15 Best Things to Do in Hilversum (the Netherlands)

Written by Jan Meeuwesen
Updated on
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Hilversum is a city that is located in the province of North Holland and currently has a population of approximately 86,500. Although surrounded by heathland, meadows, woods and lakes, Hilversum is considered to be part of the Randstad conurbation. Traces of settlements have been found in Hilversum that date back to the Bronze Age and also an abundance of earthenware.

Recorded history first mentions Hilversum in the 1300’s and its main source of economy was farming and raising cattle. During the 1700’s, a network of canals was constructed that join Hilversum to Amsterdam and increase its trade opportunities and prosperity. In modern history, Hilversum has served as one of the main TV and Radio broadcasting centres which earn it the nickname “Media City”.

Lets explore the best things to do in Hilversum:

1. Goois Natuurreservaat

Goois NatuurreservaatSource: vgnr
Goois Natuurreservaat

Hilversum is surrounded by beautiful areas of open landscape and luscious greenery.

The Goois Natuurreservaat is one such area and is a perfect destination for those who love to hike in the outdoors.

Located to the north of Hilversum, this nature reserve covers some 2700 hectares and is composed of many different individual reserves in the region.

Public parking can be found on the eastern edge of the park and is accessible of the N524 road.

Inside this large natural area is vast woodland with many hiking trails winding through the trees.

The intrepid hiker could spend days wondering through the forest and admiring the gorgeous woodland scenery.

2. Raadhuis Hilversum

Raadhuis HilversumSource: flickr
Raadhuis Hilversum

This famous building is renowned throughout the Netherlands for its modernist design and style.

Created In 1931, the town hall was designed by Willem Marinus Dudok and is considered a highly influential piece of architecture.

Located outside the city centre, this is one of the few town halls in the Netherlands not to sit directly in the centre of the city.

A large pool can be found at the front of this building that reflects the structure perfectly.

Composed of many separate square and rectangular sections, the building exhibits many clean lines and is magnificent to behold.

3. Natuurmonument Corversbos

Natuurmonument CorversbosSource: flickr
Natuurmonument Corversbos

While the Goois nature reserve offers a large expanse of forest, the Corversbos presents a more intimate affair.

Nestled in the western region of Hilversum, this natural park is a short distance from the city centre and is a great place to explore.

Laced with trails, forests and charming parks this really is an immersive place.

Suitable for both hikers and cyclists, take to the trails and see what Corversbos has to offer.

In fine weather there is no better place to be in Hilversum.

4. Hoorneboegse Heide

Hoorneboegse HeideSource: flickr
Hoorneboegse Heide

Completing the trio of stunning natural areas surrounding Hilversum is the Hoorneboegse Heide.

This extensive area of connected footpaths is a hikers dream.

Although cattle roam freely on the pasture and heathland, it also serves as a nature reserve and the cattle actually help maintain the growth of the heather.

As you walk through the various different paths, wild landscapes roll past and beautiful patches of purple and green heather sway in the wind.

The odd tree stands proudly amidst the sea of heather and cattle graze peacefully.

For dog lovers, ramblers and cyclists, this is another natural haven and a perfect place to explore, no matter the weather.

5. Institute for Sound and Vision

Institute for Sound and VisionSource: bitterballenbruid
Institute for Sound and Vision

Located in the northern part of Hilversum in the media park, this institute is a combination of brilliant architecture and fascinating interactive exhibits.

The exterior of this building contains a dazzling display of multi-coloured glass panels and in itself serves as an interesting attraction.

Inside the museum is a myriad of audio and visual recordings and collections including over 750,000 hours of TV, radio, film and music.

The mind-boggling architecture continues inside the structure and you can simply take time to wonder at its design and style.

Aside from the building, there is also an interesting museum dedicated to the history of Dutch TV and radio.

6. Zonnestraal

Landgoed ZonnestraalSource: flickr
Landgoed Zonnestraal

Also known as the Sunbeam Sanatorium, the Landgoed Zonnestraal is a marvellous architectural complex and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Formerly a medical centre that treated patients with tuberculosis, the complex has a modernist style and its renowned architecture draws people from all over the world.

With an abundance of glass and a great deal of open space and airy corridors, its design as a sanatorium was perfect.

The complex is now open to the public and you can walk through the amazing buildings and marvel at their open design.

Furthermore there are some great hiking trails in the grounds and also a restaurant.

7. Museum Hilversum

Museum HilversumSource: wikipedia
Museum Hilversum

This charming museum is located in the city centre in a quaint square surrounded by beautiful architecture and fine restaurants.

A delightful collection of local history and artefacts can be found inside and the building was actually the old town hall before the impressive Raadhuis was built.

For an intriguing look at the history of the region, this museum has it all.

Furthermore, there is also a collection of applied arts and crafts with paintings and drawings from the 1800’s.

Periodically the museum will also feature temporaroy exhibits of varying topics which always prove interesting.

