Are you thinking of spending one day in Oudewater and its surroundings? Then this travel blog about this city to visit in the Utrecht region is perfect for you. Whether you’re looking for things to do in Oudewater, The Netherlands, or want to know more small towns you can visit in the Utrecht Region, it can all be found in this Oudewater city guide.
This travel blog about The Netherlands is filled with hidden gems and unusual places to visit. I hope you will enjoy learning the things you need to see in Oudewater and beyond. As well as find countless reasons to travel to Oudewater.
Whether you’re looking for what to do in Oudewater or cool things to do in The Netherlands, you can find all of that (and more) right here.
Last updated on the 31st of May 2022
Things to do in one beautiful day in Oudewater, Utrecht, The Netherlands
One of the best destinations to visit in the Green Heart region in The Netherlands is Oudewater. It’s a great day trip from Utrecht and Oudewater is filled with things to do. Whether you want to visit Oudewater in autumn or summer, it’s beautiful no matter when you visit.
If you’re looking for quirky places to visit in The Netherlands, then Oudewater is definitely the place to be. Oudewater is filled with amazing activities, so whether you’re thinking of staying a full weekend or just one day in Oudewater, there’s enough to explore.
So, if you’ve had the question ‘Is Oudewater, The Netherlands, worth visiting?’, then I can simply answer that with yes. During the summer months, tourism in Oudewater is at its high, but even then it’s not really crowded. It’s simply cosy.
I hope that you will enjoy this Oudewater city blog and that this itinerary will help you plan your trip to Oudewater.
One quick tip: Oudewater is not found in the Holland region, the city is found in the province of Utrecht, which is one of the twelve provinces in The Netherlands. The Holland region exists out of the provinces of Noord- Holland and Zuid- Holland.
History & Facts about Oudewater
Oudewater is the oldest city in the Green Heart region in The Netherlands, and at the same time, one of the best destinations to visit in the Utrecht region. The city of Oudewater obtained city rights in 1265. It’s found at the estuary of the river Lange Linschoten, which is a part of the Hollandse or Hollandsche IJssel river.
The town of Oudewater was founded in a curve, where the river Lange Linschoten comes together with the Hollandsche IJssel in around 1100. People aren’t quite sure where the name Oudewater (literally translated in new Dutch to old water). However, it is suspected that the name from ‘oude uiterwaarden, or old floodplains.
One of the advantages of the location of Oudewater is that it’s found in a strategic area in the border region of the Earldom of Holland and the Stift of Utrecht. Oudewater, located in the Utrecht region, got city rights from the 38th bishop of Utrecht, Hendrik van Vianden. This immediately made Oudewater even more important, and it became a fortified city soon after 1265. In 1280, however, the Stift of Utrecht lost Oudewater to the Earldom of Holland. Only in 1970, when the province borders were revised, Oudewater was part of the province of Utrecht again. After almost 700 years!
At the 19th of July 1572, Oudewater and eleven other cities participated in a crucial meeting in Dordrecht city. This meeting was the basis and beginning of an independent country led by the Huis van Oranje (the current Dutch Royal Family), without Spanish or other countries that occupy the land. At that time, a big part of The Netherlands of today was still occupied by Spanish Roman-Catholic troops and part of the mighty Spanish Empire. But the independent country would be mainly protestant.
Those troops learned that Oudewater took the side of the protestants and went to Oudewater to reconquer the city. Willem van Oranje (who would lead the new country), said to the farmers of Oudewater to break the dykes, which would hold the Spanish away. Unfortunately, they didn’t do that as the hemp harvest would then be lost.
So, on the Saturday of the 6th of August 1575, the Spanish arrived at the wealthy city of Oudewater. They shot with hundreds of cannonballs big holes in the city wall of Oudewater, which killed and injured tons of citizens. The other people of Oudewater who weren’t hurt tried to close the holes in the city wall at night with cow poo, wet hemp and fishing nets. Unfortunately, that didn’t help.
