A sparkling and historical city in West Brabant with a cheerful personality: that’s Breda. For our Breda Mama, it has the nicest city centre in all the Netherlands.
We didn’t choose Breda, it chose us, or rather the house did. It was the only house we could rent at the time. But we are glad it did choose us, as Breda is a vibrant city located in the heart of Brabant’s green landscape.
Breda is a great city for children, and the combination of its rich history and numerous things to do make it an inspiring city to visit and to live in. It has now grown into a city with around 170.000 inhabitants. The name Breda comes from a contraction of the word Brede (wide) and Aa. It is the place where the two rivers, the Mark and the Aa, meet. In 1252 Breda obtained its municipal rights, and at the beginning of the 14th century it was walled in and surrounded with moats, making it a fortified city. You can still find them all around the city.
So, where to start your journey around Breda? It's a very accessible city, with trains and buses coming in from all corners of the Netherlands and Belgium. The VVV (tourist office) Breda would be a good start to your trip. It is located right outside the train station and here you can find information about hotel reservations, sights in and around Breda, special events taking place in the area, city walks (guided and unguided), souvenir sales and theatre and concert reservations.
Breda and its surroundings offer several possibilities for day trips for families. Here are some of our favourites from our Summer Bucket list:
Lots of lovely animals at this petting zoo.
Not only a farm but a natural park too. You can hire bikes, visit the natural lakes and forests or do a treasure hunt.
Raining? One of the many indoor playparks in Breda. Ball parks, climbing frames and slides galore.
Breda’s largest central park, right by the station. It is an ideal place for a picnic before shopping or sightseeing round the city. With a lake, river ducks, chickens and rabbits; there is lots to see. There is a small playpark with a sandpit and also a small café/restaurant.
An outdoor, day recreation venue with the best invention; a maïsdoolhof (labyrinth in a cornfield). Spend the day trying to get out of a cornfield! What better way to keep the kids entertained?
Children and castles - a great combination! This castle is maybe for the older kids though. The castle can only be visited via tours conducted by the Breda tourist office.
To the south of Breda you'll find this fairytale castle complete with a tower and an orchard and surrounded by no less than three magnificent gardens.
Museums (child friendly)
A museum dedicated to toys of the past. Apart from the exhibitions, you can also do a photo hunt, open all the drawers in the Dolls Paradise and see a magic lantern show, to mention a few activities.
Collection of doll houses, sand miniatures, and other mini delights from Breda.
Only a few large cities in the Netherlands are surrounded by as many forests and scenic areas as Breda is. Those who want to exchange the noise of the city for the peace of the countryside can choose from numerous possibilities in the direct vicinity of Breda, including boswachterijen Mastbos, Liesbos, Ulvenhoutse Bos, Chaam, Strijbeek and Dorst. There are about 4000 acres of forests and nature altogether.
Forest where children can play (Mastbos). Climbing trees, a dwarf forest and much more!
Why not take to the water and rent a boat to go round Breda’s rivers? Check out the tourist board for more info.
Heated outdoor pool.
Indoor and outdoor swimming pool.
Around Breda there are many natural lakes and “beaches”, try:
Asterdplas in Haagse Beemden.
Galderse Meren in the Mastbos.
With mini-golf, animals, a corn field labyrinth and a pancake house, there's lots to keep everybody entertained.
So many things to see and do, but of course there is one more thing definitely not to be missed: The Efteling. It is the Netherlands' biggest theme park and three times the size of Disneyland California. Not in Breda itself, but just outside, Efteling is well worth a visit and easily accessible by public transport.
Hope to see you in Breda some time soon!
About the author: Rosalind Van Aalen Grant is a part-time lecturer in English and Spanish at University in Breda. She is also interested in developing e-learning within teaching and is currently studying a Masters in Digital Communication in Education. Rosalind is also involved with Breda Expats, where she is the PR and Social Media coordinator and runs the children's activities.
This article has been updated for 2019.