The city of Wijk bij Duurstede is one of the places to visit in the Utrecht region. Not only because it’s a beautiful town, but also because there are plenty of things to do in Wijk bij Duurstede. Whether you’re thinking of spending one day in Wijk bij Duurstede or are simply looking for a couple of things to see, this Wijk bij Duurstede travel blog shows you everything you need to know.
If you ask me the question ‘Is Wijk bij Duurstede, The Netherlands, worth visiting?’ Then I can quickly answer that with a yes. Tourism in Wijk bij Duurstede is mostly at its high during the summer months, but even then, there aren’t a lot of people. The centre of Wijk bij Duurstede is filled with sights, attractions and activities. And the surroundings of one of the best cities to visit in the Utrecht province are also gorgeous and will make your Wijk bij Duurstede itinerary complete.
Just a little reminder, Wijk bij Duurstede is not found in the Holland region, but the Utrecht province in The Netherlands.
Things to do in one day in Wijk bij Duurstede, The Netherlands
I hope you enjoy this 24 hours in Wijk bij Duurstede and that you will know exactly what to do in this stunning city. There are lots of things to do in Wijk bij Duurstede and its surroundings, that will all be shown in this city guide and blog.
History & Facts about Wijk bij Duurstede (Dorestad)
The city that was found on the location of Wijk bij Duurstede before is Dorestad. It was one of the most important and successful international trading locations in North-Western Europe from the 7th until the 9th century. This has shaped Wijk bij Duurstede. Dorestad was founded on a former Roman castellum.
When Dorestad slowly developed itself as a trading city, this city was known for long-distance and regional trade and production. But that’s not all, as it was also a city that experimented with connections between the Christian francs and the non-Christian northern areas.
At the end of the 7th century, Dorestad was found in the Frisian area and was often fought between the Frisians and Francs. Around 719, Dorestad was in the hands of the Francs. Around 840, it was in the hands of two Danish brothers and in the 9th century, Dorestad started to decay rapidly. The population of Dorestad was around 10.000 at its highest point.
Dorestad was named Dorestate, but Dorestad in current Dutch. It has a German and Celtic origin. There are several thoughts on what Dorestate means: ‘Dur’: entry gate and ‘stade’: shore, which means an entry on a shore. ‘Dworest’: door and ‘Duron: private market place, and ‘statha’: dock, which means a market place with a dock. Some other people think that Dorestate is a combination of ‘dworest: door/passage, which then created ‘dorus’ and the suffix ‘-atis-‘, which points to inhabitants. This would mean passage people. Whichever one it is, they’re all pretty interesting and straight forward. The name Dorestate has been in use since at least the 7th century.
The reason why Dorestad became such a flourishing trading city, is because it was found at the crossing of two important river trading routes. There was one connection with the Frisian areas and the Wadden region, which connected the German Rhine regions with Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea areas. The second trading route was along the Lek river and formed a connection between the Rhine regions and England. Plus, they could reach the Schelde and from there on Flanders, Brabant and the North of France.
The harbour of Dorestad had wooden piers on poles in the Rhine river. But, as the Rhine slowly changed its course into the eastern direction, these piers had to be continuously adjusted. It’s estimated that around 150.000-200.000 poles were used for these constructions.
It is said that there was a 3-kilometre long ribbon development in Dorestad along the river, with hundreds of houses and thousands of inhabitants. The houses were built from wood.
It’s interesting to know how much trading took place in Dorestad. Due to archaeological findings and old registers, researchers have been able to find out what was traded here. Things that were sold in Dorestad included: wine from Hessen, grindstones from Scandinavia, as well as slaves, food, dogs, textile, skins and more.
One of the other reasons why the city of Dorestad was so well-known was because they made coins here. Those coins that were made in Dorestad, and a few other places, were the primary payment method in Western and Northern Europe during that time. Fun fact: coins that were made in Dorestad, were even found in Russia.
There’s one downside to being such a successful and wealthy city, which is that it also attracts the bad guys. Vikings attacked and plundered Dorestad countless of times. The first one happened in 834 and the last in 863.