The next day, the Spanish continued to shoot, and when one hole was big enough, they entered the city. It didn’t just stay with that. The Spanish murdered everyone they could get. The siege and occupation of Oudewater are still known today as the Oudewaterse moord, or Oudewater murder and is remembered every year. Most citizens of Oudewater burned down their houses so that nothing would be left for the Spanish, and homes were mostly built with wood and thatched roofs at that time which burns quickly. Not long after that, the city of Oudewater was rebuilt, but with the use of stone instead of wood.
In the 16th and 17th century (also during the Spanish Kingdom times), Oudewater was a significant producer of rope and was very wealthy. The rope was used for many things at that time, and also for the ships of the Dutch East India Company.
To produce rope, hemp was needed, and this was grown all around Oudewater. When the hemp was treated and worked, the workers wrapped the yellow hemp around their stomachs. That’s the reason why the nickname of people from Oudewater is ‘Geelbuiken’, or yellow bellies.
After the 12-year long ceasefire, during the 80-year-war between the Seven United Netherlands (independent) and the Habsburgs Netherlands (dependent on the Spanish Empire), Oudewater wasn’t as involved with the uprising. That’s the reason why not long after, the fortifications of Oudewater weren’t maintained and repaired. Then in the Disaster year of 1672, they need to surrender to the new French occupiers without a battle. The Castle of Oudewater, Huis te Vliet, was already in shambles by then, but was now in the hands of the Netherlands and formed a base to attack the French.
After that year, Oudewater became a stronghold again, and the fortifications were strengthened. It also became a part of the Oude Hollandse Waterlinie or defence line between the Zuiderzee and Merwede river to stop the French from occupying this part of the Republic as well.
In the 17th and 18th century, Oudewater becomes less important in the Holland region. Rope was still made a lot in Oudewater, and the town was home to a little less than 2000 people. Due to industrialisation, Oudewater was struggling and became more impoverished.
Rope was made everywhere in Oudewater until somewhere in the 19th century. But, today, there is only one company that is left: Touwfabriek G. van der Lee. This factory and company was founded in 1545 (!) and is the oldest family business in The Netherlands.
Near Oudewater, in Papekop, there was a train station on the line of Utrecht to Rotterdam. From 1906 until 1931, a horse tram took passengers from Oudewater city to the station. Then between 1931 and 1936, a bus line took over the duty. In 1936, the station and the lines were lifted.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Oudewater was doing poorly. The city wasn’t taken care of, and many buildings were in serious need of renovations. In 1910, the first building was restored, then the weighing house followed in 1936. Not long after that, many other monumental buildings are restored.
In 2015, the 750th anniversary of the city rights of Oudewater was celebrated: King Willem- Alexander even visited the city.
Oudewater is, besides a city, also a municipality, which has a surface of 40,17 km². The municipality is home to around 10.178 people, but the city of Oudewater has a population of about 8310 people.
Where to stay in Oudewater
If you want to spend the night in Oudewater (which I highly recommend you to do), then you can find the best hotels, B&B’s and other sorts of accommodation in Oudewater just below. This way you will get to truly enjoy Oudewater and its beautiful, green region in The Netherlands.
Ruyge Weyde Logies: check prices & availability via Booking.com
Vakantieappartementen centrum Oudewater: check prices & availability via Booking.com
Bed & Breakfast De Ruige Weide: check prices & availability via Booking.com
lodderlogies: check prices & availability via Booking.com
BedStay41: check prices & availability via Booking.com
Best restaurants in Oudewater
One of the things that surprised me the most about Oudewater is that there’s such a significant number of restaurants to be found, and they’re serving delicious food. I can highly recommend you to visit Eetcafe- Lumiere, Joai Brasserie, Hex restaurant and 3 Keuken en Bar.
What to do in Oudewater
Free walking tour in Oudewater
This tour through Oudewater is around 3 kilometres long and will show you all the highlights in Oudewater you must see.
We will start at Leeuweringerstraat 12, where you will see the Oudkatholieke Kerk Oudewater, that was build in a neo-Romanesque style, by an architect from the town of Woerden, in 1882. The current church is built on the location of the former church that was clandestine. It was made for 13.693 Guilders. Then walk to Leeuweringerstraat 10, where you can see a 19th-century rectory of the church you just saw.
