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I grew up in the south of the Netherlands. Eindhoven slowly became my main city, as it was a bit easier to get to from my hometown. But Tilburg quickly ended up in second place. I even studied in Tilburg for 6 months before dropping out of higher education to move to England – but that didn’t have anything to do with the city ;). Tilburg, like Eindhoven, is often overlooked by tourist! And that’s such a shame! That’s why I’m taking you along with me today and share the best things to do in Tilburg in this local travel guide.
Why visit Tilburg?
I’ve said it before and I will continue saying it: There’s more to the Netherlands than Amsterdam! Yes, I know. Amsterdam’s fun! Most people speak English and you can legally eat pot brownies on almost every street corner… But why not look a bit further than the tourist attractions in the capital? Why not dive into real Dutch culture?
Tilburg is not only the second-largest city in North-Brabant, but it is also the 6th largest city of the Netherlands with a population close to 200.000. The city was formerly known to be quite industrial, but has turned into a cultural hotspot with some hidden gems that deserve exploring!
From Tilburg, you can also easily go for some fun one-day trips to places like the Efteling (the Dutch Disney Land) and the Beekse Bergen Safari Park.
How to get to Tilburg?
By train: Tilburg Central Station is located right in the heart of the city, which makes travelling to Tilburg by train quick and easy. From Amsterdam, it takes about 1 hour and 13 minutes to get to Tilburg and will cost you €19,20. For train times, you can check the NS website. You can buy tickets at any train station in the Netherlands. If you need some more help, check out my guide to train travel in the Netherlands.
By plane: The nearest airport to Tilburg is Eindhoven Airport. It’s the second biggest airport in the Netherlands and serves over 1.6 million passengers yearly. Many budget airlines like Ryanair, Transavia and Wizz Air fly from this airport. From Eindhoven Airport, you can get bus 400 or 401 to Eindhoven Central Station. From there you get the train to Tilburg Station, which only takes 20-30 minutes. You can buy both a bus and train ticket at the airport.
Culture in Tilburg
De Pont Art Gallery
The best contemporary art museum in Tilburg. Find out what they are exhibiting on their website. Normally, the art gallery is open from Tuesday till Sunday between 11 AM and 5 PM. On Thursday evening, the gallery is open a bit later and you can enter for free between 5 PM and 8 PM.
Address: Wilhelminapark 1, 5041 EA
Opening hours: Tuesday till Sunday from 11 AM till 5 PM.
Dutch Textile Museum
Discover the world of textile in the Dutch Textile Museum in Tilburg. This museum was one of my favourites when I was a child and acted as one of my favourite school trips. It’s one of the few working Dutch museums in operation and is filled with old machinery to learn about textile production.
Address: Goirkestraat 96, 5046 GN
Opening hours: Tuesday to Friday from 10 AM till 5 PM. 12 PM till 5 PM during the weekend.
La Trappe Brewery
On the edge of Tilburg, you can find the La Trappe Brewery. Yes, BEER! And the best thing about it is that you can taste tons of the amazing ales they brew there. In the beautiful gardens surrounding the brewery, you can enjoy a lunch paired with some of the ales. You can also book an excursion through the brewery or explore the rural surrounding area by bike (cause what’s more Dutch than cycling?). You can find more information on La Trappe’s website.
Address: Eindhovenseweg 3, 5056 RP, Berkel-Enschot
Stadsmuseum (Vincent van Gogh’s Drawing Room)
Of course, we all know about the famous Vincent van Gogh (even though most foreigners are unable to pronounce his name properly!). It was in Tilburg Vincent had his first drawing lessons. You can now visit that same room he was taught by Constant Huijsmans in the city museum, alongside many other things.
Address: Kazernehof 75, 5017 EV
From Tilburg Central station, you can walk to Cinecitta in just a few minutes. This cinema has been operating for over 100 years and specialises in arthouse films from all across the world. They don’t really show any Hollywood movies or blockbusters. It’s a really cool place to check out some indie films and soak up some culture.
