North Brabant is famous among the rest of the provinces in the Netherlands for its hospitality and Burgundian lifestyle. Indeed, when visiting North Brabant you can expect openhearted people, great food and drinks, laid-back atmosphere. I don’t fall for stereotypes but in this case the Burgundian lifestyle is a thing in North Brabant. The people living here are proud of it and of the way they are perceived. Spending a long weekend in North Brabant is ideal for those who love historical sites, beautiful nature and of course an abundance of good food and drinks. This 4-day itinerary includes some of the highlights in North Brabant (the Netherlands). I’ve visited all those places many times, as I’m calling North Brabant my home for already 10 years. So, for this weekend escape in the Netherlands I’ve chosen the best of the best.There's more to Holland than Amsterdam! Discover the highlights of North Brabant with this 4-day itinerary! Click To Tweet
Whether you are travelling by car or by public transport, here you will find all the handy tips. I will be giving also alternatives in case some places are difficult to reach by bus.
There’s this useful website in the Netherlands where you can check how to get from A to B. Just click on the button below and it will take to their official website.
- 1 The perfect North Brabant itinerary
- 2 How to get to North Brabant?
- 3 Where to stay in North Brabant for a long weekend?
The perfect North Brabant itinerary
This 4-day itinerary can be easily adjusted to a 3-day one – just skip any day you want. If you want to add one more day to your trip, use the alternative for Day 2 and you’ll have a 5-day trip.
These are the places included in this 4-day itinerary in North Brabant:
Day 1 – Den Bosch – history with a flair
Den Bosch is the capital city of North Brabant. The city has been established in the 12th century and played a major role through the centuries as capital of the Duchy of Brabant. The Duchy of Brabant existed until the 17th century when it was split into two: the northern part became part of the Netherlands in the following centuries and the southern part – part of Belgium.
Den Bosch was established by Henry I Duke of Brabant as a stronghold and received city and trading rights in 1185. It was a walled city and the ramparts can still be visited.
Den Bosch has a lovely market square where each Wednesday and Saturday the weekly market is held and on Fridays there’s a farmers market with local and biological produce. The market square is dominated by the beautiful Town Hall with a facade in Dutch Classicism. At the other end of market is De Moriaan – the oldest remaining brick house in the Netherlands, built in the beginning of the 13th century. Take a walk along the tiny streets that start at the market square and you may be lucky to find some secret spots and hidden gardens. The area around the market is scattered with shops, restaurants and cafés and there’s always this lively vibe – not so crowded but yet thriving.
One of the landmarks of Den Bosch – St. John’s Cathedral, or Sint-Jan (the way the Dutch call it with affection) is located at the Parade. The Parade is another lovely square in Den Bosch, lined up at one side with cafés and pubs.
Den Bosch is also the birthplace of the greatest medieval artist Hieronymus Bosch (Jheronimus Bosch in Dutch). You can visit the Jheronimus Bosch Art Center which is housed in the former Saint Joseph Church (Sint-Jacobskerk). Get to the clock tower of the church for a breathtaking view of Den Bosch and Sint-Jan. You can also climb Sint-Jan for a lovely view of the city, but I prefer the Jheronimus Bosch Art Center as you can see Sint-Jan from there.
There’s one thing you need to try in Den Bosch and this is the Bossche Bol – a large profiterole filled in with whipped cream and covered with dark chocolate. You can get the Bossche Bol at the bakery Jan de Groot, where it was created, or at one of the many cafés in town with the sign Original Bossche Bol in front of them. Those get their supplies from the bakery, so you are sure you will be eating the real thing.
When you walk around in the city you will notice for sure those colourful sculptures of weird creatures, as they are everywhere – standing in the park, hanging on walls or peeking out of the water. These sculptures are coming straight from the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch and his wild imagination. They were placed there in 2016 when the city celebrated the 500th anniversary from the artist’s death.
Day 2 – Efteling – for the fairy-tale believers
Day two is all about getting your adrenaline high in search of the inner child in you. One of the most beautiful theme parks in Europe is located in North Brabant. The Efteling (or De Efteling in Dutch) is not just roller coasters and head-spinning attractions, but it also tells local legends and famous fairy-tales with such a passion that you forget you aren’t a child anymore. So, the park is not only for children. The landscaping of the park is also beautiful. Make sure to get on the Pagode from where you will have an amazing view over the countryside.
Buy your tickets for Efteling here!
If you rely on public transport during your short trip to the Netherlands, there’s pretty convenient transportation from Den Bosch to the park. Take bus line 300 or 301 to Tilburg from the bus station and get off at the main entrance of the park. The trip takes about 30-35 minutes.
Well, if theme parks are not your cup of tea, or if the weather is bad to spend the day outdoors, there are plenty of other things to do. So, here’re my suggestions for an alternative day 2 in North Brabant.
Day 2 (alternative) – Den Bosch – unique experiences
A pretty unique thing to do is to take a boat trip. Wait, boat trips aren’t unique, or? In Den Bosch they are, as you will get under the buildings through what seems like channels but actually is the old sewerage system of the city. There are a few different routes to choose from. The boat trip takes anywhere between 50 minutes to an hour and a half depending on which route you’ve chosen.
Well, that’s not the only unique thing to do in Den Bosch. Everybody knows about the cube houses in Rotterdam, but I bet if someone has ever heard of the globe houses (bolwoningen) in Den Bosch. They are as unique as their counter parts in Rotterdam minus the popularity. They were designed by the Dutch architect Dries Kreijkamp and built in 1984 as an experimental project.
If you travel by public transport, bus lines 8 and 9 go to the neighbourhood where this housing complex is located.
