Hertogenbosch (Den Bosch) is only an hour by train from Amsterdam, and it is well worth a visit. In fact, it is perfectly possible to spend a few days there with the kids, and very much enjoy your time there. If you do decide to stay for longer, do check out the Movenpick Den Bosch hotel there; we found it a great base for a weekend with the kids to explore the town.
The city has a wonderful, and interesting history, and plenty of restaurants to cater for all small people tastes. In fact, the pavement cafes, and terraces in the city centre are plentiful. It makes one recall the Paris pavement cafe lifestyle, which sparks that glorious feeling of relaxation; something that is a little harder to come by once you have kids.
There are a few must see, and must do things within the town when you are visiting with the children, and without as well I should wager. There are also a couple that we tried that the kids just loved, and we feel compelled to mention; even though they aren’t that particular to the place!
The name Hertogenbosch means “Duke’s Forest”, and the town was founded in the 12th century by Duke Henry of Brabant. It has a long, and exciting history; with it’s waterways defending it’s inhabitants from seige, and sacking on a number of occasions, and it is the canals within the town that make it oh so more interesting than your average Dutch city.
Binnindeze Boat Tours in Hertogenbosch
Near the Parade, located by the Cathedral in Hertogenbosch is an organisation that co-ordinates a number of trips on the waterways of the city (Vereniging Kring Vrienden van ‘s-Hertogenbosch). These are a MUST for those visiting the city, and the kids will love travelling through the houses, and tunnels within the town.
The visits vary in length depending on the type of tour taken; from 50 minutes to over an hour and a half for the longest. Travel includes inside and outside the city walls, as well as trips through some of the dark and dingy pathways created through the years. Some of the architecture of the tunnel is, quite simply, out of this world.
Even the painter, Hieronymus Bosch, who celebrated 500 years dead recently, is honoured within one of the tours.
The fortifications route takes in the aptly named “Hell Hole” and it is worth noting that the heaven and hell projections within this tour could be a little scary for some of the younger visitors to the city, so do check that this isn’t within the tour that you book. Alternatively, give your kids a little warning, and they may well love it as our older daughter did.
Saint John’s Cathedral
This Cathedral is simply stunning, and well worth an hour or two with the kids – not least for trying to spot the Angel on the mobile phone..
Source: Wikipedia: Hertogenbosch St John’s Cathedral
The Catholic Cathedral is a glorious, and deeply moving place. The statue of the Virgin Mary (Ave Maria) within one of the side chapels is extremely beautiful, and the painting on the ceilings just spectacular. Ave Maria is piped into the Cathedral, and this gives a wonderful feeling of tranquility to proceedings that even younger kids might appreciate.
In addition, there is an eye painted into a dome in the ceiling which has to be seen to be believed. This is Thor – the All Seeing Eye – and it seems to be watching over us all.
Source: Flickr: Anya Disseldorp
A trip to Efteling
Clearly this isn’t actually possible if you have a day here, but if you do have longer, it is well worth taking the 30 minutes on the 800 bus from the station in Hetogenbosch to get to this theme park. It really is a hidden gem. Inspired by stories that your grandmother would have read to you, it is enough to enchant the children, and rivals Disney for imagination and originality. If you have the time, it really us a MUST. The water show there, Aquanura, is a particularly beautiful spectacle, and easily as good as anything that Disney have to show you!
Ice cream at Zillis
There is nothing better in life than a good quality ice cream, except a choice of good quality ice creams….and Zillis provides you will a wonderful selection. Their Watermelon ice cream is undoubedly the best ice cream that I have ever tasted. Sweet, creamy, and simply divine. My daughter and son kept stealing it from me! ;-)
The Zilli shop is located right at the front of the Cathedral, so very simple to get to. Don’t miss out on a heavenly experience.
Making a playground of the city
With kids around, anything because a potential play thing – right? And the joy with Hertogenbosch is that there are so few cars within the centre, that it is incredibly safe for children, enabling pretty much anything within the city to turn into a kids playground!
Sound strange? It isn’t as weird as it seems; we managed to spend a few hours just playing on bannisters, and bollards in the city centre…well, because we could! There wasn’t a fear that your kids would be squashed by cars, so anything was fair game.
As you can tell, we had a wonderful time in Hertogenbosch, and you can to. Easy to get to from both Eindhoven and Amsterdam, and plenty to do with the family; a hidden gem.
Do check out the review of Efteling on the site too – we’d recommend visiting it if you have a little more time to explore the area. So easy to get to from both Amsterdam and Hertogenbosch.