24 hours in Tilburg | The “New Dutch” city you can’t miss

This is a sponsored post with CityMarketing Tilburg but all opinions are my own. 

If you’re in the Netherlands or planning a trip to the Netherlands and are looking for somewhere to go that isn’t in all the guidebooks (yet), then I have the perfect spot for you. 

When you live in Amsterdam like I do, you get stuck in a bit of a bubble. You *want* to explore other places in the country, but you just never seem to get out there. This is a mistake, but not one to feel bad about because there’s always time to visit somewhere new. Make this weekend that moment (or your next trip).  

Tilburg, Netherlands is a gem that I’m kind of mad at myself for not discovering beforehand. But now that I have, I’m ready to share it with you. If you’re a bit jaded by all the cute Dutch towns that are cute but don’t offer too much else, then you’ll be glad you’ve made it to this page.

Jessica in black shirt in front of a wall mural that says "street to urban"

Why you should visit Tilburg, Netherlands

The reason Sean and I have fallen in love with Tilburg is because there’s the cute Dutch town part, but mixed into this lively, vibrant, liveable city that gives you experiences you’ve been craving. Being a university town, there’s a fun vibe that’s impossible to ignore but isn’t overwhelming.

The modern and old are seamlessly intertwined in a way that feels impossible but just adds to the “wow” factor. The streets go all different directions and a lot of the old town center is for pedestrians and bikes. If there was one down side, that would be it. In Amsterdam, bikes go in specific places and don’t normally occupy the same space as pedestrians. In Tilburg, there isn’t always a clear signal (or rule) where the bikes are. So, just pay attention.

Looking for good food and fun? Who wouldn’t answer yes to this?! My list keeps growing of the places I want to eat when we go back, but I’ll include the ones we went to on our trip.

If you like to hang out outside under big parasols with a drink, this is definitely your city. There are so many terraces, you could have your pick of the litter for WEEKS!

Ok, let’s get into the good stuff

Tilburg harbor

How to spend 24 hours in Tilburg

Arrive by train from anywhere in the Netherlands and get off at Tilburg Central Station (not the University stop) and you’ll find some luggage lockers if you want to jump right into exploring. Or head to the Mercure Hotel Tilburg Centrum and check in. We had a great view over the square and church. Pretty epic!

Grab dinner at the hotel

If you book early enough, get a reservation for Restaurant Taste! We didn’t realize we’d be in town in time for dinner so we didn’t make a reservation, but we did eat in the Grand Cafe Puur which was also really good. We’d definitely go back but Taste! is high on my list for next time.

Visit the Doloris Meta Maze

The Meta Maze…you all…I can’t even begin to explain. There’s a video on their website that kind of explains it but it’s a place you have to see to believe. It’s a timed entrance, so book ahead of time. You’ll need to leave all electronics in a locker so you can’t record anything!

Grab a cocktail at the rooftop bar

Doloris also has a massive rooftop bar (some outside and some inside) and it’s such a cool place. It was dark when we arrived so we didn’t get the full city view, but just being up there is an experience in itself. And yes, they make yummy drinks.

Experience Prison Island

There’s a lot to do at NondeJeu like lawn bowling (indoors) or just dive into Prison Island. The rooms are like puzzles. Some rooms are pretty easy and some are pretty hard. I’d take 3 people and go to have an epic time. When lawn bowling, definitely get a drink and snack to round out the experience.

Jessica wearing a pink denim jack and black shirt with jeans on rope bridge

Explore the city by foot or bike in the morning

While it’s still quiet, go out and take in the architecture, visit the Kromhoutpark and play on the rope bridge like a child (it’s pretty fun!). There’s a watertower by the park that’s worth a peek as well. I know some people like to go for a run in a new place and while I’m not that ambitious, a nice walk is good for the soul.

Have lunch at the Gourmet Market Centraal Station

You’ll definitely find something you’re craving at the Gourmet Market because it’s full of food stalls of all kinds of cuisines. If it’s a nice day, you can sit out on the turnstile that used to be used for trains and grab a local G&T. This area of the city has been renovated and repurposed to become the coolest of hangout spots.

Check out the LocHal

While you’re nearby, you’ll want to walk over to the LocHal…the city’s library. It’s a wonder in itself. Also repurposed, the design is unlike any library you’ve ever seen. One of the study tables is ON A TRAIN CART. If that’s not reason enough to pop in, I don’t know what is.

Rent e-steps

Tired of walking? Some people can keep going all day and some of us like a little break. The e-steps have wheels and steering like a bike, but are also like scooters. Hard to explain but fun to ride and give your feet a rest.

Jessica on e-steps scooter in front of bushes

Get a Softy ice cream

I hope you left room after lunch because you should make your way over to Softy’s Tilburg Centrum for a local favorite. I don’t care what time of year it is, ice cream is always a good idea. Don’t you agree?

Drink a Trappist beer

Visit the tasting room for La Trappe beer at the monastery just outside of the city center. The e-steps make this a fast ride, so don’t get scared about the distance! There aren’t too many beers like this left in the world, so if you’re a beer fan, this is a must-do activity.

Jessica in front of street art mural with birds painted on it

Hunt for street art

Get your street art map from the hotel and use your e-steps to make the search go faster. Of course, you could also do this in the morning while you’re walking which is also quite nice! Don’t miss the one that’s in a tunnel because that was my favorite.

Visit the harbor

In case you want another drink, just a snack or to soak up the sun, head to Piushaven (the harbor) to see what it’s like to have a harbor so close to the old town center. It feels like an extension of people’s homes because you’ll see families, friends, and kids running around. It’s just everyday life for them.

Dinner at Silk Road

As a last stop, we enjoyed dinner at a lovely restaurant called Silk Road. It was sooo good! You can order from a few set menus or a la carte. It’s fun to see a feast laid out in front of you and you have to choose what your first bite is going to be! Also, the inside is stunning, so if you like to eat outdoors like we do, make sure to pop in for a peek 😉

Silk Road Tilburg

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And that’s 24-hours of fun-filled exploration with a pop of foodie goodness in Tilburg. Whether you visit as a day-trip from Amsterdam, or spend a weekend (definitely recommend the weekend option), you’ll have a great time and discover a little city unlike any other I’ve experienced in the Netherlands…and I’ve been to a bunch!

Did you use my guide to visit? Let me know (or tag me!) on Instagram so I can follow your adventures.

Wishing you joy and travels!

Jessica Cutrufello wearing a green floral dress, glasses and pink lipstick

Hi! I’m Jessica, an American who made Amsterdam her home in 2014. I share European gems through food and memorable experiences. Want to know more? Head to my about page or check out my YouTube channel.