At Leeuweringerstraat 2, you will find one of the essential sights in Oudewater: De Waag, or the weighing building. Every Dutch town or city has one of these buildings, as it was used to weigh goods. The weighing house in Oudewater is even more unique, as people were weight here to determine whether they were or weren’t witches from the 16th to 18th century.
The Waag building in Oudewater was built in 1482 Emperor Charles V, gave Oudewater as the only place in Europe the privilege for an honest and fair weighing process. This is also the reason why no one was ever prosecuted for being a witch in Oudewater. Another thing that is good to know is the fact that the weighing of ‘witches’ was a nice, little business for Oudewater. People could pay for a weighing and then get a certificate that they weren’t a witch.
It is not sure how many people let them get weighed in Oudewater, as there are only 13 people who researchers are sure got a certificate between 1674 and 1743. But, a lot of the information in Oudewater has been lost during the Oudewater murder.
Now head towards Markt Oostzijde 14, where you can see one of the oldest houses in Oudewater that dates back to 1601.
Then walk to Gasthuissteeg, Wijngaardstraat, Oude Huijgensteeg, Lange Burchwal, Amsterdamse Veer and Noord Linschoterkade. After admiring those beautiful streets in Oudewater, you will continue this Oudewater tour to Van Der Griendstraat, Doctor Plesmanplantsoen, Van Veenendaalstraat, Biezenwal, Broeckerstraat and Kromme Haven 2. This building is a former 17th century church.
Now, continue your self guided walking tour in this city in Utrecht to Leeuweringerstraat, Rootstraat, Rodezand, Noorder Kerkstraat and Noorder Kerkstraat 1.
This is the Grote Kerk, or Sint- Michaëlskerk, in Oudewater which is a Gothic hall church. It was completed in the 15th century when they expanded a Gothic cruciform church. This church has been protestant since either 1572 or 1573.
The tower of this church dates back to the 14th century and isn’t a common type of tower that you often find in this region. Cool to know is that the tower, initially, was used to defend Oudewater. The last, significant renovation that took place here was between 1960 and 1968.
Inside this church, you can find a funeral monument from scientist Rudolph Snellius, who was buried here in 1613. He was born in Oudewater and was a linguist and mathematician. Rudolph was a professor at the universities of Marburg and Leiden.
During the summer months (mid June until mid September), this church in Oudewater can be visited from around 11:00- 16:00.
After admiring even more landmarks and attractions in Oudewater, you will head towards Zuider Kerkstraat, Marktstraat and Donkere Gaard 3. This beautiful building in Oudewater was built in 1611.
To continue your sightseeing through Oudewater, you will walk to Peperstraat, Wijdstraat, Havenstraat, Nieuwstraat, Zuiderwal and Kapellestraat 30. Here you will see a beautiful 17th-century farm, which is quite a change from how farms look nowadays.
Then walk to Kapellestraat 24, to see a chapel from the first half of the 17th century. When you’re finished with admiring this building, you will continue walking to Kapellestraat 13.
There you can see the Sint-Franciscuskerk, which is a roman catholic church in Oudewater that was built as a replacement of an older church around 1882. It was designed by Evert Margry, who was a student of the famous Dutch architect Pierre Cuypers. The tower is 60 metres tall, the church itself 14,8 metres high, 54 metres long and 19,5 metres wide.
One of the last stops on this Oudewater walking tour is the Visbrug 1. This is the town hall of Oudewater and was built at the end of the 15th century. The building before that was heavily damaged after the Oudewater murder, but the current city hall of Oudewater is built on the foundations of the previous one. On the first floor, you can find the office of the mayor and the previous council hall; the second floor was used for the officials of the entire municipality. On top of the chimney of the town hall, the oldest documented stork’s nest in The Netherlands is found.
It’s currently still in use for meetings of the municipality of Oudewater, as well as used as a wedding venue and city museum. There’s also a new office for the general services of the municipality; another building was made.
Lastly, you will walk to Korte Havenstraat to end one of the free things to do in the Utrecht region.
