Baarle is one of the most remarkable villages in the world. When I first heard about this strange border between The Netherlands and Belgium, it immediately caught my attention. I added it to my travel bucket list and hoped that I’d be able to visit it someday. That someday happened last month – on my recent birthday trip to Europe.
To be honest, I really thought that my dream Euro trip would not materialize because of what is happening in the world. There’s the ongoing pandemic, the Russian-Ukraine war, and many other things. Fortunately, by God’s grace, I was able to do it.
The Baarle-Nassau (Netherlands) / Baarle-Hertog (Belgium) is one of the strangest borders in the world. It’s just so confusing and mid-boggling. You can literally stand in two countries at the same time with the markings on the street.
The 22 Belgian enclaves of Baarle-Hertog are completely surrounded by the Dutch Baarle-Nassau. Seven enclaves of Baarle-Nassau are located in the two largest Belgian enclaves.
The borders are so detailed that many buildings – houses and commercial spaces are split down the middle between the two countries. There’s even a house with two addresses, both in Netherlands and Belgium! It’s complicated but really interesting that you should see it yourself.
How to Get To Baarle Nassau / Baarle-Hertog
There are two ways to get to Baarle, you can either start at the Dutch side or at the Belgian side. I took the latter. I started In Antwerp and took a bus 417 to Turnhout. You can also take a train but it would be quite expensive compared to taking a bus. The train costs around €10 if you book in advance and even more if you book on the day of your travel. Traveling by bus is only €2.5, one way and it’s only for about an hour.
From Turnhout, I took Bus 460 to Baarle-Hertog. Again, the fare is €2.5. It’s the standard bus fare in Belgium. Make sure to buy your bus tickets at the station. You can’t pay on the bus but you can get a ticket by sending a text message to a certain number.
The bus only runs every hour so plan your visit so you can maximize your time in Baarle. Staying for a night or two would be a great idea. I didn’t have the luxury of time so I just had a day tour.
From the Netherlands
From the Netherlands, take a train to Breda Central Railway station. From there, board bus 132 which will pass by Baarle before heading back to the Dutch side again towards Tilburg.
Things to do in Baarle [Tourist Spots]
When you arrive in Baarle, the first thing that you should do is to visit the Tourist Information Center and get a tourist map. It’s made for walking or biking tours so you can easily follow the route. Make sure to download maps.me just in case you get lost and you don’t have an internet connection to use Google maps.
Don’t forget to ask for a pin and mark your city. 🙂
Take a selfie in one of the border markings
The first thing I did was take a selfie in one of the border markings. That’s what I came for so after getting off the bus, I immediately looked for the markings. Fortunately, one of the markings is just a few steps from the bus stop.
Go on an Enclave Walking Tour
I had a tight schedule so I wasn’t able to follow the walking tour route. I headed straight to the house with two numbers, one of the popular tourist spots in Baarle.
The enclave walk takes you through the village center of Baarle. You will walk along with special historical places and cross the border several times. It’s a 4-kilometer route that can be followed by markings on the sidewalks. Interesting, right? I would have definitely done this if I had more time.
Visit the House with Two Numbers
The house is a private residence, you are free to take pictures but try not to disturb the owners.
Check out the Plaquette
In the center of Baarle-Hertog-Nassau, directly opposite the border post, there is a plaque that was installed in 1996 on the occasion of the official determination of the enclave borders. Since then, the enclave borders have also been the official “state borders”.
Visit St. Remegius Church
Declared as a protected monument in September 1942, St. Remegius Church is considered one of the tourist spots in Baarle. This church in the Kempen Gothic style has a tower over 46 meters high decorated with sand-lime bricks.
Food Trip in Baarle
There are many interesting restaurants in Baarle. If you are up for a gastronomic experience, try dining in one of the restaurants in town. Some of the popular eating spots are just adjacent to the border markers.