The Southern Dutch province of Noord-Brabant is known to be the most ‘gezellig’ of them all: its inhabitants (Brabanders) are not afraid of having a beer or two and always open for a chat. Being pure Brabanders ourselves, we can only confirm acknowledge this. But, Noord-Brabant has a lot more to offer than just ‘gezelligheid’. There are hidden gems all throughout the province.
Aside from the well known highlights of the province, such as the Efteling and the Loonse & Drunense Duinen, those hidden gems are obviously worth seeking out if you ask us. That’s why we’ve lined up ten of the prettiest and most surprising hidden gems for you, including everything you need to know about how to get there. If reading about all of this makes you curious, be sure to check out our travel map. All ten are on there, along with many other hidden gems in Noord-Brabant.
Best hidden gems nature
Tip: generally, nature areas in the Netherlands are free and open to visit between sunrise and sunset. It can get dark quite quickly after sunset, so plan your visit accordingly.
Hidden gem Noord-Brabant 1: 14 Fens Walk, Oisterwijk
The nature reserve ‘Forests and Fens of Oisterwijk’ holds an abundance of small lakes hidden between forested areas and patches of moorland. A 9KM walking route takes you around 14 of the fens through varying landscapes. Though it can get quite busy with locals on days with perfect weather, it’s definitely not found by many tourists. As you can read on our Instagram post, we were pleasantly surprised with the area on our cold february visit to this area.
Practical info: Near Uden, not far from the A50 highway. A short drive from Eindhoven, Tilburg or Den Bosch. Enough parking available here. The entrance is about a half hour walk from Oisterwijk train station, but you can catch an hourly bus from the station to the stop Hondsbergselaan to possibly save some time. More information (in Dutch): www.natuurmonumenten.nl/bezoekerscentrum-oisterwijk/route/wandelroute-14-vennenwandeling-vlak-bij-oisterwijk
Hidden gem Noord-Brabant 2: Bedafse Bergen, Uden
Overshadowed by larger areas of similar natural beauty, such as the ‘Loonse & Drunense Duinen’, the Bedafse Bergen offer similar landscape – though smaller – with less of the crowds. The dunes and forest are perfect for a quiet and fun stroll.
Practical info: Plenty of parking spaces near the entrance to the area, here. There’s an hourly bus service from Rosmalen or Uden, get off at ‘Vorstenbosch, Camping’.
Hidden gem Noord-Brabant 3: Vressel Forest, Son en Breugel
Around the corner from where Thomas grew up, but neither of us had visited it until 2021. Another surprisingly quiet forest area, in which Scottish Highlanders roam freely and might just unknowingly pose for your photographs.
Practical info: Limited parking available right by the entrance to the forest, here. No nearby regular bus service with a stop closer than a 40 minute walk away, in this case driving is really easiest 😉
Best hidden gems culture
Hidden gem Noord-Brabant 4: Former German ammunition Storage, Kaatsheuvel
Don’t miss out on this surprising piece of history hidden away in the forest, when visiting the nearby and well-known Loonse & Drunense Duinen. A 2,5KM walk provides (Dutch) information on the former function of this scarred piece of land. You’ll find traces of German parking lots, foxholes, trenches and latrines. The forest has now once again taken over what was a German ammunition storage during World War II. On their retreat, the Germans destroyed the area, leaving numerous large bomb craters. Easy to miss and all the more impressive when you read about what took place here 80 years ago. And don’t worry, screams you might hear when in the forests aren’t from ghosts or runaway strangers, the forest is just around the corner from the Efteling amusement park.
Practical info: the walk can be quite tricky to find. In spite of what the map on the website with Dutch information shows, parking is not possible near the start to the walk. Park here and walk towards this location. From there, follow the white arrows and scan QR codes for more information (in Dutch).
Hidden gem Noord-Brabant 5: Abandoned themepark Land van Ooit, Nieuwkuijk
In 2007 the theme park ‘Land van Ooit’ closed its gates. Some of the remains can still be found and accessed freely in the public park. As this was a theme park we both visited during our time in primary school, walking around the mostly desolated park was a strange experience. Even if you have no recollection of what it was like before from having visited it, this easy to miss hidden gem is absolutely worth being found. Before your visit, be sure to check out this page to see what the amusement park used to look like when in business.
Practical info: the main entrance gate is located here. Be sure not to park illegally or be mislead by the parking signs. Easiest spot near the main gate to park is right here.
Hidden gem Noord-Brabant 6: Former Monastery ‘Zusters van Orthenpoort’, Den Bosch
In its heyday, this monastery served as a home to over 400 sisters. From the 17th century onwards, it slowly transitioned into the quiet part of the city centre of ‘s-Hertogenbosch it is nowadays. Turn away from the busy Hinthamerstraat to admire the quiet lifestyle of the residents of the small houses. Soon to become part of our very own ‘steegjeswalk’ walking route through Den Bosch, stay tuned…
Practical info: smack dab in the middle of Den Bosch’s city centre, just walk to the street named ‘Zusters van Orthenpoort’. Don’t try to drive here, as it is in the limited traffic zone.
Hidden gem Noord-Brabant 7: Brede Haven Street, Den Bosch
Staying in the city of Den Bosch, you’ll find this lovely, quiet street just outside the shopping centre. It seems as if time has stood still in this part of town: the waterway’s waves are slowly rocking the boats, a cyclist crosses the old draw bridge that marks the entrance to the Brede Haven and an old man is out enjoying the sun, sitting in front of his house on an equally aged kitchen chair. Truly one of our favorite streets in all of Den Bosch.
Practical info: hard to miss, though the prettiest part is at the northern end of the street. Just navigate to the street named ‘Brede Haven’.
Best hidden gems food and drinks
Hidden gem Noord-Brabant 8: Garden Terrace de Soete Moeder, Den Bosch
This urban garden is hidden behind the doors of a hotel. But you’re more than welcome to visit just for a drink in the garden of the former monastery. A short walk from the city centre, it’s unbelievably spacious and the perfect place to go for a quiet drink out in the sun.
Practical info: everything you need to know in Dutch or English on their website.
Hidden gem Noord-Brabant 9: De Camping Coffee, Den Bosch
De Camping (translates to: the camp site) describes itself as a meeting place for the neighbourhood. It’s a small place to go for a cup of coffee on the waterside, that offers a few funny things on the side. There’s a mini library to exchange books from, an initiative to play on loaned instruments (they call it the instrument library) every sunday afternoon, or you can get a coffee for free by bringing a local resident from the elderly home, just to name a few.
Practical info: located just outside the city centre, right here.
Hidden gem Noord-Brabant 10: Berne Brewery, Heeswijk Dinther
Beer brewed at the oldest operational monastery in the Netherlands, is of course worth trying. There’s a quaint terrace which looks out over the abbey, but the weather was unfortunately not on our side on the day of our visit. We took the beer home and can say that the three kinds we tried (there are 5 in total) are worth a try!
Practical info: park on the church parking lot right here. All information on opening times can be found here.
Sometimes, you don’t have to travel far to find extraordinary places. Which of these deserves a place on your must-see list? And do you have any more to add? Let us know!
Kirsten & Thomas
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