Museums in Oudewater
Touwmuseum De Baanschuur
If you want to know why Oudewater became such a prosperous city, then visiting the rope museum in Oudewater is a cool idea. You will learn here that during the Dutch Golden Age, Oudewater pretty much entirely made all the ropes for all the ships of the Dutch East India company. You will also get information about when the rope industry became big business in the city of Oudewater, how traditional ropes are made and so much more. It’s generally opened from the beginning of April until the beginning of November: Monday and Tuesday they are closed, Wednesday- Sunday they are opened from 12:00 – 16:00.
Reijersteeg 4, Oudewater
Heksenwaag witch museum Oudewater
The witch scale in Oudewater, The Netherlands, is the most important part of this museum. For at least 100 years, visitors from all over the world have been coming here, to stand on the scale and to get a certificate whether they’re witches, or not. Emperor Charles V gave Oudewater the privilege for a fair weighing trial, as the only city in Europe. That’s why no one was ever convicted as a witch here. It’s an absolute must-do in Oudewater, especially if you’re interested in the history of witches and the trials. It’s opened year-round, but during the low season (winter months) only on the weekends. You can find more information, including opening times, of the Heksenwaag museum here.
Leeuweringerstraat 2, Oudewater
If you’re interested in knowing more about the history of Oudewater, and to see the old city hall from the inside, then you must visit the city museum in Oudewater. It’s closed most of the year, but can be visited every first weekend of the month during the summer months from 14:00- 17:00.
Canal tour in Oudewater
One of the best things you can do in Oudewater is to explore it from the water to get a different perspective, so a canal cruise in Oudewater it is. There are several ways to enjoy the canals in this small Dutch city.
First, you can join the so-called ‘grachtenvaert’, or canal tour in Oudewater. During this trip, you will go through the town of Oudewater, as well as enjoy the Hollandsche IJssel river.
The second boat tour you can join in Oudewater is the ‘schutvaert’, or lock cruise. This will show you the rural part of the eastern side of Oudewater, you will also visit the town hall in Oudewater and will sail along the Lange Linschoten river.
Go shopping for local goods in Oudewater
I never want to leave a place that I visit in The Netherlands, without trying some local stuff. And neither should you. Luckily for you, Oudewater has quite some tasty food that you need to try.
I would first recommend you to head to Bakkerij Stijnman, where you can buy loads of things. From a sandwich for the rest of your trip to a traditional cookie from Oudewater, called Geelbuikje (named after their nickname). It is a classic Dutch butter cookie, with some yellow fondant. And, they also have special bonbons that are named after Oudewater. Whatever you end up buying, it’s all good.
I can also say that you absolutely need to visit ‘t Kaasmeisje in Oudewater. Here you can find an insane (in a good way) collection of regional cheeses that come from the Green Heart region.
Last, you need to visit Hocus Pocus Zoetwaren. This old Dutch candy store in the centre of Oudewater has amazing treats from Oudewater and traditional Dutch candies. Ps. I can highly recommend you to buy more than you think you want because those candies will be devoured before you know it.
Besides these shops in Oudewater, I can recommend you to simply walk along the Leeuweringerstraat, which is the street in Oudewater where you can buy the freshest products.
Now, this is not something you can take home with you, but I would also recommend you to head to IJssalon Roberto in Oudewater for the best and freshest ice cream. Every morning they get their fresh milk delivered to create the tastiest flavours.
And, last but not least, head over to De Broedkorf if you’re interesting in buying wickerwork.
Buy cheese at an organic cheese farm in Oudewater
The organic cheese farm ‘de Ruyge Weyde’ is a fifth-generation family business. Of the around 17.000 dairy farms in The Netherlands, only about 100 make the traditional ‘boerenkaas’ with raw milk. And of those farms, approximately 10 of them are organic, with ‘de Ruyge Weyde’ being one of them.
They sell their cheeses, as well as great butter and other tasty foods, in their farm shop which is certainly worth visiting.
And, if you’re travelling with a big group (of at least ten people), you can even reserve a guided tour through this Dutch cheese farm and go for a cheese tasting at this farm in The Netherlands. You can also book a spot for a tour and tasting if you’re with less than ten people, but then a standard price of around 100 euros is asked. So, whether you’re visiting with four people or with six, the total cost would be the same. The tour lasts around 1,5 hours.
