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Last month, on the way to our Irish wedding, my husband and I stopped for a day in Eindhoven, Netherlands. Why you ask? Well, we were first and foremost trying to save some cash for said wedding, and in the interest of doing that, found the cheapest possible flights from Prague to Dublin. Much to my dismay, that required us to utilize several budget airlines, one of which is notoriously bad and shall remain nameless.

Nonetheless, our flights through Eindhoven proved to be very tolerable (especially the Wizz Air leg – I’d definitely recommend them as a budget airline) and the 8-hour layover in Eindhoven proved to be a breath of fresh air.

Adorable design in Eindhoven

Eindhoven is a small city in the southern part of the Netherlands with a population of just over 200,000.  Needless to say, I’d never even heard of Eindhoven before, much less contemplated a trip there. However, it turns out they have a very smart little airport that services five commercial budget airlines, including Wizz Air and Ryanair. This place really bucks the grand tradition of crappy budget airports with its proximity to the city center (a mere 7km!), excellent and cheap public transport options and general airy, clean and well-designed vibe. Thank goodness for the Dutch, I say!

So what did we do in Eindhoven? Well, the city is remarkably small and compact (not to mention clean and adorable in a very Dutch way), making it easy to get around and see almost everything on foot. We also purchased a 1-day bus pass for €3 each, which got us into the main railway station and back out to the airport on a fancy, eco-friendly bus.

Eindhoven is known for very little, other than being the founding city of Phillips electrical company, which was headquartered here until the mid-90s (when it moved to Amsterdam). Interestingly, Eindhoven is now a city of innovative design and was narrowly beat out by Helsinki as the World Design Capital 2012. Pretty awesome for a place of its size and general world influence.

After alighting from the airport bus at Eindhoven Station, we headed on foot through the Markt, Eindhoven’s neat little central square, which was once a medieval market and is now lined with adorable Dutch buildings from the turn of the century. We were starving after our morning flight from Prague, so we made a beeline for one of the “grand cafes” along the square – Grand Café Centraal.

Interior of the Grand Café Centraal

I have to say, I loved this place. Its interior was like an old world cafe with red velvet and brass fittings that had been styled with a modern touch, including some lovely twinkle lights and sparkling candles on each table that gave off a calming vibe. And after months in Prague, the Dutch service with a smile was much appreciated by us both.

Full of fresh salads and panini, we headed down Rechtestraat, a pedestrian shopping thoroughfare full of bustling stores and bumping bags, to the Sint-Catharinakerk. The eerie spires of this late 19th century neo-Gothic cathedral are warmed by the building’s redbrick exterior and plethora of colorful stained glass windows inside. Apparently, the church’s pipe organ is one of the largest in the Netherlands.

Feeling rather spiritually uplifted, we carried on south from the cathedral, looking for the Van Abbemuseum, one of the treasures of Eindhoven. Along the way, I was impressed by the modern architecture and unique, small design elements of the city, which seemed very thoughtful and unusual.

Founded in 1903 with the art collection of a local cigar tycoon, Henri Van Abbe, this was one of the first modern art museums founded in Europe. The building is located at the south end of the city center, along a small river, and consists of an older redbrick building with a newer attached wing that boasts a very modern design. The feel of the museum reflects its modern art theme with a kind of disjointed layout that leaves you wondering slightly which way to go next. Among the permanent collections here, we were most impressed by several Picasso and Kandinsky paintings on display, as well as the very unique atrium, which is covered in Sharpied graffiti (much of it political in nature).

Atrium at the Van Abbemuseum

Infused with newfound artistic genius, we headed back into the city center, conscious of the time and feeling a bit peckish pre-flight. We’d hoped to head into a writer’s cafe we’d walked by earlier, which was sadly closed, so we found ourselves in the very friendly Eetcafe Movies, a restaurant and bar with cheap and cheerful local beers and good service.

I couldn’t necessarily recommend Eindhoven as a destination in and of itself (although I know it’s popular among soccer fans, with its very successful team, PSV Eindhoven), but it does make for a cozy little layover, or even a day trip from Amsterdam, which is only about 2 hours by train.

Check out my full Eindhoven itinerary on tripwolf: Eindhoven for a day.

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3 Comments

  1. adenaNo Gravatar
    Posted February 15, 2011 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Great post, Megan! Definitely an off the beaten track place to check out.

  2. Megan EavesNo Gravatar
    Posted February 15, 2011 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    Thanks Adena. I so much enjoyed my day-long layover that I am doing it again next month – this time in Amsterdam! (Oh the joys of budget airline travel!)

  3. Airport LoungesNo Gravatar
    Posted February 23, 2011 at 3:48 am | Permalink

    Nice post, I enjoyed reading it. :-)

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