Since my in-laws are Dutch, we recently traveled to The Netherlands for our vacation. We primarily stayed in a town, medium sized for European standards, called ‘s-Hertogenbosch aka Den Bosch about 1 hour south of Amsterdam. My husband grew up in this town and I lived there for several years as a single young woman and with what was then my boyfriend and later fiance.
This historic town has a great 14th century cathedral, market squares, cobblestone streets and canals as its foundation, on which its residents enjoy a thriving Burgundian lifestyle with a strong sense of community while still having a well balanced level of cultural variety. Multiple times a week I would enjoy great outdoor markets to get my bread, vegetables, fish, flowers and more on the city center’s squares and throughout the year celebrate festivals like carnival, ‘Jazz in Duketown’ and the like. For great dining, shopping, entertainment and bars you can best visit Thursday through Sunday.
Since we used to live above a restaurant bar in the city’s most coveted little street ‘Korte Putstraat’, I am biased in recommending it for a great food & drink experience while getting to know its people and heart.
For shopping just stroll the narrow streets to find corky Dutch stores like ‘Werk aan de Winkel’ to get your creativity on, boutique clothing stores like ‘Eigen Wijs’ for women, ‘PME Legend’ for men or Oilily for the kids. I used to take a break at places like the rooftop lunch place ‘La Place’ which offers great panoramic views of the city or one of the many ‘Grand Cafes’, fresh bakeries or bagel places. Also don’t forget to try a candy store like ‘Tum Tum’, one of the traiteurs or craft butchers like ‘’t Stokpaardje’, a good wine store and the famous Confectionery ‘Banketbakkerij Jan de Groot‘ to try a Bossche Bol.
Cars are discouraged and during events prevented from entering the inner-city with numerous convenient and affordable parking facilities dotted in and around the center. I typically really enjoyed the nicely renovated historic train station and many buses which make it very accessible.
The low volume of traffic through the city lends itself for many (heated) terasses offered by virtually every establishment which can. Taking a few hours to sit and enjoy drinks and snacks while people-watching is IMO a must-do, especially on good weather days. Like many Dutch cities, a significant number of locals, me included, ride bikes using many many bike lanes connecting the town with its surrounding villages. Note that biking after drinking is pretty much tolerated and a really Dutch thing to do.
Ride a bike to the largest waterhole of the city at its (field) hockey club on a Sunday afternoon and you’ll experience the real community, likely will enjoy some great matches and have the ability to order meters of beer with fried snacks in a party atmosphere. On a grey or rainy day, my preferred getaway was the Performance Art & Movie Theatre ‘Verkadefabriek’ which also is a great hangout to ‘lounge’, for meetups, have coffee or lunch/ dinner and not to forget alcoholic beverages at its bars.
On such days you can also choose a local cultural injection by visiting the ‘Jhernonimus Bosch Art Center’ or the museum for modern art ‘Stedelijk Museum ‘s-Hertogenbosch‘. To get a glimpse of the former, be sure to read The Guardian’s article on the ‘Noordbrabants Museum’.
After your inspiring visit I would hit the Micro Brewery ‘Cafe Bar le Duc’ or any of its surrounding bar restaurants to finish the day in delight.
In a nutshell, this gem in the south of The Netherlands is absolutely worth a visit and if you decide to follow my advice don’t hesitate to contact me. Our many family and friends who live here might well have some up-to-date insider information and recommendations. I cannot wait for our next visit to this quaint town which earned my heart in a big way.
In case I caught your attention and you crave more information and graphics, make sure to hit the links in this article to get even more inspired and motivated. Trust me, it’s worth it.