At the end of the 9th century, Dorestad started to decline in inhabitants, wealth and more. People aren’t exactly sure what the causes are and have different opinions and theories about that. Some think that the natural reshaping and relocation of the Rhine river made that happen, including silting of the Dorestad harbour. Others believe the plundering of the Vikings became too much or that the fact that Dorestad didn’t have a religious centre which made Royals and nobility less interested in Dorestad, amongst many other reasons.
It’s most likely that a combination of all these elements contributed to the downfall of Dorestad. After a prosperous time, Dorestad became nothing more than an agricultural settlement. Most trading activities went to cities such as Tiel and Deventer, and later on, Utrecht became one of the most flourishing and influential cities in the region.
Later on, the city of Wijk bij Duurstede slowly emerged out of the agricultural settlement. In 948, the settlement Wijk was first written down in a document of the church of Utrecht.
Wijk bij Duurstede obtained city rights from Gijsbrecht van Abcoude in around 1300. Shortly after gaining the city rights, Wijk bij Duurstede became a fortified city. In the 14th century, the city wall was expanded, city gates and defence towers were added, and the canals were renewed.
The Reformation wasn’t a big deal in Wijk bij Duurstede, as the most significant part of the population stayed catholic. During the 80-year-war against the Spanish, Wijk bij Duurstede was still a relatively important fortified city in the region. After that war was done, the importance became less and less.
During the disaster year of 1672, the city of Wijk bij Duurstede wasn’t capable of defending itself against the upcoming French armies. So, the city decided to carry over the city to the French voluntarily. But, at that time, the economic situation in Wijk bij Duurstede was already bad. This was due to many factors, such as the Plague that halved the population in 1636. And the French occupation made it even worse. Only in the half of the 19th century, Wijk bij Duurstede reached the same number of inhabitants it had before 1636. And that’s also when the city slowly started to become a bit wealthier again, but only a little bit.
Around the city of Wijk bij Duurstede, the rivers Nederrijn, Lek, Kromme Rijn and the Amsterdam-Rijnkanaal flow. The population of Wijk bij Duurstede is around 18.260.
Where to stay in Wijk bij Duurstede
I always recommend people to spend the night in a town that they’re visiting to get the whole feeling of a place. If you are thinking of staying at least one day in Wijk bij Duurstede, then I can highly recommend you to check out these hotels, b&bs and other accommodation in Wijk bij Duurstede.
Guesthouse Het Atelier: check prices & availability via Booking.com
OTTO Boutique Hotel: check prices & availability via Booking.com
Hotel Brasserie Florian: check prices & availability via Booking.com
Bed & Brood De Vogelpoel: check prices & availability via Booking.com
Best restaurants in Wijk bij Duurstede
Wijk bij Duurstede is filled with great restaurants: from small, cosy cafes to modern restaurants, there’s something here for everyone. I can highly recommend you to visit De Veldpoort, Restaurant ‘t Klooster, De Graanschuur and Brasserie Florian. There are tons of other places that you can have a great breakfast, lunch or dinner at in Wijk bij Duurstede.
What to do in Wijk bij Duurstede
Free walking tour in Wijk bij Duurstede
This tour in Wijk bij Duurstede is around 5 kilometres.
We start our Wijk bij Duurstede free walking tour at Peperstraat; then we will walk to Mazijk and Langs de Wal 6. Here you will see a park with something special in the middle of it. The ruins of Castle Duurstede in Wijk bij Duurstede can be seen here, but the castle ruins can only be visited during Open Monumentendag (one weekend in September) or when you reserve the location for a party.
The history of this castle in Wijk bij Duurstede goes back to the 13th century. Count of Bentheim let a strengthened house, near the location of Dorestad, to the nobility of Abcoude. In 1270, Zweder I of Abcoude assigned the creation of a big brick residential tower (which can still be seen as of today). Until 1449, the house was owned by the van Abcoude family, but then it was forcefully sold to the bishop of Utrecht, and it finally became a part of the Stift of Utrecht.
