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Breda is a city with about 170.000 inhabitants in the west of the province of North Brabant, which still makes it one of the 10 biggest cities in the Netherlands. Still, it feels more than a rather small city when walking across the centre with its main market square and cathedral as a central landmark. The city has a lively atmosphere, partly thanks to the students of the National School of Tourism and Traffic (NHTV).
The first settlements appeared in the 12th century A.D. along the shores of the Mark river. Later in history, around 1333 the city of Breda became fortified and entering the city was only possible from 3 main points. In this era, less than 3000 people lived in Breda.
Breda became a very important city in during the 80 year war between 1568 and 1648 and during this time the city was occupied by the Spanish several times, as it was on the border between the catholic south and protestant north.
Even later, during the early 19th century, French and Russian troups, among others, conquered the city. But like most of what is now called the Netherlands, the second half of that same century saw a more positive periode of trade and wealth. Nowadays, Breda is a modern city, with history around every corner.
Apart from the city center, which is totally surrounded by water ('grachten'), you can find the following neighbourhoods in Breda:
Also, within the municipality of Breda there are several small villages and towns like Bavel, Prinsenbeek, Ulvenhout, Teteringen and Effen.
There are several sights in Breda which are worth a visit. Most of these sites can be visited by walking around the centre or otherwise taking a bike or bus.
© All Rights Reserved Utrecht
© All Rights Reserved Utrecht
Breda is a city with lots of events and festivals, most of them held during the spring and summer season.
In 2013, the Dutch throne was passed on to King Willem-Alexander and what used to be Koninginnedag (Queen's Day) will from 2014 become Koningsdag (King's Day). The date will be changed to the 27th of April, which is the king's birthday. In 2014 however it will be on the 26th of April because the 27th falls on a Sunday. On this day the streets of almost every sizable town in the country come alive with activity.
The (catholic) south of the Netherlands celebrates carnaval at the beginning of the year. (40 days before Easter). During the days of Carnaval, all the names of the cities and towns get another (a bit loony) name. The party starts at Saturday and ends the following Tuesday. It goes hand in hand with a lot of drinking and dressing up.
Breda weather is typical of what you get in the Netherlands: mild winters with rare snow but regular frost at night, and reasonably warm summers, when temperatures are usually around or slightly above 20 degrees Celsius. The best months to visit Breda are between May and September, especially if you want to enjoy some of the nice terraces on the market square or along the harbor.
Breda has no airport. The nearest airports are Eindhoven (about 1 hour) and Rotterdam (45 minutes). Schiphol Amsterdam is about 1.5 hours by car, more so by public transport.
The Breda Train Station offers regular connections towards the east (Eindhoven), west (Vlissingen) and north (Rotterdam) of the Netherlands, with connections towards other places in the Netherlands and places in Belgium and Germany.
Most people arrive in Breda by car or train, but several buses travel to neighbouring cities. One of them is the 'Brabantliner' by Veolia which travels between Breda and Utrecht.
Eurolines offers also international connections to and from Breda.
For some areas further away from the city center and difficult to reach by bus you might choose to take the car. Remember though that usually between 8:00am and 9:00am and between 4:00pm and 6:00pm during weekdays, traffic is quite heavy and biking might be (much) faster. Also, Thursday evenings and Saturdays can see more traffic than usual.
The city centre has paid parking, usually around €1.5 an hour or €7 a day.
There are dozens of buslines that connect the trainstation and city centre with the surrouding neighbourhoods, towns and some places further away. Veolia offers most connections (Dutch only).
The entire city centre can be navigated on foot quite easily. Distances are not big and even the trainstation is only about 10 minutes from the central market square.
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Like many other Dutch cities, Breda has numerous biking lanes, which make it easy and pleasant to take your bike. Also, guarded parking of your bike is free of charge in Breda.
The NHTV is one of the main institutions in Breda, with many international students. It specializes in traffic and tourism education.
Internet cafés are not as widespread as you would expect, but you can easily find one in the popular cities. Most hostels, hotels and camp sites have several computers, so you can keep connected with folk at home. Here is a list of internet cafés that could come in handy for travellers. Otherwise, most libraries have lots of computers and prices are around the €2-3 per hour range, although sometimes it can be even more expensive.
Wireless internet access using wifi is becoming more popular and is usually available at most hotels and increasingly at train stations. Also in trains (at least in most first class wagons, but also more and more in second class) and some buses you can use wifi. Finally, places like McDonald's and Starbucks have free wifi, and smaller individual business like cafés and restaurants are on the rise too offering these services. More often than not, these service tend to be free of charge, though there might be a limited time you can use the internet.
See also: International Telephone Calls
The country code for the Netherlands is 31. The outbound international prefix is 00. The general emergency number is 112, like many other countries.
0800 numbers are toll-free and for 09xx numbers are charged at premium rates. Mobile phones have numbers in the 06 range, and calls to cell phones are also priced at higher rates.
From internet cafés, it is also usually possible to make long distance international calls. Like in other countries, telephone booths have almost disappeared, though some are still found around public transport stations, where you can use a few coins to make calls. It is only recommended for local calls.
The cellular phone network in the Netherlands is GSM 900/1800. The main providers of cell phone networks are KPN (Dutch only), T-mobile and Vodafone, who cover the whole country. Other operators, like Hollandsnieuwe, Simyo or Tele2, use one of these 3 networks basically.
It is best to buy a SIM card when in the Netherlands for use in your cellphone, as this usually works out cheaper than using the one from home. If you are planning to study or work in the country and stay for several months, buying a cellphone is the best option. A simple one, sometimes with €10 worth on it, can be bought from around €25. The simplest smartphones are around €75.
The rate for sending a postcard or letter up to 20 grams within the Netherlands is €0.64 (2014). Since 2010 there are stamps available for domestic post which no longer include the value in €. Instead, there are stamps available with either a '1' or a '2' as a substitute for value. The '1' can be used for letters and postcards up to 20 grams, while 20-50 grams require you to use the '2'-valued stamps (or two '1'-valued stamps of course).
Sending items to other EU countries and the rest of the world (there is one price since 2014) will cost €1.05. Stamps are sold at post offices, supermarkets and smaller shops/kiosks; often the place where you buy your postcards can also supply you with stamps.
Sending parcels abroad is more costly. A standard-sized parcel between up to 2 kilograms will cost you €9 for destinations within the EU and €18 (both without Track & Trace) to the rest of the world. Prices with Track & Trace start at €13 and €24.30 respectively. Parcel service is available from major post offices only; standard-size boxes are on sale there as well. For sending parcels, it might be just as competitive and fast to use a company like TNT, UPS or DHL.
If you need to receive mail while moving around, you can have it sent poste restante (to be called for) to a post office of your choice, where it will be kept for a month. If you come to claim it, bring a valid ID, and make sure to have told the sender that the name on the envelope must be an exact match with that in your passport. For addresses of post offices, as well as more information, consult the TNT website.
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