The Best Things to See and Do in Eindhoven, The Netherlands

Eindhoven, in the Netherlands, is at the cutting edge of technology
Eindhoven, in the Netherlands, is at the cutting edge of technology | © Nick Bookelaar

While it was founded in the 13th century, Eindhoven’s real history is intricately entwined with the rise of electronics giant Philips – so much so that it is informally known as the City of Light, in reference to the bulbs that the company once produced here in vast quantities. The Netherlands’ fifth-largest settlement may lack the old-world charm of other Dutch cities, but modern Eindhoven is a hub of innovation, technology and cutting-edge design, and many of its fascinating sights reflect this.

See modern and contemporary art at the Van Abbemuseum

Building, Market, Museum
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Things to see and do_Van Abbemuseum_by Nadia ten Wolde (DO NOT USE)
© Nadia ten Wolde
Established in 1936, the Van Abbemuseum is one of the leading museums for modern and contemporary art in the Netherlands. The building underwent renovations in 2003, adding a vast and futuristic extension – a work of architectural art in its own right – that’s surrounded by a watery moat. The museum’s permanent collection includes works by world-famous artists such as Picasso, Mondrian, Chagall and El Lissitzky, and there is a continually changing array of always fascinating temporary exhibitions. Entry to the museum is free if you visit between 3pm and 5pm on a Tuesday.

Join in at Dutch Design Week

Art Gallery
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Every year in October, more than 2,600 designers converge on Eindhoven to present their ideas at what has evolved into the biggest design event in Northern Europe: Dutch Design Week (DDW). The popular week-long event attracts more than 350,000 visitors from across the Netherlands and around the world. Events small and large take place at more than 100 locations throughout the city and include workshops, seminars, exhibitions and lectures by prominent figures from all walks of the design world, from technology to fashion. A lot of DDW’s emphasis is placed on nurturing the young talent of the future.

Take an iconic architecture walking tour

Architectural Landmark
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Things to see and do_Evoluon (DO NOT USE)
Courtesy of This is Eindhoven

Eindhoven’s most striking building, the Evoluon, is in the shape of a flying saucer; formerly a technology museum, it’s now an events venue. The central Vesteda Toren stands out on the skyline as it resembles New York’s Flatiron Building, while De Admirant, at 105m (344ft), is the city’s tallest building. Nearby is the bizarrely amorphous structure known as De Blob, while across the street is the distinctive former Philips lightbulb factory, the White Lady. At one end, the top floors of its heptagonal Light Tower once shone like a permanent beacon, as this is where the company tested its light bulbs for endurance.

Visit historic churches

Church
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Oude Toren (Old Tower) was once part of a Brabantine gothic church, built in the 15th century on the site of an 11th-century original. Today, the 43m (141ft) tower is all that remains, but it’s the oldest building in town and a must-visit for those interested in history. Another unmissable landmark is the central Augustinian church, built in 1898 in the neo-gothic style. It survived World War II almost untouched, but was deconsecrated in 2017 – the adjoining monastery cloisters are now a conference centre and deluxe boutique hotel.

Explore the Philips Museum

Museum, Park
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Things to see and do_Philips Museum_by Nick Bookelaar (DO NOT USE AGAIN)
© Nick Bookelaar
Eindhoven’s modern history is inextricably linked with the name Philips. Visit the Philips Museum to discover how a small family business that began manufacturing lamps in 1891 evolved into the multinational brand of today. On the site of the first Philips factory in the city centre, it houses displays that include a re-creation of the original workshop. One little-known story about the company is how Frits Philips, who was in charge at the time, used his factories during World War II to provide local Jews with a haven, in a similar way as Oskar Schindler.

