Escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and immerse yourself in the idyllic charm of Oudewater, a quaint Dutch town that seems to have emerged from the pages of a storybook. Nestled in the heart of The Netherlands, Oudewater beckons visitors with its picturesque canals, historic architecture, and a serene ambiance that instantly makes you feel at home. Use the following tips for a memorable weekend getaway to Oudewater:
Sights and Activities in Oudewater
As early as the year 1265, Oudewater received city rights, which makes it the oldest city in the Green Heart. The Hollansche IJssel river meanders through the historic center which provides beautiful views with boats, bridges and shimmering reflections.
Oudewater's main attraction is the Heksenwaag, or the Witches' Weigh House. The Heksenwaag is a unique historical landmark where, during the dark times of witch hunts, suspected witches were weighed to determine their innocence or guilt. Today, it stands as a museum, providing intriguing insights into the town's past. You can learn about the superstitions and fears that plagued the region and understand the impact they had on people's lives.
Oudewater was the only town in all of Europe to receive the privilege of an honest weighing process, so no one was ever condemned as a witch here.
Visitors can step on the original scales from 1482 to be weighed, and will receive a certificate to prove that they are not feather light, and therefore cannot be a witch.
Until the early 18th century, below personalised certificate guaranteed that you didn't have to worry about being persecuted.
Touwmuseum (rope museum) 'De Baanschuur' is located in an old barn where from about 1675 until the 20th century line-tuners (or baanders) stored hemp, yarn and spindles. The production of rope has contributed to the development and wealth of Oudewater and is therefore an important part of its history.
In the museum you learn from A to Z how the hemp plant (which grows to a height of 2 to 3 meters) can be used to make rope. On below picture you see the original wooden 'lijnbaan' which was used to turn loose threads into a rope.
Opposite the museum entrance you will find this mural.
Step on board of the Geelbuik for a serene canal boat tour with Grachtenvaert. Because the peaceful waters offer a unique perspective of Oudewater's beauty. During the 45-minute cruise, a guide will tell you a lot of interesting facts about the history of the city.
The Geelbuik is an electrically powered boat which is called a 'fluisterboot' (whisper boat) in Dutch. So without making any noise, you glide through the water while you can enjoy the peace and beautiful historical surroundings to the fullest.
The Dutchies among us probably know the vagabond Swiebertje, the main character of a well-known Dutch series of chrilden's books (published from 1936). His character gained even more fame since a 14-season television series, which was created between 1955 and 1975. The reason that you see his bust here is that the majority of the broadcasts were recorded in Oudewater. You can find him in front of the city hall looking at the door, behind which 'Bromsnor' (growling moustache) regularly imprisoned him.
I can definitely recommend not only visiting Oudewater during the day, but also staying overnight. Because when the town is quiet at night and the streetlights are switched on, it is the ideal place for an evening stroll along the canal.
Coffee and Sweets in Oudewater
Coffee, tea and chocolate bar Hocus Pocus Zoetwaren is a shop that breathes the charm of days gone by. Their little outside terrace is a great place to enjoy a cup of coffee accompanied by handmade chocolates. This nostalgic shop is a feast for the eye and not to be missed when in Oudewater.
Lunch and Dinner in Oudewater
3 keuken en bar
Along the canal, with wonderful view over the old city hall, you will find restaurant 3 keuken en bar. In a relaxed atmosphere you can enjoy Dutch classic dishes, like for example 'kroketten op brood' (croquettes on bread). We tried the vegetarian croquettes and they were deliciously flavoured and very crispy.
HEX by Paul & Inge is the place in Oudewater for an evening of pleasant dining while enjoying tasty dishes with excellent service. From the moment we set foot in the restaurant we felt very welcome. We started the evening with mocktails and a great plant based gazpacho made from puffed tomato, cucumber and basil, served with some toasted garlic bread.
The main course was a fantastic vegetarian truffle ravioli with braised mushrooms, tarragon, baby spinach and Parmesan cheese.
We rounded off this perfect evening with a delicious lemon tartelette with home-made merengue, fresh raspberries and pistachio ice cream.
Hotel with breakfast in Oudewater
To extend your visit in Oudewater we can recommend to stay at Hotel Broeck. This charming hotel is located in the historical city center, just a few minutes on foot from the main sights and restaurants.
We stayed in a cosy and clean room (number 115) with a small desk, sufficient storage space and a nice modern bathroom with rain shower.
In the morning you will be welcomed with an extensive breakfast buffet with fresh bread, croissants, sweets, fresh fruit, dairy, cereals and freshly squeezed orange juice. Eggs will be prepared as per personal preference. Together with a good cup of coffee (from the espresso machine) or tea you will be ready for a new day of exploring the Green Heart of the Netherlands.
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Please note: I was invited to experience 24 hours in Oudewater by Visit Utrecht Region.
Tip: Combine your visit to Oudewater with a trip to Leerdam. Read my blog post here: