Looking for a place for a wonderful weekend away? Somewhere to relax, enjoy the plentiful culture and the wonderful outdoors? Then put Brabant on your bucket list, our doors are open to you!
In the heart of North Brabant is the city of Tilburg, one of the Netherlands’ greenest cities and just a ten-minute train journey from Oisterwijk and its fantastic forests and fens. It’s a bustling city, full of energy and a brimming calendar of events, as well as the renowned music venue 013 Poppodium. Be sure to visit the Textile Museum with its unique Textiellab where you can literally peer over the shoulders of the designers. Combine your museum trip with De Pont, the museum for contemporary art, almost around the corner from the Textile Museum. Stroll through the raw and trendy Spoorzone with Spoorpark, discover the best vintage shops, lunch and coffee shops and trendiest boutiques in the Dwaalgebied area and enjoy one of the food spots next to the water in Piushaven. The OLV Koningshoeven Abbey is a fifteen-minute cycle ride out of the city. Stop off and enjoy a tasty lunch and La Trappe beer in the beautiful gardens of the Trappist monastery. What’s more, a twenty-minute train journey will take you into the heart of the design capital Eindhoven. If you love the raw character of Tilburg, you’ll feel completely at home in Eindhoven.
Perhaps you’d prefer to combine a visit to Tilburg with a day trip to the Beekse Bergen safari park or Efteling amusement park? Spot the big five in the vast safari park as you safari by boat, on foot or by bus, while real rangers tell you everything you need to know about the animals! Or be enchanted in the World of Wonders with its Fairytale Forest, family attractions such as Symbolica and Max & Moritz and roller coasters like Baron1898 and Joris en de Draak. Both amusement parks offer an unforgettable experience for the whole family! If you fancy waking up to views of the animals from your own veranda, why not spend a night in the Safari Resort at Beekse Bergen? Alternatively, round off your day at Efteling with the spectacular CARO theatre production full of humour, music and acrobatics and spend a fairytale night in the Efteling Hotel, Vakantiepark Efteling Bosrijk or Vakantiepark Het Loonsche Land.
On a holiday or weekend away in North Brabant, every day feels like a new holiday. The distances between the major cities, highlights and attractions are easily overcome and the public transport and cycle networks are outstanding. Wherever you find yourself in Brabant, the great outdoors is always around the corner. With no fewer than four national parks and fantastic nature areas, magnificent fortress towns surrounded by water and forests, including the oldest cultivated forest in the Netherlands, Brabant is the perfect place to combine a city trip and outdoor adventure in one weekend away. Hire a bicycle or explore one of the many walking routes in the Loon and Drunen Dunes National Park, close to Tilburg, Heusden and Efteling. Did you know that the largest sandy area in Europe is also known as the Sahara of Brabant? And how about a hike or boat trip, even an electric boat trip, through De Biesbosch National Park, starting at the delightful Biesbosch MuseumEiland? Maybe you’ll spot a beaver, or even a sea eagle. This stunning nature area is just a 30-minute drive from Breda in the west of Brabant. And in the far south east of the Netherlands, you can combine a visit to the design capital Eindhoven with a trip to Groote Peel National Park, one of the most bird-rich areas of Western Europe.
South East Brabant
Design enthusiasts will be in their element in Eindhoven, Brabant’s largest city with its own airport to the south east of the province. The city, famed the world over for Philips and its Design Academy, is best explored by bicycle, with the creative and dynamic areas known as Strijp-S and Strijp-R high up on your bucket list. This industrial heritage is a fine example of repurposing, brimming with trendy shops and good, distinctive food spots. Other must-sees in Eindhoven are the Philips Museum and the Van AbbeMuseum, plus the Ontdekfabriek discovery factory and DAF Museum for the kids. Plus with shops open seven days a week, shoppers can enjoy themselves whenever it suits, whether it’s high fashion, vintage, Dutch design, or markets.
Did you know that Helmond is just a fifteen-minute train journey from Eindhoven? Helmond is the location of the Netherlands’ very first cube houses designed by Piet Blom, and the town with the oldest moated castle in the country, Helmond Castle, with its Helmond Museum, Cacoafabriek live music venue and delightful Speelhuistheater.
Following in the footsteps of Van Gogh…
Located between Helmond and Eindhoven is the village of Nuenen, also known as ‘Van Gogh Village’. It was here that the master painter from Brabant created his first masterpiece, The Potato Eaters. The village alone has no fewer than 23 locations dedicated to Van Gogh, including the Watermill at Opwetten, Watermill at Kollen and Van Gogh’s former painting studio. Visit the Van Gogh church and learn everything there is to known about Van Gogh in the Vincentre Museum. Vincent was born in Brabant and spent a considerable part of his life in the province. The only place in Brabant where you’ll find true Van Gogh works is Het Noordbrabants Museum in ’s-Hertogenbosch, a half-hour journey from Nuenen, more to the north east of Brabant. The Van Gogh cycle route, which comprises ten sub-routes over more than 450 km, connects all of the Van Gogh heritage locations together, including places such as Zundert and Etten-Leur, both close to Breda. Van Gogh was born in Zundert and registered for the first time as a painter in Etten-Leur, also the location of the church where his father preached. The cycle route is not only great for cycling, but also for the occasional stop-off. Tip: visit Zundert the first weekend of September, when you’ll find the largest dahlia parade in the world!
