A short break in unforgettable Brabant
This article was sponsored by Visit Brabant
When you visit the Brabant region in the Netherlands, you can immerse yourself in a world of fun with fascinating architectural accomplishments, rich history and plenty of wilderness to explore. Known as North Brabant to distinguish it from a region of the same name in Belgium to the south, this province is altogether unique, boasting innovative cities and inviting natural features.
One of the most alluring aspects of this region is how easy it is to explore everything it has to offer. Since it’s relatively small in size, you can find yourself in a city just as easily as you can find yourself in a national park or nature area. In fact, everything Brabant has to offer can be found a lot closer than you might think. All you have to do is venture out and seize your opportunity.
Cultural heritage - the homeland of Vincent Van Gogh
Several prominent figures have come out of Brabant, but one of the most well-known is Vincent Van Gogh. When you visit Brabant, you’ll be able to explore the artist’s homeland with numerous historical sites, including Van Gogh Village Nuenen close to Eindhoven and the permanent Van Gogh Exhibition in Het Noordbrabants Museum in the historical capital of the region, ‘s-Hertogenbosch.
A lot of the local countryside was particularly inspirational for Van Gogh and his work, and you can journey through it all yourself. West Brabant is home to several spots that fascinated Van Gogh, including the banks of the River Mark and Markdal Valley near Breda. Here, Van Gogh painted the hands of the peasants who toiled the soil for their food. Today, he would be inspired to see the locals living happy and fulfilling lives.
Eindhoven – great design, great people
Eindhoven, Dutch design capital of the Netherlands, is the largest city in the region and a haven for designers and innovators. This lively city has an energetic atmosphere with plenty of creativity on display. Busy streets pave the way towards exciting museums and shopping centres, though the architecture itself can be impressive enough to warrant a stop.
One of the top attractions in this city is the Van Abbemuseum, which showcases a wide array of contemporary and modern art with an ever-changing exhibition programme. You can also check out additional exhibits at De Kazerne, a stage that draws in creators and designers from around the world to show off their ideas and works.
Don’t forget to visit the dynamic districts Strijp-S and Strijp-R.
Gastronomy – a taste of innovation
The gastronomy of Brabant is among the best you’ll find in all of Europe, with an impressive 23 Michelin stars awarded throughout the region. 3 restaurants have earned 2 Michelin stars: Tribeca, De Lindehof and De Treeswijkhoeve. Not only will you find the region’s notable creativity and innovation reflected in its food, you’ll appreciate the focus on sustainability.
Regional food in the area is absolutely stunning and changes based on the season. Some springtime favourites, for example, include strawberries, anchovies and asparagus. These 3 staples are influential on local restaurants and chefs to the point that you’ll find them in dishes in virtually every local restaurant you visit. Additionally, you can enjoy experiences that will take you through the entire food journey from the soil to the plate.
Beer is one of the most popular and impactful aspects of local gastronomy, as there are quite a few brewers active in the area. You’ll find around 4 brewers for every 100,000 people living in North Brabant, so you can try a wide variety of speciality beers during your visit. You’ll find delicious beer available at breweries, pubs and charming cafes.
's-Hertogenbosch – one of the country's oldest mediaeval cities
The city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch is centuries old, dating back to the 12th century by modern estimates. When you visit, you’ll find plenty of historic buildings still standing along with the narrow, winding streets that mediaeval city design was known for. It’s easy to traverse on foot since that’s what most of the city was built to allow, so you won’t have any trouble getting around.
Inside this city, you’ll find plenty to see and do in addition to the historic buildings and roadways. You’ll also find 2 iconic museums, Het Noordbrabants Museum and the Design Museum Den Bosch, which are often considered to be the Dutch branch of the Guggenheim. Of course, you can see even more sculptures at the imposing Sint-Janskathedraal.
