My favourite way to discover any Dutch city is by going on a walking tour and with the town of Dordrecht, it’s not any different. On this self-guided and free walking tour in Dordrecht, you will discover why you have to spend one day in Dordrecht. But also the things you have to see in Dordrecht in spring, summer, autumn and winter.
Dordrecht is a city in the province of Zuid- Holland, The Netherlands. And for all of those asking ‘Is Dordrecht worth visiting?’, then I cannot say it enough: yes. Walk through its idyllic streets and discover things to do on this day trip from Rotterdam. When you visit and travel to Dordrecht, I’m sure you won’t regret it. Whether you’re thinking of spending 24 hours in Dordrecht or a weekend, the best way to see all the landmarks, hidden gems and unusual places in Dordrecht is with this self-guided tour.
You will discover anything from the most beautiful streets to courtyards and the secrets in Dordrecht. There is no better way than exploring the city and the attractions in Dordrecht with this tour. It’s one of the free things you have to do when you’re in Dordrecht, and I can assure you that it will be one of your favourite things on your Dordrecht itinerary.
A wonderful free walking tour in Dordrecht: Visit the best landmarks and must-sees
Note: This self-guided and free walking tour in Dordrecht is around 8,5 kilometres long.
Before we are starting our free walking tour in Dordrecht, I must tell you something to remind yourself of when walking. During this tour in Dordrecht, we will visit courtyards. People live here. Please always be quiet inside these courtyards and don’t disturb the residents, nor look inside their homes. It’s not a museum; they’re houses.
We are starting our self-guided and free walking tour in Dordrecht at Stadhuisplein 1, which is the location of the old town/ city hall of Dordrecht. It was built in 1383 in the assignment of Flemish merchants. They first used the building as a market hall to trade in fabrics. There are clocks located in the tower of the building; they date back to 1449 and 1514. Since 1544, that building has been used as a city hall. And the square in front of the town hall in Dordrecht dates back to 1679.
Fun fact: During the tour of Harry Houdini through The Netherlands, he performed his most famous act in the city hall for high placed officials. The building is not in use as a city hall anymore, but it is now used as an event location. After admiring the city hall, you will walk to the square in front of the town hall in Dordrecht: Stadhuisplein.
Now you will walk to Grotekerksbuurt and then to Grotekerksbuurt 56. The facade of the building was built, shortly after the big city fire in Dordrecht in 1457, in 1460. However, people think that some parts of this monument in Dordrecht remain from before the fire. It’s a house that was built in a Gothic style and is five meters wide and tall. Continue our free walking tour in Dordrecht to Schuitenmakersstraat, Houttuinen and Houttuinen 32. Here you will find a former arsenal, or a storage facility for the military, which dates back to 1795.
Keep on walking and make your way to Engelenburgerbrug 1. This bridge is also called Blauwbrug, or Blue Bridge, thanks to its located near one of the former city gates of Dordrecht; Blauwpoort. This bridge connects an island of Dordrecht to the city centre together with three other bridges. There already has been a bridge, called the Engelenburgerbrug in 1560. But the current bridge was built in 1910.
As we continue with our self-guided and free walking tour in Dordrecht, we are headed to Korte Engelenburgerkade and Catharijnepoort. This old city gate in Dordrecht is one of the two remaining city gates in this Dutch city. It dates back to 1652.
After that we will walk to Hooikade, Mazelaarsstraat, Maartensgat, Korte Geldersekade, Grotekerksplein to end up at Grotekerksplein 8. Here you will find the biggest church in Dordrecht. The Grote, or Onze- Lieve- Vrouwekerk is a three-aisled basilica in a Gothic style in Dordrecht and is the second oldest church in Dordrecht. This church in Dordrecht is mainly famous for its unfinished tower and for being the only big church in a city in the former county of Holland that was vaulted in stone. The interior of the church is mainly famous for its choir stalls that were made in an early renaissance style from 1538- 1541.
The oldest part of this church dates back to 1285, and the entire church was heavily damaged in the big city fire in Dordrecht in 1457. Luckily all the damage had been repaired in four years, but the church got its current shape in 1470. The start of the tower for the church in Dordrecht started but was never finished, in around 1504. Its tower is approximately 65 meters high and is crooked due to the marshy ground. The soil wasn’t strong enough to carry the entire tower, without sinking. The original plan had the tower at 108 meters high, but that obviously didn’t work out. The carillon in the tower is one of the biggest in Europe and exists out of 67 clocks and weighs 52.000 kilograms.
You can visit this church in Dordrecht and even climb its tower, which I certainly recommend you to do in Dordrecht. Find more information about the Grote Kerk in Dordrecht here.