Address: Willem II Straat 29, 5038 BA
St. Joseph Church
Personally, I always enjoy visiting local cathedrals or churches when I visit a new place. Even though I’m not religious, they do have this special atmosphere that I enjoy. One of Tilburg’s icons is St. Joseph Chruch. This neo-gothic cross-shaped basilica was built between 1872 and 1889. The 72 meter high towers make the church the 4th tallest building in Tilburg.
Best Food & Drinks
Tilburg has so many cool places to eat and drink, most of which are independent! And we love supporting local business, don’t we? Here are some of my favourite places in Tilburg for lunch, dinner or a coffee catch up with a friend.
EVE (Lunch & Dinner)
Located in a former railway warehouse, EVE wins the “best interior” of eateries in Tilburg in my opinion. The atmosphere is simply amazing, as is their range of coffees, lunch and dinner dishes. Another plus, EVE is located right outside the train station.
Address: Burgemeester Stekelenburgplein 208, 5041 SC
Opening hours: Closed on Monday, 12 PM till 9:30 PM on Tuesday and Wednesday, 12 PM till 11 PM on Thursday, 11 AM till 1 AM on Friday and Saturday, 11 AM till 9:30 PM on Sunday.
Do you like unique places to eat? De Wagon is a restaurant/lunchroom inside an old train. Yes, you read that correctly: INSIDE A TRAIN! The owner transformed an old train wagon into a restaurant where you can have a unique lunch experience.
Vegetarian options available
Address: Burgemeester Brokxlaan 1041, 5041 RP
Opening hours: Open every day from 10:30 AM till 12 AM (except Tuesdays).
The Houtloods (translated: the wood storage) can be found right next to De Wagon. This restaurant is located inside the oldest building in the Spoorzone. It was built in 1867 and was used as wood storage (wow, who’d have guessed!). Food is the heart of this restaurant, which is why the kitchen is located right in the middle. You basically eat next to the kitchen. Seeing how your food gets prepared really does add to the experience of dining in a place like the Houtloods. It may be on the more expensive side, but it’s definitely worth it.
Address: Burgemeester Brokxlaan 1041, 5041 RP
Opening hours: Open every day from 12 PM till 11 PM (except Mondays).
Dwars Hotdog bar
Looking for a cheaper option for a quick but tasty dinner? Check out Dwars Hotdog Bar. You can find the craziest and most unique types of hot dogs here. They have some amazing toppings! And what I love about this place is that they’re more than happy to swap your hot dog for a vegetarian one. On top of their minimalist (yay Instagram!) interior, this is definitely a place to check out when in Tilburg.
Address: Korvelseweg 86, 5025 JJ
Opening hours: Open every day from 4 PM till 9:30 PM (except for Mondays).
This cafe/lunchroom has the perfect “home away from home” vibes. The atmosphere is so welcoming, making it the perfect place in Tilburg to bring your laptop for a coffee and some work/studying. Their homemade dishes use local products only, making Locals also a great spot for a lunch meet-up with a pal. Did I mention they roast their own coffee beans too?
Address: Heuvelstraat 128, 5038 AH
Opening hours: Open from Monday to Saturday from 9:30 AM till 5:30 PM and on Sunday from 11 PM till 5 PM.
Best Places to Shop in Tilburg
Apart from the main shops that you can find in any city, Tilburg has a good variety of independent shops that have tons of cool stuff to offer. Here are some of my favourites that you should definitely check out!
Tien (translated: ten) is probably my favourite shop in Tilburg. I literally want to buy EVERYTHING they sell. This concept store in the middle of Tilburg combines food, fashion and furniture and sells pieces with character. Everything – from their jewellery to their clothes – has so much personality! Tien also works together with many local independent businesses, a win-win!
Address: Heuvelstraat 104, 5038 AH Tilburg
Opening hours: Monday from 1 PM till 6 PM, Tuesday and Wednesday from 10 AM till 6 PM, Thursday from 10 AM till 8 PM, Friday from 10 AM till 6 PM, Saturday from 10 AM till 5 PM, Sunday from 12 PM till 5 PM.
