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Day-Trip to Den Bosch: the Best Things to Do in This Picturesque Brabantian City

Posted on Jun 15, 2022 by

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Dutch Provinces: Noord-Brabant

”Discover the Netherlands, Province by Province” project – each month of 2022 is dedicated to one Dutch province.

Den Bosch, or, by its full name, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, is one of the most beautiful cities in Brabant (and in the Netherlands). Den Bosch is also the province capital of North-Branbant, the province we are discovering this month here on the blog. I’ve visited Den Bosch a couple of times already, and every time I am charmed by the old town, the canals and the relaxed mood of the city. The name ‘s-Hertogenbosch means “the Duke’s forest” – the duke being Henry I of Brabant who founded a new town located on forested dunes in the middle of a marsh. If you see the city from above (for example from the tower at the Jheronimus Bosch Art Center), you will understand that the name is suitable even to this day: Den Bosch looks like a giant forest, peppered with buildings.

Only one hour by train from Amsterdam, it’s a miracle that ‘s-Hertogenbosch is not overtaken by tourists. The majority of tourists I’ve encountered were Dutch, local tourists doing a “dagje uit” (day out). If you have the chance to visit, don’t think twice: this place has to offer a bit of everything, and you will be captivated by its medieval beauty.

Binnendieze Den Bosch

What to do in Den Bosch

  • Eat a Bossche bol: a chocolate ball filled with cream, a heavy dessert, traditional to the city. Any visit to Den Bosch should start with a visit to Jan de Groot Banketbakkerij for one of the famous Bossche Bollen. The bakery is only a few minutes walking from the train station, right next to the Golden Dragon statue that you will surely not miss. You can stop at the bakery for a coffee and your dose of sugar, or take you bol and go sit on a bench, on the close by river. If you don’t feel like eating the Bossche bol immediately after your arrival, fear not! Many restaurants in the city advertise it on their menu, so you can have it later, after you walked and feel like recharging.
Bossche Bollen

  • Walk around. The city centre is not large, so it can be easily discovered by foot. Find your way through the streets, admire the architecture, the occasional Jheronimus Bosch statues; discover the hidden or not-so-hidden gardens and don’t forget to check out the shopping streets for some very cool boutiques. My favourite discoveries: Uilenburg street, one of the most picturesque street and canal view and Zusters van Orthenpoort – a lovely garden and a spot where you can walk next to the Binnendieze water (the canal picture above is taken there).
  • Boat tour on the Binnendieze. This will probably be the highlight of your visit to Den Bosch! The canals meander through the city’s walls and run underneath the city in some parts, offering a unique view for the boat ride. They add so much to the medieval atmosphere of the city! In its glory days, the Binnendieze waterway ran along the back of the houses, surrounding the city. They were used for transporting goods into the city, as a source of drinking water and as sewers. Over time, because of the lack of maintenance, the canals declined, and a point was reached where they were almost completely destroyed. Luckily, parts of the Binnendieze were restored, although only about 30% of the original survived to this day.
  • Visit Sint-Jan (Saint John) Cathedral. Sint-Jan is an impressive Gothic cathedral with free entrance (but make sure to donate something to keep their projects going). I particularly loved the stained glass windows and the complicated details of the external sculptures. It is possible to climb the tower, for a glorious view over the city.
Sint Jan Cathedral Den Bosch
  • Marqt. The main square of the city, where there are markets every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Here you can admire the old City Hall, the Moriaan Building (the oldest brick building in the Netherlands) and the statue of Hieronymus Bosch.
  • The Citadel. A fortress in the north of the town centre, built in 1642, which today is home to Brabants Historisch Informatie Centrum.

Museums in Den Bosch

  • Jheronimus Bosch Art Center. This art centre exhibits reproductions of the complete work of Jheronimus(or Hieronymus, it’s the same person) Bosch, in a beautiful former church. There are also 3D representations of figures from his art exhibited around the museum, fantastical beasts floating above visitors’ heads or lurking in the corners, almost as if to start moving the next second. Jheronimus Bosch was born and lived in Den Bosch, in a painters’ family. His work, mainly oil on wood, contains fantastic illustrations of religious concepts and narratives. He created many triptych altarpieces, including The Garden of Earthly Delights, probably his most known art work, and also my favourite. I love his weird imagination and I wanted to visit this centre for a long time. It didn’t disappoint.
Jheronimus Bosch Art Center

  • Noordbrabants Museum. The most popular museum in Den Bosch, where you can see works by Brabant masters like Vincent van Gogh and Jan Sluijters, but also modern art, and learn about the history of the city. The art, culture and history of North Brabant and the Southern Netherlands are central to the museum and represented in more than 30,000 objects – such as paintings, prints, drawings, textiles, coins, silver, crafts and archaeology.
  • Design Museum. This is a museum with a focus on design, the influence of design in our daily lives and the stories behind it.
  • Museum Slager. A museum dedicated to more than a century of paintings produced by eight members over three generations of one family in ‘s-Hertogenbosch.
  • Nationaal Carnavalsmuseum. The carnival is an important tradition in this part of the country, so it’s no wonder that it has a museum dedicated to it. This small museum exhibits costumes, posters, films and any other carnival related objects.

Nature and Parks in and around Den Bosch

Being a city built on a swamp, Den Bosch is surrounded by many parks and natural areas where one can walk or bike. I’ve never seen the nature so close to a city as it is in Den Bosch. I was surprised to see that from the city centre you can simply cross the street and find yourself in the middle of nature: from the Noordbrabants Museum, walk towards Zuidwal and you’ll see the Bossche Broek one crosswalk away. Other parks are: Zuiderpark, Westerpark, the Pettelaarse Schans (star shaped fortress island), De Moerputten nature reserve, the Oosterplas (lake, playground and petting zoo).

Coffee places Den Bosch

There are so many cosy places to have your daily dose of caffeine in Den Bosch, and the city is not lacking in specialty coffee area. Try one of these: Coffee Lab, Le Jeu, Fortin, Drab Coffee, Monkey Coffee.

Where to have lunch&brunch

For delicious lunches, breakfast and brunches, you can try the cafes above or one of these: Crème Coffee & Pastry, Nom Nom, Nul73, Hello My Friend.

Enjoy!

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