North East Brabant
Het Noordbrabants Museum is not the only reason to pay a visit to the historical capital of Brabant. ’s-Hertogenbosch is dominated by the imposing St John’s Cathedral and romantic mediaeval streets, some of which remain exactly as they were during the times of Hieronymus Bosch, another Brabant painter whose replicas you can find in the Jheronimus Bosch Art Centre. Stroll through the district of Uilenburg and discover the many trendy boutiques the area has to offer. Sail under parts of the city on a boat trip along the Binnendieze river and enjoy the restaurants. Plus, don’t forget Korte Putstraat and its culinary delights. Immediately adjacent to Het Noordbrabants Museum in the Museum Quarter is the Design Museum Den Bosch, the museum of modern art. Two other hotspots worth visiting are the Tramkade and the Verkadefabriek, former factory buildings turned social hubs at the edge of the city centre.
Fancy getting out of the city and into the countryside? The extensive Bossche Broek nature area is just outside the walls of the city, plus you can sail or cycle from ’s-Hertogenbosch to the picturesque fortress town of Heusden, where it will seem as if time has been standing still. You can stroll the ramparts with windmills and bastions, take a boat trip along the Bergse Maas canal or just sit and enjoy one of the many restaurant and bar terraces that the town has to offer. In the maze of streets, you can still find traditional crafts, while the beautiful boutiques will entice you with all that is beautiful. The shops are also open on Sundays. What’s more, you can easily cycle from Heusden to the Loon and Drunen Dunes National Park. You can park at Natuurpoort De Drie Linden, where you can also hire mountain bikes and test your skills (and nerve!) on a challenging mountain biking course.
West Brabant is home to the cities of Breda and Bergen op Zoom. The latter borders the neighbouring province of Zeeland and boasts no fewer than 850 different monuments. From the church tower, De Peperbus, you can see as far as Antwerp on a clear day, as well as over the Brabantse Wal nature area and as far as the coast. A trip to Bergen op Zoom could also mean a visit to the beach! Wander through the cosy streets that open onto the market square and discover Het Markiezenhof, the oldest city palace in the Netherlands. And don’t forget the Gevangenpoort, or prisoner’s gate, today with an escape room! If you’re looking for a unique experience, take a tour of De Grebbe, the restored water course in Bergen op Zoom, which doubles as the city sewer. In the thirteenth century, it was excavated so that peat could be sent to the port. Or why not pop out of the city for a while and visit Fort De Roovere with its Moses Bridge, where you can walk through the water without every getting your feet wet? You can also climb the impressive Pompéjus observation tower or stroll the Zuiderwaterlinie from Bergen op Zoom all the way to Grave. The Zuiderwaterlinie is the oldest, longest and most used of all of the Netherlands’ water-based defences, a unique chain of 11 Brabant fortified towns and their surroundings, united by that typical Dutch tale of defence by water.
From Bergen op Zoom, the city of Breda is a mere twenty-minute train or car journey, and you can see the high tower of the Church of Our Lady in the old city centre from far and wide. Breda has a beautiful city park, Valkenberg Park, and borders the Mastbos forest, the oldest cultivated forest in the Netherlands. Breda is the largest of the cities acquired by the House of Orange-Nassau and Breda Castle is a good reminder of those times, previously the residence of the first Breda Nassaus. Discover the stories of the city on foot or by bicycle via the Blind Walls Gallery, with more than 90 murals. The city is also great for shopping. Endless shopping! Discover the fine boutiques in Veemarktstraat, ’t Ginneken and the gems in ’t Sas or the many exclusive fashion and jewellery shops in the fully renovated indoor shopping centre, De Barones. Culture enthusiasts will love the Stedelijk Museum Breda and major (inter)national events such as Breda Photo or Graphic Matters. Did you know that Van Gogh also has roots in Breda? Walking around Breda, you will literally be treading in his footsteps!
Cuisine in Brabant
The locals will welcome you with open arms on your mini-break to Brabant. Experience typical Brabant hospitality, which is inextricably linked to mutual enjoyment and good cuisine. With a variety of restaurants to choose from across all price categories, exciting food concepts and no fewer than 25 Michelin stars, plus innumerable unique local dishes and the way in which we in Brabant are focused on the future of our food, the inner spirit will be well taken care of. Enchant your taste buds, meet extraordinary chefs, enjoy the many culinary events and discover the conviviality that Brabant has to offer. We like to call it ‘gezelligheid’.
