Things to do in Hilversum

Things to do in Hilversum: Loosdrechtse Bos, Hilversumse Hei en Zonnestraal

I wrote the majority of this post a few months back and never got round to posting it, but since visiting Vliegveld Hilversum (Hilversum Airport) over the Easter weekend, now seems like a good time to share it with you. I’m obviously slightly biased towards Hilversum because I live here… but if you happen to find yourself in the area, then hopefully I can provide some ‘insider tips’ to keep you amused. So here goes…

Loosdrechtse Bos

Loosdrechtse Bos (bos = forest / woods) is located at the edge of Hilversum, bordering Loosdrecht (hence the name) and Hollandsche Rading. If you put ‘Loosdrechtse Bos’ into Google Maps, it’ll direct you straight to the Zonnestraal compound, in the heart of the woods. (More on that later.)


The woods are extremely beautiful and (as most woods are…) just a tiny bit spooky feeling… especially if you’re on your own. The perfect place for cycling and walking in Hilversum: loads of people take their dogs for a walk here.


If you want to visit, but aren’t familiar with Hilversum: a well-known landmark is Zuiderhof, a cemetery on the edge of the woods. Aim for here and then enter the woods from either side of the cemetery. (Note: don’t enter the cemetery itself as it is a dead end. No pun intended. Argh!!)

Hilversumse Hei

Hilversumse Hei or Heide (meaning hay, heath or moor) refers to the large areas of open space in Hilversum. I’m a bit confused about what all the different parts are called, but according to Instagram tagging, the bit that we visit most frequently is known as Hoorneboegse Heide.


There are cattle grazing in the fields so pay attention to the signs and keep your distance from them. You are in their home, so play nice and follow their house rules. Like me…


Or be like the Dutchie and go in for the full on close-up… he thinks he’s bloody Rambo or something! 😉


I’ve seen these things run, so I stayed well back!! Aside from the scary cattle, it’s a great place to walk around and explore. You could easily spend a couple of hours wandering around the heath and the woods. (Or run or cycle, whatever you’re into…)

Landgoed Zonnestraal

Slap bang in the middle of Loosdrechtse Bos is Landgoed Zonnestraal (meaning Sunbeam Estate). It’s a former sanatorium used in the 1920s and 1930s for patients with tuberculosis. It was designed by architect Jan Duiker and is an example of Nieuwe Bouwen (Literal translation = new buildings, meaning Modern Architecture).


It’s a bit more run-down than I was expecting but still interesting to look at. The reason for the sheer volume of glass was to let as much light as possible to enter the patient’s rooms and help them feel better. Sun = happy, right? These days it’s used a conference centre which can be hired out. Many local businesses are also located here – mostly clinics and fitness-related.


There’s not much to do here, unless you’re feeling peckish – then there’s a brasserie. I made a special trip by bike to take photos for this post as I’d never been before and I have to be honest and say I was a little underwhelmed. (Trip Advisor – you actually let me down this time!!) The buildings are different, that’s for sure, and if you’re really into modern architecture then I’m sure you’ll like it… but personally I wouldn’t make a special trip. If you’re already visiting the area and fancy a walk anyway, ok, but don’t come here especially.


In fact, I found this building in front of the Zonnestraal much prettier, especially with a dusting of snow! (Told you I wrote this post months ago!!)


Vliegveld Hilversum

If you’re walking / cycling in this area you may also come across Vliegveld Hilversum (Hilversum Airport) which does what it says on the tin.


We went for a bike ride in the area on Saturday, well – actually we were planning on cycling to Loosdrechtse Plassen, but we never made it that far – so we stopped here for a bite and a borrel instead!


The two female waitresses were really welcoming and the menu had a good selection of typical Dutch cafe food… broodjes, uitsmijters, borrelhapjes etc. We had the bittergarnituur mixed platter and for once I actually enjoyed the kaasstengels! It’s a miracle!


With bitterballen, obviously. These only score a measly 6/10 but as I’ve said before: you can’t get bad bitterballen!

For some reason this place is ultra dog friendly, so if you’re taking a furry friend, there’s a special menu for dogs called “De Waf Kaart!” (In Dutch, dogs don’t say “woof woof” – they say “waf waf”!)


Oh and a hondenbar! The owners must be dog-people…


So there you have it. How to spend a few hours in Hilversum on foot or by bike. And if you’d like more info…


ADDRESS: Various. To enter the woods on foot or by bike, aim for Zuiderhof, Hilversum. Or park at Vliegveld Hilversum and start there.
OPENING TIMES: Always. (However I did see a sign that you can’t enter certain parts of the woods between 8pm and 6am. Seems sensible!)
PARKING: Free street parking near Zuiderhof and at the airport.
MORE INFO: Landgoed Zonnestraal | Brasserie Zonnestraal | Hilversum Airport | Hilversum Airport Restaurant (Websites all in Dutch.)

Next on the ‘Things to do in Hilversum’ list is: Film Theater Hilversum.

