Just a stone's throw from The Rise lies the very unique and vibrant city center of Tilburg. This former industrial city recently appeared in dozens of lists and magazines as one of the must-see-cities of the moment. When you work in the seventh city of the Netherlands, you may also want to discover the best places! An insider's guide to Tilburg.
Tilburg in short
Concise history lesson: Tilburg once grew by successively breeding sheep in the seventeenth century and, subsequently, the wool and textile industry. When that industry moved to low-wage countries towards the end of the 20th century, the city struggled with depression. Like any other former industrial city – think Bilbao, Liverpool, Berlin, and neighboring Eindhoven – Tilburg also had to reinvent itself.
Anyone walking around this city today can see this reinvention has been more than successful. The city attracts so many tourists that the hotels are fully booked, and new hotels are being built. Expats are also increasingly finding their way to Tilburg, thanks to a very attractive business climate and the ideal location for many companies. Tilburg also has a huge attraction for students: one in ten city inhabitants is a student. The city is also a magnet for the alternative scene thanks to pop venues such as 013, Paradox, and Little Devil. Such a nice combo! Do you work in The Rise and don't know where to go after a day at the office? These are our tips.
This large part of the city, right behind Central Station, used to be the workshop of the Nedtrain / Prorail (and the NS). Trains were built and maintained here. Dutch train / Prorail moved to the city's outskirts, leaving behind a wealth of industrial heritage. In recent years, the vacant buildings have been occupied by new restaurant concepts, the skate scene, young and hip companies, and beautiful parties are regularly held, such as Festival Mundial and Daisy Festival. You can go to Club Smederij for techno parties, among other things. You can eat very well in restaurant de Houtloods or the adjacent Wagon and in the old polygonaalloods, which has been transformed into the food hall Gourmet Market Central Station. You get the real urban feeling when you order a coffee in Stoom013, the old train car next to Skatepark the Hall of Fame. The LocHal, which houses the library, was named World Building of the year in 2019 and is definitely worth a visit. A no-brainer to visit in the Spoorzone is Doloris, with its own rooftop bar and a very unique one-of-its-kind art maze.
Tilburg is located on the Wilhelmina Canal and therefore has an inland port, which in recent years has been transformed from a simple city port into a super cozy hotspot. On sunny days, the harbor is full of boats, you can rent sloops or bbq boats, and you can enjoy the sun on one of the terraces on the quay. If you're lucky, you'll catch a movie that they play on the water or there is a concert on the water. Walk from the head of the harbor along the water, and you will come across one beautiful place after another: Restaurant Rak offers a beautiful view of the entire harbor, in addition to an excellent menu. Walk a little further, and you will find several nice interior shops.
What to do in Tilburg: Wandering
The charm of Tilburg is not in old, classical buildings, because Tilburg simply does not have that much. But when you cross the road from Tilburg Central Station and walk into the so-called Dwaal area, you arrive in the most beautiful part of Tilburg city center. Here you will find large, stately buildings interspersed with trendy interior shops, eateries, design, coffee shops, sneaker shops, bookstores, shops with crazy trinkets, and a lovely record store (Sounds). It's not called Dwaalgebied for nothing because the streets intertwine so that you end up at a different nice intersection each time. Do you want to see Tilburg at its best? Then take a morning or afternoon to discover this area.
Shopping in Tilburg
The city center ofTilburg has undergone a significant overhaul in recent years. Result: a city center where you can shop very well. The large areas – Heuvelstraat, Emmapassage, and Pieter Vreedeplein – are connected, so you can make a good shopping round. Here you will mainly find chain stores with large branches, such as Primark, Zara, Levi's, and Scotch & Soda. But local entrepreneurs such as Jimmy's Mode, Stuen, T DRINKS, Re-Issue, Livius, and Gianotten Mutsaers ensure a full range of shops in a compact center, making the city an ideal destination for a day of shopping. By the way, the building projects are far from, because the range of shops will only expand in the coming years.
The latest green addition to Tilburg is the Spoorpark, a ten-hectare park quickly becoming a trendy hotspot due to its central location. Events are also held here in summer. Landscape Park Moerenburg is within walking distance of the center, where you can walk between unique works of art and simultaneously relax between the water and greenery, with the city's skyline in the background. Bring your clothes and a basket with snacks and drinks, and you will have a wonderful afternoon here. Do you fancy more entertainment? Then De Efteling and Safari Park De Beekse Bergen are also a 20-minute bus ride from Central Station.
We have already made acomparison with other former industrial cities, such as Liverpool. That is not an exaggeration but simply a way to indicate that, just like in those cities, there is a lot of focus on culture. The city's two most important museums are De Pont and the TextielMuseum, located close to each other in the Museum Quarter. De Pont, a 10-minute bike ride from Heuvelplein, is the real highlight. The former – how could it be otherwise – wool spinning mill was converted into a museum in the late 1990s and is considered one of the most important museums in the Netherlands. Everything is on one level, and you can wander around between the works of art that always catch the perfect light thanks to the unique roof construction. It's front yard offers a unique sculpture by Anish Kapoor. This is a must-see!
You will find the TextielMuseum, about a 5-minute walk from De Pont. In addition to the expected history lesson about Tilburg as a textile city, the museum offers much more beautiful things, such as temporary exhibitions about clothing or design. In the middle of the museum, you can take a look at the TextielLab, where designers, artists, architects, and students from all over the world, together with experts, experiment with materials and textile techniques.
The Tilburgse Kermis is the largest fairground in the Benelux. But the fair today is much more than hundreds of fairground attractions in the city center. It is more and more a ten-day festival full of music and banging parties. The Pink Monday, for example, is a combination of funfair and Gay Pride, which invariably ends with spontaneous, sweaty DJ parties around the fairground. The entire city center,
including Spoorzone, will be involved in the fairground so that you will encounter unexpected terraces, music stages, and unique corners everywhere. For the best experience and parties, it is best to come during the first and last weekend. And on Pink Monday, of course.
When in Tilburg: Drink beer!
Completely in keeping with the image of a creative city, Tilburg is certainly not lagging behind when it comes to craft breweries. You can really have fun with it as a beer lover! The LOC Brewery is located in the Spoorzone, with a tasting room and garden. Kraftbier has also been brewing its beers in Tilburg for a few years, and Stadsbrouwerij 013 is located at the Piushaven. In the city center, you will find beer cafes such as Kandinsky, less than 400 meters away from each other. Taphuys , Café Bakker and Burgemeester Jansen and specialty stores such as T DRINKS. The Koningshoeven Abbey, located next to Tilburg, has been brewing the world-famous La Trappe beer for many years. You can also visit this brewery. Especially on sunny days, it is a good place to be in the garden.
Can you do all this in Tilburg during a weekend away?
You can experience all of the above in just a weekend in Tilburg. What's nice: The city is still up and coming. You notice and feel that everywhere in the city, especially when you start wandering. You will still find small initiatives by artists and experimental shops. Cool festivals and parties are held, you will find striking street art, and when you come across a special place again, it feels like a personal discovery. And it's all very photogenic. More and more day trippers and backpackers are also seeing this and book a weekend in which they are surprised from one surprise to the next.
Text: ASEGA | Photo's: ASEGA & Doloris