Venlo is a city in the Southern Netherlands, right on the German border. It's a centre for industries and trade but also the go-to place for shopping and services for people from the wide region, including the neighbouring German Ruhr area. Although the town centre sustained a lot of damage in WWII, there's still a large number of monumental buildings to see. In recent years, the city has heavily invested in re-vamping the town centre, creating new shopping boulevards and improving infrastructure, which was done in part because of the 2012 national Floriade flower show, which was hosted here.
Venlo is a real industrial transport hub, and a main gateway to Germany. The main roads passing through are typically busy with trucks on their way to the east or back. Several major roads pass here, making the town easily reachable from all directions. The A67/E34 connects Venlo to Germany in the west (most directly Duisburg and Essen as well as east, to Eindhoven and further. The A73 leads to Nijmegen in the north and Roermond and further southern direction. The A74/61 leads to Germany in south-eastern direction, most directly connecting Venlo to Mönchengladbach.
Half hourly slow train connections run between Venlo and Roermond. Faster NS intercity trains run, also twice per hour, to Eindhoven (40 min.), Tilburg, Breda, Dordrecht and Rotterdam. Before Eindhoven, it stops at the smaller stations of Blerick, Horst-Sevenum, Deurne and Helmond. There are slow cross-border trains to Mönchengladbach (30 min) and fast trains to Dusseldorf and other German destinations.
The bus station serves most destinations in the area.
The city centre is small enough to navigate on foot. A bike is a convenient alternative. If you don't have your own, you can rent one at Fietspoint at the Stationsplein. Reservations are recommended.
Much of the historic centre of Venlo was destroyed in WWII, and several remaining houses were replaced by new projects in the years that followed. Some of the oldest houses are not recognizable as such, as modern façades have been placed in front of them. Nonetheless, there's plenty of history still around, especially in the city centre.
- Stadhuis (Town hall). Built at the end of the 16th century, this renaissance-style building remained remarkably undamaged in the war. It determines the look of the central market square and was intensively restored in 2009. The down floor was originally a market place and the building also served as the city weigh house. The medallions on the façade represent famous Venlo people from the time. Research proved however that the image of Hubert Goltzius, a famous engraver and printer, is in fact one of his cousin. Another one, representing painter Jan van Cleef, must be a fantasy image as no pictures of the man exist, also not at the time the medallions were made.
- Romerhuis, Wijngaardstraat 2. Historic house, built around 1491 and well preserved. Its design is late Gothic art style.
- The Gasthuisstraat. This street, despite it looks, is in fact the most medieval street in the country. Behind modern façades lie ancient houses. One of the most interesting buildings today is the Stad Frankfort, a house with medieval roots and an early 19th century front. It's considered the oldest house in the city.
- Limburgs Museum (In the Julianapark). Tue-Sun 11am-5pm. The collection of this museum shows the history of the wide region through art, archeological finds and anthropological object of all kinds. It was opened in 2000. €10 for adults.
Several hiking routes are available for the area around Venlo. Distances and kinds of terrain vary. The Venlo Greenpark route takes you to see the Floriade parks and gardens which were established for the 2012 Floriade show, a huge flower and plants event that's held in the Netherlands once every 10 years. . At the east side of town, there are several interesting natural areas.
The Venlo area is known as a shopping destination for people from the wider region, including Germany. The Maasboulevard, as the renovated shopping area is called, was fully redone just a few years ago. The Vleesstraat has most of the major chain stores, and at the end of it you'll find the so-called "German quarter", with many German oriented shops. Along the Parade, de Jodenstraat and Gasthuisstraat you'll find more boutiques and small speciality shops.
The region is known for its asparagus production, and in spring, when they are in season, you'll find them in abundance both on restaurant menus and for sale along the provincial streets in the agricultural areas.
The Kwartelenmarkt and Grote Markt area are good places to look for restaurants, especially in summer when they set up outdoor terraces on the squares.
- Brasserie Sur Place, Kwartelenmarkt 13, ☎ +31 77 321 13 99. Quaint place with a pleasant outdoor terrace. It serves good, French oriented food in large portions. 3 course surprise menu for €32.50, mains around €20.
- Mozaiek Eten en Drinken, Pastoor op heijstraat 63, ☎ +31 77 850 97 95. This Turkish restaurant gets raving reviews for its tasty food and the low prices they charge for it. From €10.
- Sittar, Kleine Kerkstraat 12. Reportedly the best Indian food in the region. The place to go for curry and mango lassi. Especially on weekends, you may want to reserve a table, as this is a popular place.
- Chez Philippe, Parade 61, ☎ +31 77 354 89 01. Great French cuisine in a not too posh place. Cozy restaurant with good service and one of the more high-end places to eat in town. From around €35.
There's aren't really any major clubs, but you'll find plenty of cafés. Some of them have a special "club night", when the music is turned up and the tables removed as people come in to dance. For serious clubbing, German cities in the region have some good options, and university city Eindhoven is a good alternative.
- Stationshotel Venlo, Keulsepoort 16. This friendly, family-run hotel may not be the most modern option, but the basic rooms are clean and it's one of the cheapest options in town. There's no elevator, so count on taking the stairs. As the name suggests, it's at the train station and close to restaurants and the Limburgs Museum. singles/doubles €46/65.
- Bilderberg Hotel De Bovenste Molen, Bovenste Molenweg 12. Outside of town in a forest area, the supposedly modern interior and some of the wellness facilities could use a revamp, but it's a pleasant place with good service, especially if you want to go for a walk or bike trip. Breakfast is nice but dinner is a bit overpriced. From €80.
- Hotel Puur, Parade 7a. Very central in town, which is an asset in term of sightseeing, but take into account that it can be noisy at night, as there's a bar adjoining the hotel. Rooms are not too spacious but adequate.
- Hotel American, Keulsepoort 14. A fairly basic place but in a nice city centre spot and, in terms of price, one of the cheaper options. €70.
- Roermond has a nice historic centre and is a modern shopping highlight.
- Arcen has a nice castle with show gardens
- Lottum is known as the rose village of the Netherlands. There are several lovely rose gardens to admire, as well as all kinds of roses for sale.