Dordrecht is the oldest city in the Netherlands and is located 15 minutes (by train) from Rotterdam. If you can’t pronounce the name of the city, don’t worry, only Dutch people can do that.
I had never heard about Dordrecht until the day before I went there, and I think is a really nice and lovely city. That’s why I want to show it to the world and recommend the city for those who are thinking to go to Rotterdam. I went there on a Sunday in February with a friend from Rotterdam, but I think it would be better to go on a Friday or Saturday, because on Sundays many shops and bars are closed.
FACT: The city’s name comes from the word “Thuredrech”, which means “shallow place where you can cross the river Thure”. This name changed over the years into Dordrecht.
How to get there?
- By car
From Rotterdam, it takes about 30 minutes on the A16 and A15.
From Amsterdam, it takes about 1h 15 minutes on the A2.
From Antwerp, it takes about 1h on the E19 and A16.
- By train
Going by train is the fastest way to get there from the Central Station of Rotterdam. The ticket is 4,3€ (the normal one), so it will be 8,6€ for a return ticket. The train takes about 15 minutes from Rotterdam to the Central Station of Dordrecht. You can also check the prices and timetable on this website. Another option is to download “9292” app that gives you all the information about the public transport in the Netherlands.
Meanwhile, if you want to go there from Amsterdam it will be around 17€ (on way) going by train. That’s why I don’t recommend it at all. There are lots of other nice cities and places near Amsterdam that are cheaper than going to Dordrecht.
- By boat
Another option to go to Dordrecht is by boat. It’s the same price as the train’s ticket but it takes around an hour to arrive there. Despite the longer journey, it is worth it as the scenery is great. “Waterbus” are the boats that lead you to Dordrecht’s harbour and you can take them in the Erasmus Bridge of Rotterdam. You’ll find all the information in this website.
What to see?
Dordrecht is not a really big city and you can find all the important places in the same area, which is not far from the central station. Because of that, I recommend you to walk around the city to discover its beautiful canals and bridges, squares and nice bars. Even so, these are some of the important points that you should not miss:
My friend and I went by train, so we started our tour at the central station, where there’s a street called Johan de Wittstraat that takes you straight to the city center. Specifically, to the shopping area that is called Stratenplein. While waking you can find plenty of shops, bars and restaurants. Walking around you can see the combination of new and old buildings. Turning down Sarisgang Street we arrive to a big square also full of bars with terraces. When the weather is good, it should be nice to sit down there and have something to eat or drink. Because we went on a Sunday in February, it was cold and all was closed.
There are lots of squares in Dordrecht, but that one is the main square. In the middle of the square there is a statue of Ary Scheffer, who was a local artist. That day was quite cold and someone put some scarves over the statue, to keep it warm.
City Hall (Stadhuis)
Going straight through Groenmarkt Street we can see another small square where the old City Hall is located.
The City Hall or Stadhuis (in Dutch) was built by the traders as a cloth hall. In the seventeenth century they started to use it as a City Hall. Nowadays the City Hall is in another place, but you can still visit this building that is used for many events. Schedule: You can only visit the building the first Sunday of every month from 12:00 to 17:00. You can also book the tickets in advance every Sunday if you’re a group of ten or more. Price: Adults, 1€, and children under 12 years old, free.
Before arriving to the square, just on the right side, there is the Library which has a really interesting façade.
If we continue from the City Hall along the same street, we’ll find the Grote Kerk, which is the biggest church in the city, but not the oldest. It’s a protestant church and it has the heaviest bell in the whole Holland, which weigh nothing less than 9830kg.
The most important part is the tower, not only because it has 67 bells and is 65 meters tall, but also because you can go to the top and see the views of the entire city. This church was supposed to be bigger and the tower was supposed to be higher. It´s said that because of the soil’s instability, they stopped working on it and now it is leaning two meters to the side, as a small tower of Pisa.
RECOMMENDATION: From the top of the tower you can see the city, and sometimes you can also see Rotterdam in the distance. Because of that I recommend you to go there at twilight, it should be amazing. Watch out! Because of the closing time, sometimes is impossible to go there at twilight.
Schedule: From April to the end of October, from Tuesday to Saturday from 10:30 to 16:30. On Sundays and holiday from 10:00 to 16:00. The tower will be opened from April to the end of October from Tuesday to Saturday from 10:30 to 16:30 and on Sundays from 12:00 to 16:00. On Saturdays from November to March it will be opened from 13:00 to 16:00.
Price: The entrance to the church is free. The tower’s price, for adults, is 1€, for children from 5 to 12 years old it’s 0, 50 cents and for children under 5, free.
If you want to know more about Grote Kerk, you can check this website.
There are other places where I didn’t go but are still important:
Groothoofdspoort is one of the gates that were used to go into Dordrecht. Blauwpoort is another of the city gates. It’s a curious place to visit because just over there is where the three rivers, Oude Maas, Noord and Beneden Merwede meet.
This church was built in 1293 and it was a really important one because in 1275, in the August Monastery (the building next to the church), “Het Hof” was located. This was the Court and here the First Assembly of the Free States was celebrated. The Free States where the once that later on would turn in to The Netherlands.
And for those who love museums:
Noah’s ark (Ark van Noach)
Yes! The Noah’s Ark exits and it’s in Dordrecht!
This Noah’s Ark was built by Johan Huiber who, after having a dream about an inundation in the Netherlands, wanted to build the Noah’s Ark as it was said in the Bible. The Ark can accommodate 5.000 people, it’s 29 meters wide, 23 meters high and 130 meters long.
You can find the schedule and the price in this website , but it’s currently closed.
You can see paintings from the last 400 years in this museum.
Schedule: From Tuesday to Sunday from 11:00 to 17:00. Price: Adults, 12€. Children between 12 and 18 years old, 5€, and children under 13 years old, free.
If you want to know more about the museum, you can check this website.
Huis Van Gijn
This museum is Simon Van Gijn’s house, a banker who lived in Dordrecht and collected objects through his entire life. Van Gijn wanted his house to become a museum when he died. So in 1995, three years after he was death, the house was turned into a museum.
Schedule: From Tuesday to Sunday from 11:00 to 17:00. Price: Adults, 7€, children from 13 to 18 years old, 4€, and children under 13 years old, free.
If you want to know more about the museum, you can check this website.
You can see all the places that I was talking about in the map below. And you can download them, just check this post: “How to save my maps”.
If you have ever been in Dorcrecht, feel free to write at the comments the places you liked the most or other nice places in the city.