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11 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Eindhoven

The largest town in the southern Netherlands (and the fifth largest in the country), Eindhoven isn't one that tourists usually think of, but it offers a number of attractions and rewarding things to do. Because of its connections with electronics giant Philips (a monument near the station is dedicated to the company founder's son), Eindhoven is known as "Lichtstad" - the City of Light - and it's one of the country's industrial powerhouses. Located on the River Dommel, the city began to grow rapidly with establishment of the Philips works in 1891, and its industrial prominence was cemented with the founding of the car and truck manufacturer, DAF. Two of Eindhoven's most popular attractions are museums devoted to the works and technology of these two powerhouses. There's a lot more for tourists to do here, from art museums to historic churches and lovely parks. It's also notable for its connection to Vincent Van Gogh, who lived and painted in the nearby village of Nuenen.

1 The Van Abbemuseum

The Van Abbemuseum
The Van Abbemuseum Piano Piano! / photo modified
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Housed in one of the city's most interesting modern buildings, the Van Abbemuseum is one of the most important galleries of modern art in the Netherlands. Highlights of its more than 2,700 pieces include works by modern painters Marc Chagall and Pablo Picasso and the world's largest collection of material by El Lissitzky. Other notable collections include numerous sculptures and art installations, video works, and posters, including a large Paris collection from Jacqueline de Jong, as well as examples from the USA, Germany, and Eastern Europe.

Address: Bilderdijklaan 10, Eindhoven

2 The DAF Museum

The DAF Museum
The DAF Museum FaceMePLS / photo modified
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Eindhoven has been home to DAF, one of Europe's largest truck manufacturers (and, at one time, cars), since the company's founding in 1928. Started by brothers Hub and Wim Van Doorne in a small blacksmith's shop, the company - short for Van Doorne's Aanhangwagen Fabriek - started off making simple engineering products, gradually progressing from trailers to cars and trucks. One of the most popular museums in the southern Netherlands, the DAF Museum is a testament to the company's success and includes a replica of the original workshops and offices, along with samples of its vehicles throughout the decades, including a number of prototypes.

Address: Tongelresestraat 27, Eindhoven

3 The PSV Eindhoven Museum

The PSV Eindhoven Museum
The PSV Eindhoven Museum Jos Dielis / photo modified
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Calling Eindhoven football-obsessed is an understatement. But such claims seem reasonable when you're home to Philips Sport Vereniging (PSV), one of the most successful football (soccer) franchises in Europe. And with the club having celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2014, there's plenty of history on display at the PSV Eindhoven Museum, from historic outfits to photos and film footage of career highlights. Guided tours of the team's Philips Stadium are also available and include packages that take in team practices so you can see the players in action.

Address: Stadionplein 4/ Ingang 17, Eindhoven

4 St. Catherine's Church

St. Catherine's Church during the Glow Festival
St. Catherine's Church during the Glow Festival
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Attractive St. Catherine's Church (St. Catharinakerk) was built in Neo-Gothic style in 1867. The original building - dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria - was consecrated in the 13th century and was many times severely damaged by war and fire, even spending part of the 18th-century as a stables and weapons store. The current structure incorporates a number of symbolic references to the work of Joseph Thijm, one of the country's best-known writers. Highlights include its twin French Gothic towers, each 73 meters tall and known respectively as David and Maria. Interior highlights include its stained glass windows and its two organs, one of them with 5,723 pipes.

Address: Kerkstraat 1, Eindhoven

5 The Philips Museum

The Philips Museum
The Philips Museum Metro Centric / photo modified
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Housed near the factory where Gerard Philips made his first incandescent light bulbs in the 1890s, the Philips Museum shows how this once small enterprise has grown to become one of the world's largest electronics companies. A visit to the ultra-modern Philips Museum gives visitors an excellent overview of the company's success, as well as the workings of its most memorable products. One of the museum's most popular features is Mission Eureka, an interactive game involving digital quizzes and puzzles, and there are other interactive exhibits that children enjoy. English language guided tours of the museum and Philips-related city landmarks are available.

Address: Emmasingel 31, Eindhoven

6 Van Gogh Village, Nuenen

Van Gogh Village, Nuenen
Van Gogh Village, Nuenen
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Just eight kilometers northeast of Eindhoven is the picture-perfect village of Nuenen, famous the world over for its inclusion in the art of Vincent Van Gogh, who lived here from 1883 to 1885. His temporary home was in the pastor's house, which has been completely restored to its original style. A highlight of a visit is the Vincentre, an excellent new attraction dedicated to the artist and his time in Nuenen, and the focal point of many great walks following in Van Gogh's footsteps. These self-guided tours through what's referred to as The Outdoor Museum lead you to more than 20 different locations spread around the village that relate to the artist (some with audio commentary).

