Crossing the city borders to explore the province of Utrecht and discovering hidden treasures is a mission for the coming period – because the province of Utrecht has a lot to offer! I walked around with this idea for a while and finally I took the step. Explore Utrecht leaves the city of Utrecht to explore the province as real ‘explorers’.
Explore Utrecht ventures outside of the city
The new adventure starts in Oudewater. My friend Anna and I take the bus at Utrecht Central Station to Oudewater. The journey takes us through beautiful country environments and past beautiful rural houses. After about 45 minutes we set foot in Oudewater. The expedition can begin!
Oudewater originated in the eighth century on an island between the Dutch IJssel and the river Lange Linschoten. Oudewater is a city and in 1265 it received these rights from the Bishop of Utrecht.
A few nice facts about Oudewater:
- The people of Oudewater also call themselves yellow bellies (geel buiken in Dutch). This is due to the rope industry that provided a lot of trade and prosperity in Oudewater in earlier years. The rope was made from hemp. Hemp was collected and wrapped around the waist and carried for further processing. This left a yellowish colour on the aprons that were worn by the growers.
- Oudewater was the setting for the series ‘Swiebertje’. Many outdoor shots were taken in the city and surroundings. You will also find a statute of the wanderer Swiebertje opposite the town hall, where he was often locked up in the series.
- The weigh house ( De Waag) in Oudewater was proclaimed by Emperor Charles V during the witch persecution as the only place for fair weighing. No one was sentenced for being a witch in Oudewater.
How to travel to Oudewater
Of course you can go to Oudewater by car. And if you prefer to cycle, that is also possible. With bus 107 (Syntus) from central station, it will take about 45 minutes to get to Oudewater. After you get off at the bus stop you can reach the center of Oudewater by foot. For more information about departure times, view the Syntus website.
You can explore Oudewater in many ways. We opted for a visit to Museum De Heksenwaag, as it is one of the twelve highlights of the province. And go for a boat tour with the Grachtenvaer.
The Lonely Planet doesn’t mention the Heksenwaag for nothing. The weigh house in Oudewater was the only one awarded by Emperor Charles V with the predicate of a fair weighing process. The Heksenwaag was initially used to weigh goods and not humans. During the witch persecution, many people who were wrongly accused of witchcraft were weighed in the Heksenwaag. Nobody was sentenced for being a witch in Oudewater at the time.
The Heksenwaag is located in a small building in the center of the city. On the first floor, you will learn about the witches’ persecutions, which lasted from the 14th to the 18th century. The original weigh house is located on the ground floor with all the weights. Here you can still be weighed on the (goods) scale. Of course, we had to experience this ourselves! And fortunately we are not witches either. To prove this, we received a certificate with our actual weight on it and were not found to be too light. 😉
After a delicious lunch at Kitchen & Bar 3, we stepped on the boat of the Grachtenvaert. Here we learned a lot about the history of Oudewater, the inhabitants, hemp cultivation, monumental buildings and the future of the city. It was fun to discover Oudewater from the yellow belly boat (geelbuik boot). The guides told us about their city with enthusiasm and pride. Sailing with Grachtenvaert is definitely recommended during a day in Oudewater.
Keuken & Bar 3
We enjoyed a delicious lunch at Keuken & Bar 3. Kitchen & Bar 3 stands for enjoyment in a relaxed atmosphere. The chef prefers to work with local products, and suppliers are carefully selected. The decor is stylish and cozy. The ground floor has a cozy brasserie atmosphere with nice lounge corners, while the first floor has a stylish interior. And the dishes? Oh, the carrot coconut soup was delicious. And the little vegan dish of kohlrabi and smoked tomato was incredibly tasty.
Restaurant Hex Oudewater
Restaurant Hex is located in a monumental building next to Museum De Heksenwaag. Aha, hence the name! The interior of the restaurant is beautiful, but that’s what happens when you give interior designer Piet Boon a free hand. The dishes are not only beautifully plated but also delicious. At Restaurant Hex you can go for coffee, lunch, and dinner. You can sit on heated cushions on the terrace, so you can also drop by on a sunny winter day.
Brasserie Joia is definitely worth a visit. Here we enjoyed a good glass of white wine to recover from all our impressions from the whole afternoon.
If you have not visited Oudewater yet, it is definitely worth spending a few hours in this cozy city. Be surprised by culture, history and hospitality.
Do you also want to visit Museum De Heksenwaag and all the other highlights in the province? Go to ‘Visit Utrecht Region’ and start exploring province Utrecht!
You can download the map of Oudewater here: plattegrond van Oudewater.