Locally known as Den Bosch, ‘s-Hertogenbosch is a city in the southern region of the Netherlands and the capital of the North Brabant province. With a population of 143,000 in the wider municipal area, Den Bosch is one of the largest cities in the region and has been an important city in the country for hundreds of years.
Some form of settlement has existed in the area of Den Bosch since the 1100’a and the city has played parts in both the Eighty Years War, the Thirty Years War, and World War II. With a wealth of historical and cultural sights, Den Bosch stands today as a fascinating tourist destination that provides a mix of intellectual attractions and stunning natural landscapes.
Lets explore the best things to do in Den Bosch:
1. St. John’s Cathedral
A fine example of a Gothic structure, St. John’s Cathedral is a magnificent building in the centre of Den Bosch.
With a ground-breaking as early as 1220, this is an extremely old Cathedral; however its construction wasn’t completed until 1530. Due to its large size, it is the biggest Catholic Church in the whole of the Netherlands.
The exterior of this cathedral is highly ornate and features many crenulations, archways and decorative motifs; there are also many sculptures of angels including a modern angel that has a mobile phone and jeans! Inside, St. John’s features an extravagant interior that you would expect from an important cathedral – High archways adorn the aisles and the ceiling contains some beautiful frescos.
2. Noordbrabants Museum
Located to the west of St John’s and in the centre of Den Bosch, the Noordbrabants museum features an extensive collection of art, culture and history from the North Brabant region of the Netherlands.
For a detailed look at the history of this southern region, there is no better museum.
Exhibitions include the judgement of god painting, works by Theodoor van Thulden and 18th century sculptures by Walter Pompe.
Van Gough is also featured here and several well-known 20th century artists.
Historical works include a painting of the original interior of St.
John’s Cathedral and pottery found in Den Bosch from the Neolithic era.
3. Boat tour on the Binnendieze River
Many towns in the Netherlands have canal networks and river systems that are accessible by boat.
Den Bosch has several different rivers where you can enjoy a boat tour.
One such place is the Binnendieze – located near the old town centre and the main train station, this old section of river provides a great opportunity to see the city in a different light.
Boat tours on this river take you through some usually inaccessible areas and even underneath the old medieval parts of the city.
You will enjoy a pleasant tour, find out some interesting historical information, and get the chance to explore this city in a different way.
4. De Loonse en Drunense National Park
Yet another amazing national park situated only a stone’s throw away from Den Bosch, De Loonse is practically on the cities doorstep.
A designated national park since 2002, this park provides some extremely strange landscapes in the form of beaches and sand dunes.
Situated within the park are some fantastic bike trails and walking routes – You could literally spend days exploring the countryside and seeing what this beautiful natural area has to offer.
Of particular interest are the enjoyable sand dunes where you can slide down the banks and maybe even build a sand castle.
5. Nationaal Park De Biesbosch
The Netherlands has some fantastic national parks, and one of the largest is the Nationaal Park De Biesbosch.
Located approximately 40 minutes’ drive to the west of Den Bosch, this wonderful park features an extensive area of freshwater tidal wetlands.
Inside the boundaries of the park are numerous rivers, creeks, islands and streams, all covered with stunning vegetation and water plants.
Major parts of the park include the Sliedrechtse, Hollandse and Brabantse all of which feature different biodiversity and landscapes.
For nature lovers and those who enjoy the outdoors, De Beisbosch provides a fantastic opportunity to explore and see what the countryside of the Netherlands is like.
6. Minderbroeders Square
Den Bosch has several old squares in the town centre, and Minderbroedersplein is one of the most charming and inviting.
Located on Minderbroedersstraat, the square is surrounded by many shops, bars, cafes and restaurants and is the perfect place to indulge in some retail therapy or enjoy a quiet and relaxing coffee.
St. John’s cathedral is also in close proximity and the Noordbrabants museum therefore this is the perfect place to rest after a busy morning of sightseeing.
7. Jheronimus Art Center
The Netherlands has a host of famous artists from the Dutch Golden Era and one such individual is Jeroen Bosch.
