Weekend trip

Bergen op Zoom, Kalmthoutse Heide, Roosendaal & Dintelse Gorzen

Day 1

The fortified town of Bergen op Zoom is close to Antwerp and the border with the province of Zeeland. It’s one of the oldest towns in the Netherlands, as can be seen from the many monuments that enrich the town. You can discover many of the monuments from the narrow alleyways and old squares, and you’ll get wonderful views of the town from the Peperbus tower. Look out over the Brabantse Wal earthworks, and on a clear day you can even see the coast and Antwerp! Stroll through the charming streets which lead onto the lively Grote Markt marketplace, and discover the Markiezenhof, the oldest city palace in the Netherlands, and the Gevangenpoort (Prisoners’ Gate) which now houses an escape room. Bergen op Zoom even has its own town beach.

Photo: _Eelco Roos - @croyable

Photo: Mirjam & Annemarie - @ikwilmeerreizen

If you’re in search of a unique experience, take a tour through the Grebbe, Bergen op Zoom’s restored waterway, and once the town’s sewer. It was dug out in the 13th century to transport turf to the harbour. Be sure to take a trip out to Fort de Roovere, close to Bergen op Zoom. This fort formed part of the Southern Water Defence Line that you can read about here.

Day 2

The Kalmthoutse Heide National Park, close to Bergen op Zoom, is a nature reserve on the Dutch-Belgian border. This beautiful area comprises heathland, ponds, sand dunes, meadows and woods. It’s a great place for cycling and walking. Shop till you drop? You can really indulge yourself, also on Sundays, at Roosendaal Designer Outlet (a 30-minute drive from Antwerp). With more than 100 brands, there’s something for everyone.

Day 3

The Dintelse Gorzen nature reserve, part of the Brabantse Wal, is unique because of its mixture of salt and fresh water. Natuurpoort Benedensas parking area is the perfect starting point for a trip along the water-filled edge of the Brabantse Wal. There’s plenty to discover in Benedensas itself; take a tour of the historic lock complex or enjoy lunch prepared from local produce at restaurant Beneden Sas.

Photo: Frand Tijink

The Bunkertreppe is a nine-metre high wooden staircase on top of a World War Two bunker. Climb to the top and you might even see some Scottish Highlander cattle in the nature reserve. In fine weather you can see as far as South Holland and Zeeland. There is an information point about the West Brabant Water Defence Line inside the bunker.

Photo: Ferry Siemensma

Photo: Ferry Siemensma

Did you know that the area which includes Bergen op Zoom is known as the ‘Brabantse Wal’? It takes its name from the raised sandbanks you will find there.

The transformation from clay to sand, from woods to heathland and from dry to wet make this a unique area. An unusual feature is the natural difference in height; the steep sides appear on the landscape at the Belgian border, not far from Ossendrecht, and rise up near Hoogerheide and Woensdrecht to more than 20 metres above sea level. They are lower near Bergen op Zoom and Halsteren, and disappear into the ground at Steenbergen.

Photo: Ferry Siemensma