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Breda City Guide
A sparkling gem in the south of the Netherlands, Breda has been an established city since the 11th century. Since then, Breda has been fought over and colonised by the Spanish and the French. Remnants of these cultures remain, but today's Breda is a cheerful place, known for its friendly residents, excellent beer, and Mentos mints. ¶ You may immediately be intrigued by the monuments mentioned in a Breda city guide, as there are Gothic, medieval, and contemporary buildings living side by side. The city pops with colour and personality, with lush green parks and narrow streets decorated with boxes of vivid floral arrangements. Any Breda city guide will mention monuments like the Castle of Breda and the impressive architecture of Saint Anthony's Cathedral, but one of the biggest pleasures in Breda is simply sipping a locally-brewed beer and watching the world go by.
Things to do in Breda
There's certainly no shortage of monuments and things to do in Breda's city centre, but one that towers above the rest is the Grote Kerk. You can admire the gleaming white stones of this beautifully restored Gothic church, dating back to the 15th century, from nearly every point in the city. Its tower extends to a dizzying height of 97 metres. Breda also has plentiful green spaces, with one of the most distinctive being the Valkenberg (Falcon Mountain). This sprawling park is punctuated with the peaceful tinkling of its water fountains, and is the perfect spot for a leisurely stroll or sumptuous picnic. On the south side of the Valkenberg you'll find the medieval 12-century Begijnhof, which served as a traditional shelter for unmarried women.
Things to see in Breda
A walk around Breda's central Grote Markt square provides ample opportunity to view well-preserved medieval architecture as well as its 18th century city hall. For an alternative tour of the traditional things to see in Breda, consider taking a boat tour along the waterways surrounding the city. Art and design enthusiasts won't want to miss a visit to the Museum of the Image, where you can enjoy exhibitions on 100 years worth of graphic design and photography used in advertising. When you're ready to get away from it all, you can hop on a bike and escape the compact centre of the city. The Mastbos nature reserve is a short distance away, dotted with pristine lakes, soft meadows, and an astonishing variety of bird life.
Visitors arriving from Amsterdam or Schiphol Airport can reach Breda in roughly one hour on the high-speed Fyra train service. Those driving from Amsterdam can reach Breda by taking the A2 motorway followed by the A27. Additionally, Breda is located less than a 90 minute drive from all three main ferry ports in the Netherlands. Once you've arrived, you'll find that most main sights in the city centre are walkable due to the compact nature of the city. Yet rented bikes are a top form of Breda transport for visitors, and a convenient local bus service is also available.
Breda really comes alive during the month of February, when Carnival season breaks loose. The Breda Carnival is held over four or five days each winter, during which time the friendly local residents don colourful masks to take part in festive dancing, singing, and processions. Athletes may enjoy the annual Breda Canal Run, or Singelloop. This event allows hobbyists and professionals the chance to run together along the 15km course. Breda events for music lovers include the Jazz Festival, which draws 300 musicians from around the world each year, or the Breda Barst, which features today's top Dutch pop musicians.
Restaurants in Breda
Typical Burgundian gourmet pleasures that you'll find in restaurants in Breda include a range of cream-filled pastries, meat stews, and vegetable dishes drawing from both French and German influences. Don't miss a bowl of the hachee stew, which combines onion, beef, and a thick gravy that is left to simmer for hours for a rich and intense flavour. ¶ You'll find cuisine to suit every taste in bustling squares like the Grote Markt and Havermarkt, with a wide range of casual cafes and more upmarket restaurants. Chinese, Italian, and Mexican dining options are available along with the traditional Dutch cuisine.