The Dutch city of Eindhoven has a wealth of art museums, design houses and buildings to explore on a weekend break
The first thing that struck me about Eindhoven - Holland’s most futuristic and design and technology-obsessed city - was how peaceful it was. Cars are banned in the centre, and cycles pop up everywhere in that quintessentially Dutch way. As the place where the first Philips lightbulb was produced, Eindhoven is often known as the City of Light. No other Dutch city has so much knowledge of, and associations with, light and it really uses its expertise to illuminate the city in a clever and magical way.
Eindhoven is a place rich in different styles of architecture and design and a good place to start exploring the city is at the young Design Huis centre, housed in a cathedral-like old court room. Visitors are encouraged to ask whether the pieces on display are art or design; all of them are available to buy, and there are some very striking objects that would be inspiring when decorating your homes. The nearby Van Abbemuseum is regarded as one of the best modern art museums in Holland and, as well as hosting changing exhibitions, is home to works by Picasso, Chagall and Kandinsky.
We were lucky enough to be in the city while the annual GLOW International Festival of Light was taking place. In what was a very different way to spend a Saturday night, we did a walking tour of the city to see how buildings had been lit up in various ways by international artists to reflect the heritage of the area. The tour was spectacular and a great way of getting you to look at things you might not normally notice. Among the highlights were a monastery lit up by lasers to the eerie sound of dust crackling; the cathedral being bathed in coloured light while atmospheric music played and smoke rose up outside; and some industrial trash cans, which had been made into sofas that lit up.
Visitors keen to learn more about the development of light can visit the oldest Philips factory on the Emmasingel and the adjacent Museum of Artificial Light, which makes you think about how unnatural light influences the world around us.
While Eindhoven might not be the first choice for a weekend break (even one of the tourism guides told me, “we are not as beautiful as Amsterdam but we work with what we’ve got”), there is a positive atmosphere about the place and you get the feeling this is very much a 21st-century city that is moving forward all the time.
Where to stay
We stayed in the Sandton Hotel, which was close to the city centre for exploring but offered comfortable and peaceful surroundings.
Where to eat and drink
For Sunday brunch, head to De Vooruitgang (Markt 11), a fun, retro-inspired café complete with a groovy car and young faces.
Restaurant Fens (Keizersgracht 6) combines old and new cuisine in a cosy, dimly-lit setting, fitted with antique chandeliers, candles, interesting wallpaper and rustic wooden tables. On the menu, you will find contemporary cuisine like sushi and Indian-influenced dishes alongside more traditional Dutch soups, steaks and veal.
There is quite a lively nightlife scene, with Holland’s longest pub-filled street to be found on Stratumseind, offering cheap drinks and a variety of music styles, which can result in a messy night.
Ryanair fly to Eindhoven from Stansted; from £28.17 one way. VLM fly from London City twice a day.
If you fly to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, you can take the train from there to Eindhoven Station; direct trains depart every 30 minutes, with a journey time of 1hr 29 min.