North Brabant

Travel Guide Europe Netherlands North Brabant

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Introduction

Fortification in Breda

Fortification in Breda

© Utrecht

North Brabant is one of the three southern provinces of the Netherlands, together with Limburg and Zeeland. It has about 2,4 million inhabitants and therefore after the western provinces of North Holland and South Holland it is the most populated province in the country. It is also one of the biggest provinces, second after Gelderland.

Until the 17th century a large part of the area, that today form the province of North Brabant, was part of the Duchy of Brabant. In the 14th and 15th century Brabant experienced its Golden Age. Especially true for the cities of Brussels, Antwerp, Leuven, Breda and 's-Hertogenbosch. During the Eighty Years' War between Spain and the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands, the area was a battle field. After the war in 1648 North Brabant became officially part of the Republic. Most of the erstwhile Duchy actually ended up in present-day Belgium, where it is now divided between provinces of Antwerp, Flemish Brabant and Walloon Brabant.

Despite attempts by the republic Brabant remained Roman Catholic and thus without rights. Only in 1795 it became a province and gained equal rights as the other Dutch provinces. This unequal treatment and the adherence to the Catholic Church ensured that Brabant (and Limburg) feel different than the rest of the country. However, these differences become increasingly smaller in the current time.

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Geography

North Brabant lies in the south of the Netherlands. It is surrounded by the provinces of Zeeland, South Holland, Gelderland and Limburg. North Brabant also borders with Belgium (to the south). The most significant border with the other provinces in the river Meuse (in Dutch: Maas). In the western part of the province starts the delta of this river which is joint by the Waal and the Rhine. In this part lies the national park "de Biesbosch", a beautiful piece of nature. On the border with Limburg lies another nature reserve: the Peel. A region know for the "harvest" of bog, in this swampy area.

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Cities

  • Bergen op Zoom - a medieval rivermouth fortified city.
  • Breda - an old garrison city having a historical and pleasant city centre.
  • Eindhoven - the city where Philips Electronics was founded and Eindhoven still has a good reputation on technology and design.
  • 's Hertogenbosch (also known or even better known as Den Bosch) - the province's historic capital was founded as a fortified city with that heritage still remaining to this day.
  • Tilburg - the erstwhile centre of wool processing, with a few surviving monuments and many cultural instutions.
  • Roosendaal - the last railway stop before Belgium.

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Sights and Activities

Efteling

The Efteling is the most well-known amusement park in the Netherlands, near Tilburg. It started out in 1933 as a sportclub, which also happened to have a playground for the kids. In the 1950's the playground was exented with a nature park and a fairytale forest was built after the designs of Anton Pieck. Every year one or a couple of new fairytales were built and the park proved to be a huge success. At the end of the 70's already 25 million visitors passed the gates. During the years more spectacular attractions and rollercoasters were added to the park, which nowadays also has its own golf course, hotel and theater.

The Efteling is opened in the summer season from the 1st april unti the 1st of november from 10.00 till 18.00. In summer there are extended times. The park is also opened in winter. (During the christmas vacations and in weekends.)

Liberty Park

In the small town of Overloon stands the National War and Resistance Museum and the Marshall Museum. Both museum joined forces under the name Liberty Park. It is located on the sight of the battle for Overloon in the second world war. In the museums you can find loads of vehicles from WWII. Liberty Park is opened every day except the 24th and 25th of December and the 1st of January from 10.00 till 17.00, in july and august from 10.00 till 18.00.

Other Sights and Activities

  • Aquabest, Ekkersweijer 1, Best (North of Eindhoven). Aquabest is a recreational lake and park with a sandy beach. It has a family park with amusements for children, a water ski centre, athletic programs for groups of 10 to 2000 participants, a beach pavilion for parties and yearly festivals like Lakedance and Extrema Outdoor.
  • Biesbosch National Park. The Biesbosch or Biesbos is the name for a number of river islands, sandbars and mudflats in the Dutch provinces of North Brabant and South Holland. It is situated between the rivers Upper Merwede and Amer and bisected by the artificial river Nieuwe Merwede. It is a tidal with creeks, willows and tidal forests. In 1994 the area was granted with the status of national park. The park has many recreational opportunities but is also used for storage of drinking water. There are three visitor centers; in Dordrecht, in Drimmelen and Werkendam.
  • De Groote Peel National Park, Visitors Centre: Moostdijk 15, Ospel-Nederweert, ☎ +31 0495 64 14 97, e-mail: depelen@staatsbosbeheer.nl. A largely excavated bog area on the border of the Dutch provinces of Limburg and North Brabant. Once this was a very impervious area. De Groote Peel has an area of approximately 15 km ² and is accessed by three routes for hikers. De Groote Peel is considered one of the richest bird areas of Western Europe.
  • De Zoom – Kalmthoutse Heide. A cross-border nature area in the Dutch province of North Brabant and the Belgian province of Antwerp. In the Netherlands the area belongs to the system of national parks. It was established in 2001 and is approximately 37.5 km ². The diversity of plants and animals is great. Specifically, the large number of insects found in the area.
  • Kampina, Visitors Centre: Van Tienhovenlaan 5, Oisterwijk, ☎ +31 013 5231800. A nature reserve with forest, heathland and stream valleys located between Boxtel and Oisterwijk. The Kampina is a popular hiking area, especially when the heather blooms. There are several hiking trails. edit
  • Loonse en Drunense Duinen National Park. National Park Loonse en Drunense Duinen is a nature reserve of over 4000 hectares and is a National Park since 2002. The park is both largely an alternation of dry sand dunes and pine forest. It has the largest off-coast sand dunes in the Netherlands .
  • Safari Beekse Bergen, Beekse Bergen 1 , Hilvarenbeek, ☎ +31 0900-2335732, e-mail: info@safaripark.nl. All days, 10am-5pm. The largest Wildlife Zoo of the Benelux near Tilburg € 21,50.

