Old Dutch Cities in the Green Heart of Holland2 min read

Are you visiting the Netherlands and are you curious for something other than Amsterdam and the flowerpark Keukenhof? Good news! Holland has a lot more to offer. A couple of very beautiful little cities, for example. Let me take you on a daylong city trip in the centre of the Netherlands, exploring old Dutch cities in the Green Heart of Holland.


Our first stop of the day is in IJsselstein, a small city near Utrecht. This little place is named after the IJssel-river and the Castle IJsselstein that already existed in the twelfth century. The castle was even owned by Willem van Oranje (one of the founders of the current Holland), even though he didn’t pay much attention to it. Unfortunately, the castle was broken down in 1887 after it was already abandoned for a hundred years and very dilapidated. Nowadays, only the main tower is still here, but fortunately there is the atmospheric little city that was build around the castle. Wander through the little streets, gaze at the beautiful facades, step inside a nice little shop or drink a good cup of coffee on a terrace. Or, if you like, book a canal tour at Museum IJsselstein!

Old Dutch Cities: IJsselstein

Old Dutch Cities: IJsselstein

Old Dutch Cities: IJsselstein

After our short visit to IJsselstein, we drive through the beautiful surroundings to our next destination. You can take the route along Benschop and Polsbroekerdam to enjoy the old farmhouses, the little rivers with willows and reed, and the beautiful views on the typical Dutch polder landscape.


Our second destination of today is Oudewater. Another little city with a long history. Founded in 1100, in possession of city rights since 1265 and one of the participating cities of the Eerste Vrije Statenvergadering (First Free States Meeting) in Dordrecht, 1572, which laid the foundation of the current Holland. Quite impressive, isn’t it? Nowadays, the city is a quiet but cosy city, with a lot of monuments and beautiful buildings, like the Heksenwaag (where witches were condemned), the Old Catholic and Roman Catholic church and the city hall with its beautiful Renaissance facade. The river Hollandse IJssel runs through the city, in which another little river, Lange Linschoten, finishes through a water lock. Enough to see for an hour or two. In the mean time, enjoy a nice lunch on one of the terraces, for example at “de Markt”.

Old Dutch Cities: Oudewater

Old Dutch Cities: Oudewater

Old Dutch Cities: Oudewater

If you’re ready for it, we can get back in the car and drive further through the beautiful polder landscape. We drive in the direction of Gouda, our last destination, but if you like, you could skip the N228 (bigger road) and take a slightly longer but way more interesting route, through Polsbroekerdam, Polsbroek and the beautiful little Vlist. Through Haastrecht you’ll enter, at last, Gouda.


We’ll end our daytrip in Gouda. Worldfamous for the Gouda Cheese, which you can buy everywhere, and the Dutch specialty: Stroopwafels (sirup waffles). But Gouda has a lot more to offer. A lively, cosy city center with a lot of lovely cafés and restaurants to sit and relax and dozens of nice shops to shop ’till you drop. Follow one of the many hiking trails through the historical city center, take a look in the stroopwafel factory, gaze at the 72 marvelous Goudse Glazen (stained glasses) or pay a visit to the Gouda Cheese Market (only open between April and September), where people bargain about the price.  You see? There is a lot to do in Gouda. Have fun!

Old Dutch Cities: Oudewater Old Dutch Cities: Oudewater Old Dutch Cities: Gouda

Tip: Are you still not enough satisfied with al the Old-Dutch beauty? Then you could add Schoonhoven to your city-trip (approximately 15 kilometers from Gouda and Oudewater to the south)!



  • Such lovely photographs! I’d love to explore each of these historical, magical-looking destinations in the Netherlands. I haven’t been to the Netherlands (yet), but these photos are reminiscent of my brief time spent in Bruges.

    • Thanks for your comment April! I hope you’ll visit the Netherlands. I will definitely post more articles on things to see and do in The Netherlands because there are so many more beautiful places!

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