Bishop David of Bourgondië, let a significant reconstruction of the castle between 1459 and 1496. The successors from David, Frederik IV of Baden and Filips of Bourgondië, also used the castle as their private residence. The last expansion of this Dutch castle took place in 1577.
The castle was in an excellent shape up until at least the 1640s. However, somewhere in the second half of the 17th century, it completely changed into ruins. The reason was not an attack by enemy forces, but mainly by the neglect of the Stift of Utrecht. Another reason why there isn’t much left of this castle is because of the disaster year of 1672.
That’s when French troops were all over The Netherlands destroying houses, castles, churches, etc. They didn’t see the Wijk bij Duurstede castle as a threat, so they didn’t do anything to it. But they didn’t leave the city of Wijk bij Duurstede alone. Because the French troops heavily damaged Wijk bij Duurstede, the inhabitants needed to renovate and completely reconstruct many buildings. They used bricks of the decayed castle Duurstede for that.
The original entrance of the castle was on the second floor and could be reached via wooden stairs that could be destroyed (for instance: burned) during the attack of an enemy. The tower dates back to the 15th century and is a very important piece of history that is more than 40 metres high. The surroundings of the castle are turned into a public park in the 19th century.
Then walk on the Vrouwepoortpad along the Nederrijn river, for a beautiful view on the rural part of the Utrecht region. Now, continue to Langs de Wal, Julianastraat, Muntstraat, Oeverstraat, Dijkstraat and Dijkstraat 29.
This is where you can see the ‘Rijn en Lek’ windmill in Wijk bij Duurstede; it translates to the Rhine and Lek. It’s named this way because the Rhine river goes into the Lek river at the location of the windmill. This is the only windmill in The Netherlands (and in the world) that is built on top of a city gate. It is still working today, and visiting this mill is one of the free things to do in the Utrecht region. It’s usually opened on Saturday and Sunday afternoon from 12:30- 16:00.
The mill was built in 1659 and is a very early windmill of a specific sort. The city gate, called Leuterpoort (named after the hamlet De Leuth), dates back to the 14th century. The windmill has been renovated several times and even survived the craziest storms.
The mill is often named ‘the windmill of Ruysdael’, named after the famous painting of Jacob van Ruisdael. However, the windmill that you can see on that specific painting is not this one. That windmill was found in Wijk bij Duurstede, but a few hundred metres west.
After that, we will walk to Rijndijk and Singel 51. Near number 51, you can see waterworks that are part of the Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie, which was a defensive line that protected a big part of Holland and the city of Utrecht. This construction was made between 1866 and1871.
Continue with one of the best things to do in Wijk bij Duurstede to Walplatsoen, Wildemansteeg, Klooster Leuterstraat and Markt 26. There you will see a 16th century building. Then walk to Markt 24, to admire the city hall of Wijk bij Duurstede that was designed by Ghijsbert Theunisz. van Vianen and Peter Jansz. van Cooten in 1662. And at Markt 22, you can find the main church of Wijk bij Duurstede that dates back to the 15th century.
This church is called the Grote Kerk, or Johannes de Doperkerk, as is a Gothic pseudo basilica and home to an unfinished church tower. The current church comes forth out of a previous church that was built in the 14th century. It started as a collegiate church, then changed into a hall church and lastly into a pseudo basilica. Under the lead of bishop David van Bourgondië, the church was expanded from 1486. And they also started the construction of a tower and had a similar design and idea of the Dom tower in Utrecht in mind. But, due to the lack of money, they didn’t finish the tower. In 1579, a new choir in the church burned down and wasn’t rebuilt, which is the reason why there’s one wall of the church that is completely straight. It’s been a protestant church since 1580 and is still in use today.
This church can be visited now and then, and sometimes you can even climb the tower for an incredible view of Wijk bij Duurstede and its surroundings. It doesn’t happen often, but when you visit Wijk bij Duurstede, you can always head to the tourist information VVV at Markt 24 for information, and maybe you’re in luck.