That’s not all they have to offer. You can also stay at the farm, to enjoy a nice Dutch countryside feeling.
Ruyge Weyde Logies: check prices & availability via Booking.com
Bed & Breakfast De Ruige Weide: check prices & availability via Booking.com
Celebrate Dutch carnival in Oudewater
On the Saturday that Carnaval starts in The Netherlands (somewhere in February or March, is different every year), there’s a beautiful parade starting in Oudewater at 13:00. Big floats will go through this small city in the Utrecht region. During this time, Oudewater goes by a different name, as every place that celebrates carnival in this country has a different name. Oudewater is called Uivergein.
Enjoy Oudewater during the Heksenfestijn
The last weekend of June (usually), the Heksenfestijn or witch party takes place in Oudewater. During this time, there are performances of Dutch bands and artists, as well as tons of people dressed up as witches. It’s to remember the past of Oudewater and the never-ending connection this Dutch city has with witches.
More things to do in Oudewater & its surroundings
See the ruins of Castle Te Vliet in Oudewater
Kasteel te Vliet is a former castle just outside the town of Oudewater and was built on the assignment of Gerrit van den Vliet, who was part of an influential family. The castle was built between 1250 and 1300, but all that remains nowadays is a section of the north facade of the donjon. The castle was already a ruin back in 1647! It can be found at Goudse Straatweg 67. It’s not much, but it’s a reminder of the troubled times in the – nowadays- quiet Dutch countryside.
Cycle or walk in the surroundings of Oudewater
At the tourist office and information point in Oudewater, found at Leeuweringerstraat 10 in Oudewater, you can find fantastic cycling or walking routes from Oudewater to many beautiful destinations within the Utrecht and Green Heart regions. You can rent bikes in Oudewater via Haaksman Tweewielers in Oudewater; you can simply send them an email to see whether they have bikes available when you’re visiting.
Stop for a bite or drink at a tea garden near Oudewater
Sometimes, all you need is some food or a drink. And if you’re exploring the area by foot, bike or car, then you cannot miss Theetuin De Kwakel. It’s found in a beautiful location, add tasty food and drinks to that, and you’ve got the perfect place to relax. Keep in mind that this tea garden in the Utrecht Region is only opened during beautiful weather and it is located at their own road, so it says that it’s only allowed for local traffic, but as you’re headed to the tea garden, you’re all good.
Visit Woerden and its cheese market
The city of Woerden is home to the only real cheese market in The Netherlands. The farmers still sell the cheese the traditional way, and the cheese is actually traded in this market, whereas in other markets there are cheese stalls nearby, but the actual cheese market itself is more a show. Besides that, there are plenty of more things to do in Woerden, such as visiting their city museum.
Explore the village of Linschoten
Linschoten is one of those charming Dutch villages you can find in the Utrecht region, with pretty streets and, of course, a canal flowing through the town. Although it’s a small place, there are certainly a few things to do in Linschoten and its surroundings. I can definitely recommend you to buy some local goods at the bakery Verweij Linschoten.
P.S. There’s also an estate near the town of Linschoten, but it’s privately owned. You can walk/cycle up to the entrance gate and then you usually can’t enter (only a couple times a year the estate is opened up). Trust me on that one, as I’ve made a mistake to not read the plaque outside that it’s private property and cycled onto the estate a bit through the gates and parked my bike there. My mind simply thought: Gate= open, means: exploring. Apparently not. It wasn’t appreciated.
Discover the town of Montfoort
The small town of Montfoort can be found near the village of Linschoten and is perfect for visiting during a cycle tour of the Utrecht region. At the castle of Montfoort, you can sit down for some tasty food or a nice drink.
Just outside Montfoort, you can find a farm store of Van Lint, where they sell homegrown organic fruits, as well as jams and more. There’s even a terrace there that you can sit at to enjoy a juice. They’re not always opened, but generally at least Wednesday and Friday afternoon and Saturday in the morning and afternoon.
And at the cheese farm Kaasboerderij Doruvael, you can buy fresh cheeses, as well as yoghurts, jams, and many other local products. Their farm shop is usually opened every Friday and Saturday.
