Are you thinking of visiting the city of Montfoort, The Netherlands? Then this Montfoort city guide will help you out with everything you want to know. From things to do in Montfoort to finding other places to visit in the Utrecht region. And, whether you’re thinking about spending a weekend in the Utrecht region or simply want to do some quick sightseeing in Montfoort. All the information to spend 24 hours, or more, in Montfoort and its surroundings, can be found here.
There are so many things to do in the Utrecht region, and so many places to see. So, if you were wondering where you should go in this part of The Netherlands, then Montfoort is one of the many answers I could give you. I hope you will enjoy this city blog on what to do in Montfoort and its surroundings.
Things to do in one stunning day in Montfoort, Utrecht, The Netherlands
Montfoort is a town found in the Utrecht region, so Montfoort is not located in Holland. During the summer months, there is a bit more tourism in Montfoort, but it’s nothing major. I can highly recommend you to add Montfoort and its surroundings to your Utrecht region itinerary.
Not only are the surroundings of Montfoort filled with sight and attractions, but this travel blog about Montfoort will also show you the things to do in this small Dutch town in the Utrecht region. I hope you enjoy this article on the best things to do in Montfoort, and how you can spend one day in its surroundings.
History & Facts about Montfoort
Montfoort is both a city and a municipality in the province of Utrecht. The municipality of Montfoort is home to a population of around 14.000 people, and besides the town of Montfoort, it also includes villages such as Linschoten. Around 1170, bishop Godfried van Rhenen assigned the creation of a castle on a strategic location along the Hollandse IJssel river.
This castle was supposed to protect the Stift of Utrecht (the area under the rule of the bishop of Utrecht), against attacks from the Earls of Holland. And, the bishop could also control the Stift of Utrecht from this castle. Because while it was one region, that didn’t mean things were always as friendly and cosy.
It is said that the name of the Montfoort castle comes from ‘Mons Fortis’, which means a strong castle. The commander of this castle in the Utrecht province was a man from the equestrian class. He became the viscount of Montfoort and gained quite a few nearby estates and pieces of land too.
Around the Montfoort castle, a settlement arose, which obtained city rights in 1329. Not long after, Montfoort had become a fortified city, with a city wall, a canal surrounding the city, four city gates, 26 defence towers and other fortifications. From the old defence works, only the IJsselpoort and some parts of the city wall remains.
Montfoort also had and has a windmill. The viscount assigned the creation of a so-called ‘dwangmolen’. This was a windmill where people from Montfoort, and the villages around this city, were forced to let their wheat be grained. In 1302 the Grote Kerk was built on the assignment of Hendrik III of Montfoort, who then gained the Jus Patronus.
Interesting to know is that the viscounts of Montfoort were quite hungry for power, and the bishop of Utrecht who owned all the land wasn’t too keen on that. It went so far that the viscounts were demanding to get more power from the bishop. And that’s when the bishop had enough and together with the city of Utrecht they besieged Montfoort in 1387. The viscounts had to give up that time.
I’m saying ‘that time’ because they were still keen to gain more power and become independent. And they sometimes succeeded, Montfoort conquered the city of Woerden in 1448.
In 1544, a monastery was founded in Montfoort (only the chapel and a cloister remain), but only decades later the Reformation followed. That’s when the States of Utrecht forbid the practice of the Catholic faith in 1581. It is also interesting to know that all the viscounts of Montfoort until 1583 had been from the family De Rover. But after that, they are from the De Merode lineage. A different family didn’t matter, as they both strived to be more influential and this family continued the old tradition. And because of their influence, the Reformation wasn’t as successful in Montfoort as in other areas.
In 1629, Montfoort had a large city fire, which included the destruction of the Grote Kerk. Reconstruction of that church that can still be seen today was finished in 1634. It was constructed with the money the church made from selling their land.
