The pretty city overshadowed by famous neighbour perfect for dodging stag dos

Amsterdam is often top of the list of places to visit for first-time visitors to the Netherlands, but why not avoid the drunken stag dos and large crowds by visiting this pretty city instead?

The Netherlands’ oldest city, Nijmegen in the country’s Gelderland region is packed with leafy parks and beautiful streets punctuated by charming independent shops making it the perfect place for a relaxed city break.

Landmarks include the Kruittoren powder tower located in the Kronenburgerpark, which also houses the remains of Nijmegen’s medieval city walls, the towering Saint Stephens Church and the Grote Markt town square which features charming traditional buildings.

It is best known for its International Four Days Marches, which is the largest marching event in the world with over 40,000 from more than 70 countries taking part annually.

The event takes place in mid-July every year and initially started as a military event, however now only about 5,000 of the event’s participants are from the army, with the public encouraged to join in across a number of routes.

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The city is located on the border with Germany, with the city of Duisburg just under 50 miles away and perfect for a short excursion along with its neighbour Arnhem which is home to many museums and other attractions.

Roman remains are still visible in the city with the foundations of the amphitheatre traced in the paving of the present-day Rembrandtstraat and part of the old city wall still standing.

The city’s Valkhof Museum also displays a number of artefacts and also has a display on the full history of Nijmegen, which was a part of the Hanseatic League in the 1400s.

Sport in the city is focused on its NEC Nijmegen football club which has competed in the UEFA Cup as recently as 2012 despite its small size, Nijmegen also has one of the Netherlands’ oldest cricket clubs in Quick 1888 and the Nijmegen Devils ice hockey club.

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Nijmegen is a great place for shoppers with top independent shops including Vinylarchief, which is packed with tons of vinyl records with something for every taste, and 2ndMas which sells affordable second-hand high-end clothing.

Despite its traditional appearance, not many of Nijmegen’s very old buildings are left after the city was heavily bombed by both the Americans and Germans during the Second World War, when the city also saw heavy fighting in 1944 as part of Operation Market Gate.

One of the old buildings which does remain in the city is the Museum Castle Wijchen, which was the love nest of Emilia of Oranje-Nassau and her husband Emanuel of Portugal, who rebuilt the castle in Renaissance style in 1597.

The castle’s museum offers visitors the chance to see into the lives of those who lived in the building hundreds of years ago.

Those wishing to sample the city should fly to Eindhoven airport, which costs about £40 for a round trip in January 2024, before hopping on a train to Nijmegen, which takes about one hour.

Staying in the city’s central Hotel de Prince will cost about £100 a night but there are plenty of cheaper options for those on a budget.

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