And for those who like (retro) video games, Tilburg has an amazing independent shop fulfilling all your needs. Nedgame is probably my boyfriend’s favourite spot in Tilburg and we always make a stop there when we visit the city. They have a big collection of the latest games, retro games and a lot of gaming merch.
Address: Willem II Straat 80, 5038 BJ
Opening hours: Monday from 12 PM till 6 PM, Tuesday and Wednesday from 10 AM till 6 PM, Thursday from 10 AM till 9 PM, Friday from 10 AM till 6 PM, Saturday from 10 AM till 5 PM and Sunday from 12 PM till 5 PM.
Best day trips from Tilburg
Staying in Tilburg for a few days but worried there won’t be enough to do? Maybe some of the day trips from Tilburg will help you fill out your itinerary. I’d highly recommend going to the Efteling theme park when in Tilburg – I have such amazing memories of visiting it as a child (and as an adult!).
Efteling Theme Park (Dutch Disney Land)
Even though the Efteling isn’t technically in Tilburg, it’s located near the city and you can easily travel to it by bus. The Efteling is the Netherland’s biggest and most famous theme park. It’s even gotten the nickname “Dutch Disney Land” – which kinda speaks of itself. I used to visit the Efteling almost yearly with my family and it was a trip I would look forward to for weeks!
The Efteling was opened back in 1952, with the Fairytale Forest. Since then, it has grown to a huge theme park with rollercoasters, family attractions, and hotels. If you’re a fan of theme parks and looking for a fun day out while staying in the south of the Netherlands, Efteling is a must-visit!
Beekse Bergen Safari Park (Tilburg Zoo)
A short bus ride to the edge of the city centre will get you to the Beekse Bergen Safari Park. This is the largest wildlife zoo in the Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxemburg) region. The coolest thing about this zoo is that you can use your own car (or rental car, of course) to drive through the safari zone – there are no fences between the visitors and the animals! The zoo tries to emulate a real safari in Afrika. Not got your own/rental car? You can also ride the safari trail by bus, accompanied by a Ranger. You can also explore the park on foot like a regular zoo.
The Beekse Bergen Safari Park is a member of the EAZA and has special breeding programs for threatened species. They are also part of the SDH, which is the nature conversation program of the Dutch Zoo Association. They work hard to educate people, put money into research and actively participate in worldwide conversation programmes.
Loonse en Drunense Duinen
Looking for a day-trip from Tilburg to escape the city for a bit? This national park lays between Tilburg and Den Bosch and is also known as “The Sahara in Brabant”. It’s such a unique and unusual nature reserve, one that resembles the desert surrounded by forests. Perfect for a walk, mountain bike ride or horseback riding.
Events in Tilburg
A city as lively as Tilburg obviously has some great events that should be on your radar. Keep these in mind while planning your trip. Including the largest funfair in the Netherlands and one of Europe’s best festivals!
A big hit for all my friends back at home, the annual 10-day Tilburg Funfair! This event draws in more than 1.5 million visitors to enjoy the rides, drinks, and attractions. The largest funfair in the Netherlands invites over 250 attractions and rides (from rollercoasters to bumper cars) across 4.5 kilometres inside the city centre.
Possibly the most popular day of the Tilburg Funfair is Roze Maandag (Pink Monday). With almost 300.000 yearly visitors, this is one of the largest gay events in the entirety of the Netherlands. The entire city turns pink for the day to celebrate diversity and remind people they can be themselves.
Best Kept Secret Festival
Every year in the Beekse Bergen Safari Park, you can find the Best Kept Secret Festival. It’s not that much of a secret anymore, as this 3-day festival has been nominated for the European Festival Awards twice since their launch in 2013.
Where to stay in Tilburg?
If you’re planning to stay in Tilburg for the night, I’d highly recommend staying in the lovely ROOTS Tiny Houses! They are very affordable, unique and located super close to the train station.
I hope this guide gave you a good insight into some of the best things to do in Tilburg. It’s so much fun to explore some cities that are considered “hidden gems” or aren’t as popular as the capital city. It gives you a real look into the culture of that country! If you have any questions or think I missed a hotspot in Tilburg, please let me know in the comments!