In 1648, the viscount had played his power, as he had very high debts and couldn’t afford to keep his rights and possessions in Montfoort anymore. In the disaster year of 1672, the city was occupied by the French troops. But, luckily we had Stadtholder William III, who pushed them out together with his troops. The French wouldn’t be the French if they didn’t leave a mess behind and decided to blow up the medieval Montfoort castle.
Nowadays, only a part of the outer part of the castle is still intact. The complex was actually in use as a prison and boarding school for girls until 1968. The prison was used for girls who had committed a crime and were younger than sixteen when entering prison. The boarding school was used for girls who had violated the law but could be easier managed than with harsher methods.
In the 16th and 17th century, the city of Montfoort was focused on agriculture, rope making and the creation of buttons. The inhabitants of Montfoort are still nicknamed ‘knopendraaiers’, or button turners, because of that. In the 19th century, the brick industry became very important for the town of Montfoort.
Where to stay in Montfoort
If you’re looking for the best hotels in Montfoort, The Netherlands, then you’ve come to the right part of this Montfoort travel guide. Spending the night in Montfoort in one of its hotels is a great thing to do, especially since the town is so calm.
Het Torentje aan de IJssel: check prices & availability via Booking.com
Hotel Montfoort: check prices & availability via Booking.com
Not far outside of the town of Montfoort, you have several other accommodation options. Here you will find yourself lost in the Dutch countryside and get to enjoy staying in the rural part of The Netherlands and the Green Heart region.
Het Jaarsveldhof: check prices & availability via Booking.com
Bakhuis Het Oude Klooster: check prices & availability via Booking.com
Guest House Aan de Hollandse IJssel: check prices & availability via Booking.com
Best restaurants in Montfoort
If you’re looking for great places to eat in Montfoort, I can recommend you to eat at restaurants such as Het Oude Stadhuis Montfoort, De Heeren van Montfoort and Kasteel Montfoort. Also, not that far from Montfoort (on the road between Oudewater and Montfoort) you can also find an excellent restaurant, called De Schans by Mike en Wes.
What to do in Montfoort
Free walking tour in Montfoort
This walking tour in Montfoort is around 2 kilometres long.
We are starting our little tour at Kleine Kerstraat 5. This is the oldest church in Montfoort, and there has been a church on this located for at least a thousand years. It is said that the earliest church was destroyed by Vikings around the year 800. Then, around the 10th century, the bishop of Utrecht started to assign the reconstruction of new churches and chapels.
In 1302, a certificate first mentioned a church in Montfoort founded by viscount Hendrik III. His goal was to gain the Jus Patronatus. This meant that the person who obtained that right could influence the appointing priest, manage donated goods and lands, etc. The church was initially dedicated to St John, and the first priest was named Wilhelmus van Ysselstein. A big part of the church was from the 13th century and the largest part from the 15th century. But, then a big fire happened in Montfoort.
On the 28th of March 1629, lightning struck the tower of this church in Montfoort. The church went almost entirely into flames and sparks were flying all over the city. Those sparks burned down 72 houses, 13 stacks of hay, two oil mills, six farms, six sheds and more. The church was incredibly damaged: everything from bells to the roof to chairs was burned. The only way this church could be rebuilt was to sell goods that the church-owned, taxation and government subsidies. If you visit this church in Montfoort, and you look up, you must look at the pillars’ top to see the damage of the fire on the stone.
The choir of this church is divided from the ship. The reason? The Roman Catholic population of Montfoort also claimed this church, while it was given to the Reformed by politicians. The Roman Catholics wished to hold their services in this church, as their given church was much too small and the Reformed only had 300 churchgoers (the Roman Catholics had 1760 members). They wanted to split it: the choir for the Reformed, the ship for the Roman Catholic community.
In 1810, it was decided that this church would be given to the Reformed and the Roman Catholics had to keep practising their faith in the small church. However, the partition was already partly placed, and the separation was eventually completed in 1868.
There used to be three bells in the church tower, but only one remains and dates back to 1630. The Germans took one during the Second World War, and another bell was sold to buy a new clock for the church.
