and history, with its ancient buildings, picturesque alleyways and impressive defences. Imagine going back four centuries in time on a Wiljo boat trip, and experience Heusden from the water, where you can admire the restored houses, windmills and cannons. If you like a brisk walk, the Zuiderwaterlinie Wandelpad (Southern Water Defence Line Footpath) is recommended; this footpath takes you past 11 fortified towns in Brabant, including Heusden. Maybe you are also familiar with the other fortified towns in Brabant? By the way, Heusden combines very well with the Loon and Drunen Dunes National Park, one of the most extensive areas of sand dunes in Western Europe.
5. Bergen op Zoom: lose yourself in the past
The place where North Brabant meets Zeeland… Bergen op Zoom is one of the oldest towns in the Netherlands, with narrow alleyways, old squares and unusual monuments. The town exudes culture and is a beautiful setting for a holiday or a weekend away. Bergen op Zoom has the oldest hotel in the Netherlands, De Draak (The Dragon) and also the oldest city palace in the Netherlands, the imposing Markiezenhof. Discover the Brabantse Wal just outside the town, a unique landscape with differences in height of up to 20 metres above sea level! This is an excellent area for cycling and walking. Tip: visit the Mozesbrug (Moses Bridge) and the Pompejus lookout tower at Fort de Roovere in Halsteren.
6. Magical castles
The most beautiful monumental castles are hidden away in the Brabant countryside. A look around inside is of course the best way to see them, but even without doing that it’s a good idea to have a look at them, possibly in combination with a walk or a cycle trip. Take Heeswijk Castle, for example, from here you can take wonderful walks or bike trips through the estate’s woods, avenues and fields through which the winding River Aa flows. Or you can visit Helmond Castle, take a photogenic picture and walk into the centre of Helmond. You can also include a wonderfully varied walk from Castle Maurick in Vught to the adjoining woods, which includes a large colony of herons.