Then walk to Maleborduurstraat, Kostverlorenpad and Gansfortstraat 4. There you can see a part of a former hospital in Wijk bij Duurstede, which dates back to at least 1400.
The final stops on your Wijk bij Duurstede walking route. Now you’re going to walk to Dirk Fockstraat, Doctor Cuypersstraat, Singel, Apostelpad, Achterstraat, Volderstraat and lastly, Markt 14. There you can find a 16th century house, called Huis Nederhoff.
Museums in Wijk bij Duurstede
Museum Dorestad goes back into the early medieval city of Dorestad and shows you the history of Dorestad, their relation with Vikings, the Romans and so much more. Museum Dorestad is currently not opened, because they’re changing locations, but there is now a pop-up museum in Wijk bij Duurstede in the tower of the Grote Kerk at Markt 22. It’s estimated that the new museum Dorestad will be opened in autumn 2021.
Visit galeries in Wijk bij Duurstede
One of those things that has surprised me about Wijk bij Duurstede is the number of art galleries you can find here. Many of them are opened for visitors once, or several times, a week.
- Galerie Jan Pieter Foppen: Saturday 12:00-17:00
- Galerie Article: Every Saturday and the 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month
- Kunst aan de Lek: Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday 13:00- 17:00
Beer tasting at the local brewery in Wijk bij Duurstede
If you’re interested in tasting some Dutch craft beer in Wijk bij Duurstede, then I can highly recommend you to head over to Stadsbrouwerij de Dikke. This city brewery in the Utrecht region has been brewing craft beers since 2015. But that’s not all, the recipe they use is based on a historic beer recipe that dates back to 1495.
You can reserve a tasting every Friday and Saturday from 13:00- 19:00, as well as the first Sunday of the month.
Buy local foods & products in Wijk bij Duurstede
Shopping in Wijk bij Duurstede is always a great idea. This town in the Utrecht region is home to tons of local shops that you won’t find anywhere else.
Every Wednesday morning (until 13:00) there is a weekly market on the Markt in Wijk bij Duurstede. Here you can buy tons of local and regional products (as well as tasty souvenirs).
If you travel to Wijk bij Duurstede on another day of the week, then you must head into Kaashuis Dorestad for the best cheeses from Wijk bij Duurstede and its surroundings.
Lindsey’s Visspeciaalzaak is excellent to visit for excellent and fresh Dutch fish dishes and at Brood- en Banketbakkerij Lakerveld you can find not only delicious bread but also treats that you want to buy.
Canoe in Wijk bij Duurstede
Just a tiny bit outside of Wijk bij Duurstede you can rent Canadian kayaks. The recommended canoe route in this part of the Utrecht Region is Cothen- Langbroek- Wijk bij Duurstede, which will show you the beautiful Dutch countryside in Utrecht and tons of notable estates and castles.
Sail on a ‘trekschuit’ from Wijk bij Duurstede
A ‘trekschuit’ is an old style of sail- and horse-drawn boat specific to the Netherlands. It was used here for centuries as a means of passenger traffic between cities along special tow-canals. ‘De Krommerijnder’ is a reconstructed ‘trekschuit’, these types of boat used to sail over the Kromme Rijn river from Wijk bij Duurstede to Utrecht city and back.
The boat is nowadays driven by a silent motor, that makes it easier to enjoy nature on this boat trip in the Utrecht region. During the journey, you will be given information about Wijk bij Duurstede, Cothen and the Kromme Rijn river.
From the first Saturday of April until the last Sunday of October, the boat leaves every Saturday and Sunday at 13:30. In July and August, it also departs every Wednesday at 13:30. The trip is around 3 hours long, and a maximum of 12 passengers can enter the boat. You can get a ticket at the VVV at Markt 24 in Wijk bij Duurstede.