8. Sint Vituskerk

Sint VituskerkSource: flickr
Sint Vituskerk

In terms of churches constructed in the Netherlands, the church of Saint Vitus is relatively new and was created in 1892. The design of the church is considered neo-gothic and it features a large bell tower topped with spiked turrets.

Whilst the exterior of this church is quite spectacular, the interior is just as impressive.

The roof and side arches feature a light pink colouration with green trimings and are ornately decorated.

Furthermore there are many stained glass windows that depict various religious scenes on either side of the opulent columns that support the archways.

Finally, the high altar is bathed in light and creates a centrepiece as you walk through the wooden pews.

9. Sip a beautiful coffee at the Doppio Espresso Café

Doppio Espresso CaféSource: doppio-espresso
Doppio Espresso Café

Sometimes in life it is a great idea to simply sit back and watch the world go by.

At the Doppio Espresso Café you can do exactly that.

Located on a charming square on Schoutenstraat street, this café has outside seating and a pleasant atmosphere.

The range of coffee and espressos served here is extensive and you can enjoy a variety of different falvors such as salted caramel macchiato.

Furthermore there is also a selection of pastries, snacks and cakes to compliment your beverage.

10. Visit the Naarden Star Fort

NaardenSource: addiator

Naarden is a charming town located to the north of Hilversum and is famous for its start fort configuration.

This town first came to prominence when it was granted city rights in the 1300’s and turned into a fortification.

A moat was constructed and the distinctive star shape was formed.

Today you can travel to Naarden and marvel at its wonderful design.

Furthermore it has many historical buildings such as the Grote Kerk, the Spanish House and also the Netherlands Fortress Museum.

11. Spandersbosch Golf Course

Spandersbosch GolfSource: mapio
Spandersbosch Golf

For the golfing enthusiast, the Spanderbosch course offers a beautiful range of holes set in a fantastic natural location next to the Corversbos nature park.

The course is split into two different sections, each of which has 9 wonderful holes that were designed by Gerard Jol.

Aside from the varied and challenging course, there is also an on-site restaurant and bar and a delightful clubhouse.

Private lessons are also available for those who wish to improve their game, and golf buggies are available to rent for those who are not as able on their feet.

12. Pinetum Blijdenstein

Pinetum Blijdenstein
Pinetum Blijdenstein

Founded in 1898, this arboretum and botanical gardens features a huge range of plants, trees and flowers.

For those who love the natural world and plant life, this is a truly fantastic venue to visit.

A collection of over 400 stunning pine trees takes up a large area whilst sheltered underneath these trees are various species of rhododendrons, cyas and Ephedra’s.

Furthermore there is a wide range of conifer species, many fern trees and plants and wonderful collection of native plants from Tasmania.

Located to the north west of the city centre, the botanical gardens are the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of Hilversum.

13. Dine at the atmospheric De Open Keuken restaurant

De Open KeukenSource: deopenkeuken
De Open Keuken

If you are looking for a great place to dine, the Open Keuken restaurant is a fine choice and offers a great range of quality dishes.

The restaurant can be found in the centre of Hilversum close to the old town hall and the main shopping area.

An extensive choice of food is available including t-bone and sirloin steaks, smoked salmon with sauerkraut, fried perch and even venison.

You can also enjoy a wide selection of complimentary wines to enhance your dining experience.

14. Take a day trip to Amsterdam

AmsterdamSource: flickr

The vibrant capital of the Netherlands lies only 25 minutes by train or bus to the north west of Hilversum.

If you are stopping in Hilversum to soak up the beautiful natural surroundings, a day trip to Amsterdam could be a perfect cultural outing and provide you with something different.

Amsterdam is famed throughout the world for its beautiful network of canals, sex tourism, cannabis cafes and historical sites like the Anne Frank House.

If you visit this bustling city ensure to take a boat ride on the canals, visit Dam square and enjoy a drink or two during the Heineken brewery experience.

15. Walk through the Oude Haven

Oude HavenSource: flickr
Oude Haven

This beautiful stretch of parkland follows the only canal system in Hilversum and its starting point is located to the south of the city centre.

From the starting point you can walk down the expanse of the river and admire the beautiful scenery.

Lined with trees, you can take a leisurely stroll and take in the sights of this quiet waterway.

15 Best Things to Do in Hilversum (the Netherlands):

  • Goois Natuurreservaat
  • Raadhuis Hilversum
  • Natuurmonument Corversbos
  • Hoorneboegse Heide
  • Institute for Sound and Vision
  • Zonnestraal
  • Museum Hilversum
  • Sint Vituskerk
  • Sip a beautiful coffee at the Doppio Espresso Café
  • Visit the Naarden Star Fort
  • Spandersbosch Golf Course
  • Pinetum Blijdenstein
  • Dine at the atmospheric De Open Keuken restaurant
  • Take a day trip to Amsterdam
  • Walk through the Oude Haven