From the Bossche bol pastry to sculptures of Hieronymus Bosch’s paintings, here are six things you should do on a quick road trip stop in Den Bosch, Netherlands.
Den Bosch was the first stop on our multi-city, seven-day road trip through the Netherlands, France and Belgium, and wow—what a way to start. This was my first trip as a location-independent business owner (still doesn’t get old saying that!); I worked from the road, our hotels and even the airplane—which brings me back to day one. I was super jet lagged because I chose work over sleep on the overnight flight.
But Den Bosch (also called ‘s Hertogenbosch) brought me back to life. This charming maze of cobblestone streets and quaint canals is a little over an hour from Amsterdam. It has quirky public art installations and a gorgeous cathedral, and while that’s all well and good, I’m 99.9 percent positive it was the uber-rich Bossche bol pastry that woke me from my jet lag.
If you’re heading out on a road trip from Schiphol Airport, here are six things to do in Den Bosch, starting OBVIOUSLY with said pastry.
1. Try a Bossche bol at Jan de Groot
Bossche bol is the dessert of Den Bosch. This chocolate-covered puff pastry looks like a skee-ball on the outside, with an explosion of real (read: full-fat) whipped cream on the inside. Sweet baby Jesus.
This thing is the real deal, and the best place to get it is the highly popular Jan de Groot, the home of the original Bossche bol. We got here early (10 a.m.) and barely snagged a seat. As we left, the line was out the door. My point? Get here early OR look for any bakeries or restaurants with the Jan de Groot seal so you can try the whipped cream heaven that is Bossche bol.
2. Visit the Jheronimus Bosch Art Center
Unfortunately we didn’t have time for a visit to Jheronimus Bosch Art Museum, but if you have time, go! The museum is dedicated to the life and works of the city’s famous painter, Hieronymus Bosch. In addition to viewing his work, you can take a glass elevator up 40 meters to a panoramic city viewing deck (that I’m so sad we missed!). Next time, Den Bosch. Next time.
3. See the unusual sculptures
While we didn’t get to the art center, we did get to enjoy a variety of quirky Hieronymus Bosch paintings in sculpture form all over the city. Den Bosch has a number of sculptural representations of Bosch’s paintings on display, so keep an eye out on the canals, main squares and the small side streets for some bizarre and interesting artwork that’ll definitely stop you in your tracks.
4. Walk along the canals
Nearly every twist and turn in Den Bosch will lead you to a picture-perfect canal. Charming homes are built overtop many canals and some of the waterways even have those quirky, oh-so-Den Bosch sculptures I mentioned above. As you navigate your waterway walk, make sure to enjoy the canal-lined streets near St. John’s Cathedral, one block past Hinthamerstraat.
5. Visit St. John’s Cathedral
I’ll be honest, at the beginning of our visit my favorite thing about St. John’s Cathedral was that it was inside, giving us shelter from the cold. I realize that makes me sound like a semi-horrible person, so let me recover my place in heaven by saying AFTER we walked around the church, I was amazed by the beautiful stained glass and intricate architecture. It’s definitely worth a quick trip in, no matter your reason!
6. Shop and snack at the Markt
Open Tuesday through Saturday, the Markt brings fresh local cuisine and Den Bosch treats (lookin’ at you, Bossche bol) to the city’s central square. We stumbled upon this stretch of stalls right as the market opened, which means we were sadly not in the mood for herring or cheese. Of course, we had to save room for the full-fat whipped cream and chocolate delicacies that would soon call our bellies home. (Hey, did you know I ate Bossche bol in Den Bosch? K, just checking…)
Now, it goes without saying that things to do in Den Bosch go far beyond these six items. The city has way more to see than we had time for, but if you’re short on time on your Netherlands-Belgium-France road trip, then this is your guide! Speaking of road tripping, here are a few things to know about getting to Den Bosch:
Things to know about driving to Den Bosch
Leaving any city typically comes with chaos. You’re getting used to new roads, foreign signs and that all-too-familiar feeling of having no idea where you are. (So basically, my life.) give yourself time and have patience as you leave Schiphol; if you miss a turn, your GPS will redirect you.
The one thing you need when road tripping from Schiphol
To that point, make sure you have some sort of GPS so that if (when) you get lost, you don’t have to panic. We usually activate the $10/day Verizon pass or, this trip, we gave Skyroam global WiFi a shot. I personally prefer these options to renting a GPS because you get email and app access, a must for working on the road.
Where to park in Den Bosch
Garage St. Jan is one of the closest parking options, and you get to see some pretty scenery and quirky sculptures along the way! Pricing isn’t bad, and varies based on how long you stay.
Have you been to Den Bosch? Let me know your favorite thing to do in Den Bosch in the comments below!
And, if you’re looking for more Netherlands adventures, head over to my guide to the historically rich, modernly designed city of Rotterdam.