Welcome to Eindhoven, nicknamed the City of Light. Not a particularly original nickname, but a very (retro)fitting one for a city in which lightbulb manufacturer Philips played a pivotal role. Although the name is attributed to the 19th century’s matchstick industry, traces of Philips can be found everywhere. Whether it’s the Light Tower in the city center, the Philips Museum, or the former industrial area Strijp-S, the identity of Eindhoven is interwoven with Philips. The manufacturer built housing for its employees in the first decades of the 20th century, while today there are also many light-themed events, such as the ‘Lichtjesroute’ and ‘Glow Eindhoven’.
What can one do in Eindhoven? One of its main mottos is ‘Eindhoven the Craziest’ or ‘Eindhoven the Silliest’, but besides the Silly Walks Tunnel (opened by John Cleese), Eindhoven does not stand out. If you ask its citizens (NL: ‘Eindhovenaren’) what to do, they will mostly mention how convenient and ‘gezellig’ (ENG: something like cozy) the city is – and won’t mention so many tourist attractions. Eindhoven, the fifth biggest city of the Netherlands, wasn’t featured in the Lonely Planet tour guidebook until 15 years ago, while today it is mostly described because of its convenient airport. Eindhoven should be enjoyed through its shopping, museums, green surroundings, and nightlife. The city scores rather high on various Quality of Life lists, due to its compact situation, excellent bicycle infrastructure, and wonderful facilities. People enjoy living here, so try to act like a local.
Its main charm lies in its industrial past. In the 1990s, Eindhoven was said to be among the ugliest and most boring cities in the Netherlands. It was a period in which its flagship industries, DAF and Philips, were going through a tough period, with many layoffs. Something had to change, which has led to a rapid modernization of many areas, as well as large-scale gentrification of industrial sites of Philips. Today, you can visit former Philips buildings and areas, which have been repurposed into restaurants, bars, creator hubs, incubators, libraries, museums, and much more.
Still, not all industry is lost. Eindhoven is the ‘capital’ of the ‘Brainport metropole region’ and is considered the high-tech center of the Netherlands. Brainport was elected as the ‘Smartest Region in the World’ 10 years ago, among others due to its exceptionally high patent output. It is home to the world’s largest manufacturer of microchip-producing machines, ASML, as well as various other high-tech companies.
Today, Eindhoven is probably still best known for its football club: PSV. Various well-known outfield players called this club their home, such as Romarío, Ronaldo (the original one), Ruud van Nistelrooy, Arjen Robben, Luc Nilis, and Ruud Gullit. The newfound high-tech identity has now seeped into its main sport’s team as well: Metropole Region Brainport is the new shirt sponsor.
CUI will take place on the campus of Eindhoven University of Technology. The ‘TU/e’ was founded in 1956, being one of the younger and still relatively smaller universities in the Netherlands. It is one of the three technical universities in the Netherlands (four, if you also include Wageningen University), boasting. The TU/e is a rather green campus, bordered by the river Dommel and close to other parks, such as the Karpendonkse Plas northeast of campus.
The university has a rather high patent output, boasting strong industry collaborations. It offers a vibrant student life, with particularly large study associations and a higher proportion of part-time and full-time student boards. The activities on campus are also supported by students from the applied university, while Eindhoven is also home to a Design Academy in the city center.
The TU/e is one of the main campuses one can find in Eindhoven. Technological industries can be found on the ‘High Tech Campus’ in the south of town, Brainport Industries on the west end, Strijp-S/T boasts a creative campus, while the Automotive Campus can be found just east of the city.
We have to urge you to take Eindhoven exploration seriously. This is best done by visiting one of the many places to eat, drink, and relax. We have listed a few personal tips and possibilities.
The city centre is ‘brewing’ with a lot of places to visit, when it comes to drinking and eating. Since we consider coffee one of the main arteries of an academic life, here is a list of coffee places that might be worth a visit. There aren’t many ‘big name’ coffee places, except for a few Starbucks and a Douwe Egberts café (a big Dutch brand):
- BeanBrothers (Google Maps, Apple Maps) – situated in a baseline and only open on the weekend, it has a bit of an exclusive status.
- Coffeelab (Google Maps, Apple Maps) – one is featured on the second floor of the train station, the other at Strijp-S.
- Coffeelovers Van Piere (Google Maps, Apple Maps) – a coffee bar in the baseline of the Van Piere bookshop. If you’re a book lover, possibly a good excuse. Dutch bookshops have many English titles on offer.
- Denf Coffee (Google Maps, Apple Maps) – a place with a big terrace. There aren’t many workplaces though, so be sure to enjoy your brew in a relaxed manner.
- Koffiehuisje (Google Maps, Apple Maps) – a small place close to the PSV football stadium. It is in a residential neighborhood en-route to Strijp-S and rather cute.
- Koffie Keuten (Google Maps, Apple Maps) – named after the Dutch word ‘koffieleuten’, which refers to the pastime of drinking coffee and doing nothing, this is a new place in town.
- Lucifer (Google Maps, Apple Maps) – there are two locations you can go to (Kennedyplein, Kleine Berg), with one awfully close to the university.
- Zwartwit koffie (Google Maps, Apple Maps) – Coffeebar in an Australian style, still in the city center.
And remember: a coffee place (NL: koffiezaak, koffietentje, we also use ‘café’ sometimes) is where you can get coffee, a ‘coffee shop’ (same in Dutch) is where people go for marijuana/weed.
Beer & Breweries
Beer is also an important artery of Dutch life. There are actually a few microbreweries where you can have a sip and that might be worth your time. Beyond this list, there are many other bars where you drink craft beers (NL: speciaalbier). Some of the places below also offer food.
- 100 Watt Brewery (Google Maps, Apple Maps) – founded in a former factory building, 100Watt has slowly become a big thing in Eindhoven. Their beers can also be found in various shops and supermarkets.
- Brouwerij Het Veem (Google Maps, Apple Maps) – situated at Strijp-S in a former factory building. The kettles are on display here.
- Rabauw Brewpub (Google Maps, Apple Maps) – a new place at the Strijp-S area.
- Van Moll (Google Maps, Apple Maps) – Still a modest place in size, but their name and beers have become infamous in Eindhoven.
Eindhoven also offers plenty of restaurants. There is more on offer than one can mention. For best value for your buck, it is best to avoid most of the ‘Markt’ area, as well as most of the places in the direct vicinity of the central train station. The Dommelstraat is one of the streets that offers affordable grub, Kruisstraat and Strijp-S offer diverse types of food, while Kleine Berg and Wilhelminaplein tend to be slightly more high end.
- 1910 Restaurant (Google Maps, Apple Maps) – being one of the slightly more expensive ones on the list, it is one of the local chair’s favorites. Its main charm lies in its high-quality food mixed with a casual atmosphere. Go here if you want to spend some more money and time, enjoy good food-wine pairing, but would like to be surprised when it comes to food (surprise menus). Reserving ahead is recommended.
- Bar Bistro Calypso (Vegan and vegetarian) (Google Maps, Apple Maps) – this is one of the main restaurants for vegan and vegetarian grub. Meals are rather simple and the menu changes regularly. It has a central location in the Stratumseind bar area.
- Bij Albrecht (Plant-based food) (Google Maps, Apple Maps) – We have not been here yet, but it’s specialized plant-based food on offer and the good reviews so far have helped it to make this list.
- Hout (both at Leenderweg and Strijp-S) (Google Maps, Apple Maps) – although run by Dutch people, it is a rather authentic Napolitanean pizza restaurant. Food is rather affordable, drinks are good, desserts are a nice plus, but perhaps not entirely authentic.
- Intelligentia (Strijp-S) (Google Maps, Apple Maps) – Probably the most famous ice cream parlour in the city. Run by a nephew of a PSV legend (Björn Cocu), it offers high-quality gelato in various flavors. No really, various flavors. Our local chair Alain Starke had Cuban Cigar and Parmesan Cheese flavors, among other wacky combinations – but heard that they also have…vanilla.
- Ketelhuis (Strijp-S area at Ketelhuisplein; don’t confuse it with the other one near Grote Beek) (Google Maps, Apple Maps) – Situated central in the Strijp-S area, this is the former boiler room / heating house of the Philips factory. Reserving ahead is recommended.
- Soju bar (Google Maps, Apple Maps) - Korean fried chicken place that also sells, you guessed it, soju. We recommend the spicy sweet fried chicken.
- Kyoto (Google Maps, Apple Maps) – Whereas many sushi places in the city center are ‘all-you-can-eat’, this one offers à la carte sushi of much better quality on the outskirts of the city center, close to the PSV football stadium.
- Loods61 (Google Maps, Apple Maps) – this is a good option to consider when you decide to head somewhere with a large group rather spontaneously. It has many seats, mixing opportunities to dine and to drink.
- Trafalgar Pub (Google Maps, Apple Maps) – very affordable food, typical pub grub.
If you want high-end food, Eindhoven is also home to two one-star Michelin restaurants: Wiesen (Google Maps, Apple Maps) and Zarzo (Google Maps, Apple Maps). In addition, many restaurants are listed in the Michelin guide, such as Umami by Han (Google Maps, Apple Maps), Vane (Google Maps, Apple Maps), and Bistro Sophie (Google Maps, Apple Maps).
Pancakes & Deep Fried Food (sometimes referred to as ‘Dutch Streetfood’)
Dutch cuisine is notorious for not featuring on restaurant menus. Instead, there are two categories of non-traditional restaurants that stand out. First, ‘pancake houses / restaurants’: Dutch pancakes are arguably / definitely better than the pancakes you will find in other countries, because they can also be consumed savorily. It’s a bit difficult, however, to find them in the city center (Crêpe Shack is one place); you will typically find them in villages or around natural areas, such as ‘Herberghe de Coeckepanne’ in Lierop (take bus 320).
Second, the Dutch like to deep fry stuff. There are ‘kroketten’, ‘bitterballen’, ‘frikandellen’, and of course high-quality fries. These can be found and ordered in ‘Cafetaria’ (with seating) and ‘Snackbars’ (without seating), typically for takeaway. The Dutch even allow customers to buy them from some kind of vending machine, by inserting coins, opening a door and taking out a snack, from a so-called snack wall (see, for example, in the city centre: Automatiek Marks and Restoquick). Local co-chair Alain wholeheartedly recommends visiting ‘Guilty Pleasures’ cafetaria, just south of the city centre. It is a place run by an elderly couple where the deep fried snacks are made by hand. In general, please avoid the chain takeouts (e.g., Smullers; there is a Five Guys if you really must…). Here is a list of snackbars to consider:
- Dik en Lang (which translates to *fat and long**) (Google Maps, Apple Maps)
- Friture Martin Zwerts (Google Maps, Apple Maps)
- Guilty Pleasures Eindhoven (Google Maps, Apple Maps)
- Snackbar De Limbeek (Google Maps, Apple Maps)
Things to do
Although Eindhoven does not feature a long list of itineraries that could be listed in a Lonely Planet tour guide, here is a list of things to consider:
- Van Abbemuseum (Google Maps, Apple Maps) - This is Eindhoven’s main museum of modern and contemporary art.
- Philips Museum (Google Maps, Apple Maps) - The main venue for everything related to the company’s history
- Effenaar Concert Hall (Google Maps, Apple Maps) - The main venue for pop music and closed parties
- Muziekgebouw Concert Hall (Google Maps, Apple Maps) - The main venue for classical, but also pop music. Great acoustics.
- Flying Pins (Google Maps, Apple Maps) - Someone decided that it would be cool to place bowling pins and a ball in the middle of a busy intersection. You’ll see it en-route to the venue from the train station. Please take a photo to satisfy our tourist board, but feel free to ignore.
- Strijp-S (Google Maps, Apple Maps) - This former Philips area has been completely gentrified. A visit to Eindhoven should include this area.
- Evoluon (Google Maps, Apple Maps) - This place looks like an alien spaceship that decided to stick around, but it’s now a congress hall and technology museum.
- Stratumseind (Google Maps, Apple Maps) - This is the main bar street of Eindhoven. It has allegedly the highest bar density (per meter) on the entire BeNeLux (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxemburg). Things might get rowdy here on a Saturday, while students populate the place on Thursday nights.
- Rent a bike - You should really act like the Dutch. You should bike. If you’re not from the Netherlands, you’ll find that the bicycle infrastructure is probably wonderful. Not only is Eindhoven beautiful (to its local residents), it has green surroundings that can be explored best by bike: Strabrechtse Heide, Leenderbos, Groote Heide, and much more. You can even cycle to Belgium. Cycling to Achelse Kluis, Hamont-Achel, Belgium, for beer brewed by monks is recommended.