‘s-Hertogenbosch, nicknamed Den Bosch, has been on my list of places to visit. This stunning city with a rich culture and history in Brabant is often overlooked by tourists despite the fact that Den Bosch is only a day trip away from Amsterdam. Although I expected Den Bosch to be beautiful and historic, I was surprised by Den Bosch. It’s a city that is not stuck in time and I’ve created
Getting to Den Bosch
It takes exactly one hour to get to Den Bosch from Amsterdam on the Dutch trains. The round-trip journey costs 31 euros, which is steep (for me). It would be in your interest to look for a dagkaart, which should cost the cost in half. Click for more tips on saving money on the Dutch trains.
Where to stay in Den Bosch
Den Bosch is full of adorable boutique hotels that are affordable compared to much of the Netherlands although be warned that there aren’t that many hotels, so book ahead if you’re visiting over a holiday weekend. Den Bosch is a popular weekend getaway for Dutchies.
In particular, friends who visited Den Bosch recommended MonQui, a concept boutique hotel that combines a lifestyle store, coffee bar, and hotel into one. For something cozy and unique, consider Hotel ‘t Keershuys where every room is different. Lastly, Boutique Hotel Nieuw Uilenburg has a central location and more of the B&B experience for those looking for something special.
What to do in Den Bosch in one day
Note: If you have the opportunity, be sure to visit Den Bosch when it turns into Oeteldonk during Dutch Carnival. This is a particularly special time to visit the Brabant region in general. I didn’t get to every single attraction, but I look forward to returning to Den Bosch soon!
Coffee and a Bossche bol
Is it really too early for a Bossche bol? In case you don’t know what a Bossche bol is, it is the namesake dessert of Den Bosch. The best place to purchase a Bossche bol is at Banketbakkerij Jan de Groot, which is next to Den Bosch Centraal station. (Note: I include vegan-friendly food options later in this post.)
These delicious treats are pretty far from healthy as they’re chocolate balls filled with cream, so don’t worry if you don’t start off your day with one as you’ll find them at the cafes all over the city…. It’s good to remember that I’ve crafted a lovely self-guided walking tour of Den Bosch here, so you don’t need to feel guilty for indulging. That said, I’d recommend sharing one with a friend.
For a coffee, stop off at CoffeeLab Den Bosch, a modern Dutch coffee bar, that has some pastries. Otherwise, you’ll pass quite a few options as you walk around the city center.
Snellestraat for boutique shopping
I loved browsing the boutiques along Snellestraat in Den Bosch! This little street is full of cozy little shops that you’ll want to step into. I really enjoyed Oak and Conceptstore 21, however I trust that you can find your own way.
Lunch at 50/50
50/50 was recommended to me by one of the local bloggers and I loved it! This small take-out restaurant with a few stools (to sit in) has delicious fusion tacos. I got the chicken cha sieuw although anyone who is vegan will also find good options as my husband loved their vegan taco. I strongly recommend their sweets too!
Uilenburg / Molenstraat
I loved walking along Uilenburg and Molenstraat as both of these streets allow you to get a glimpse of the Binnedieze, medieval canals/rivers underneath the city center. Uilenburg and Molenstraat are just stunning streets to walk down as you can still see houses with wooden frames, a rare sight in the Netherlands at this point.
If you’re considering visiting Den Bosch, you need to take a boat tour (rondvaart) of the Binnedieze. I highly recommend booking your tour in advance as this sells out and there are only a limited number of boats as the tours are held by local volunteers passionate about the history.
I can write with certainty that the Binnedieze was one of the highlights of my time in Den Bosch and although I already knew that I’d love these historic canals, I was just entranced by the atmosphere, history, and stories told by our guide.
The Binnendieze are actually composed of the three rivers (Aa, Dommel, Dieze) that run underneath the city and they were used for transporting goods to the historic city centre from outside the city. The canals were also used for sewage. Only 30% of the original canals, that run underneath some of the buildings, remain intact, however these are now protected as historical monuments.
At the recommendation of my friend Daniela, I recommend the Jheronimus Bosch boat tour, which focuses on the medieval city of Den Bosch, and included admission to the Jheronimus Bosch art centre with the ticket. The total boat tour of the Binndieze cost about 10 euros and lasted about 1.5 hours. I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but I must say that the Hellegate (which is translated as “Hell hole”) tunnel that is said to have inspired Hieronymus Bosch was definitely one of my highlights.