Admire nature reserves in the Green Heart region
The Green Heart region is an area within the Dutch Randstad, which is sparsely populated and exists mostly out of peatland meadows. Around and at the outskirts of the Green Heart area, you will find cities such as Rotterdam, Den Haag, Zoetermeer, Leiden, Haarlem, Amsterdam and Utrecht.
Besides seeing the loveliest Dutch towns and villages in the Green Heart, there are also loads of nature reserves to explore. You can find the closest nature reserves to Oudewater below.
- Natuurgebied Willeskop
- Reeuwijkse Plassen
Find things to do in IJsselstein
Another great day trip from both the city of Utrecht and the town of Oudewater is the city of IJsselstein. It’s one of the many medieval places you can visit in the centre of The Netherlands. From wandering along its picturesque streets to exploring Museum IJsselstein, the town of IJsselstein has plenty of things to offer and is more than worth visiting.
Be mesmerised by the Netherlands lake district
One of the most beautiful regions in The Netherlands is the Dutch lake district. It’s not comparable with the one over the other side of the pond, as in: we don’t have mountains. However, it’s a truly breathtaking area that is filled with big lakes, smaller rivers, little islands, and so much more. Close to Oudewater, the nearest part of the lake district can be found at Reeuwijk, at the Reeuwijkse Plassen (or lakes of Reeuwijk).
Travel to the city of Gouda
If there’s one thing most people know about The Netherlands, it is Gouda: the cheese. But, not everyone is aware of the fact that it’s a city and that the cheese is named after that. Luckily for you, when you’re thinking about travelling to the town of Oudewater, you can easily visit Gouda as well. Whether you’re thinking of exploring the Gouda cheese market or simply want to wander around this Dutch city in Zuid- Holland, Gouda is the perfect day trip to do so. And, Oudewater is also a perfect day trip from Gouda.
Get to know the town of Haastrecht
Haastrecht is a city in the province of Zuid (South)- Holland and isn’t that often visited, which is a huge plus if you ask me. Haastrecht was governed for a long time by the family Bisdom van Vliet, and interestingly enough, the old house of the family is nowadays one of the best historic museums to visit in The Netherlands. Here you can learn everything about the family and more.
One of the other things you need to do in Haastrecht is to visit the garden on the opposite side of the Bisdom van Vliet museum and to head over to the Poldermuseum De Hooge Boezem to learn about the battle against water in this part of The Netherlands. It’s also part of the Oude Hollandse Waterlinie, or Hollandic Water Line. And, if you want to enjoy the beautiful rural part of The Netherlands by canoe, then you can rent canoes in Haastrecht.
How to get to Oudewater, 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 Oudewater.
From Utrecht: From Utrecht Centraal train station there’s a direct bus in the direction of Oudewater. This bus runs several times an hour, and it takes approximately 45 minutes to get to Oudewater from Utrecht Centraal.
From Amsterdam: The quickest way to get from Amsterdam to Oudewater by public transportation is to take a sprinter train from Amsterdam Centraal train station, in the direction of Rotterdam Centraal. Get out at Woerden train station. From there you must transfer to a direct bus to Oudewater. It takes you around 1 hour and 10 minutes to reach Oudewater as a day trip from Amsterdam.
From Rotterdam: To get from Rotterdam Centraal on a day trip to Oudewater, I would recommend you to take the train to the city of Gouda (intercity trains in the direction of Leeuwarden & Groningen). From Gouda train station you take the bus in the direction of Utrecht, via Oudewater. It takes you a little less than 1 hour to reach Oudewater from Rotterdam.
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Other Utrecht The Netherlands travel blogs that you’ll love
I hope you enjoyed this article on things to do in Oudewater and that you’ve found one of the best places to visit in the Utrecht region. This travel guide for this part of the Utrecht and Green Heart region brings you to The Netherlands beyond the crowds. You will explore not only things to do in the Utrecht Region but also places to see in the Green Heart, and it’s the ultimate guide for what to see in Oudewater.
Hopefully, this has answered all your questions, including the question ‘where is Oudewater, The Netherlands’, things to do in Oudewater, information about the witches in Oudewater museum and how you can spend at least 24 hours in Oudewater. Share this post!