Nijmegen Waalbrug

Best Things to Do in Nijmegen: Travel Tips from a Local


Nijmegen is a charming city located on the Waal river banks in the eastern part of the Netherlands close to the German border. It is the oldest city in the Netherlands and was founded by the Romans under the name ‘Noviomagus’. It is known for its rich history, beautiful architecture, and scenic landscapes. Whether you are a history buff, nature lover, or foodie, Nijmegen has got you covered.

There are plenty of things to do in Nijmegen. You can visit the Museum Het Valkhof to learn more about the city’s history. This museum is home to an extensive collection of art and artifacts from the Roman and medieval periods in Nijmegen’s history. Nijmegen has many more interesting museums to visit like the Afrika Museum, which showcases the art, culture, and traditions of Africa. The anatomical museum of Radboud University (highly recommend this as a doctor and it’s free to visit). Maybe the most unique museum to visit is the ‘MuZIEum’, this allows visitors to experience what it’s like to be visually impaired.

For those who enjoy the outdoors, Nijmegen has plenty of parks and natural areas to explore. The Kronenburgerpark is a beautiful park located in the heart of the city, featuring lush greenery, fountains, and sculptures. The Valkhof Park, located next to the Museum Het Valkhof, is another great spot to relax and take in the scenic views of the city and the river. Don’t forget to relax in the Goffertpark, a big park on the southwest side of the city. This park is also a popular location for music concerts and festivals.

A visit to Nijmegen is not complete without a scenic bike ride along the river Waal or a walk through the Ooijpolder nature reserve located on the river banks.

This is just one of the best cities to visit in the Netherlands and a perfect place to start on your travel itinerary.

Historical Sites in Nijmegen

Nijmegen is a city rich in history, with many historical sites to explore. Here are three must-visit historical sites in Nijmegen:

Valkhof Museum

The Valkhof Museum is a must-visit for history buffs. The museum is located in a beautiful park, and it features a wide range of exhibits that cover the history of Nijmegen and the surrounding area. You can explore exhibits on everything from Roman history to modern art. The museum also has a beautiful garden that is perfect for a relaxing stroll.

Saint Stephen’s Church

Saint Stephen’s Church is a stunning example of Gothic architecture. The church dates back to the 13th century, and it is one of the oldest buildings in Nijmegen. Explore the church’s beautiful stained glass windows and intricate carvings. The church also hosts regular concerts and events.

Belvedere Tower

The Belvedere Tower is a must-visit for anyone who wants to take in the stunning views of Nijmegen. The tower is located in Hunnerpark (next to the Valkhof Museum and park), and it offers panoramic views of the city and the surrounding area. You can climb to the top of the tower for an even better view.

Outdoor Activities

Hiking in Ooijpolder

Nijmegen Ooijpolder

Nijmegen is surrounded by beautiful nature reserves, and Ooijpolder is one of the most popular places for hiking. Ooijpolder is a floodplain area located on the south bank of the Waal River. It offers a diverse landscape with meadows, forests, and wetlands. The area is home to many bird species, including the kingfisher and the great egret.

There are several hiking trails in Ooijpolder, ranging from short walks to longer hikes. The most popular trail is the Ooijpolder-Waal route, a 16-kilometer trail that takes you along the Waal river and through the floodplains. The trail is well-marked, and there are several resting points along the way. You can also spot wild cows in the nature reserve.

Hiking and getting around is so much better when you travel light. Plan your trip around traveling light so as to make it easier for you while exploring the Netherlands as well as the rest of Europe.

Cycling in Velorama

Nijmegen is a bike-friendly city (like practically every Dutch city), and cycling is one of the best ways to explore the city and its surroundings. Velorama is a bicycle museum located in the center of Nijmegen. The museum has a collection of over 250 bicycles, including historical and modern bicycles.

Velorama also offers guided bike tours, which take you through the city and its surroundings. The tours are led by knowledgeable guides who will tell you about the history and culture of the city. The tours are suitable for all ages and fitness levels.