Day 3 – Heusden and the Dunes of Loon and Drunen
Heusden is a super cute walled town not very far from Den Bosch. Seen from the air, it has the shape of a star. It’s hard to believe but once Heusden and Den Bosch were rivals. It’s interesting how one city grew and the other one remained captured back in time. Take a walk along the ramparts and enjoy the lovely town on one side and the beautiful nature on the other.
When in Heusden, you should definitely stop at the Pannekoekenbakker on Vismarkt 4 and try the Dutch pancakes – an interesting marriage between an omelette and a pizza. My favourite one is with salmon and brie, but you can get your pancake with virtually any sort of topping from honey to minced meat. Another lovely place to have a drink is by the neighbours on Vismarkt 2 – Café Havenzicht, where you can watch the boats coming into the small harbour of Heusden on a sunny day.
After Heusden, head in the afternoon to one of the most special national parks in the Netherlands – the Dunes of Loon and Drunen – the biggest sand drift area in Northern Europe. The dunes are great for taking a walk around. If you want, you can also hire a bike and explore the area on two wheels. When you go for a walk in the dunes, make sure you have taken enough water with you, as you can get quickly dehydrated. At some areas it feels as if you are walking in the desert, and that’s exactly how the locals call it: the Brabant Sahara.
If you have a car, the best is to park near Giersbergen and start from there exploring the Dunes. Giersbergen is a super tiny and super cute village. Although the origins of the village date back to the 13th century, today there are only 28 people living there. The houses, well actually farmsteads, are in the typical for North Brabant long facade style with thatched roofs.
In Giersbergen there’s a lovely café – De Drie Linden – with a huge sunny terrace where you can get some much deserved refreshments after your walk in the Dunes.
If you don’t have a car, then you can get the bus to Waalwijk or Den Bosch and then change to any bus line that goes to Tilburg (300, 301, 135 and 136) and get off at bus stop Horst in Kaatsheuvel and walk to the Dunes.
Day 4 – it’s all about the castles
Day 4 from our trip in North Brabant is dedicated to castles. OK, I have to admit that technically these castles are located in another Dutch province – Gelderland at the border with North Brabant, but this doesn’t matter.
In the morning head to Ammersoyen Castle (Kasteel Ammersoyen). This castle is not so popular as Slot Loevenstein, which I recommend visiting afterwards, but it’s absolutely worth the visit. The construction of the defensive castle near the Meuse River started in the 12th century and it was finished in the 13th century. The Ammersoyen Castle was completely restored to its medieval glory in the 1970s and is open for visitors.
After the Ammerzoyen Castle, head to the bigger and a bit more touristy Slot Loevenstein. Slot Loevestein was built in the 14th century by the knight Dirc Loef but soon after was taken by the Count of Holland. In the 17th century the castle was turned into a state prison. One of the greatest legal scholars, the father of the modern international law – Hugo Grotius (Hugo de Groot in Ducth), was imprisoned there but he succeeded to escape. How did he manage to escape? I won’t tell you. Visit the castle to find out.
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Who doesn’t love castles? There are plenty of them in the Netherlands! This one is just a 30 min drive from the place I live. The best way to spend a rainy afternoon – visit a castle and immerse in the history! Slot Loevestein will uncover its secrets and you will learn about the 80-years War, Hugo Grotius and the Dutch Water Line. . . . . . #ipanematravels #travelinspiration #slotloevestein #gelderland #steeltjehart #geldersestreken #iloveholland #instatravel #castle #travellocal #travelgram #rainydayfun #historygeek
If you travel by car, leave it at Slot Loevenstein and take the passenger ferry to Woudrichem – another hidden gem of a place in North Brabant (yes! we are back to the province in question). Woudrichem is a small fortified town with lovely cafés and restaurants. If you are there in the weekend, don’t miss the little second-hand and vintage shop Oude Liefde (Old Love), located on Hoogstraat 2. It’s absolutely charming and I’m sure you’ll find at least one little treasure there.
By public transport:
To go by bus to Ammersoyen Castle, take line 166 from Den Bosch and get off at bus stop Haarstraat in Ammerzoden. The trip takes about 30 minutes.
To go by bus from Ammersoyen Castle to Slot Loevenstein is a bit tricky. You will need to go to Woudrichem first and change buses twice. That’s why I would suggest to skip Ammersoyen Castle if you don’t have a car and go directly to Slot Loevenstein. From Den Bosch take bus line 121 and get off at bus stop Het Rondeel in Woudrichem. The journey takes about an hour. Then basically take the opposite itinerary as described above: discover first Woudrichem and then take the ferry to Slot Loevenstein and back.
How to get to North Brabant?
North Brabant is located in the south of the Netherlands and has its own international airport in Eindhoven. You can fly there with the major low-cost companies. Alternatively, the Schiphol International Airport near Amsterdam is only an hour drive. Also the Brussels and Charleroi airports in Belgium are at two hours’ drive. If you love to travel by train, there are good international train connections via the bigger cities in North Brabant: ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Eindhoven, Breda and Tilburg.
The best way to move around in North Brabant will be to rent a car. However, this itinerary is absolutely doable only by using public transport.
Where to stay in North Brabant for a long weekend?
Accommodation in Den Bosch
For this 4-day itinerary I’ve chosen as a base Den Bosch. This city is absolutely adorable and I can’t hide that it’s my favourite city in the Netherlands. Here are my recommendations:
If you travel by car and choose to stay in Den Bosch, you have to be aware that there are no hotels with free of charge parking space. So, you have to be prepared to pay anywhere from 4 EUR up to 17 EUR per day for parking. Some of the properties offer discounted day rates at nearby public parkings.
Accommodation in the countryside
If you want to stay in the countryside outside Den Bosch, here are two good options:
You can use this handy map to find the best accommodation for your stay in North Brabant: