I recently got back from a trip to the peaceful Dutch city of Eindhoven – the fifth most populous city in The Netherlands – and almost don’t quite know what to make of it.
On the one hand, it was a country previously unexplored by myself, and it was interesting to compare it to home, as well as other places I’ve visited. But then on the other, it wasn’t really a proper tourist destination.
And whilst I still thoroughly enjoyed the escapade, I also realised that it probably wouldn’t be a place that would excite everyone.
So here are four reasons why you should, and four reasons why you shouldn’t visit Eindhoven
Why you should...
Eindhoven’s biggest selling point is their football team – PSV. The reigning Dutch champions have a rich history stretching back all the way to 1911, when local electronics company Philips created a football team for their workers.
If you can’t get to a match – something difficult even if you happen to be there on game day, as they have 27,000 season ticket holders and just 35,000 seats – then the Philips Stadion tour and museum is highly recommended.
The tour is access all areas and in addition to standing pitchside and sitting in dugouts you’ll get a tour of the executive boxes and suites, press facilities and both the home and away dressing rooms.
There's also the chance to go and visit the PSV Museum, which showcases a comprehensive collection of memorabilia from their beginnings to the present day. English audio guides are also included in the price, so that you can understand everything you'll see.
Flights to Eindhoven are cheap, and can cost as little as £9.99 each way with Ryanair, who operate flights from Manchester, London Stanstead and Dublin on most days.
Hotels aren’t badly priced either, and you may even want to look on Airbnb to see if you can get an even cheaper deal.
Strange things you might not see elsewhere
Eindhoven is home to some weird and wonderful things. Take express fast food, for example. Many takeaways have warm boxes, where food can be stored for a length of time. To unlock a door, the customer puts coins into the slot and can then take an item of their choosing. Whether this is unique to The Netherlands or even Eindhoven, I’m not sure, but I thought that it was quite a good idea - especially for post-night out snacks.
There’s also a vending machine for boxer shorts. Yes, you read that correctly. So if you happen to get caught short at any point, then you can buy a fresh set of Bjorn Borg underwear and continue your day, or night, as normal.
They have some good museums
While these are few and far between, Eindhoven has a couple of fantastic museums. The city is the birthplace of DAF Trucks, and their old factory has now been converted into the DAF Museum.
Here you’ll find a life-size portfolio of their work over the years, and a look back at the beginnings of the company.
There’s plenty of interactive stuff for kids, and my personal highlight was seeing the Williams Formula 1 racing car test driven by David Coulthard in 1993, whose gearbox was manufactured by DAF themselves.
The Philips Museum is well worth a visit, and is set out as a timeline from its beginnings as a lightbulb manufacturer, all the way through to the electronics giant that it is today.
Here you’ll learn not only about the growth of the company, but also the forward movement of humanity in the field of technology.
Slightly out of the city centre is Eindhoven Musuem, an archaeological open-air museum, focusing on the Iron and Middle Ages.
Why you shouldn’t...
It doesn’t seem to get very busy
Despite its population of approximately 250,000, the city of Eindhoven doesn’t seem to get that busy. Granted, I went there on a Monday and came back on a Wedsneday, but I thought that there would have been more people knocking around than there actually was, and at times it looked quite desolate.
Perhaps when the weather’s warmer and it’s at a weekend then there’s more going on. But for fans of people-watching, give Eindhoven in January a miss.
There isn’t a great deal to do
This is especially true if you’re not a football fan, as the main attraction is PSV. There are also some decent museums, but if you go for any longer than 48 hours then there won’t be much to hold your attention.
There is the option of going to Amsterdam, an hour and a half by road, or a trip across the border into Belgium, but Eindhoven itself doesn’t have many options to exhaust.
There are bikes… EVERYWHERE!
Bicycles are a great way of getting around. You can hop on and off when and where you want; they’re much quicker than walking, better for the environment and save on public transport.
But in Eindhoven, they’re used to the point of overkill. You can’t walk more than 10 metres without seeing one, and that’s including the airport, where some staff members are even permitted to use them on the tarmac!
There are separate cycling lanes (which scooters can also use) sandwiched in between the roads and the pavements, and for someone from the United Kingdom where these don’t exist, it can be very easy to forget about them and step into harm’s way.
In addition to having to remember that they exist, cyclists don’t always observe the rules and will cycle anywhere. As a pedestrian it can get extremely frustrating waiting for bikes to pass and having to be constantly aware in case one does come flying by.
It’s not a tourist destination
It really isn’t. There are no Eindhoven souvenir shops, unless you count duty free at the airport, and if there is a tourist information centre, then it’s almost impossible to find.
Unlike major cities, there aren’t city maps readily available at the main transportation hubs and so if you don’t prepare appropriately, it can be difficult to get around. Very few restaurants and bars have English menus, but a lot of Dutch people can speak the language, which lessens the significance of the barrier.
But on the other hand, the city is relatively unspoiled by the tourism industry, and so you get a more authentic look at life in The Netherlands.