If you prefer to explore the city on your own, you can rent a bike from one of the many bike rental shops in the city. There are several bike routes in and around Nijmegen, ranging from easy to challenging. The most popular route is the RijnWaalpad, a 17-kilometer route that takes you from Nijmegen to Arnhem along the Waal and Rhine rivers.

Cultural Experiences

Nijmegen Riverside View

Doornroosje Music Venue

Doornroosje is a popular music venue in Nijmegen that offers a diverse range of live performances, including rock, pop, indie, and electronic music. The venue has a capacity of 1,200 and hosts both local and international artists.

The venue has a long history, dating back to the 1960s when it was a youth center. Since then, it has transformed into one of the most popular music venues in the Netherlands. The venue has a relaxed atmosphere and is known for its excellent sound quality.

Enjoy a night of live music and drinks at Doornroosje while experiencing the vibrant music scene in Nijmegen. The venue also hosts events such as film screenings, theater performances, and dance parties.

Food and Drink

Nijmegen is a city that offers a variety of food and drink options for visitors to enjoy. From local cuisine to cafes and wine tasting, there is something for everyone.

Nijmegen’s Local Cuisine

Try typical Dutch food, such as stamppot, a dish made of mashed potatoes and vegetables, and bitterballen, deep-fried balls filled with meat ragout. Other local specialties include:

  • Rookworst: smoked sausage
  • Hutspot: mashed potatoes, carrots, and onions
  • Kruudmoes: a cold soup made of buttermilk, bread, and herbs

You can try local cuisine at restaurants such as De Hemel, which serves traditional Dutch food with a modern twist

Best Cafes in Nijmegen

Nijmegen has a vibrant cafe culture, with plenty of places to enjoy a drink or a bite to eat. Some of the best cafes in the city include:

  • Cafe Jos: a cozy cafe with a great selection of beers and a welcoming atmosphere
  • Cafe Van Buren: a popular spot for live music and drinks
  • Cafe In De Blaauwe Hand: a historic cafe with a beautiful interior and a great selection of drinks

You can also enjoy a drink with a view at Cafe ‘t Hoogstraatje, which offers a panoramic view of the city.

Shopping in Nijmegen

Nijmegen city centre

Nijmegen is a great place for shopping, with plenty of options for all tastes and budgets. From trendy boutiques to traditional markets, you can find everything you need in this Dutch city. Here are some of the best places to shop in Nijmegen.

Marikenstraat and Moenenstraat

Marikenstraat and Moenenstraat are two of the most popular shopping streets in Nijmegen. They are located in the heart of the city and offer a wide range of shops, from high-end fashion boutiques to affordable chain stores. You can find everything from clothing and accessories to electronics and home decor.

Downtown Market

The Downtown Market is a must-visit for anyone looking for unique souvenirs and local products. This market is held every Saturday in the city centre and offers a wide range of goods, from fresh produce and flowers to handmade crafts and vintage clothing.

You can find a variety of local products at the Downtown Market, such as Dutch cheese (a must try for cheese lovers!), stroopwafels (tasty cookies with caramel), and herring. You’ll also find stalls selling handmade jewelry, pottery, and artwork. The market is a great place to find one-of-a-kind souvenirs and gifts for friends and family back home.

Psychedelics

As many tourists visiting the Netherlands know, marijuana is legal in Amsterdam. However, there’s a common misconception that this is only true for Amsterdam. Marijuana is legal everywhere in the Netherlands as long as you don’t have too much with you and it’s meant for personal use. In Nijmegen you can find a few ‘coffee shops’ where you can purchase weed legally. Many Dutchies enjoy smoking a joint while relaxing in the park.

Besides this you can also legally purchase magic mushrooms in the Netherlands in so-called ‘smart shops’, you’ll find these in the city center. If you ever considered trying a mushroom trip the Netherlands is probably the best country to do so as it is legal and therefore safe to purchase, because you know what you’re getting. (in contrast to shady illegal activities). There is a whole history of magic mushrooms and their medicinal qualities.

Final words

Nijmegen, the oldest city in the Netherlands, has an intriguing mix of attractions waiting to be explored. From historical landmarks to relaxing parks, and unique museums, there is something for everyone to enjoy! What are you waiting for? Get yourself a bicycle and explore the city like a true Dutchie!

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