A quaint Dutch city with little by way of must-see attractions but plenty of history, Breda is a pretty town somewhere around the train line between Amsterdam and Antwerp. Here’s quick tips towards the best things to do in Breda, including places to stay, what to do, and the best of Breda attractions!
Introducing the Breda, A Dutch town within the South from the Netherlands
Home to a castle, pretty park, and merely across the border from Belgium (less than 10 km more specifically!), Breda can be found in North Brabant. A hop, skip, along with a jump in the beautiful Belgian city of Antwerp, Breda makes for the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of busy city life…
Located around the confluence of the Rivers Mark and Aa, which provide the city its name, some other reasons to go to this picture perfect Dutch city incorporate a insightful history, many eateries (several of which serve traditional Dutch specialities), and a lot of Royal connections.
After all, the town has ties with the Holy Roman Empire, William of Orange, and even King Charles II of England! Also important to note is that while Breda includes a population of just a few hundred thousand residents, there are over a hundred bars, a number of museums, and over a hundred shops to understand more about!
A brief good reputation for Breda
Though a settlement existed for centuries beforehand, Breda rose to true prominence during the 11th-century, once the city swore allegiance to the Holy Roman Empire (the very same state founded by Charlemagne within the 9th-century).
By 1252, Breda had secured a municipal charter, meaning city rights, such as the to fortification. As a direct result, city walls were built round the main settlement, with an impressive castle within the very heart of it all. Throughout the 14th-century, the town of Breda was sold to Duke Johannes III of Brabant. There after, the town passed from person to person, including by William of Orange in the 15th-century.
The holder of Breda also held several titles of note; Baron of Breda, Count of Nassau, and Prince of Orange. Unfortunately, a fireplace ravaged through a lot of the city within the 16th-century, destroying about 90% of Breda’s buildings. Yet more tragedy was to befall the city if this was besieged through the Spanish throughout the eighty year war.
During Cromwellian Rule and the Civil War, Charles II spent a lot of his exile time within the city of Breda. This was because of his sister to be the widow of William of Orange. Following a end of the Anglo-Dutch war, Breda ended up being attacked by French Revolutionaries in 1795. During WWII, the city was occupied, prior to being liberated by Polish forces.
Things to complete in Breda The Netherlands
#1 Kasteel Van Breda (Breda Castle)
Of all of the castles within the Netherlands, Breda may be the city which has its ancient castle just steps from the historic town centre. A fortified castle has been in existence on the website since a minimum of the 13th-century when Breda gained city rights.
As such, most of the foundations of Kasteel Van Breda goes back to the Dark ages. During the Renaissance period, the castle was heavily renovated, leaving behind a beautiful mixture of Medieval practicality meets stunning architecture and style. Throughout the 18th-century, the castle was briefly used like a military barracks and hospital.
#2 Park Valkenberg
Between the historic city centre and Breda’s main train station, Breda park is a stunning mix of meandering pathways and clear lakes. Best seen in summer once the place comes complete with locals and tourists alike, all seeking to soak up just a little sun, Park Breda can also be home to several parts of crumbling city wall.
#3 Grote Kerk (Onze Lieve Vrouwe Kerk)
The most exciting of Breda attractions is definitely the big ecclesiastical building within the very heart from the old town. Completed in the 16th-century, this Brabant Gothic church (whose name literally means ‘large church’) features various frescoes as well as the Prinsenkapel.
Translated into English as ‘Prince Chapel,’ this mausoleum is dedicated to ancestors of the current Dutch Royal Family. A real must-see when in Breda, so ornate is that this corner of the church that the ceiling is quite literally covered in gold!
#4 Grote Markt
In the very heart from the city, this grand square has become the place to find many eateries and beer bars where one can sample some traditional Dutch beer! The Grote Markt (main town square) is how the beating heart of Breda is and so if you’re looking for a place to sit and watch the planet go by, here it is!
#5 Begijnhof Breda
If you’ve visited a few of the major cities within the Netherlands or Belgium, then without doubt you’ll have come across a Beguinage or two (one of the most famous being the Beguinage of Amsterdam). These historic courtyards were typically constructed to accommodate religious ladies who hadn't taken any vows. If you want to learn more about Breda’s beguinage, then there’s a little museum at No. 29.
#6 Wander around Old Town Breda
Truth find out, among the best activities in Breda is simply to wander around the city’s cobbled lanes and soak up the historic atmosphere. So be sure to bring your camera along as you’ll likely want to snap numerous photos across the way…
#7 Bouvigne Castle
Situated towards the south of Breda, the image perfect Bouvigne Castle is surrounded by its own moat and appears like something straight out of a storybook. Easy to reach by walking (21 minutes) or by bike (7 minutes), Bouvigne Castle is easily probably the most beautiful castles within the Netherlands, together with Kasteel Duivenvoorde. While in the castle, make sure to browse the French-inspired gardens and castle dating back to the 15th-century.
Constructed throughout the 17th-century, as well as an extension of the fortifications available at Breda Castle, the Spanjaardsgat is alleged to be the very spot where Breda was free of Spanish occupation during the Dark ages. Today, el born area from the city is one of the the best places to benefit from the sunset in Breda.
#9 Stedelijk Museum Breda
Though Breda is home to several museums, if one makes it your pursuit to visit only one cultural space on your amount of time in the city, allow it to be Breda’s main museum. Dedicated to the city’s rich and various history, the museum is home to an array of paintings, artefacts, and it is a great place to find out more about Breda.
#10 Sint-Antoniuskathedraal (Cathedral of Saint Anthony of Padua)
In a somewhat surprising turn of events, Breda’s cathedral is not the main show when it comes to churches within the city. Instead, the Cathedral of Saint Anthony can be found down a small side street, on the fringes of the historic city centre. Constructed in 1837, the ecclesiastical building lost its cathedral status for a while, prior to being reinstated because the Cathedral of Breda in 2001.
#11 Admire the Stadhuis Breda (Breda Town Hall)
Situated within the very heart from the main town square (at No. 38 to be precise), Breda’s town hall is brick architecture and is an excellent illustration of the standard Dutch style in the North Brabant region.
Where in which to stay Breda
Due to its compact nature, Breda may be easily seen over the course of a day. As a result, I recommend an overnight stop on the ride between your Netherlands and Belgium. There are many great places to stay in Breda. Listed here are the very best accommodations within the city (according to reviews and placement):
B&B Aan de Singelgracht: During our time in Breda, we opted to stay in the beautifully appointed B&B Aan de Singelgracht. Located on the fringes from the city park and close to the train station, we loved the quirky decor and room amenities (coffee maker, chocolates, bathroom goodies). Check prices and availability here.
How to visit Breda and tips for visiting
Thanks to transport links to Amsterdam and Antwerp, it couldn’t be easier to reach Breda by train. Although the city itself has no great international airport connections, those of Schipol Amsterdam, Rotterdam The Hague, and Antwerp are under an hour away by train.
Once within the city, it’s easy to explore the majority of Breda by walking thanks to its relatively small size and compact nature. If you’re looking to go just a little further afield much more the city, then you can always rent a bike at the main stop or utilize the local buses. If you wish to become familiar with the city on a more local level, then consider using this Breda highlights bike tour.
The ideal time to visit Breda is definitely in the summer months when the days are long, temperatures soar, and every attraction in the city is really open. With this particular being said, the European shoulder seasons (Spring and Autumn) will never be a poor time for you to visit as this usually means fewer crowds minimizing accommodation prices!