Where are your favourite places in Hilversum / Het Gooi area?

Hayley x

Things to do in Hilversum: Beeld en Geluid

At the weekend we visited the Nederlands Instituut voor Beeld en Geluid  (The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision) in Media Park, Hilversum. The Institute collects, looks after, and provides access to over 70% of Dutch audio-visual heritage! It’s also a museum, offering an unprecedented amount of (Dutch) sound and screen history to its visitors. Lucky us!!

I’ve been wanting to visit since we first moved to Hilversum because 1. it’s where the Top 2000 cafe is stationed in December (!!) and 2. it has such great reviews on my beloved Trip Advisor!

The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision

The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision

But first of all, let’s just take a moment to appreciate HOW DAMN GORGEOUS this building is!! It was built in 2006, despite looking as if it was built in 2036, by Dutch artchitects Willem-Jan Neutelings and Michiel Riedijk. I’m not sure how exactly they came up with it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were on some mind-bending drugs at the time! 😉


When you enter the building, it just keeps on getting better and better. This seriously has to be one of the most beautiful modern buildings in the Netherlands, or even Europe.


Interior view, Beeld en Geluid, Hilversum

Interior view, Beeld en Geluid, Hilversum

Once we’d finished oohing and aahing, it was time to collect our entry tickets – which turned out to be interactive rings! How very modern!


Space age rings!!

As you enter the museum there are a number of interactive stations where you scan your ring and enter your name and email address. The idea is that you then scan your ring on each of the interactive exhibits and at the end of your visit you are sent a special personalised page of your visit including photos and video clips. You can also elect which ‘tour guide’ you would like to take you through your journey of the museum, from a number of options. I assume they are all Dutch celebrities, but being English, I didn’t recognise any of them (oops!) so I chose “Rembrandt” the only English-speaking guide.

My tour guide, Rembrandt

My tour guide, Rembrandt

By the way… it’s worth noting at this point that apart from the tour guide, all of the other attractions and exhibits are in Dutch. So if you don’t understand Dutch, it will be difficult for you to fully appreciate the museum. I would therefore only recommend it for Dutch-speakers.


The magnificent building is split over four floors (yup, it’s kinda like a tardis!) with the majority of the exhibits on the top two floors. The top floor is known as ‘Experience’ and is made up of 16 different themes including Animal Crackers, Sterrenshow (Stars Show – about Dutch stars of sound and screen), POP studio, Macht en Media (Power and Media) and Dit is het nieuws (This is the news).

My favourite was Ben ik in beeld  (I’m in the picture) because you get to do stupid stuff! There’s a ceiling mounted camera pointing at the floor (which is decorated like a living room) so you just lie on the floor and strike a pose – to make it look like you’re upside down in the pictures. Leuk! 

If you were to visit every single exhibit and log in to every interactive station, you could seriously spend the whole day here. Luckily, it’s open from 10.00am – 5.30pm (from Tuesday – Sunday) so knock yourself out!

Maak het nieuws - Make the news

Maak het nieuws – Make the news

A large area of the museum is dedicated to Tijdelijke tentoonstelling (temporary exhibition(s). Currently, it is Voorbij het nieuws (Beyond the news) a special exhibition showing personal stories from journalists and editors talking about the choices they made in the reporting of particular stories. Unfortunately, most of it went over my head!


Checking out Voorbij het nieuws

Checking out Voorbij het nieuws

In total, we spent a good couple of hours at the museum, but I think if you were with kids, you could spend soooo much longer. There are so many things to see and do, for grown ups too (you could spend a whole day just watching old archived TV shows if you had the time or the inclination!) but I think the interactivity works particularly well for children. They were into everything and didn’t want to miss a thing. A brilliant place to take ankle biters, especially on a rainy day.

And if you get hungry or thirsty during your trip? There’s an ultra modern cafe – what else!?

Cafe, Beeld en Geluid

Cafe, Beeld en Geluid

We’d already eaten, so we just grabbed a drink and sat on the terrace (yup, even in January!!)

We also couldn’t leave without a quick visit to the gift shop, where we bought, among other trinkets… TOP 2000 PHONE CASES!!! Reasonably priced too, at just €6 each. My life is now complete! 😉


Want to visit for yourself?

ADDRESS: Media Parkboulevard 1, 1217 WE Hilversum
OPENING TIMES: Tuesday – Sunday, 10.00am – 17.30pm. Closed Mondays.
PRICE: Adults: €15, Children 6 – 12: €8, Children 5 and younger: Free.
PARKING: Underground car park. €1,50 an hour with a maximum of € 7,50 a day. Limited disabled spaces.
MORE INFO: Beeld en Geluid website (Also available in English.)

If you’ve already been – what was your favourite bit?

Hayley x

PS – for loads more photos I took at Beeld en Geluid, see my Pinterest Board.

PPS – we were given two entry tickets rings to the museum, but all other costs were covered personally.