Address: Berg 29, Nuenen

7 PreHistorisch Dorp (Prehistoric Village)

PreHistorisch Dorp (Prehistoric Village)
PreHistorisch Dorp (Prehistoric Village) Lennart Tange / photo modified
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One of the most unusual attractions in Eindhoven is the replica of a prehistoric village, complete with dwellings and demonstrations of skills used by prehistoric people. The open-air museum recreates life from this and later eras, including Roman and early medieval. In North Brabant (Noord Brabant), the second largest of the Dutch provinces, agriculture was once the main livelihood before the textile, electrical, and metalworking industries blossomed after 1900. As a result, most of the settlements in the province were small hamlets and villages with farms growing crops such as rye, potatoes, oats, and fodder plants for dairy cattle. At PreHistorisch Dorp, costumed interpreters bring the history of this province to life, going about everyday tasks and interacting with visitors in programs and workshops. These might include learning to make a fire as prehistoric people did, baking bread on a stick, or learning how to make a Roman fibula (garment pin). Prehistoric farming methods, hand weaving and spinning, metalwork, and other skills are demonstrated and discussed here. Although very engaging for children, this is an experience for all ages. Signs are in English as well as Dutch.

Address: Boutenslaan 161B, Eindhoven

8 GLOW and other Festivals

GLOW and other Festivals
GLOW and other Festivals
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In mid-November each year, Eindhoven hosts an international light art festival, with light artists from all over the world transforming the city into a wonderland of colored lights. More than 30 illuminations transform streets and buildings each night. Perhaps the most breathtaking of all these is the illumination of the façade of Saint Catherine's Church, picking out its architectural details in different colors.

Another important annual festival is Lichtjesroute, held each autumn to mark the city's liberation from German occupation in 1944. Eindhoven is home to a number of first rate concert venues and theaters, including the spaceship-like Evoluon, former home of the Philips Science Center and now a conference center and music venue known for hosting major European groups.

9 Genneper Parken and Stadswandelpark

Genneper Watermill
Genneper Watermill kees@eindhoven / photo modified
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Eindhoven is blessed with a number of excellent green spaces providing locals and visitors with ample room to relax. One of the most popular is Genneper Parken, in a pretty location on the Tongelreep and Dommel rivers in a valley conservation area. Explore its well-marked, meandering trails to discover such landmarks as the Genneper Watermill and the neighboring Environmental Education Center, with its exhibits relating to the area's flora and fauna. Also noteworthy is City Park (Stadswandelpark), a popular place for a stroll thanks to its 30 unique sculptures, as well as monuments such as the Radio Monument celebrating the first radio communications with the Dutch East Indies in 1927.

Address: Antoon Coolenlaan 1, Eindhoven

10 Dierenrijk Zoo

Dierenrijk Zoo
Dierenrijk Zoo Lennart Tange / photo modified
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A good place to visit if you are in Eindhoven with children, Dierenrijk is a family-friendly zoo, where the emphasis is on up-close encounters and interacting with the wildlife. Children can get close to such appealing animals as the red panda, and can feed many of them. Elephants and seals perform, and glass walls allow close encounters even with large animals like bears and tigers. Visitors can walk through the bird enclosure. There are playgrounds and exhibits indoors and outside, so this is an all-weather attraction.

Address: Baroniehei 1, Nuenen

11 Inkijkmuseum and Ton Smits Huis

One of Eindhoven's most interesting museums - and certainly the city's smallest - is the Inkijkmuseum, literally translated as a "look-in" museum. Housed in what was the washhouse of a former linen factory, the ground floor of this fascinating little museum is viewed by peeking through its windows at the often-changing artworks inside. Another art-related home to visit is the Ton Smits Huis, a museum in the former studio of one of the Netherland's most famous cartoonists.

Address: Jacob Reviuslaan 25, Eindhoven

Where to Stay in Eindhoven for Sightseeing

If you're visiting Eindhoven for the first time, the best place to stay is in the city center. Most of the top attractions in Eindhoven cluster in this compact area within a short stroll or drive from each other, including the Van Abbemuseum, St. Catherine's Church, and the Eindhoven Museum. Here are some highly-rated hotels in convenient locations:

  • Luxury Hotels: A short stroll from the Van Abbemuseum, the artsy Pullman Eindhoven Cocagne resides in a contemporary glass and steel building. The luxury De Heuvel mall is just across the street. Also sleek and contemporary in style, the Park Plaza Eindhoven, in a quiet, central location steps away from the Van Abbemuseum, has a heated indoor swimming pool, two Finnish saunas, and a small gym. You can walk across the street to Eindhoven Central Station from the Holiday Inn Eindhoven, which offers simply-styled modern rooms and a swimming pool. The hotel is only a short walk to the city center and 500 meters from PSV Stadium.
  • Mid-Range Hotels: Right in the center of the action, an eight-minute walk from Eindhoven Central Station, the trendy Inntel Hotels Art Eindhoven occupies a 1909 factory building with plenty of glass and brooding black accents. Breakfast is included. Even closer to the train station, near restaurants and shops, the Hampshire Hotel - Crown Eindhoven offers clean, compact rooms a five-minute walk from the Philips Museum and PSV stadium. On the market square in the town center, Queen Hotel Cafe Restaurant is also only a five-minute walk from the Philips Museum.
  • Budget Hotels: The pet-friendly Sandton Hotel Eindhoven City Centre, with clean, crisp rooms, is at the top end of the budget category, while the Hotel Benno, also in the heart of the city, is cheap and cheerful. About a seven-minute walk to the Philips Stadium, in a part of the old Philips factory, Blue Collar Hotel has an edgy industrial vibe and an on-site theater and restaurant.

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