You can visit this church from Monday until Friday from 16:00- 17:00. And, Saturday from 15:00- 16:00. In standard years you can also climb this church tower in Montfoort.
Then walk to Lange Kerkstraat to Hofstraat 3. You will see a former monastery in Montfoort, which is nowadays used to celebrate weddings and other events. The building existed out of a chapel, cloister and the home of a person that was part of the knighthood (weird, but true), and was created by Bernard van Duven in 1544. Interestingly, it was only in use until 1630
In the 18th century, this monastery came into the hands of someone who changed it into a place to process and store wheat and grains. However, due to the vibrations of the grinding of grains, the building was in bad shape. And, the cloister collapsed in 1965. In 1966, the cloister’s restoration started, and the same happened for the chapel in 1975.
Now walk to Peperstraat, Keizerstraat, Havenstraat and Hoogstraat 36. Here you will see the old city hall of Montfoort which dates back to 1375. The town hall of Montfoort is connected to the only remaining city gate in Montfoort: IJsselpoort, and it’s one connected building. This is the oldest building in the city and even one of the oldest city halls in The Netherlands.
The first layers of the IJsselpoort (gate) date back to the middle of the 14th century, just as the rest of the city wall of Montfoort. The fact that the city hall is so old is only known since the 20th century. Before that, people suspected that this town hall dated back to the 17th century.
The city hall of Montfoort was in use for six centuries (!): from meetings of the council to home to the offices of the mayors and officials to housing the city archives. The building was, beyond just that, also used for several other purposes over time. It was used as a meeting place for the local shooting militia, to store wood, peat and foods, housing for soldiers, as a school, as a museum and even a hospital. And, the gatekeeper of the IJsselpoort also had living space in this building.
This building was restored between 1963 and 1965. When the municipalities of Linschoten and Willeskop were combined with Montfoort, the building became too small in 1989. They moved out in 1990, and it has been restaurant Het Oude Stadhuis ever since.
After that, you will walk to Onder de Boompjes and Om Het Wedde 2. This is where you can see a beautiful Roman Catholic church in Montfoort: This is the church you can see from almost everywhere in the town. On this location, there was a church standing which was designed in 1861. However, it was too small. In 1923, it was decided by the board of the church that a new church must be built. Wolter te Riele designed it, and the first stone was laid on Monday the 9th of June 1924 (Second Pentecost day). As far as I’m aware, you can not visit this building.
Walk to Heilig Levenstraat, Lieve Vrouwegracht, Zevenhuisstraat and Molenstraat 27. That’s where you can see, and visit on Saturday, the windmill in Montfoort. It was built on the assignment of the former mayor of Montfoort, Hendrik Utenhove, in 1753. At the beginning of the 19th century, the windmill was named ‘De Valk’ or the falcon. People are unaware what the name of this mill was before that. This isn’t the first windmill of Montfoort either, as a mill has been standing on the same windmill centuries before this one.
Ever since this Dutch windmill in the Utrecht region was opened, it was a place where people were forced to grind their grains. People, especially millers in the surroundings, asked for this to change for decades, which finally happened in 1822.
After that, there was a period when people wanted to tear down the mill as most of the work happened in factories. It was bought by a local developer who restored the mill and created a house inside. A local foundation then purchased it for Dutch windmills in the Utrecht province. Since 2008, the mill has been restored into its original glory and works again.
You can visit this windmill in Montfoort every Saturday from 10:00- 16:00, go on a little tour with volunteers and buy incredible products at their windmill shop.
You will then head over to Willeskopperpoort, Julianalaan and will cross the N228 to walk on the cycle path. As you will walk in the direction of the centre of Montfoort, you will see parts of the city wall on the left side (starting from where the windmill is located).
The city wall of Montfoort used to protect the city against the enemy and cannon fire. There used to be a canal around the city wall, but as the wall has lost its function over the centuries, it was largely demolished, and the canal was filled in.
Our last stop is Kasteel Montfoort or Castle Montfoort. This Dutch castle in the Utrecht region was built on an assignment of bishop Godefried van Rhenen in 1163. It was created to defend the Stift of Utrecht from the Earldom of Holland.