Japanese Restaurants in Hilversum

This weekend was my 5 month expat-iversary in the Netherlands… so what better to write about than another one of my passions… Japanese food! (Btw: yes, I get that most people would celebrate their 6 month “anniversary” but 5 is my lucky number and I am not most people!)

Before I start, I probably don’t say it here much (if at all… I’m not that kinda girl) BUT the last 5 months have been HARD! I won’t lie. Fellow blogger Sophie in Clogs summed it up perfectly in her advice to newbie expats: “…the first few months will be wonderful and frustrating and overwhelming and exciting and lonely and just plain weird – a true roller coaster of emotions.” True, true words! Thanks, Sophie – I couldn’t have said it better myself!

On Friday I was in desperate need of cheering up, so we decided to go out for a meal. And what better than a belly full of sashimi?!

Even before we arrived in Holland, I had already been checking out Trip Advisor to find the best local eateries… and lucky for us there are five Japanese restaurants in Hilversum! We’ve now tried four of the five, and who knows… maybe we’ll try number 5 this month! (Dutchie: nudge, nudge, wink, wink.)

So if you’re a fan of Japanese cuisine, here’s the lowdown of what’s on offer in Hilversum…


A chain, yes. But don’t judge! We’ve eaten here once and had takeaway delivered 2 or 3 times. It is always spot on! The sashimi salad is the shining star of this restaurant: copious amounts of tuna and salmon with a delicious (and slightly spicy) salad dressing, crisp, salad, all finely sliced. The salad of champions! (Bottom right.)

Sumo, Hilversum

Japanese feast at Sumo, Hilversum

The portion of edamame beans is epic! Well worth the 5 euros. (We actually took half of them home in a doggy bag as there were so many!) The other dishes are crab and prawn “balls” (but more like discs) and spicy tuna maki! Yum!

Sumo restaurants offer “all you can eat” or  a la carte… as we are massive sashimi fans we went a la carte as sashimi isn’t included in the all you can eat menu. (You can buy it for an additional €12.50.)

Sashimi @ Sumo, Hilversum

Sashimi @ Sumo, Hilversum

A great restaurant and well deserving of it’s 4 out of 5 stars on Trip Advisor.

Have you visited other Sumo restaurants in the Netherlands? How did they match up?


Located on Havenstraat, this restaurant has a great relaxed atmosphere and the staff are super-friendly. I love this traditional Japanese mural – beautiful!

Mural @ Toyko, Hilversum

Mural @ Toyko, Hilversum

They also get bonus points for the amazing wine glasses!

Plum wine & Menu @ Tokyo, Hilversum

Plum wine & Menu @ Tokyo, Hilversum

A big advantage at Tokyo is you can buy 4 maki rolls instead of the standard 8. This is great because it means you can two different varieties at once: a big advantage for us!

They also serve their sashimi platter ON A BOAT!! 😀

Sashimi Boat! @ Tokyo, Hilversum

Sashimi Boat! @ Tokyo, Hilversum

Simply fabulous! A great authentic restaurant… I can’t wait to go back!


Sorry to say, but: best avoided. Truly disappointing. The staff were friendly but the food just wasn’t up to scratch. We ordered a sashimi platter which was said to contain 7 different types of fish. It arrived with four, one of which was crabsticks. The tempura was soggy and very basic (no fancy veg or prawns, just standard veg.) The wasabi was discoloured and weak. If the wasabi is good… you should NOT be able to do this:

Kimono, Hilversum

Kimono, Hilversum

…without getting the world’s biggest nose-kick. This amount: nothing.

Hopefully they were just having a bad day and a low-stocked kitchen… but it was enough for us to not want to go back again.

Sochi’s Sushi

This is the one we haven’t tried yet… but soooooon! Located on the Groest, next to Sumo! (Keep your friends close and your enemies closer and all that!) They offer lunch, take out and dinner (but are only open until 8pm, which is why we haven’t been yet.)

It’s on the list!

Ai Uchi (situated within the Amrâth Grand Hotel Theater Gooiland)

This was the little gem we discovered on Friday! As you can see – the bar area is stunning!

Ai Uchi @ the Amrâth Grand Hotel Gooiland

Ai Uchi @ the Amrâth Grand Hotel Gooiland

We had two soups to start but they didn’t photograph well in the romantic candle light! 😉 Miso soup (simple, good) and a Japanese fish soup (highly recommended!)

Then we had tempura, sashimi, edamame beans (of course!) and Usuyaki (beefrolls met knoflook en lenteui = beef with garlic and spring onions) with udon noodles. Definitely the dish of the day!!

Tempura and Sashimi @ Ai Uchi

Tempura and Sashimi @ Ai Uchi

Plum wine!

Plum wine!

The staff were welcoming and nothing was too much trouble. When we asked for more wasabi (heat fiends that we are) the waiter happily brought back a huge pot (well, huge for wasabi, anyway!)

Hilversum gets a big thumbs up for its Japanse restaurants! 

What great restaurants do you have in your neighbourhood?

Hayley x