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Events and Festivals

Carnaval

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.

Koningsdag (King's Day)

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. On this day the streets of almost every sizable town in the country come alive with activity.

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Weather

The weather in North Brabant is typical of what you get in the Netherlands: mild winters with a rare chance of snow, and reasonably warm summers. Eindhoven's summers are just a bit warmer, than the ones in Breda while winters are maybe a degree colder on average.

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Getting There

By Plane

Eindhoven Airport is one of the smaller airports in the Netherlands, but has connections to various cities in Europe. Transavia and Ryanair are the major airlines that operate from Eindhoven Airport. But also other smaller airlines like Wizz Air, Tailwind Airlines and Correndon operate from Eindhoven Airport. Air France flies to London City Airport. In the holiday season, there are also additional charter flights to/from popular holiday destinations. The airport is located to the north east of the city along the A2 motorway. The airport is connected to the centre of the city by busline 401.

By Train

There are train connections between the major cities in Brabant and other cities in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. From the major stations in Breda, Eindhoven, Tilburg and Den Bosch ('s-Hertogenbosch), there are connections to smaller cities and towns. Check the Dutch Railways website for more information about schedules and prices. More information and integrated door-to-door itinerary advice for all public transport can be obtained for free from 9292OV (Dutch only).

By Car

The A2 connects Eindhoven and Den Bosch, to the north with Utrecht and Amsterdam and to the south with Weert and Maastricht. The A58 starts in Eindhoven, as a junction from the A2 motorway, and heads to the west, connecting to Tilburg, Breda and finally Rotterdam. The A67 comes from the east (Venlo and Germany), connects with the A2 for a couple of kilometres in Eindhoven, and then continues into Belgium. From Breda you can head north towards Utrecht over the A27.

By Bus

Eurolines connects Eindhoven, Den Bosch and Breda to numerous cities in Europe. The busstop in Eindhoven is near the Central station, at the Stationsweg, opposite the office of Eurolines. In Breda at the international busstop at the Stationsweg, which is near to the Central Station. In Den Bosch it's at the Central Station at Busstop S.

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Getting Around

Road networks between the cities (40,000 inhabitants or more), except for road N65 Tilburg-'s-Hertogenbosch, are motorways. Around 's-Hertogenbosch and Eindhoven are local/express highways which can be confusing to foreigners. Roads to smaller towns and villages can be adventurous, not because of gaps in the road, but mostly of being small and winding.

Another option to get around is by train. Trains serve the bigger towns and villages (60,000 inhabitants or more and villages between them). Trains serve also in the nights on Thursday/Friday, Friday/Saturday and Saturday/Sunday the cities of Eindhoven, Tilburg, Breda and 's-Hertogenbosch. Eindhoven is the terminus for both night train lines. A fast high-speed rail (300 km/h, 190 mph) connection with Rotterdam and Amsterdam is possible from Breda.

Buses are a good way to travel to the villages.

As North Brabant is flat consider to rent a bike. Alongside roads often special bicycle tracks are constructed that make biking less dangerous then in other countries. A lot of great numbered tracks lead through fields and forests.

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Eat

The Brabantse koffietafel (Brabant coffee table) is a lunch traditionally ushered in with a glass of brandy with sugar. The lunch is served with Brabant rye bread, white bread, gingerbread and raisin bread generously spread with butter or lard topped with fat cheese, fresh sausage or ham. Additionally, you can choose from a variety of sweet fillings, such as apple, honey, jams and sprinkles. And, as the name Brabant coffee table suggests, this feast will be washed down with a big ditch of coffee.

The Bossche Bol, a pastry from 's-Hertogenbosch is a big puff cake filled with whipped cream and topped with melted chocolate.

Popular is worstenbroodje, a fifteen centimeter long soft bread, filled with some kind of sausage.

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Drink

Popular beers brewed in North-Brabant are:

  • Bavaria, brewery in Lieshout.
  • Budels, brewery in Cranendonck (Budel).
  • Dommelsch, brewery in Dommelen (Valkenswaard).
  • La Trappe, the only trappist beer from the Netherlands. Brewery Koningshoeven abbey in Berkel-Enschot (Tilburg).

After a period of merger and acquisitions a trend is going on of founding new local breweries that brew special beers with limited production. These are mostly top-fermenting beers and not common lager beers. Examples are Eijkenrode (Eindhoven), de Gouden Leeuw (Vessem), Liefde (Geldrop), de Markies ('s-Hertogenbosch) and Sint Juttemis (Tilburg).

Schrobbelèr is a typical drink from Tilburg. It is an herbal (and bitter) liqueur with an alcoholic percentage of 21.5%, although sweeter than most bitter liqueurs. The drink is sold throughout the year and is most popular during carnival. It's sold in many restaurants and liqueur stores.

Brabant Bont is a soft and sweet coffee liqueur from Gemert.

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Keep Connected

Internet

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.

Phone

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.

Post

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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Quick Facts

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Capital
's Hertogenbosch (Den Bosch)
Population
2,415,946
Area
4,919 km²

Contributors

as well as Peter (1%)

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This is version 22. Last edited at 7:24 on May 15, 19 by Utrecht. 12 articles link to this page.

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