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Thanks to a rich legacy in technology and manufacturing, Eindhoven, in the Netherlands, has evolved into a dynamic, compact city with plenty to do for lovers of art and design. Set aside a weekend, and immerse yourself in everything from industrial architecture to innovative dining. Here’s how to plan the perfect break.
Morning – Orientate yourself in the city centre
Start at 18 Septemberplein, the square named to commemorate the date in 1944 when Eindhoven was liberated from Nazi occupation. It’s where you’ll find a futuristic building: the Blob (Binary Large Object). Enter the arch glass and steel structure, designed by Massimiliano Fuksas, to find yourself in the Dutch high-street store Sissy-Boy, where you can stock up on all kinds of kit for your home. There is also a restaurant where you can fuel up ready for the rest of your day exploring the city.
For expertly prepared coffee in hip surroundings, make a beeline for Coffeelab at Stationsplein, inside the railway station. Continue towards the Dommel river, and you’ll discover something that’ll put a smile on your face – the Silly Walk Eindhoven. The 130m (427ft) underpass is adorned by artwork paying tribute to John Cleese’s high-kicking gait in the Ministry of Silly Walks sketch from the 1960s BBC television comedy series Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
Afterwards, a visit to the neogothic St Catherine’s church, a national monument built in the 1860s to a design by Pierre Cuypers, the celebrated architect of the Rijksmuseum, will allow you a moment of reflection beneath the elegant vaulted arches.
Afternoon – View modern art
Not sure what you want for lunch? The Down Town Gourmet Market is a casual dining space that houses 21 artisanal food outlets, ranging from fried Dutch snacks to the likes of sushi and Vietnamese street food. With a couple of bars and a covered patio, it’s a great place to hang out and people-watch from Tuesday to Sunday.
From here, it’s a short stroll to the sleek Vesteda Toren. Designed by Jo Coenen, it stands 90m (295ft) tall and is sometimes regarded as Eindhoven’s contemporary answer to the Flatiron Building in New York City. Get a great view of this impressive structure by standing in front of ‘t College, another architectural design by Coenen.
Continue over the Dommel to visit the Van Abbemuseum, a contemporary art museum whose sizeable and internationally significant collection includes works by members of the De Stijl movement – plus the likes of Wassily Kandinsky and El Lissitzky. The museum is open from 11am until 5pm from Tuesday until Sunday – reserving an entry time is recommended while visitor numbers are limited because of Covid-19. The terrace cafe at the museum overlooks water features and offers views onto the contemporary exterior designed by Abel Cahen. Head around the other side to marvel at the original church-like façade, designed by AJ Kropholler in the 1930s.
Evening – Eat, drink and be merry
Take your pick from the many upbeat and innovative dining options in Eindhoven. Use the tapering brickwork chimney just a few metres from the entrance of Phood Kitchen to find this restaurant whose focus is healthy street food that’s big on flavour. Dishes are made from organic ingredients from urban farms, and the garden roll salad features vegetables grown on-site using an aquaponics system.
The industrial buildings in the area, known as the Campina Site, are being repurposed to encourage entrepreneurs to take residence. Go online to select and book a tour and tasting at the Bottle Distillery, a craft distiller that also offers you the opportunity to participate in fun and insightful gin-making workshops. The bar and terrace is open until 8pm on Thursdays and Sundays and until 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
Fancy a nightcap? Take a comfortable seat in a sofa at the Van Moll brewpub (open from Tuesday to Sunday) before sinking a craft beer or two. It’s a good place to unwind after a full day and ideal if you enjoy sampling local brews that are big on character.
Morning – Pedal to a museum
The Philips Museum tells the story behind the technology conglomerate, founded in Eindhoven in 1891. It has a huge collection of hi-tech equipment, and also hosts temporary exhibitions. Because of Covid-19, e-tickets are required to guarantee entry so make sure you book in advance.
The city football club, PSV Eindhoven, was founded as the Philips sports club. At the 35,000-capacity Philips Stadium is a museum, and tours of the ground are an option from Monday to Saturday (until four hours before kick-off on match days). The gates outside the grounds, bearing the PSV crest, are a popular spot for selfies.
You could also pedal to the DAF Museum, which explores the history of the vehicle manufacturer, established in Eindhoven in 1928, and features the workshop where the Van Doorne brothers set up their business, plus cars and trucks produced by the company. Because of Covid-19, you’ll need to book tickets online for visits between 10am and 5pm from Tuesday to Sunday.
Afternoon – Appreciate architectural evolution
Enjoy a leisurely lunch at Kazerne, a minimalist restaurant serving modern Italian cuisine within repurposed military police barracks. The building also houses a design hotel and exhibitions of works by artists and designers. If you want to visit the exhibition, email with your preferred time.
Afterwards, cycle towards the Evoluon to view the 1960s building that looks like a grounded flying saucer. Built by Philips, it serves as a conference centre and events venue. It’s open from 11.30am to 7.30pm on weekdays, and you can visit the restaurant for a drink and a peek inside.
From there, the Strijp-S district, the location of the Area 51 skatepark, is a short ride away. Former Philips factories here have been converted into hubs and lofts for creative entrepreneurs. A guided tour is one way of learning about this area of Eindhoven, which was formerly known as the forbidden city because only certain Philips people had access. Each October, the industrial buildings host exhibitions of thought-provoking artworks and installations as part of Dutch Design Week.
Evening – Arts and good food
Vincent van Gogh spent two highly productive years living in Nuenen, a village less than 8km (5mi) northeast of Eindhoven. Pedal 6km (4mi) outside the city centre to see the Van Gogh Roosegaarde Bicycle Path. Inspired by Van Gogh’s The Starry Night, the path glows at night with swirling solar-powered lights.
If you’re looking for musical entertainment, book tickets for a concert at the Muziekgebouw Eindhoven. Renowned for its acoustics, the main auditorium seats up to 1,250 and hosts artists from a wide range of genres including classical, jazz and world music.
The Temporary Art Centre (TAC) is an alternative venue with art exhibitions, musical gigs and stand-up comedy – often in English. Open from Wednesday to Sunday, the TAC is a collaborative space with 80 studios for use by creatives. It has a cafe and a restaurant, the MinYoung Korean FoodLab, which serves beautifully presented fusion dishes.
While in Eindhoven, you should follow Dutch government guidelines regarding behaviour to mitigate the transmission of Covid-19 and check the websites of attractions and businesses for possible restrictions being applied in response to the coronavirus.