Our next stop during this Dordrecht free walking tour is Grotekerksbuurt 80. This building has been a monument since 1966. You will see a beautiful facade that dates back to around 1871. But the most exciting part about this building is the small tower on the roof. Funnily enough, this tower was only placed on the roof after a restoration in 1980. Although I must admit, it’s a beautiful sight in Dordrecht to see. Dutch painters Jacob van Strij and Abraham van Strij were born in this house.
Now we will continue our Dordrecht walking tour to Dolhuisstraat, Bomkade, Binnen Kalkhaven, Grote Kalkstraat, Prinsenstraat and Kleine Kalkstraat. After admiring some of the most instagrammable spots, and best photo locations, in Dordrecht we are going to walk to Pelserstraat, Kleine Spuistraat, Grote Spuistraat, Lange Breestraat, Visstraat.
Our next destination of this Dordrecht tour is Korte Breestraat. Then we will walk to Vriesestraat to Van Slingelandtshof, which is the oldest courtyard in Dordrecht. It is also nicknamed Arme Vrouwenhof (Poor women courtyard). It was made in assignment from Pieter van Slingelandt and his wife Cornelia van der Mee Roosenburgh in 1519. This courtyard was specially made for poor and older women. The reason why this couple created a patio in their name was due to religious reasons.
It was several times renewed and expanded by several different owners. Eventually, the courtyard had 32 houses that were only available to women who were 60 years and older. During the 20th century, the yard was starting to show signs of decay. Eventually, the city bought the courtyard and restored it completely. You can visit this courtyard during the day. Also pay attention to the entrance of the courtyard, as here you will see the coat of arms of the genera of Slingelandt and Van der Mee.
We will walk now to Bagijnhof and end up at Johan de Wittstraat 2. This eclectic style building was a traditional savings bank, designed by Anthonie Ek and built in 1912-1913. On the facade, you can see the word Spaarbank, which is the Dutch word for savings bank. Then we are going to walk to another beautiful courtyard in Dordrecht: Regentenhof.
This courtyard in Dordrecht is also named Lenghenhof and exists out of four separate courtyards that are connected through gates. The courtyard dates back to 1755, and there are in total of 52 houses. In the beginning, the courtyard was meant for low-income families and poor, old and unmarried women. Nowadays, only women live in this courtyard. You can visit this courtyard daily from 09:00- 18:00.
After admiring this yard in Dordrecht, we will walk to Vest and then to yet another courtyard; Arend Maartenshof. This courtyard was built in 1625 and named after the found Arend Maartenszoon. While it seems very sweet that he decided to spend some of his money on a patio, you have to know some things about him before thinking that. He was known in Dordrecht as a money-grabber and wanted to better his lousy reputation with building 38 houses for poor women.
As soon as you enter this Dutch courtyard have a look at the first house that you will see on the right. This is a regent room with an original interior from 1701. In the beginning, only poor women and widows of soldiers were allowed to live in this courtyard. Since 1980, young women, married couples and single men are all also allowed to live here. You are allowed to visit this courtyard during the day.
Now walk to Museumstraat and then stop at Museumstraat 40. This is the location of one of the best museums in Dordrecht: Dordrechts Museum. It was found in 1842 and is one of the oldest museums in The Netherlands. This Dutch museum was founded to inspire other young artists with the works of old and living Dutch masters. It’s mainly famous for having a big collection of paintings from Dutch artists over six centuries. Besides that, there are also other exhibits and activities that you can do in this museum.
Now we will walk to Augustijnenkamp 24 where we will discover a typical facade from Dordrecht. This building dates back to the beginning of the 18th century and is famous for having a Dordts type of facade. It has a stepped gable with arches above the windows. It is often decorated with a trefoil or an arch with three arcs in the shape of a trefoil. The unique Dordtse facade was first built in 1550, but most of them were made between 1650 and 1795. Nowadays there are only 50 facades left in Dordrecht of this type.
As we continue our Dordrecht walking tour, we will go to Steegoversloot and then Hofpoort. The Hofpoort is a 17th-century gate that gives you entrance to the Hof, which was an old courtyard of the former monastery. Then walk to Hofstraat.
Continue your walking route through Dordrecht to Nieuwstraat and then to Voorstraat 265. Here you will see the smallest house in Dordrecht that dates back to 1632. This building doesn’t have an entrance on its own and was the home of Countess Helena van Beijeren from 1838-1858.
Onto our next destination! At Voorstraat 216 you will find an old church that belonged to the Augustinians. It is called the Augustijnenkerk and dates back to around 1293. During its time, this church has had some interesting experiences. It even was a stable for horses during the French occupation in 1795.
Now we will walk to Hof, which used to be a monastery with parts dating back to the 17th century and late Middle Ages.
Now we are going to Munt 1. This is the building where coins were issued since the 18th century. Continue to walk to Nieuwbrug, Doelstraat, Weeshuisplein and Voorstraat 120. Here you will find a former Catholic church from 1842. Walk to Turfsteiger and then make a stop at Nieuwkerksplein 1.
