Den Bosch is one of my favorite cities to visit. I know I say this quite a lot. But this is another gem. And Den Bosch is not on the tourist map either. But it should.
In this post, I share the best things to do in Den Bosch for a great day out. Once you’ve tasted their most famous pastry, Den Bosch is one of your favorite cities.
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Where is Den Bosch?
Den Bosch is situated (what we Dutch call) below the rivers. We often mean that any city in this area is more “Gezellig.” The people there enjoy life just a tad more than in the North.
Good food, good wine (or beer), and good company. It’s more a French way of life. Den Bosch is no exception.
Did you know Den Bosch was voted the most hospitable city in the Netherlands multiple years in a row?
Den Bosch is ideally located between Amsterdam and Maastricht
This medieval city is so easy to reach. It sounds far away, but it’s only one hour from Amsterdam. There is a direct frequent train connection from Amsterdam. And it’s en route to Maastricht.
If you have no time for a proper visit, you should, if nothing else, make a quick stop on your way to Maastricht for their famous “Bossche Bol.” The original Bakery is almost immediately next to the station. Just take the next train.
If I’m honest, eating a Bossche Bol is sometimes the only reason for us to visit when we’re short on time. However, if you have time, do give Den Bosch some extra time to explore!
‘s-Hertogenbosch or Den Bosch?
What is the correct name for this city? The official name of the city is ‘s-Hertogenbosch. ‘s-Hertogenbosch is the name you’ll see on road signs.
But most people call the city simply Den Bosch. You can also use either name on Google Maps, for example, or in the train planner.
Den Bosch is the name most people use in daily conversation. It’s much easier to pronounce and spell, even for us Dutch!
The Big Deal About the Bossche Bol
You may or may not have heard about a Bossche Bol before reading this post. In Holland they are famous! Everybody knows what they are. If you’re looking for something truly local, then it won’t get better than this.
If you get the original, there is nothing quite like it. The spin-offs you see elsewhere in the country are not the same.
What is a Bossche Bol?
The Bossche Bol is like an oversized puff pastry. The pastry is filled with a velvety soft, super fresh, sweetened whipped cream and topped with a generous coating of semi-dark chocolate.
The taste of the chocolate is unique. It’s what most people love the most — followed by the texture of the whipped cream. You’ll see many look-a-like pastries in the country when you visit Holland, even in Amsterdam. But none taste like a real Bossche Bol. You have to get out here to try one.
The company that makes them never expanded outside the city. And that is why people come from all over the country, in large numbers!
Where to get a Bossche Bol?
Once in Den Bosch, getting a Bossche Bol is easy. They make the original at “Bakkerij Jan de Groot,” near the station. You can quickly get one between two trains to Maastricht or back to Amsterdam. But they are only open during regular office hours! No evenings or Sundays.
If there is a line, don’t worry about it. It moves fast. It helps if you have your payment card or cash ready in hand.
You can also sit in their classic tearoom and enjoy a Bossche Bol with a cup of coffee or tea. However, often, they are full.
Where else in the city can you get an AUTHENTIC Bossche Bol?
Many restaurants nearby in the city center also serve the real “de Groot Bossche Bollen.” Just look for the pink signs outside the restaurant telling you they got the original from “Bakkerij de Groot.”
Take a Boat Trip on the Binnendieze in Den Bosch
I know I’ve said the Bossche Bol is enough reason for me to visit. But there is a lot more to do in this beautiful city. One of my next favorite things to do is to take a boat tour on the “Binnendieze.”
The Binnendieze is a narrow river that meanders through the city. What makes it unique is that it also runs below buildings.
It’s pretty uncommon in the Netherlands for buildings to span over water. And that makes this boat trip so different from one in Amsterdam.
It’s a great way to explore the most beautiful sites of the historical city center. And it will offer you many postcard-perfect picture moments.
Volunteers run these tours between April till October. Trips take about 50 minutes, and boats depart frequently. Reservations are often essential.
The original tour leave from the Molenstraat. You’ll see a gate named “Binnendieze” (see photo above) and boats lying in the water. You’ll have to descend a staircase to reach the vessels. A stair lift is available. Tours are only in Dutch. However, a (written) translation in English is available at the information desk.
Shopping in Den Bosch
Den Bosch may not be as fancy as Maastricht. But Den Bosch is well known for shopping. And with such a beautiful city center, it has the perfect backdrop for spending time treating yourself to retail therapy.
The most famous shopping street is the Snellestraat. The Snellestraat is full of specialty shops. And if you need a break, then an excellent option to sit down is “Eetbar DIT.” A local favorite. Get a sandwich or a beer with a “borrelhap.” They also have a specialty of this region on the menu: a worstenbroodje (served here on a stick).
A “worstenbroodje” is a savory sausage roll. It’s different in flavor and texture than a Sauzijzenbroodje and only available in this region.
PS You can also get a good one at the Jumbo City market.
Another pleasant shopping street is the Verwersstraat. It’s more upscale.
Enjoy Some Local Crafts Beer
In the middle ages, beer was the beverage of choice for the people. It was no different in Den Bosch. But in later years local beer breweries closed down and disappeared from the scene.
