Oudewater

Oudewater is a lovely little town in the Western Netherlands. Halfway between Utrecht and Gouda and once an important industrial center of the rope industry, this small place is both easily accessible and packed with historic charm.

Understand

View of the town

Before the unification of the Netherlands, Oudewater (or Old Water) was situated right on the border of historic Holland and Utrecht. The origins of the town and its name are largely unknown, but records show that the town gained city rights in 1265, given by the bishop of Utrecht, Hendrik van Vianden. Its location on the confluence of the Linschoten river and the Hollandse IJssel allowed Oudewater to develop as an important industrial center in the 16th and 17th century, with the production of rope being the main economic activity.

Inhabitants of Oudewater are nicknamed "geelbuiken", or "yellow bellies", after the dried, yellow hemp stems that the rope makers used to wrap around their waist as part of the production process.

Get in

The N228 passes right through Oudewater on its way from Utrecht to Gouda, and both cities are about a 20 minute drive away. Alternatively, take the A12 highway from Utrecht, and exit Nieuwerbrug. This route may be just a few minutes faster, depending on which part of Utrecht you're coming from, but it's also less scenic.

Situated in the middle of the so-called "Green Heart"-region, Oudewater makes an excellent biking destination. The village can be reached via roads and biking paths from several directions.

The nearest train stations are in Woerden, Utrecht and Gouda. From all those places, direct bus connections run to Oudewater. From Utrecht Central Station, take bus lines 107 or 207, leaving twice per hour from the Jaarbeurszijde. From Gouda, bus 107 leaves twice per hour too, in the opposite direction. From Woerden, buses 105 and 505 run to Oudewater every half hour.

Situated along the Hollandse IJssel, Oudewater is also a popular boating destination. The town has about 530 meters worth of mooring places for visitors, and they're free too.

Get around

The town itself is small and getting around is best done on foot. If you're coming here by car, you'll find plenty of free parking facilities in and directly around the center. Biking is great way to see some of the surrounding rural areas and villages, but you'll need to bring your own bike or rent one in Utrecht or Gouda.

See

There are about 120 registered monuments in the city, and most can be found in the center, on the market square and in the surrounding streets. Wandering around is one of the main attractions, as there's something cosy an historic about this places. For that reason, Oudewater was the filming location for several popular Dutch tv shows, including Swiebertje, a Dutch children's book series brought on screen in the 1960's. The series ran for over 10 years and was highly popular. A statue of the vagabond Swiebertje can be seen close to the Visbrug.

If you're interested in the town's museums, consider purchasing a Tourist Card at the tourist information point (€7,50/2,50 for adults/children) It gives access to the Waag and the Rope Museum and comes with a nice booklet, containing a city walk and information on the town.

The old witches scale is still on display in the Waag building

Do

The town itself is fairly small but the surroundings are quite lovely to explore too, and known as the "green heart" of the wider region. *Hiking and biking is popular and routes are widely available. Many use Oudewater as a day trip biking or hiking destination, enjoying lunch or a drink on one of the town's terraces before returning or moving on. Other fun activities include:

Buy

The town center has all the shops you'll need on a daily basis, including supermarkets, drugstores, bookstores and such. The market square and surrounding streets hold most of them, and are also the most interesting area to stroll around. For local delicacies, try the following:

Eat

In summer, the market square fills up with terraces.

The market square is the beating heart of the town, and when the weather allows, local establishments set up several outdoor terraces for food and drinks.

Sleep

Connect

Hotels offer free wifi and there's good reception for mobile internet services via 3G. For postal offices, head to:

Go next

You're in the hear of the Western Netherlands here, and a wide range of famous Dutch destinations are within easy reach. Tourist magnets like Amsterdam (50 minutes), Delft (40 minutes) and The Hague (50 minutes) are obvious choices, but even closer by there are some excellent options. Gouda is a 20 minute drive and famous for its cheese and stroopwafel cookies. Utrecht is a bustling, historic student city 20 minutes in the other direction, and an underestimated destination. Dordrecht is a small and easy to manage town, but with a lovely historic centre, while modern Rotterdam is a great next stop if you love modern architecture.

For more traditional Dutch experiences, consider taking the provincial route to the windmills of Kinderdijk, just over 30km from Oudewater.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, January 31, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.