Having called it home for the past 20 years, Tim Skelton gives you the insider’s tour of Eindhoven
, a thriving modern capital of design and one of Europe’s top ‘micro-cities’.
0700-0900. If you are up and about early, you won’t find too many places that are open. Instead, start the day by appreciating Eindhoven’s green spaces. Head a few hundred metres south of the centre to the Stadswandelpark, the city’s largest park, to appreciate the fresh air and birdsong of the morning. Being for the most part a planned city, there are leafy corridors right across the urban area, and it’s possible to walk from one side to the other with only minimal bother from the traffic. Having worked up a healthy appetite for breakfast, head back into the centre to Bagel & Juice (Kleine Berg 19, 040 244 1340), which opens at 8am.
0900-1100. For something more substantial, the Markt (central square) is lined with cafés. One that will be open at this time is Carrousel (Markt 35, 040 245 3890). It’s particularly easy to spot in summer, when there’s a working carousel out in front. You can order everything here, from simple croissants to a hearty plate of bacon, sausage and egg, guaranteed to keep you fuelled for the rest of the morning. If you order the straight breakfast, coffee refills are free. Alternatively, there are plenty of places to stock up inside the Heuvel Galerie (Heuvel Galerie 133, 040 246 7171), a large indoor mall a few steps from the square, and home to around 100 shops and food outlets.
1100-1300. For something more intellectual, Eindhoven’s latest attraction is the brand new Philips Museum (Emmasingel 31, 040 235 9030), which opened in April 2013. The city owes its existence to the giant electronics company, and this museum highlights its many contributions to the world of innovation and technology throughout its 125-year history, as well as celebrating its special connection with its hometown. The museum is built around the original Philips light bulb factory, which is set up to look as it would have done when it opened in 1891. To see how Eindhoven retains its place at the cutting edge of 21st-century European design, walk south to the Designhuis (Stadhuisplein 3, 040 232 9720), where the creations of today’s young local clothing designers, furniture makers and madcap inventors are on display.
1300-1500. From food for the mind to food for the stomach. One street offering plentiful choices is Kleine Berg. Among the best is Grand Café Berlage (Kleine Berg 16, 040 245 7481), which serves lunches to suit every budget and appetite, from a quick roll to a full meal. If the weather cooperates, head to the back and eat in the spacious garden, the perfect spot to escape the city bustle for a moment. If seafood is more your style, Kreeftenbar (Kleine Berg 21, 040 236 4440) is right across the street. This is a temple to that most delicious of crustaceans, the lobster, and the lunchtime set menu is a great-value bit of indulgence.
1500-1700. Fans of contemporary art should not miss the Van Abbemuseum (Bilderdijklaan 10, 040 238 1000), a few blocks south of the centre. This striking building is home to one of not just the Netherlands’ but Europe’s finest collections of modern artworks. The airy and quirkily designed exhibition space, in which no two rooms are the same, houses regularly changing exhibitions, which are always thought-provoking and often amusing. Among the permanent works on display are fine pieces by Kandinsky and Mondrian. There are also some early paintings by Picasso, and several by El Lissitzky. To digest what you’ve seen, stop off for a refreshment in the museum café, which has a large riverside terrace.
1700-1900. If your shopping tastes are still unsated, the area around 18 Septemberplein should help. On the north side of this large square, the Piazza Center (Piazza 64) is a semi-open mall crammed with designer fashion stores. Next door to it is de Bijenkorf (Piazza 1, 0800 0818), the region’s number one department store which stocks top-end label brands. You’ll find trendy but more affordable clothing at the west end of the same square, inside the unmissable ‘Blob’ (Nieuwe Emmasingel), an odd-shaped mall created by Massimiliano Fuksas, the Italian architect famed for his ‘flowing glass’ designs. The Blob also has a little sister, ‘The Blip’, a smaller glass dome at the east end of the same square. With shopping done, return to the Markt and relax with an aperitif on any one of the large café terraces, a great spot for sitting and watching the world pass by.
1900-2100. If you can afford it, the very best place to eat in Eindhoven is Avant-Garde van Groeninge (Frederiklaan 10d, 040 250 5640). The fabulous creations of Michelin-starred Johan van Groeninge certainly don’t come cheap, but they are exquisite. The restaurant is located inside PSV Eindhoven’s modern football stadium, and the dining room comes with a prime view of the pitch. But don’t expect a table on match days unless you reserve a full season in advance. For bistro-style dining, try Restaurant Zuid (Geldropseweg 5, 040 848 0808), which offers the finest French-Dutch cuisine in intimate and friendly surrounds.
After 2100. When it comes to after-dinner bars, Eindhoven has plenty of options. Beer lovers should make a beeline for Café de Baron (Kleine Berg 26, 040 296 0099). With around 150 beer choices, choose a brew from the many taps or from the glass-fronted cabinets beside the bar. De Bierprofessor (Stratumseind 33, 06 553 55572) boasts a similarly broad range. Wine lovers should drop by Jiu.nu (Willemstraat 9, 040 202 7154). Although primarily a restaurant, when it’s not full you are welcome to sample a glass from its range of more than 20 open bottles. Or for something wilder, those with their dancing shoes on will want to dip into Bermuda (Stationsplein 4, 040 244 2096), a club that opens at 11pm (Thursday to Saturday only), and continues partying well into the early hours.
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