North Brabant is situated in the south of The Netherlands, centrally located and just an hour’s drive from Amsterdam and Düsseldorf in Germany. It is the most hospital, welcoming part of the Netherlands, with more than 2.5 million inhabitants, known locally as ‘Brabanders’. The biggest cities are Eindhoven (pop. 230,000), Tilburg (pop. 210,000), Breda (pop. 180,000) and ’s-Hertogenbosch (pop. 150,000).
Local tourist information points
The province’s tourist information points are the ideal place to obtain information about local cities, the area, local sights, opening times, etc. Opening times vary by location, so it’s best to check beforehand.
Paying for things in the Netherlands
General opening times of shops
In North Brabant’s largest cities – Breda, Eindhoven, Tilburg and ’s-Hertogenbosch – the shops on the cities’ main streets are open every Sunday from 12:00 until 17:00 or 18:00.
In general, most shops in most places open as follows:
Monday 12:00 to 18:00
Tuesday 09:00 to 18:00
Wednesday 09:00 to 18:00
Thursday 09:00 to 18:00
Friday 09:00 to 18:00
Saturday 09:00 to 17:00
Late-night shopping is common in many locations, with shops open until 21:00, typically on a Thursday or Friday. Opening times on public holidays vary from city to city, village to village.
Banks are open from Monday to Friday from 09:00 to 17:00. You can obtain cash from any bank during the day and from most supermarkets during opening hours using your debit card. Public cash machines may be closed at night.
General telephone numbers
• General emergency number: 112
• Police: 0900-8844
You must keep a valid identity card with you at all times while travelling within Europe.
The road network in the Netherlands is well signposted and in excellent condition. A significant proportion of the network is motorway. Major roads away from motorways are of excellent quality. You should pay close attention to traffic signage indicating maximum permitted speeds.
Parking is increasingly paid for. Most parking machines accept credit cards. Mobile parking using digital payments (smartphone, SMS) is also increasingly popular – Parkmobile is a useful app for this.
The number of charging points for electric vehicles in the Netherlands continues to expand, including in Brabant. It is important to check in advance where you can charge your electric vehicle. Websites such as oplaadpalen.nl can help you with this. You will need a charging cable and pass to charge your vehicle at a charging post.
Please note! Not all international charging passes work with all charging posts, so please check in advance. It is also important to check whether or not you need to pay for the parking at the charging post itself as this can vary between locations.
Public transport – train
Tickets: You can use a disposable chip card (chipkaart) or the anonymous OV chip card. The disposal chip card is for one-time use only. They can be purchased at ticket machines or at Nationale Spoorwegen (NS) service desks in railway stations. With this ticket type, there is a €1 surcharge per journey. You must check in and out. The anonymous OV chip card can be used more frequently and can also be purchased at NS ticket machines or service desks. There is a one-off fee of €7.50, but the card can also be used on buses, trams, metro trains and ferries. You must charge your OV chip card at a NS ticket machine before travel. Please note! To travel by train, you must have a minimum balance of €20 on your card. You also need to check the OV chip card in and out on the posts in the station.
Please note! NS ticket machines only accept debit cards.
Facilities vary from station to station. All stations have an NS ticket machine to allow you to purchase tickets. Larger stations also have a service desk or information desk.
All stations have yellow information boards detailing the timetable from the early morning until evening. There are also departure boards above the platforms showing the time of the next train and its destination. Should the timetable change, it will be announced and displayed on the departure board above the platform. You should always keep an eye on the departure board.
Public transport – bus
There is a good network of urban and regional buses in the Netherlands. To travel by bus, you must have a disposable chip card or anonymous OV chip card. You can always purchase disposable chip cards on the bus itself, but it is more expensive this way.
Please note! Buses only accept debit cards as payment.
The tapwater in North Brabant is of excellent quality and is safe to drink.
Public holidays in the Netherlands 2020
New Year’s Day Wednesday 1 January 2020
Good Friday Friday 10 April 2020
Easter Sunday Sunday 12 April 2020
Easter Monday Monday 13 April 2020
King’s Day Monday 27 April 2020
Liberation Day Tuesday 5 May 2020
Ascension Day Thursday 21 May 2020
Pentecost Sunday 31 May 2020
Whit Monday Monday 1 June 2020
Christmas Day Friday 25 December 2020
Boxing Day Saturday 26 December 2020
School holidays in the Southern Netherlands as mandated by the government
Please note! These holiday periods are guidelines for schools
Spring holiday 22 February to 1 March
May holiday 25 April to 3 May
Summer holiday 11 July to 23 August
Autumn holiday 17 October to 25 October
Christmas holiday 19 December to 3 January 2021