However, due to increased interest in craft beers nowadays, that has all changed. Den Bosch is now a perfect place to enjoy locally brewed craft beer. Some places you can visit are:
- Jongens van de Wit, Hofvijver 4, Den Bosch
- Bossche Brouwers, Tramkade 29, Den Bosch. The Bossche Brouwers is open from Thursday (evening) to Sunday. And they often offer live music and beer tastings on the water (weather permitting and when there are enough reservations).
- Brouwerij Boegbeeld, Uilenburg 1, Den Bosch. You find this brewery above a very cool store in a beautiful old building in the city center. It’s owned and run by a woman: Janneke Pieters. If you can’t choose what to get, you can get the “Un Bietje van alles.” It’s local slang for a tasting package with a selection of their beers. PS They even have a chocolate beer to celebrate the Bossche Bol!
Museums in Den Bosch
Den Bosch is home to a few excellent museums. Two of them enjoy national popularity. They often feature exhibitions that attract people from around the country.
The Noordbrabants Museum
This museum houses art from local artists. Who happens to include Vincent van Gogh, Jheronimus Bosch, and Jan Sluijters. Also, the museum has often temporary exhibitions which get a lot of publicity around the country.
As a bonus, it’s located in another beautiful building on the Verwersstraat—the shopping street we mentioned above.
Did you know this building first housed monks and later the King’s governor and then the Queen’s commissioner before it became the city’s iconic museum? It has quite a history.
You can get Skip-the-line tickets for the museum here.
The Design Museum Den Bosch
The Design Museum is right next door to the Noordbrabants Museum. The museum specializes in ceramics and jewelry.
The Slager Museum
The smaller but charming Slager museum is just a few minutes away.
I stumbled upon this small museum and liked it a lot. I especially enjoyed the private collection of this family with local paintings from the city of Den Bosch from a long time past.
And while the prominent museums have (expensive) cafes, this museum serves free coffee or tea during your visit. It’s a great way to meet other visitors, often locals.
Enjoy a drink at the Parade
The Parade is a large square lined with chestnut trees. It’s full of restaurants and outside terraces in summertime.
Perfect for a drink outside on warmer days. (Ps: Another square great for a drink is the Markt).
St Jans Cathedral Den Bosch
At the Parade, you’ll also have a good view of the majestic and beautiful St. Jans Cathedral, which is worth a visit.
The St. Jans Cathedral was erected between 1370 and 1529. The decor of this Gothic cathedral is famous for its extraordinary sculptured detail.
You can enjoy the church daily free of charge between 9 a.m and 5 p.m. But access can be limited or changed due to events and church services.
Climb the Tower of St. Jans Cathedral
The volunteers running the boat tours on the “Binnendieze” also offer a daily opportunity to climb the St. Jans cathedral tower with a guide (except for Mondays).
Tours leave up to 3 times daily. During the climb, your guide will tell you all about the tower itself, like the belfry and the clock mechanism, and an exhibition showing the history, construction, and restoration of the tower.
Please note that tours are officially in Dutch only. Depending on the proficiency of your guide, you can always ask to give some explanation in English too. Or ask a fellow group member to help you understand what the tour guide is saying.
Also note that it’s a stiff climb on small, centuries-old stairs to reach the top at 43 meters (140ft).
Once up there, you’re rewarded with a magnificent city view. And the surrounding villages as well. You can watch for miles on a clear day.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I make a day trip from Amsterdam or Rotterdam to Den Bosch?
Yes, Den Bosch is an easy day trip from Amsterdam or Rotterdam. From either city it takes just over an hour by train to reach Den Bosch.
What are the must see attractions in Den Bosch?
The must-do attractions in Den Bosch include St. John’s Cathedral (Sint-Janskathedraal), the Historic City Centre, a boat tour on the Binnendieze, and the Citadel (Citadel van ‘s-Hertogenbosch).
What are some good restaurants or cafes in Den Bosch?
Den Bosch offers a variety of dining options. The “Korte Putstraat” is famous for its restaurant offering. Some popular choices in the city include Restaurant Fabuleux, Pollevie, and Café Herman (located in a former water tower).
How to get to Den Bosch?
Den Bosch is just one hour south of Amsterdam. 30 minutes from Utrecht. Less than 30 minutes from Eindhoven. And about 90 minutes from Maastricht. So from every direction it’s easily accessible.
Once in Den Bosch, you don’t need to use public transportation. Everything is within walking distance.
The easiest way to plan your trip, look up prices, and buy a ticket for your train journey is from the official NS Xtra App on your phone. It’s available in English, and you can use your credit card for payment (or, better, use the Transferwise Debit travel card I recommend).
Tickets will be digital, so you don’t need a printer. The App is free to use, and tickets are €1 cheaper than paper tickets. I advise a 1st class ticket for extra comfort.
Where to stay in Den Bosch?
If you want to spend more than a day in Den Bosch, staying nearby will be a lot more convenient. For example, when you also want to visit the unique theme park the Efteling (tickets). Or cities like Eindhoven or even Maastricht.
Thankfully there are many different types of accommodation in and around Den Bosch. Whether you’re looking for a romantic bed & breakfast, a hip design hotel, or a whole apartment or holiday home, Den Bosch has something that will suit your taste and budget. Check out the selection and book your perfect getaway to Den Bosch from Booking.com!
Which Den Bosch Activity Excites 🌟 You The Most?
I’d love to hear your thoughts: Which of the highlighted things to do in Den Bosch are you most excited to visit and why? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and let’s start a conversation 💬.
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