Dordrecht is an historic city in South Holland, Netherlands that was, at the end of the Middle Ages, one of the six important trade cities of the County of Holland. Its centre still shows off the rich history of the city.
Dordrecht is a really old city that grew wealthy on its position at a river confluence with important commercial, military and private boat building. It held significant regional and international importance, hosting the 'Synod of Dordrecht' and other important religious meetings.
Thankfully, it escaped much of the widespread destruction of the second world war. Consequently, it is brimming with interesting old architecture and displays an old-time sense of wealth that belies the peaceful and laid back character of its modern-day economic relaxation. The locals are educated and generally proud of their city, which is the sort of place to wander around and explore leisurely, rather than rushing in and out.
Direct rail service from Rotterdam Centraal and Rotterdam Blaak takes about 15 minutes. There is a direct service from Amsterdam Centraal via The Hague and Rotterdam Centraal with the terminus in Dordrecht. There is also a direct service from Gorinchem, Roosendaal and Breda.
There is a fast ferry (waterbus) from Rotterdam, which is part of the public transport system and costs the same as the train.
There are two important highways that goes to and through Dordrecht. A16 from Rotterdam to Belgium border and N3 from Papendrecht to the A16 in Dordrecht self.
While the city is small enough to walk around, if you are in a hurry or have a lot of bags, consider the frequent buses which serve the city and nearby areas. Also, bicycles can be rented from a bike shop next to the train station. (€50 deposit).
There are nearly 900 listed buildings in the city. There are also a few other museums about town, plus some interesting shops, parks, an old windmill, and a few boat harbours (havens in Dutch). There's a huge supply of ancient architecture which you will see everywhere with years and Dutch language explanations. (If interested in specifics, get a local to translate for you.)
- 1 Grote Kerk (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk), Lange Geldersekade 2. Apr-Oct Tu-Sa 10:30-16:30, Su 12:00-16:00; Nov-Dec: Tu Th Sa 14:00-16:00. A church in the Brabantine Gothic style with an unfinished tower. Also known as the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe-Kerk ('Our Dear Lady Church') or simply the Grote Kerk ('Great Church') was built between 1285 and 1470. The 65 m tower contains a carillon with 67 bells including one weighing 9.83 tonnes, making it the heaviest bell in the Netherlands. Be sure you're in shape to climb the tower and not afraid of close spaces. The steps are steep and there is only one way up... or down. You can see the medieval clock in operation. In the church, see the brilliant stained glass windows and especially the modern window dedicated to the guilds of Dordrecht. Church: Admission free; tower: €1.
- 2 Grote Markt, Northeastern end of Varkenmarkt. The larger synagogue of the city used to stand here, which presumably formed the centre of the local Jewish population (apparently over 300 people prior to the war), but it was heavily damaged by the Nazis, sold in 1947 and razed in 1965. Nothing at all now remains except out of character new buildings... quite distinct from the surrounding old architecture.
- 3 Dordrechts Museum, Museumstraat 40, ☏ . Tu–Su 11:00–17:00. Loads of locally affiliated oil paintings, mostly pre-modern and of impressive quality. These are interspersed with occasional bits of decorative metalwork, furniture and such. A dedicated gallery houses temporary exhibitions which are often very well presented. The impressive garden outside offers a cafe/restaurant with an extensive menu. €12; + Het Hof van Nederland and Huis Van Gijn €15.
- 4 Het Hof van Nederland, Hof 6. Tu–Su 11:00–17:00. Het Hof was a former Augustinian monastery where in 1572 a notable meeting was held of representatives of the "Free States" which were revolting against King Philip II of Spain. From 2015 it's a museum. €10; also see Dordrechts Museum.
- 5 Augustijnenkerk (Church of the Augustins). Built around 1293, and is owned by the Dutch Reformed Church. The church was part of the Augustinian Monastery Het Hof (see above).
- 6 Huis Van Gijn, Nieuwe Haven 29. Tu–Su 11:00–17:00. The former house of a banker and collector Simon van Gijn. €10; also see Dordrechts Museum.
- 7 Museum 1940 - 1945, Nieuwe Haven 27-28, ☏ . Tu W F-Su 10:00-17:00. Everything you ever wanted to know about the Second World War in or around Dordrecht, plus a large display of items such as weapons, improvised mills and cooking equipment, and variously sourced period products and ration packs. A whole section is devoted to the history of Merwestein Park (then Merwepark), which was used as a regional Nazi communications bunker. A group of older local residents act as volunteer guides. Some speak English. €3.
- 8 Stadhuis (Town Hall).
- 9 Groothoofdspoort. A former city gate located at the confluence of the 3 rivers: Merwede, Oude Maas and Noord.
- 10 Almshouses (hofjes) (Between Bagijnhof and Vriesestraat). Almshouses were built in 17 and 18th centuries for poor women.
- 11 Arend Maartenszhof (Arend Maartensz Court). Another almshouse.
- 12 Nieuwbrug. A cast-iron bridge over the Wijnhaven/Voorstraatshaven built in 1851.
- 13 Dordts Patriciërshuis, Wolwevershaven 9. May-Sep: Tu-Su 13:00-17:00; Oct-Apr: W-Su 13:00-17:00. The late 18th-century rich residence with many original period features. €7.50.
- 14 Munt van Hollant. Between 14th and early 19th centuries, it was a mint court of Holland and Zeeland
- 15 't Zeepaert, Wijnstraat 113. Built around 1495, it is one of the oldest houses in the county. Now it's a conferences venue.
- 16 Kyck over den Dyck (View over the Dike). It is the only remaining mill in the city
- 17 Park Merwestein (Merwesteinpark). 19th-century park in which a building stood until its eventual destruction by allied bombardment in 1944. The bombing was due to the Nazis developing a significant bunker system throughout the park (apparently using Jewish slaves) which they then used as an important regional military communications hub during the war. Many local citizens lost their lives in the bombing, which also killed children when an adjacent school was accidentally bombed. This history can be explored in more detail at the 1944-1945 museum: nothing of significance is displayed in the park, which today features many large trees, some sculpture (including a tall column at the former location of the building pictured), a children's play area, significant stock of waterbirds, and a reindeer enclosure.
- 18 Wantijpark. Park and summertime music venue slightly out of town. Worth a wander.
- 19 De Biesbosch (National Park De Biesbosch) (take bus #10 from Dordrecht Central Station to Merwedekade, then take an hourly water bus: from Merwekade (in Dordrecht) or from Middeldiep (in Sliedrecht) to the Biesbosch). The Sliedrechtse Biesbosch, east of Dordrecht, and the Dordtse Biesbosch, south of Dordrecht, together form the Hollandse Biesbosch which is a part of the national park the Biesbosch, one of the largest national parks in the Netherlands and one of the last freshwater tide areas in Europe. The Dordtse Biesbosch has several recreational areas that are used for walking, rowing and swimming.
You can walk through the city centre and you can cycle in the nature park Hollandse Biesbos or even as far as Kinderdijk.
- 1 [formerly dead link] Bike Totaal Zwaan Dordrecht, Stationsplein 6, ☏ . M-Th 04:30-02:00, F 04:30-01:30, Sa 05:30-01:30, Su 06:30-01:30.
- 2 Bike Store Dordrecht BV, Achterhakkers 73, ☏ . Tu-F 08:45-18:00, Sa 08:45-17:00. from €9.50 per day (€13.50 with gears).
There are also many sport clubs and soccer fields you can visit. Dordrecht is a green city that has many parks and recreation areas in the suburbs.
Shopping in the centre of Dordrecht is centred around the Voorstraat, the Sarisgang and the Statenplein (Staten square). The Voorstraat is 1200 m long, making it the longest shopping street in the Netherlands. Markets are held every Friday and Saturday on the Statenplein and in the Sarisgang and on Tuesday in the Dubbeldam quarter.
You can find a lot of foreign food, albeit with varying levels of authenticity, spread about the town: Chinese, Greek, Italian, Macedonian, Thai, Turkish and Vietnamese, at least.