The castle was then lived in by the viscount of Montfoort, who carried since then the surname ‘Van Montfoort’. This name and function were passed on, after the family line died out, via the marriage of Alix van Montfoort to her man: Knight Boudewijn van Renderode.
Their only daughter married Roelant de Roover, who bought the area of Montfoort from the bishop in 1270. That’s when people who were part of this family started named themselves both viscount and Van Montfoort. And, that was also the period when viscounts started to become opponents of bishops. Just before 1300, Zweder of Montfoort even helped the city of Utrecht to imprison their bishop. In 1301, the Van Montfoort family fought against the new successor, who then died in the Battle of Hogewoert.
In 1353, Zweder II van Montfoort was fighting again with another bishop. That bishop took over Castle Montfoort and forced Zweder to return his land to the bishop. Then, when yet another bishop was chosen, the Van Montfoort family decided to support this bishop. That is the reason why that family got their land, with the castle, back in 1430.
Emperor Charles V bought the land of the last member of the Van Montfoort lineage in 1545. Then the city and its castle became part of the De Merode possessions. Later on, Ferdinand Philips van Merode sold the town of Montfoort and its castle to the States of Utrecht in 1648.
Then, Montfoort Castle was attacked by the French King, Louis XIV, in the on the 6th and 7th of November disaster year 1672. They blew up the castle, and it wasn’t rebuilt. All the is left is a beautiful entry gate, with two round towers that give access to the square of the walled front part of the castle. After that, the castle terrain was lent to the mayors of the city of Montfoort.
In 1833, a boarding school was housed in the remaining part of the castle. In 1859, a prison for girls under sixteen and a boarding school for girls that committed small crimes. The boarding school was only closed in 1968. That’s when the municipality of Montfoort became the owner of this castle and the grounds, which they still are today.
Museums in Montfoort
There is one museum that you can visit in Montfoort, Museum De Knoperij. This museum is free to visit and opened on Wednesday (13:00-16:00), plus Friday and Saturday (10:00-16:00). In this museum, you will discover and learn more about the history of Montfoort, as well as old crafts. But there are also art exhibitions. So, this is a very varied museum in Montfoort.
At the same time, you can also find the tourist information of Montfoort here, where you can book arrangements and ask these friendly locals for more tips about Montfoort.
Museum ‘De Knoperij’ in Montfoort, can be found at Keizerstraat 25, Montfoort.
Go shopping for regional products in Montfoort
The main shopping street in Montfoort is Hoogstraat. I can highly recommend you to visit local shops, such as De IJsselpoort kaas & noten, for cheese and nuts.
I can also recommend you to visit a local Dutch farm store, just outside Montfoort. Farm shop Van Lint en van der Gun sells homegrown organic fruits, jams and more. They also have a terrace to enjoy a nice juice, for instance. They are usually opened Wednesday and Friday afternoon, as well as Saturday morning and afternoon.
Just outside Montfoort, you can also find another farm shop, called Vlooswijk. This shop is opened from Monday until Saturday both in the morning and afternoon. Here they sell their homegrown fruits, vegetables and sell regional products from other farmers and local producers in the area.
Lastly, you should also visit Kaasboerderij Doruvael, which is opened on Friday and Saturday from 09:00- 16:00. Here you can buy fresh cheeses from their cheese farm, yoghurts, jams and other regional products.
Witness great events in Montfoort
One of the things you need to do in Montfoort is to visit this town during Carnaval. Every year you can find one of the biggest Carnaval parades in The Netherlands in Montfoort, and that’s also when Montfoort changes their name to Knopengein. You can find the route of the Carnaval parade in Montfoort here. It only takes place on one day.
More things to do in Montfoort & its surroundings
Walk or cycle in the surroundings of Montfoort
If you prefer to explore The Netherlands by foot, but don’t want to spend a full day walking, then you can follow a route such as this one: Montfoort- Cattenbroek- Linschoten- Montfoort.
