Breda the Netherlands–an exciting Dutch city in the west of North Brabant province. It’s also a vibrant social city known to host many students.
Located within easy reach of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, Breda has an abundance of interesting architecture and cultural delights. Its historical city centre, which was named the best inner-city in 2009, is compact with a medieval layout, surrounded by canals and encircled by a moat.
This medium-sized city was once a tiny fishing village, and through the years, has developed into a bustling destination that is best known for its architectural and cultural landmarks. For several centuries it was the official residence of the Orange-Nassau family, the lineage of Holland’s current king.
Breda has one water stream, which is where tourists go sightseeing. A boat ride offers a relaxing cruise along the breathtaking sights and atmosphere of this historic city. What makes the canal tours in Breda different from Amsterdam’s is the fewer crowds, making the tour more peaceful.
Why Visit Breda?
One of the many reasons people worldwide come to the Netherlands is to see and somehow experience how kings and royalties used to live. This is definitely the atmosphere exuded in Breda, with its old churches, palaces and museums.
The city itself is a living museum of sorts. It is full of history beginning from its name. Breda was derived from brede Aa, which refers to the confluence of the rivers Mark and Aa. The city was a strategic fortified military location and politically significant township.
Brenda today consists mainly of old buildings from medieval times that have remained intact to this day, providing the perfect examples for architecture and history students to study. The town is also teeming with stunning castles and amazing architectural monuments that could easily transport tourists to medieval times.
Breda’s main city square, the Grote Markt, is picture-perfect primarily for the stunning Gothic-style Church of our Lady and the 18th-century city hall in the very heart of the city.
Churches and Palaces
The Great Church of Breda or Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk was built in the 1400s and remained to be a sight to behold. It is the city’s most treasured structure, an awe-inspiring Gothic cruciform basilica with a 97-metre tower that visitors can climb to see an overwhelmingly beautiful view of the city. Entering this magnificent church is free but climbing the tower costs 5 euros, but the view is definitely worth it.
The ceiling is actually covered in gold, and beneath it is Prince Chapel where the forebears to the Dutch Royal Family are buried, one of whom is the first Prince of Orange. There are also excellent frescoes and monuments inside the church.
Another city attraction that can take visitors hundreds of years back in history is the Bouvigne Castle on Kasteelplein square in the city centre. The city takes good care of the castle, so tourists are allowed to enter only during guided tours organised by the Breda tourism office. There are plenty of centuries-old artefacts and features to see inside the castle. It was also the home of the Royal Military Academy since 1826.
Dating back to the 15th century, three beautiful gardens and an orchard encircle this fairy-tale castle. The Bouvigne estate also has a chapel, carriage house and the Bouvigne court, which today serves as the headquarters of Waterschap Brabantse Delta.
The wonderful gardens on the estate are open to the public. One of the gardens is now called Park Valkenberg named after a falcon’s house at its edge in 1812. In the past, this area served as the starting point for falcon hunts. Today, it is a perfect place to enjoy the sun or admire the view on a terrace.
People can come visit the estate for free from Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, but the castle itself is not accessible. Bouvigne Castle is a popular wedding location.
Stedelijk Museum Breda, home to Breda’s oldest cityscape, is the best place to know more about the city’s history. The museum features a wide collection of the works of well-known artists from the city, such as Reinhardt Willem Kleijn and Dio Rovers.
It also offers several social and cultural projects and hosts varied activities to the public. The museum paintings reveal how Breda had transformed through the years, from a fortified city to a city that connects people and businesses.
On the other hand, the Beer Advertising Museum uniquely features old enamel beer signs, advertising posters, beer mats, glasses, brewery machines, and some wonderful taps and other furniture from all over Europe. Located near the centre of the city, this is a fascinating place to spend an afternoon and to appreciate your favourite drink better.
Shopping and Eating
Other than its history and the universities, Breda is also known for some great shopping. Visitors usually find it pleasing to walk and stroll within the middle of the city, wandering around the shops and looking for the best souvenirs to buy and take home. The most popular shopping areas are found in the central streets of Torenstraat, Veemarktstraat, and Halstraat.
Meanwhile, fashion shopping is best done inside the De Barones covered retail centre, with many stalls and some exquisite boutiques. Grote Markt is also home to the best boutique and village shopping experiences in the city.
Breda offers many cozy pubs and fine-dining establishments that feature daily wine menus, serving age-old and proven scrumptious recipes. The busy city centre and its medieval streets are also known to house some of the city’s best restaurants and food joints. Stroll around to discover small budget restaurants or go out on the town for a night of wining and dining.
Qui Don John is a well-known French restaurant that serves great food and excellent beer on tap, with a charming ambience and understated décor.
Meanwhile, one of the best Italian restaurants here is Restaurant La Cucina Italiana, serving fine and authentic Italian cuisine.
Breda may be tiny compared to Amsterdam, but its nightlife can easily compete with the Netherlands’ major cities. With a population of less than 200,000, Breda is lively in comparison to the other cities of equivalent size, thanks to the number of students residing here.
Breda is home to more than a hundred bars, eleven museums, 170 restaurants and more than 130 shops and boutiques.
Where to Stay?
The city offers several unique accommodations. Hotel Nassau Breda is a high-end boutique hotel that brings the city’s intriguing past to life through its thoughtfully renovated rooms. In the 1400s, three courthouses were built along Nieuwstraat as residences for noblemen. These were later taken over by order of Franciscan Sisters and converted the place into an “Asylum of Love”. The sisters added a neo-Gothic chapel and created passageways between the convent buildings, linking the monuments together in a complex; such an intriguing history for a lovely hotel.
On the other hand, De Distel hotel is made of all-natural materials, including wood and wool felt. It is nestled on a private plot of more than 2.5 hectares of forest and meadow in the countryside just outside Breda. Around it is a sprawling garden with fresh fruits and vegetables for the picking.
Meanwhile, Birdie Villas offers a spacious home-away-from-home atmosphere. The villas have lavish 90-square-metre two-bedroom, two-bathroom homes with a partly covered terrace. It is 10 minutes away from the city centre, surrounded by great forests for nature walks and cycling. It is also equipped with an 18-hole golf course, a wellness complex, saunas, swimming pools and whirlpools.
Finally, Stalen Boshuis is a favourite destination for nature lovers. Located in a forest on the Bergvliet estate, this modern two-bedroom holiday home includes a gas fireplace, terraces on both sides of the house, a widescreen TV, a kitted-out kitchen and a deep-soaking bathtub make for a truly comfortable holiday.
How To Get to Breda the Netherlands
From Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, tourists could simply take the intercity from a train station in the airport. This goes all the way to the city of Breda, which is not very far and should not take more than an hour to complete when taking the high-speed Fyra train. When coming from Rotterdam, there is a high-speed service as well that goes to Breda.
When driving from Amsterdam, the best route is to take the A2 as far as Utrecht, and then change to the A27, which goes straight to Breda for a total trip of about an hour and a half. From Rotterdam, on the other hand, the drive is only about 60 km on the A16.
When in the city, tourists can easily go around to enjoy the city as Breda is fairly compact. Finding one’s way around is pretty easy. The main form of transport is the local buses, which are generally clean and reliable. However, as in the whole of Holland, the best and easiest way to get around Breda is on two wheels.
This old yet modern city is proof that the Netherlands is one of the most cultural and historic cities in the world. While tourism in the capital city has plenty to offer, the best sights, canals, monuments and destinations go beyond Amsterdam, all the way to Breda.