More things to do in Wijk bij Duurstede & its surroundings
Cycle or walk along the river
One fantastic walking and cycling route in the surroundings of Wijk bij Duurstede is the so-called ‘Bloesemroute’, or blossom route. This is best to be walked during spring and goes along fruit orchards in The Netherlands in the Betuwe region. The maps can be bought at the VVV tourist office in Wijk bij Duurstede for a few euros. The walking route is usually around 13 kilometres and the cycling one around 40 kilometres.
Another great cycling route from Wijk bij Duurstede is to cycle from Wijk bij Duurstede in the direction of the city of Utrecht. You will pass tons of Dutch castles and estates in the Utrecht region. And although most are privately owned in this Dutch region, they are still worth seeing.
I would recommend you to reserve a bike in advance, just to make sure you actually have one. And don’t forget to bring an id, this is often asked when renting things in The Netherlands. There are a few places where you can rent a bike in Wijk bij Duurstede:
Visit the city of Culemborg
Culemborg is one of those picture-perfect small cities you can find in The Netherlands and is a perfect day trip from Wijk bij Duurstede. It’s filled with beautiful streets, cosy cafes and friendly people. Plus, some great museums and incredible views on both a windmill and a very well preserved city wall. All I can say is: when you visit Culemborg, there are plenty of things to do and see, so you’re not getting bored anytime soon.
Explore the Dutch castle museum of Huis Doorn
The Huis Doorn museum is found in the village of Doorn and was the last residence of former German emperor Wilhelm II. Wilhelm flees after a German defeat in the First World War to The Netherlands, which was neutral at that time. He then bought Huis Doorn in 1919 and lived here from 1920 until he died in 1941.
In the house, you can find beautifully styled rooms that are still the same as when the former emperor lived here. And, Huis Doorn is home to the most extensive collection of German art outside of Germany, with more than 30.000 objects.
Discover the most beautiful unexplored region with castles in The Netherlands
Another cycling tour I would recommend you to do in the Utrecht region is to explore the area around the village of Langbroek. Here you will find not only many estates and castles but also the beautiful and typical Dutch landscape of small towns, meandering little rivers and endless meadows.
A great cycling route along castles and estates in the Utrecht region is the following:
- Wijk bij Duurstede – Kasteel Zuilenburg – Kasteel Groenestein – Kasteel Sandenburg – Kasteel Walenburg – Kasteel Lunenburg – Kasteel Hindersteyn – Landgoed Leeuwenburgh – Kasteel Weerdesteyn – Kasteel Rhijnestein – Wijk bij Duurstede
This will bring you along the village of Langbroek as well as some of the most beautiful streets in The Netherlands: Langbroekerwetering and Langbroekerdijk.
Travel to one of the prettiest Dutch villages in the Utrecht region
Amerongen village is one out of storybooks and can be found near the city of Utrecht. It’s also home to one of the best Dutch castles to visit in The Netherlands. This 17th century Amerongen Castle has played a critical role in the national and European history. Everything is magical, from the breathtaking house to the incredible garden and interior. This Dutch castle in the Utrecht region is worth a visit.
Find a cherry museum in Cothen
‘Het Kersenmuseum‘ is a cherry museum in the town of Cothen. So, if you were looking for interesting and small museums to visit in The Netherlands, then this is one of them. Growing cherries is very important in the Kromme Rijnstreek. And in this museum, you can find out why growing cherries is such a big deal here, how it’s been done and so much more.
And also, when before you enter the museum, you will walk through ‘Landwinkel De Kersenhut‘. This is their farmer’s shop, and you can buy tons of local products here: From honey to beer and from fruits (such as cherries when they’re in season) to cheeses. They also have a walking route through their orchard, which is very lovely to see.
Admire the Eiland van Schalkwijk area
The Eiland van Schalkwijk, or the Island of Schalkwijk, is a polder area that is surrounded by the Lek river, Amsterdam- Rijn channel and the Lek channel. The site is part of the Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie, which was a defence line between the city of Muiden and the Biesbosch and was in use between 1815 and 1940. Water, that we have plenty of, was used in our advantage: big pieces of meadows were inundated if the enemy was coming near, which made it a whole lot more challenging to conquer and occupy certain regions.