Bosch is famed for his paintings of mythical creatures embellished with symbolism and the Jheronimus centre is dedicated to the man and his works.
Located within St Jacobs Church, the museum includes a documentary about Bosch’s life and many of his masterpieces.
Admire his most important works, learn about the life of this famed artist, and even see how he worked in a replica of his workplace.
A true gem for appreciators of art, the Jheronimus center is sure to entertain.
8. Bastion of St. John
Constructed in the 16th century, this bastion was part of the old city defence network and was built as a bulwark at the relatively unprotected Koepoort gate.
You can no see the remnants of this fine fortification and see what made it such an important area of defence.
Commanding an important place on the river, you are treated to beautiful views of the mighty Dommel and the surrounding streets of central Den Bosch.
Den Bosch is full of stunning parks and surrounded by areas of natural beauty.
Heempark is located in the southern part of the city and features a beach, and the magnificent Pettelaarse Schans star island.
Perfect for a morning or afternoon out, Heempark features many wild plants, weeds and trees and is also home to many different species of butterfly.
Relax on the beach, walk the footpaths, and find the different types of wildlife and biodiversity.
Otherwise known as the house of the Illustrious Brotherhood of Our Blessed Lady, this building was constructed in the 1300’s and served as the orders base.
With a fascinating yellow exterior adorned with sculptures and decorative pieces, this building is easily recognizable.
Inside is the real treat however; the house has been faithfully restored to its original condition and contains art, artefacts and rooms from ages past that are involved with the history of the brotherhood.
Also included are several manuscripts from the 15th and 16th centuries.
11. Moerputten park
This fantastic nature reserve can be found on the south western edge of Den Bosch and provides a great opportunity to explore nature and the countryside.
Accessible on foot, there are several small car parks near the boundaries of this reserve on Deutersestraat and Vlijmenseweg.
Forest land covers the reserve together with swampland and rivers, through the centre of this park is a wonderful wooden walkway.
Stretching for some distance, the walkway spans over the main swamp area and offers you panoramic views of the countryside and the diverse swamp landscape.
Walk through the paths, admire the lily pads and reeds, and immerse yourself in this charming natural area.
Bastion Oranje, like the Bastion of St. John was part of Den Bosch’s defence network and was constructed in the 17th century.
Inside this fantastic museum, you can learn about the history of the city’s defence fortifications and also the history of Den Bosch itself.
Surrounded by beautiful parkland, the Bastionder structure stands out with its signature triangular shape and large glass windows.
To learn more about the city and its military history, this is the perfect place.
13. Stadhuis Den Bosch
Taking pride of place in the Bossche Market Square, the City Hall is an extremely important building.
Outside this fantastic building, the flags of both the Netherlands and Den Bosch fly proudly.
A striking central bell tower looms over the square and the front facade of the city hall is richly decorated.
Inside this magnificent baroque establishment you will find a wealth of historical artefacts such as tapestries from the 17th century and different military memorabilia.
Guided tours are available of the Stadhuis that will take you through the various elaborate rooms of this fascinating building.
For those looking for an active attraction, the Sportiom centre is the perfect way to have some fun and let your hair down.
Included in this amazing place are a subtropical swimming paradise, a paddling turtle bar and a competition pool.
The various swimming areas feature slides, whirlpools, steam rooms and even a volcano! Furthermore, the competition pool offers those who wish to train or swim for fitness, the chance to swim laps.
Aside from the swimming, there is also an ice skating rink, and an extensive fitness centre with gym and cardio equipment.
15. The Moriaan Building
What is so special about this structure? Maybe its the fascinating design, or the fact that it is the oldest brick house in the Netherlands? Constructed in 1220 by Duke Hendrik, there are few buildings surviving in the country that are reminiscent of this style and era.
Admire the fantastic architecture of the building, and learn about its history inside the interesting VVV museum located on the ground floor.
Aside from the history of the Moriaan building, the museum also features many guides about the city of Den Bosch and info on great places to visit.