You can rent bikes in Montfoort at this location (reserving bikes in advance via e-mail is recommended). One of the cycling routes you can follow is Montfoort- Oudewater – Woerden – Linschoten – Montfoort. This will show you through a beautiful part of the Green Heart region, and those towns and villages have plenty of things to offer as well.
Rent a canoe near Montfoort
Just a town over from Montfoort, you can find Benschop. Here you can rent a canoe at Recreatie Landschap Rosenboom. You can easily reserve a canoe by sending a text to the number at the end of the page I’ve linked to. As for most rental items in The Netherlands: bring a valid id. Without one, you probably won’t be able to rent an item.
Explore nature reserves near Montfoort
One of the places to enjoy some new Dutch nature is between Oudewater, Montfoort and Polsbroek, not that far from Recreatie Landschap Rosenboom (where you can rent canoes) and it’s called ‘Natuurgebied Willeskop’. In 2002, significant parts of meadow were changed into a beautiful nature reserve (with marshes and grassland). There’s even an observation tower in the middle of this area to have a spectacular view.
Visit the city of Oudewater
Oudewater is the famous Dutch town for mainly one thing: witches, or to be more precise, for having a witch scale. But, that’s not all that Oudewater has to offer. There are plenty of things to do in Oudewater. And, if you’re looking to explore a rustic, Dutch town in the middle of one of The Netherlands most breathtaking locations, then you simply must visit this town.
Discover the cute Dutch village of Linschoten
Linschoten is one of the many unique villages you can visit in the Utrecht region. While it’s a small place as it’s a village, there are quite many things to do in Linschoten and its surroundings. It’s home to one of the small, wandering Dutch rivers that come straight out of a fairytale, plus it’s very peaceful. You don’t want to visit this area if you’re looking for the city vibe, but if you’re looking to relax, then visiting Linschoten and its surroundings is a fantastic idea.
Visit the city of Woerden
Woerden is known for its cheese within The Netherlands, but not outside the country. The only real cheese market in The Netherlands takes place in Woerden, but that’s not all. Enjoy the beautiful streets in Woerden, admire a museum and experience some great food at any restaurant this town is home to.
How to get to Montfoort, Utrecht, The Netherlands
I would always recommend using 9292.nl/en to plan your current trips by public transportation in The Netherlands. This is only used to give you a quick idea of arrival time and how you can roughly travel to Montfoort.
From Utrecht: To go on a day trip from the city of Utrecht to Montfoort, you can take a bus from Utrecht Centraal train station. Take the bus that runs in the direction of Gouda via De Meern. Get out at ‘Bushalte Kasteelplein’ in Montfoort. It will take you around 37 minutes to get to Montfoort from Utrecht.
From Amsterdam: If you want to travel to Montfoort from the city of Amsterdam, then I can recommend you to take a train to Utrecht Centraal. There you must transfer to a bus that runs in the direction of Gouda via De Meern. Get out at ‘Bushalte Kasteelplein’ in Montfoort. It will take you approximately 1 hour and 5 minutes to get from Amsterdam to the city of Montfoort.
From Rotterdam: To travel to Montfoort from Rotterdam, you must take a train to the city of Gouda. Then transfer at the train station of Gouda to a bus that runs in the direction of Utrecht via Oudewater. Get out at ‘Bushalte Kasteelplein’ in Montfoort. It takes you around 1 hour to get from Rotterdam to Montfoort.
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I hope you enjoyed this article on things to see in Montfoort. Whether you were looking for activities to do, free things to do or landmarks to see, this guide has shown it all. As Montfoort is a relatively small town, you can’t spend one full day here, but you definitely can do so when you combine this in the Utrecht region trip and explore its surroundings.
Hidden gems in The Netherlands are spread all over the country, but I genuinely hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about one of the unusual places to visit in the Green Heart region. This region is filled with places to visit and must-sees. And, Montfoort happens to be one of those places. Share this post!
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