Dordrecht

Travel Guide Europe Netherlands South Holland Dordrecht

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Introduction

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.

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Sights and Activities

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Dordrechts Museum, Museumstraat 40, ☎ +31 78 7708708. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Museum 1940 - 1945, Nieuwe Haven 27-28, ☎ +31 78-6130172. 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.

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Events and Festivals

Koningsdag (King's Day)

In 2013, the Dutch throne was passed on to King Willem-Alexander and what used to be Koninginnedag (Queen's Day) will from 2014 become Koningsdag (King's Day). The date will be changed to the 27th of April, which is the king's birthday. In 2014 however it will be on the 26th of April because the 27th falls on a Sunday. On this day the streets of almost every sizable town in the country come alive with activity.

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Getting There

By Train

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.

By Car

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.

By Boat

There is a fast ferry (waterbus) from Rotterdam, which is part of the public transport system and costs the same as the train.

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Getting Around

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).

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Eat

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.

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Drink

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.

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Sleep

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.), ☎ +31 78 633-2500, e-mail: info@bellevuegroothoofd.nl. 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).
  • 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.), ☎ +31 78 611-9933, e-mail: info@innercityhotel.nl. 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, ☎ +31 78 639 3111, e-mail: info@villa-augustus.nl. 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'), ☎ +31 78 621 2167. 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. edit

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafés are not as widespread as you would expect, but you can easily find one in the popular cities. Most hostels, hotels and camp sites have several computers, so you can keep connected with folk at home. Here is a list of internet cafés that could come in handy for travellers. Otherwise, most libraries have lots of computers and prices are around the €2-3 per hour range, although sometimes it can be even more expensive.

Wireless internet access using wifi is becoming more popular and is usually available at most hotels and increasingly at train stations. Also in trains (at least in most first class wagons, but also more and more in second class) and some buses you can use wifi. Finally, places like McDonald's and Starbucks have free wifi, and smaller individual business like cafés and restaurants are on the rise too offering these services. More often than not, these service tend to be free of charge, though there might be a limited time you can use the internet.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The country code for the Netherlands is 31. The outbound international prefix is 00. The general emergency number is 112, like many other countries.
0800 numbers are toll-free and for 09xx numbers are charged at premium rates. Mobile phones have numbers in the 06 range, and calls to cell phones are also priced at higher rates.

From internet cafés, it is also usually possible to make long distance international calls. Like in other countries, telephone booths have almost disappeared, though some are still found around public transport stations, where you can use a few coins to make calls. It is only recommended for local calls.

The cellular phone network in the Netherlands is GSM 900/1800. The main providers of cell phone networks are KPN (Dutch only), T-mobile and Vodafone, who cover the whole country. Other operators, like Hollandsnieuwe, Simyo or Tele2, use one of these 3 networks basically.

It is best to buy a SIM card when in the Netherlands for use in your cellphone, as this usually works out cheaper than using the one from home. If you are planning to study or work in the country and stay for several months, buying a cellphone is the best option. A simple one, sometimes with €10 worth on it, can be bought from around €25. The simplest smartphones are around €75.

Post

The rate for sending a postcard or letter up to 20 grams within the Netherlands is €0.64 (2014). Since 2010 there are stamps available for domestic post which no longer include the value in €. Instead, there are stamps available with either a '1' or a '2' as a substitute for value. The '1' can be used for letters and postcards up to 20 grams, while 20-50 grams require you to use the '2'-valued stamps (or two '1'-valued stamps of course).

Sending items to other EU countries and the rest of the world (there is one price since 2014) will cost €1.05. Stamps are sold at post offices, supermarkets and smaller shops/kiosks; often the place where you buy your postcards can also supply you with stamps.

Sending parcels abroad is more costly. A standard-sized parcel between up to 2 kilograms will cost you €9 for destinations within the EU and €18 (both without Track & Trace) to the rest of the world. Prices with Track & Trace start at €13 and €24.30 respectively. Parcel service is available from major post offices only; standard-size boxes are on sale there as well. For sending parcels, it might be just as competitive and fast to use a company like TNT, UPS or DHL.

If you need to receive mail while moving around, you can have it sent poste restante (to be called for) to a post office of your choice, where it will be kept for a month. If you come to claim it, bring a valid ID, and make sure to have told the sender that the name on the envelope must be an exact match with that in your passport. For addresses of post offices, as well as more information, consult the TNT website.

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This is version 3. Last edited at 8:24 on Apr 29, 19 by Utrecht. 2 articles link to this page.

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