Heritage – step into the past
The heritage of the Brabant region is widespread and rich, so you’ll always find yourself coming close to an impressive historical feature. You can easily satisfy most of your historical curiosity by travelling to a few specific destinations around the region that aren’t just restricted to ‘s-Hertogenbosch and Breda.
Several historic towns can immerse you in the heritage of the region. Heusden is one of the best, as it’s a fortress city with many defences still up for you to see. Even the destruction from World War II couldn’t hold the city down, as much of the damage was so well restored that the city won the Europa Nostra prize for its impressive effort.
Breda – beautiful royal history
The historic town of Breda is more than 750 years old, though the atmosphere here is positively modern. You can enjoy cafes and restaurants held to today’s high standards, as well as shopping opportunities that are abundant around the city centre. The Nassau city centre has been voted the best city centre in the entire country in the past, so you’re sure to find plenty to love.
Breda has an influential royal history within its city limits as the home of the Oranje Nassau, the ancestors of the Dutch royal family. You can see this when you visit the historic Breda Castle, along with monuments that have clear Spanish influences from when Spaniards controlled the city. Tip: Learn more about this city via the Blind Walls Gallery. More than 100 blind wall paintings tell you the stories of the city. It’s easy to walk or to cycle, guided or with the app.
Nature and cycling – explore the greenery from the seat of a bike
The countryside and natural features throughout Brabant are positively picturesque with alluring greenery among heathland and woodlands. You’ll even find quaint villages throughout the countryside that offer a relaxing reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the city. Fortunately, much of this countryside is connected by a sprawling network of cycling routes.
Cycling through the Brabant countryside is a great way to take in the natural scenery surrounding the cities. Plus, the cities themselves are located close to these natural wonders, making it easy to venture out and enjoy even if you’re staying in the middle of town. Additionally, you’ll find information panels at route intersections, so planning your route is simple.
Tilburg – rough, raw and refined
Tilburg is where you’ll want to go in Brabant if you’re interested in a lively city with a thriving nightlife and plenty to see and do. When you visit, you can explore dance clubs as well as nightclubs that are open until the early hours of the morning. Concerts are also popular, and festivals are held throughout the year. And don’t miss the small harbour Piushaven, the culinary boulevard of Tilburg.
In addition to the nightlife, this city is home to several alluring museums that showcase modern art. De Pont Museum is especially impressive, as it’s set up in a former wool mill with artworks on display dating back to just 1988. You’ll find more than 60 artists on display, both national and international. Tilburg was an important city for the Dutch textile industry. You can learn all about it at the TextielMuseum. And there is more. In the accompanying TextielLab, national and international designers, architects, artists and students discover endless possibilities in relation to yarns, the latest techniques and traditional crafts.
If you’re looking for trendy food concepts, don’t miss out on the raw and creative Spoorzone area of Tilburg. Here you will also find the impressive Lochal, awarded for World Building of the Year and the Europe Nostra Award.
Family fun – thrilling theme parks
Travellers bringing the whole family with them will find no shortage of fun in Brabant. The region is diverse enough to have something for everyone to enjoy, though the most popular attractions for families are the theme parks. The awarded theme park Efteling is well-liked for its numerous rides and coasters, including the dive coaster Baron 1898.
You may also want to check out Beekse Bergen, one of the largest wildlife parks in all of Europe. In this park, you’ll find a safari adventure for the whole family where you can see lions, hippos, elephants, rhinos and more. It has even been considered the best zoo in the Netherlands.
Immerse yourself in the history and splendour of the most welcoming province in the Netherlands
From historical buildings to stunning artwork to endless family fun, you’ll never be short of things to do in Brabant no matter what kind of holiday experience you’re looking for. Cities like ‘s-Hertogenbosch and Breda offer modern and historic attractions alike, while nature lovers can explore the countryside and families can find fun in theme parks like De Efteling. The thriving cityscape and picturesque natural features are located so close together that you can easily enjoy both during your visit, even when you’re opting for a short stay. Combining urban attractions with adventures in nature has never been easier.