A magical weekend in North Brabant with children

Rianne Leenders
By: Rianne Culture lover | Read time: 7 minutes
  • Meisje speelt in het zand in de Loonse en Drunense Duinen

Do you want to combine the Efteling theme park with more fun excursions all in one weekend? No problem! The centre of North Brabant contains a world filled with magic for the entire family. Here you undergo an adventure with knights, robbers, fairies and princesses. There are dizzying roller coasters, enchanting castles and desolate sand dunes. Roam through the Loon and Drunen Dunes National Park next to the Efteling theme park and, on your way back, visit one of the most beautiful castles and fortified cities in the Netherlands. Everything is nearby in North Brabant!

Day 1. The Sahara

A huge sandbox!

A huge sandbox!

You won’t believe your eyes when you first arrive in North Brabant at the Loon and Drunen Dunes National Park. Yes, you are seeing clearly: there is sand all the way to the horizon. It looks like the Sahara! This national park lies between the cities of Tilburg, Waalwijk and ‘s-Hertogenbosch, and is one of the largest drifting sand areas in Western Europe. Set course for North Brabant early today and prepare yourself for an afternoon filled with experiencing nature and having fun.

Spelende kinderen in De Loonse en Drunense Duinen

Climb to the top of the sand hill next to the Roestelberg restaurant for a beautiful view over the dune landscape.

Climb to the top of the sand hill next to the Roestelberg restaurant for a beautiful view over the dune landscape.

The Loon and Drunen Dunes National Park has various entrance gates that mark the beginning of beautiful walking routes. There is plenty of room to horse around in the sand here. If you need to recover from the trip first, park near the Roestelberg entrance gate in Kaatsheuvel for a lovely lunch at the nearby Grand Café Sands. The kids can entertain themselves in playgrounds both indoors and outdoors. One of the scavenger hunts that begins at the Roestelberg is the Loon and Drunen Dunes Scavenger Hunt (2 km long). Do you know which animals live in the drifting sand? They are really good at hiding!

Meertje in de Loonse-en Drunense Duinen Wandelen in de Loonse-en Drunense Duinen

Staying overnight at the Efteling theme park

At the end of the afternoon, it is time to shake the sand from your trousers. The Loon and Drunen Dunes are more or less the back garden of the Efteling theme park. A short ten-minute drive will take you to the gate of a fairyland. You can stay overnight at the Efteling Hotel or at one of the parks. There are plenty of other types of good accommodation in the surrounding area as well – ideal for if you want to see even more during your weekend in North Brabant. For example, book a family room in the Guesthouse Hotel, which is only a five-minute walk from the entrance, so you can leave your vehicle where it is. The roller coasters can be seen from the rooftop terrace!

Day 2. Fairy tales do exist

  • Twee zusjes op een paddenstoel in de Efteling
  • Efteling met gezin in eftelingattractie Max & Moritz
  • Efteling met kinderen bij de draak
  • Efteling met moeder en kind in het Sprookjesbos

Be sure to get up early – the fairy-tale forest is calling! After breakfast in your hotel, wander over to the amazing world of the Efteling theme park. You have all day today to immerse yourself in this top amusement park in Europe. Visit the Raveleijn park show, meet fairy tale characters in the woods and get on the most spectacular roller coasters. There are, of course, various restaurants in the park.

Rianne Leenders

“Reserve your visit on time and download the Efteling app so that you don’t miss a thing on the day itself.”

Day 3. Robbers and knights

You will probably talk about yesterday’s adventures for a long time, but the fairy tale has not ended yet! Less than half an hour from Kaatsheuvel is one of the most beautiful castles in the Netherlands: Heeswijk Castle. It is a great stopover for on the way home. If you have plenty of time today, stop along the way in the picturesque fortified town of Heusden. While walking along the fortress walls and cannons, the tales of plundering armies and travelling gangs of robbers spontaneously come to life. The Pannekoekenbakker makes typical Dutch pancakes for you to enjoy.

Kasteel Heeswijk met deel van de tuin Vestingstad Heusden van bovenaf

Heeswijk Castle

  • Bezoekers lopen naar binnen bij Kasteel Heeswijk
  • Kinderen verkleed als ridder bij Kasteel Heeswijk
  • Kasteel Heeswijk

In the middle of the vast countryside, near ‘s-Hertogenbosch, lies the estate of Heeswijk Castle. The towers of the castle can be seen through the trees as you arrive. The thousand-year-old castle looks just like it has been plucked from a book of fairy tales and is simply bursting with unique stories. Walk across the drawbridge and explore it for yourself! This enchanting place allows you to crawl into the skin of knights and princesses. Search for secret stairways and corridors, climb the castle towers, and try on a real knight’s helmet. Heeswijk Castle is also an official Nature Gate. After your visit, you can wander through the estate or race through the woods.

For more inspiration for a weekend away with the family, read about these unique experiences with children in North Brabant.

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