Here you will find the Nieuwkerk or New Church, which is, funnily enough, the oldest church in Dordrecht as it dates back to 1175. It was first named the St. Nikolaaskapelle, and this chapel was expanded in a hall church around 1420. Unfortunately, a fire in 1567 or 1578 destroyed a relatively significant part of the church. The remaining portion was rebuilt, around 50 per cent smaller than the previous church and it was retaken in use at 1592. In 1960 the church wasn’t in use anymore and after that is was used as a storage space. Then houses were built in the church, as well as another shop.
Now we will head to Merwekade and then to Boomstraat 39 where you will find one of the remaining city gates in Dordrecht called Groothoofdspoort. This gate is located on the area where three rivers the Merwede, Noord and Oude Maas come together. It originates from the 14th or 15th century, and it got its modern renaissance look during a refurbishment in 1618. This is one of my most favourite neighbourhoods and locations in Dordrecht. The look and feel of this area are unlike any other.
Now you will walk from Groothoofd to Wolwevershaven 21. This house was built in 1646 on assignment by Philips opde Beeck and is known as the mermaid house. He later sold the house to Wijnant Pelsser in 1662. Then during the 18th century, a Dutch pastor named Francois Valentijn lived in this house. This is where a part of the nickname of the house comes from.
Valentijn sailed twice with the Dutch East India Company to Asia and said that he saw a mermaid on Ambon. The current facade dates back to 1740, and it seems like there are mermaids placed on it which is the main reason why people call this house the mermaid house. However, I have to disappoint you here. These so-called ‘mermaids’ are actually caryatids or statues of women that were used as pillars.
Next, we will walk to another part of Wolvershaven, which is the old and historic harbour in Dordrecht. And then we will continue our Dordrecht tour to Veersteiger and Nieuwe Haven.
As you admire other parts of Dordrecht, we will walk to Buiten Walevest, Binnen Walevest, Hoge Nieuwstraat and Vlak. Then at Aardappelmarkt 3, there’s a beautiful 17th century home that is worth having a look at.
When we continue, you are going to have a look at the historic ship lift or Historische Scheepslift. It’s one of the most popular things to see in Dordrecht and rightly so. It was built in 1928 and was used to lift ships out of the water for reparations. Walk to another part of Wolvershaven and then Kuipershaven.
Now walk to Wijnstraat 117, which is the Sint-Bonifatiuskerk (church). This hall church was designed in a Neo-classic style in 1823 and has a wooden tower. After the church closed a pop podium was created here, and nowadays it’s a centre for teenagers and young adults. Continue walking through the Wijnstraat to Wijnstraat 123. This was the house of old mayor Abraham van Beveren who assigned the construction from 1650. Up next we have Wijnstraat 127, which was also built in the assignment of the family of Van Beveren but a lot earlier as it was built in 1556. It was used as the official residence of the mayor.
As we continue our Dordrecht free walking tour to Gravenstraat, Varkenmarkt, Vismarkt, Knolhaven, Vleeshouwersstraatand Groenmarkt.
We are going to walk the final streets on our free walking tour in Dordrecht. Now walk to Groenmarkt 105. This building also has a Dordts facade, and it’s one of the oldest houses in Dordrecht dating back to the 15th century. In the beginning, there was a brewery on this location in Dordrecht called ‘In den Slotel’ (in the key) and later brewery De Sleutel (the key). The nickname of this house is also Huis De Sleutel, or House the key. The house stretched from this building until the Varkensmarkt area where the brewery was located. And nowadays there are apartments and an organization in this building.
Walk to Tolbrug and then to the statue of Ary Scheffer. He was a painter who lived and worked in France but was born in Dordrecht. After he passed away in 1858, people wanted to create a memorial, and they did. It was the first monument for an artist of the same time era in The Netherlands. It was made in Paris and brought to The Netherlands by rail.
Now continue your walk to Voorstraat, Blindeliedengasthuissteeg and then to the second last stop of the best tour in Dordrecht: Trinitatiskapel. This chapel is a Lutheran church that dates back to 1690. A chapel on the same location was first named in 1304, but that one was broken down in 1629. The last stop is Voorstraat 282; this is one of the oldest houses in Dordrecht dating back to around 1550.
This was the end of one of the fun and cheap things to do in Dordrecht. I hope you had fun! No matter when you’re planning on visiting Dordrecht, this is one of the things you can do in spring, summer, autumn and winter.
Click here for a map with the walking route in Dordrecht, The Netherlands
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I hope you enjoyed this article and that you now know what to do and see in Dordrecht when you travel here. You have discovered many places to visit and see in Dordrecht that a day trip will be already well spend. Sightseeing in the picturesque Dutch city of Dordrecht is amazing and as tourism is slowly increasing, this tour in Dordrecht shows you where to go with, and without, the crowds. Share this post!!