Browse for bargains at the FeelGood Market

Bazaar, Market, Music Venue, Theater
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Things to see and do_FeelGood Market_by Hanneke Wetzer (instead of DAF Museum photo) (DO NOT USE AGAIN)
© Hanneke Wetzer
Every third Sunday of the month, people flock to the Ketelhuisplein at the heart of Strijp-S – a repurposed industrial district – to explore the FeelGood Market. This vibrant event brings together designers, artists and other creative people who come to exhibit and sell their creations, alongside live music, theatre and dance performances, and a host of different workshops. Walk around and listen to music, sample tasty food or simply relax and soak up the chilled atmosphere. The market combines both children’s activities and entertainment for adults, making it perfect for the whole family.

Visit the DAF Museum

Museum
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© Nick Bookelaar

Philips may grab the headlines as the company that built Eindhoven, but the city is also home to another global company, DAF Trucks. The DAF Museum explores its history with a re-creation of the original DAF garage. There are hundreds of cars, trucks and other utility vehicles on display, including some heavy-duty survivors from the gruelling Paris-Dakar Rally. There are driving simulators and other themed hands-on games for the kids, plus you can climb into a trucker’s cabin or simply take a look at some whacky prototypes that never quite made it into production.

Relax in parks and gardens

Park
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Things to see and do_parks_by Nick Bookelaar
© Nick Bookelaar

Thanks to its relatively recent development, Eindhoven has benefitted from sympathetic town planning and is one of the greenest cities in the Netherlands. It’s possible to follow the banks of the River Dommel from one side of the centre to the other along a leafy corridor virtually the whole way. Perfect for an evening stroll, Stadswandelpark (City Walking Park) is home to numerous modern sculptures that turn it into an outdoor art gallery. Also worth exploring is the expansive parkland surrounding the Karpendonkse Plas, a lake that’s home to a large population of geese as well as one of the city’s finest restaurants.

Discover Genneper Parken

Park
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© preHistorisch Dorp
The sprawling area to the south of the city collectively known as Genneper Parken is perfect for anyone looking for a place that offers a host of different activities. To get a taste of nature, you can explore a variety of hiking routes or visit an organic farm. For something more sporty, one of the largest indoor swimming complexes in Europe is also here, and in winter, you can slide and twirl your way around an ice-skating rink. More educational is the PreHistorisch Dorp, a re-creation of both an Iron Age village and a medieval hamlet.

Take the PSV Stadium Tour

Stadium
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Eindhoven is proud of its sporting heritage, and nothing has given the city more reason to cheer than its men’s football team, PSV, which has won the Dutch league more than 20 times. A tour of PSV’s home ground, Philips Stadium, is a must for any fan. The visit takes in behind-the-scenes areas, such as the changing rooms and the directors’ box, and gives a glimpse into the pitch-side dugouts. The adjoining museum is packed with memorabilia from the club’s history, including a replica of the European Cup, a trophy the club won in 1988.

Take in the sights of Glow

Architectural Landmark
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GLOW Eindhoven - Mindsets (DO NOT USE)
© GLOW Eindhoven / Bart van Overbeeke

The biggest annual event in Eindhoven is Glow, a week-long spectacular celebration of light art that highlights the city’s design innovation and attracts more than 750,000 visitors. Each November the organisers create a different walking route around the city centre, peppered with around 30 art installations. They range from small and quirky fun pieces to the grand-scale illumination of the exterior of entire buildings, such as the Van Abbemuseum and the façade of the central St Catherine’s Church.

Explore Strijp-S

Shopping Mall, Building, Art Gallery, Cinema
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© Nick Bookelaar
Northwest of central Eindhoven, the Strijp-S district was once the manufacturing hub of global electronics giant Philips. It was known as the Forbidden City, as the site was off limits to everyone except company employees. Today, it has taken on a new lease of life that’s accessible to all. Factories have transformed into a wealth of designer stores, art ateliers, creative spaces and fun activities ranging from a virtual reality experience to an arthouse cinema. It’s even home to one of Europe’s largest indoor skateparks. You’ll also find a growing selection of bars and restaurants, including a food hall and a brewpub.

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