If you cycle, or walk, from Wijk bij Duurstede, as soon as you’re over the bridge, you’re on this Dutch island in the centre of the country. Water, meadows and peaceful places surround you. There are fortresses on the island: Fort Honswijk, Werk aan de Korte Uitweg, Werk aan de Waalse Wetering and Lunet aan de Snel. There are tons of cycling paths and walking routes on the island, and there are natural river beaches as well.
Another thing that you must see in this part of the Utrecht region is the ‘Verdronken Bos’, or drowned forest. Here you can see how an area would’ve looked like when it was inundated.
There’s a tourist office on the Island of Schalkwijk where you can find more things to do here, including walking routes and more. It can be found at Provincialeweg 1, 3998 JE Schalkwijk.
Discover the best of Dutch nature in a National Park in Utrecht
National Park De Utrechtse Heuvelrug is found in the centre of The Netherlands, the area of the Utrechtse Heuvelrug region roughly stretches from the Grebbeberg to Gooimeer (near Naarden), which is around 40.000 hectares. The National Park itself is about 10.000 hectares. From sunrise to sunset, you’re welcome to explore the National Park Utrechtse Heuvelrug on the designated paths (do not go outside them, nature is very vulnerable).
You can walk, cycle and even ride horses through this Dutch National Park in the Utrecht Region. Suppose you want to get more information and routes to walk or cycle. In that case, I can recommend you to head to Huis Doorn for the tourist information of the Utrechtse Heuvelrug municipality: Langbroekerweg 10, 3941 MT Doorn.
Visit some of the most beautiful fortresses in The Netherlands
There are tons of Dutch fortresses to explore in the Utrecht Region. The most giant fort of them all, Fort Rijnauwen in the town of Bunnik, is currently being renovated and is due to open somewhere in 2021. I can highly recommend you to visit once it’s done. At Fort Vechten, you can find an exciting fort museum in The Netherlands, which discusses the importance of the defence line that these fortresses in the region are a part of.
Then Fort Honswijk is permanently opened for visitors between sunrise and sunset. There’s a permanent exhibition with photos, that shows you the fortresses and other essential parts of this defence line in The Netherlands.
How to get to Wijk bij Duurstede, Utrecht, The Netherlands
I would always recommend you to use 9292.nl/en to plan your current trips by public transportation in The Netherlands. This is only used to give you a quick idea on the arrival time and how you roughly can travel to Wijk bij Duurstede.
From Utrecht: Wijk bij Duurstede is a great day trip from the city of Utrecht. To get here from Utrecht Centraal, take the bus in the direction of Wijk bij Duurstede. It will take you around 40 minutes to get from Utrecht to Wijk bij Duurstede.
From Amsterdam: To get to Wijk bij Duurstede from Amsterdam Centraal station, you need to take the train to Utrecht Centraal. From there you need to transfer to a bus in the direction of Wijk bij Duurstede. It will take you approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes to get from Amsterdam to Wijk bij Duurstede.
From Rotterdam: To travel from Rotterdam Centraal to Wijk bij Duurstede, you must take a train to Utrecht Centraal train station. From there you also have to transfer to a bus that drives in the direction of Wijk bij Duurstede. It will take you around 1,5 hours to reach Wijk bij Duurstede from Rotterdam Centraal.
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I hope you got inspired again and will add Wijk bij Duurstede to one of the places to see in The Netherlands. Now you know what there is to see in Wijk bij Duurstede and how you can even spend a weekend in its surroundings. Sightseeing in Wijk bij Duurstede is short but bountiful, so I hope that this travel guide for this city in The Netherlands has shown you exactly where to go.
Hidden gems in the centre of The Netherlands are effortless to find, and it’s filled with must-sees, landmarks and things to do. Wijk bij Duurstede is no different. I hope you enjoyed seeing one of the more unusual places to visit in The Netherlands. Share this post!