Visiting the Netherlands? Come to Oisterwijk

by farrah on June 12, 2014 · 10 comments

I don’t think I’ve ever really given Oisterwijk (Oh-ster-vyke) the attention that is due. It’s our small village, about an hour and a half south of Amsterdam in the providence of North Brabant. Our closest ‘big town’ is Tilburg- the two comparisons that come to mind for me and my Michigan/South Carolina readers are Novi and Greenville- but Tilburg is smaller than both, while Oisterwijk is even smaller.

Oisterwijk map Image credit: Google Maps.

The ‘pearl’ of Brabant (as Oisterwijk is affectionately known) is a village with a small centrum a few neighborhood schools and lots and lots of green. In 2012, Oisterwijk turned 800 years young (!). One of the things I love most about our village is how well maintained and groomed the green spaces remain. Whenever we tell people where we live in the NL (other Dutch people) they say ‘Oh! Yes! That is a very desirable area! Very nice.’ Or something to that effect. We are lucky indeed.

Bike in OisterwijkTaking our friends on a ride. Photo credit T. Lodge

I would never guess that the Netherlands is one of the most populated countries in all of Europe based on size when you see how much forest space we have! The numerous bike paths and even the center area are all filled in well with trees. I love the charm and quaint style of the city. In my mind, it’s exactly what I think of when it comes to Dutch living: tasteful, manicured and of good character.

What to do

Oisterwijk windmillOur windmill. Photo credit K. Lodge

  • First thing I do when we have visitors coming is set them up with bike rentals.  We used Schepenstweewielers for my father’s, our friends from Ireland and now our upcoming guests from Germany. Cost is €10/day, with a deposit of €20 per bike. Easy online rental form. They might even deliver the bikes to a hotel or wherever you need them.
  • Shop! From the delicious chocolatier of Saranne  to the fantastic upscale clothing boutiques like Adam Brandstore and my favorite store in Oisterwijk- the kitchen shop KosterVugs.
  • Check out our windmill! There has been one on this spot for hundreds of years, and this functioning windmill also houses a little cafe with sweets, beer and coffee.
  • Visit La Trappe monestary/brewery for lunch, a drink and a tour. We went there last year and LOVED it. Additionally, our favorite pancake house is also a sure bet and just a gorgeous bike ride away.

Oisterwijk church

  • You can’t miss St. Petruskerk. No really, you cannot miss it. The giant brick church dominates the cityscape- and is a great marker in case you get lost in your wanderings. There’s a beautiful cemetery as well on its grounds. There are now over 10 1939-1945 war casulties commemorated here.
  • Beach/swimming pool of course there are rec areas too!
  • And more! Tell me you’re coming and I can keep you busy. There is even an art gallery or two and so many historic sights to see.

 Where to stay

meImages from Meneer Van Eijck website.

There are several boutique hotels in the area- the only chain that I’m familiar with is a Best Western on the outskirts. We have friends coming in a couple of weeks and they wanted a hotel recommendation. I can’t say I’ve stayed there, but my first choice is the charming Meneer Van Eijck set back in the forest. We’ve stopped for lunch and let the boys play on their outdoor climbing structures a few times. To me it looks simply magical.

My second choice is where they actually found a room as my first option was booked: Hotel Boschoord. Again, this is set in the woods on the outer part of town, but still just a short six kilometers from our house- even less to the center.

Summer events

Kermis OisterwijkLast summer we experienced Kermis for the first time.

There always seems to be something going on– and unfortunately for me if I don’t pay attention I miss it. Based upon last summer, we know that Kermis is coming- which is a huge festival and fair in the centrum. This year the fair is July 11-16. Very glad that it comes the week before our holiday! The rides are perfect for our boys’ ages, and the games are great. Last year we found a stall with an older couple- they let the boys play until they won something. I thought that was very sweet and hope to see them again this year.

A true Dutch village

Oisterwijk centrumOne of the many, many outdoor cafes on De Lind.

If I were coming to the Netherlands for the first or fiftieth time- I would be sure to visit outside of just the ‘big’ cities like Amsterdam or Rotterdam. I realize there are so many options- but size wise, the Netherlands is small and you can see  so much. Additionally, think about the US. The diversity from region to region boggles the mind. It’s very much the same here. You don’t really get a feel for the Dutch just by visiting one place- and a very touristy place like Amsterdam at that. Sure I like Amsterdam, but the small villages are quickly becoming my favorite places to see and explore on our travels.

What’s your favorite city in the NL and why?

Tell me your favorite find! We recently discovered Haaren right up the street and I’m currently making a list of others that we have to see.

All photos taken by me unless otherwise noted.

 

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Elizabeth June 12, 2014 at 5:46 pm

I CAN’T WAIT!!!!!

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2 farrah June 13, 2014 at 5:35 am

If you like small, quaint, charming and woodsy- you are so in luck! Can’t wait to show you our town.

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3 SJ @ Chasing the Donkey June 12, 2014 at 10:32 pm

I don’t have a fave… but I wanna come visit and say hi. Ohhh and you can tell Linc, CONGRATS…

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4 farrah June 13, 2014 at 5:36 am

Aw MAN! Really?!?!??!?!
And you just need swing up here, after I swing down there 🙂

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5 Jessica June 13, 2014 at 6:25 am

My hubby and I are camping with our church somewhere in that general area this summer! I can wave at Oisterwijk if we pass it or the sign. 🙂

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6 farrah June 14, 2014 at 7:20 am

Yes! There’s one nearby that’s run by the parents of B’s classmate. YOu need to tell me which one 🙂

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7 Julia June 16, 2014 at 11:02 am

I hope to get here some day it sounds wonderful!

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8 Paul November 10, 2015 at 3:04 am

Well, I suppose one of the wonders would be Bourtange, rather off the beaten path though. Culemborg, Giethoorn, and of course Groningen.

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9 Elena Lomeli March 25, 2018 at 7:15 pm

Hello! Thanks for your post! Very nice read!
We are a dutch-maxivan family who has been living in India as expats for 4 years. Our time here has come to an end and we are looking at Oisterwijk as a place to move into. We have a 6 years old dauther and a 2 years old boy. I would love to hear more of your thoughts about life in Oisterwijk, from school to your neighbourhood. Would love to chat with you!

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10 farrah March 26, 2018 at 10:42 am

Sent you an email!

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