If you forget to buy a ticket for the Binnedieze, head towards Bolwerk St Jan, where you can see if there any tours remaining for the day. It’s important to note that there are several places to catch the tours, so be sure to check where the departure point for your tour is. (The Bolwerk is part of the former city’s fortifications.)
St John’s Cathedral
St. John’s is the Gothic cathedral of ‘s-Hertogenbosch. As Brabant has a higher percentage of people who identify with the Catholic faith, this stunning cathedral started in 1220 is still operational. It’s free to enter although be warned that if you visit over a weekend, you might end up crashing a wedding (as I did).
When you go outside, be sure to admire the angels adorning the exterior on the side with the square. It’s said that the angels were influenced by the work of Jheronimus Bosch, which might account for their shapes. Recently, the angles were restored and one of them was modified with a modern twist. You’ll need a camera with a good zoom, but be sure to look for the angel with a cell phone… who has an important phone call to make. 😉
Jheronimus Bosch Art Center
I was a bit skeptical about the Jheronimus Bosch Art Center to be honest as it does not house any originals (at the moment). However, quite a few friends who had visited told me that it was one of their favorite things to do in Den Bosch. As this art museum was included in my ticket to the Binnendieze (the boat ends here), I ended up visiting and I was really surprised by it.
Although I always enjoyed the art of Jheronimus Bosch, Den Bosch’s favorite son, I didn’t know much about his life and his influences. The art centre is in a former cathedral, which was used as a knight’s hall at some point, and it’s a stunning building in itself. Be sure to climb to the top as the view of St. John’s is picture perfect.
What I loved about the Jheronimus Bosch Art Center was that it taught me about how cutting-edge and experimental Bosch’s work was at the time. What was a great touch that humanized it for me was the modern art exhibition that showcased artwork inspired by Jheronimus Bosch. I felt like I came away with a deeper understanding and appreciation for his work. (You can see one of his masterpieces in El Prado in Madrid.)
This is just a lovely street full of cafes to walk down. I was there in summer and it was packed with people enjoying a wine or an appetizer with friends. I imagine that I’d be here a lot if I lived in De Bosch! Close by, I enjoyed stepping into Robbie’s. This concept department store has a stunning interior and it’s just a lovely place to browse for household items.
You cannot miss Markt in Den Bosch. This is the main square of Den Bosch, which has remained almost exactly intact since the medieval ages. (You can view a painting of Markt from medieval times at the Jheronimus Bosch Art Center.) The water tower was built specifically to help it look closer to the city of that time.
Today, you’ll find a lively market held in Markt on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Be sure to admire the stunning old City Hall, the grey building (and the first photo of this article).
You’ll find the oldest house in Den Bosch, which you can see in the photo on the left. The Moriaan building is the oldest brick building in the Netherlands dating back to the 13th century. Be sure to step inside as it’s used for tourist information. During the Reformation, it was used for plotting against the Catholics (the majority at that time).
Tea or Beer with a view
One of my favorite parts of visiting Den Bosch was just taking in the atmosphere of this historic city and I strongly recommend finding a lovely cafe to sit at. I ended up having a beer from Tilburg at Jeronimus Cafe, which has seats with a stunning view of the old City Hall.
Dinner at DIT
DIT was also recommended to me by someone else. This modern restaurant in Den Bosch does tapas-style sharing plates although honestly one of their “sharing” plates was large enough that I was able to enjoy it myself. They provide a number of healthy options, including vegan-friendly options. Be sure to reserve ahead or get a seat early as it’s a popular eatery, especially for after-work drinks.
I was impressed with the local beer selection in Den Bosch. You’ll find a number of cozy brown bars. I was particularly taken with Stadsherberg ‘t Pumpke, which was recommended by my friend Daniela. This brown bar is popular although it’s full of atmosphere. Also consider stepping into Tapperij Het Veulen or Cafe Reinders.
Have you been to Den Bosch?
- Carnival in the Netherlands
- One day in Eindhoven
- Beautiful cities in the Netherlands besides Amsterdam
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