- Many nice restaurants are around the Statenplein and outdoor tables abound in good weather.
- Scheffersplein off Wijnstraat (Wine Street) is also ringed with many restaurants and outdoor tables. Eetcafé Baloe Beer is reasonably priced and tasty.
- Broodje van Willem is a small reasonably priced sandwich shop at 433 West Voorstraat in the shadow of the Grote Kerk.
- Restaurant Centre Ville offers a huge menu with some confirmed yummy options: the goat's cheese salad, and the carrot cake. Opens 10:00, kitchen starts 11:00.
- The Bellevue Groothoofd (Bellevue Hotel) has an extensive menu and a strong wine list, with special all you can eat deals on Sunday. The restaurant at the Dordrechts Museum is of a similar standard but with trees instead of water for scenery (same management).
- In the Sterrenburg quarter is also a Snackbar called Family, which has chips and frikandel.
Other than a range of restaurants serving alcohol, and a few other bars apparently chiefly peopled by older local alcoholics, nightlife seems to be mainly centered around the Scheffersplein bridge/square. The Hide Away is a charismatic bar run by a Dutch/Scottish traveller couple with a dedicated band of regular customers. Stylistically informed by the British Isles, the proprietors wish the location to remain unpublished.
There is a relative shortage of hotels in the city. Judging from old maps of the town, there used to be more, but they have faded with the regional economy.
There are no real budget options in Dordrecht proper. There are two bed and breakfasts near the central bridge over the harbour behind the big church that are potentially cheaper than the hotels. One reported budget option, unconfirmed, is a Luthier's shop around the corner to the south-east of the Bellevue Hotel.
- Bellevue Goothoofd (Bellevue Hotel), Boomstraat 37 (at the waterfront and end of the harbour, in the north-eastern corner of the old city.), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. This historic hotel was active in the 19th century but descended to bankruptcy in the early 21st. Acquired by a new owner, it was remodelled circa 2010 in a sort of funky modern style. In addition to the main building, the hotel can also provide short to long stay apartments next door. Perhaps the greatest draw is the breakfast lounge which looks out over the confluence of the rivers that brought Dordrecht its historic wealth and remains one of the busiest freshwater shipping points in Europe. In summer, the large terrace between the hotel and the water is a great venue for meals. The hotel offers Sunday specials where a couple gets a night in the hotel, plus dinner for two, for €168. They also offer various package deals related to the Dordrechts Museum, whose café is under the same management (and shares some of the same staff!). Accessible by city bus. Free Wi-Fi. €140 (double room; tax and breakfast included), though cheaper rooms are probably available (July 2013).
- [formerly dead link] Innercity Hotel, Johan de Wittstraat 35-37 (Walk a few hundred metres down the road that runs from directly outside the train station, and it's on the left.), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Modern. The biggest drawback of this hotel is relative expense and lack of audio privacy. With only 17 rooms, the architects evidently decided to "pack 'em in", and it shows. Still, probably the best option for those minding the budget a little bit but unwilling to sleep out of town. All floors lift accessible. Free Wi-Fi. €100 (single room).
- Villa Augustus, Oranjelaan, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Slightly outside of town, this designer-hotel is something of an icon for the city. A sort of walled garden complex with a thoroughly post-modern castle tower, visitors are rewarded with views, an excellent garden restaurant, and a quaint theme of dancing rabbits presumably inspired by the neighbouring Energiehaus theatre. Accessible by city bus. From €165/night.
- Stayokay Dordrecht, Baanhoekweg 25 (Located at the edge of the national park 'De Hollandse Biesbosch'), ☏ . Better than standard hostel fare. Clean and modern. Conexxion bus 4 from the central station. About 8 km. From €20 a night in a dorm room.
- The historical and picturesque city of Gorinchem is nearby. See the intact bastions.
- Dordrecht is also within cycling distance of the Kinderdijk. Route maps are available at the VVV visitor information bureau.
|Routes through Dordrecht|
|Brielle ← Rotterdam ←||W E||→ Gorinchem → Arnhem|
|Rotterdam ← Zwijndrecht ←||N S||→ Breda → Antwerp|