The Vechtstreek is a scenic region in North Holland and Utrecht. It is a popular get-away destination known for its natural beauty, castles, parks and stately homes. Muiden and Weesp, while a part of the Vechtstreek, are covered in separate articles.
The Vechtstreek is known for its many vestiges of the Dutch Golden Age, including castles, homes, parks and tea houses. They are remnants of the greatness and wealth of that period, the important commercial role played by the Vecht and the area's history as a residential area for the nobility and wealthy.
The landscape east and west of the river is also remarkable. Peat extraction in the 17th and 18th century turned vast low-lying fens into a collection of shallow, man-made lakes and bogs. Water lilies, reeds, swamps and wooded areas have developed spontaneously from the old peat canals (trekgaten) where the peat was extracted. About 70 km² have been designated as a series of nature reserves and are part of the European Natura 2000 scheme.
The Vechtstreek is the area between Amsterdam and Utrecht, and many travellers stay in the region to be close enough to visit those cities. Orientation is difficult, as there are many small villages in the area but no definite central place to go. Maarssen is the largest town by inhabitants, but it's an outlier in terms of geography. Many travellers would spend the night near Loenen or Loosdrecht, as they are centrally located and have plenty of water sport facilities. If you're reliant on public transport, stay near Breukelen as it has a train station on the Amsterdam-Utrecht line.
If ignoring Muiden and Weesp, the Vechtstreek is administered by the three municipalities:
- Stichtse Vecht
- De Ronde Venen
Stichtse Vecht is a merger of the former municipalities of Breukelen, Loenen and Maarssen. Wijdemeren is a merger of 's-Graveland, Loosdrecht and Nederhorst Den Berg. And De Ronde Venen is a merger of Mijdrecht, Vinkeveen, Wilnis and Abcoude. If that wasn't complex enough, Stichtse Vecht and De Ronde Venen are in the province of Utrecht, while Wijdemeren is in North Holland. 's-Graveland and Kortenhoef are both in the Vechtstreek and a part of the Gooi area.
- 1 VVV agentschap Breukelen (Tourist agency Breukelen), Herenstraat 4, Breukelen (at the bookstore Kralingen), ☏ . M-Th 09:00-18:00, F 09:00-20:00.
- 2 VVV punt Vreeland (Information stand), Voorstraat 15, Vreeland (at the grocery shop Dagwinkel Aloys Hageman), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M Tu Th F 08:30-18:00, W 09:00-13:00.
- 3 VVV Maarssen (Tourist agency Maarsseveen), Herenweg 3, Maarssen (Fort Maarsseveen), ☏ . Daily 10:00-17:00.
The main Amsterdam-Utrecht railway line runs right through the Vechtstreek, but fast Intercity trains do not stop here. But Sprinter, slower trains, do. Maarssen, Breukelen and Abcoude have stations along the line. Depending on the village you leave from, reaching Amsterdam or Utrecht will take about 20-30 minutes. Trains to Woerden and Gouda do not pass Maarssen.
Buses are infrequent and unreliable, and it's hard to reach certain places, but if you don't have a car, you don't have a choice. Generally, buses leave from the train stations and go to the surrounding villages.
's-Graveland, Loosdrecht and Kortenhoef are reached via Hilversum. First go to that town by train, then take either bus 105 or 106. Bus 105 has Bussum Station as its last stop and leaves every 30 minutes from 07:00 till around 00:00. It takes around 10 minutes to reach bus stop Smidsbrug at the centre of 's-Graveland. Bus 106 ends at Weesp station, but it only leaves once per hour. After 10 minutes, get out at bus stop Kerklaan, also in the center of 's-Graveland.
Bus 38 runs between Maarssen train station and Utrecht Centraal, but not through the centre of Maarssen. Other buses that run through Maarssen are the 35 and 36.
The Vechtstreek is well connected by road. Motorway A2 runs between Amsterdam and Utrecht and is the main access road for all important villages in the Vechtstreek. From Amsterdam, Schiphol Airport, Leiden and Utrecht, drive onto the A2 and then take exit 3 for Abcoude and Nigtevecht, exit 4 for 's-Graveland, Kortenhoef, Loosdrecht, Loenen aan de Vecht, Mijdrecht, Vinkeveen, and Wilnis, exit 5 for Breukelen, and exit 6 for Maarssen. This is a busy road with a lot of traffic jams during peak hours.
Getting around by public transport buses is possible, but complicated. The easiest way to get around is by car, by bike, or even better, by boat. Bikes can be rented at railway stations.
- 1 Slot Zuylen (Zuylen Castle), Tournooiveld 1, Oud-Zuilen (Oud Zuilen village). from 1300.
- 2 Bolenstein (Ridderhofstad Bolenstein), Bolensteinseweg 1-3, Maarssen. 14th century, alterations in the 19th century.
- 3 Oudaan (Oudaen, Oud Aa), Zandpad 80, Breukelen. The castle origins are probably dating back to the end of the 13th century. It name comes from the river Aa which was used to be a tributary of Vecht.
- 4 Nijenrode, Straatweg 25, Breukelen. An imposing castle dating from the middle of the 13th century. It is now a part of the Nyenrode Business Universiteit.
- 5 Gunterstein (Ridderhofstad Gunterstein), Zandpad 48, Breukelen. 1680.
- 6 Nederhorst, Slotlaan 3, Nederhorst den Berg.
Along the Vecht
Many visitors come to the Vechtstreek for its magnificent 17th- and 18th-century estates (Dutch: buitenplaats or landerij). Estates are dotted along the complete course of the Vecht.
- 7 Hazenburg, Binnenweg 66, Maarssen. 1697.
- 8 Herteveld, Amsterdamse Straatweg 19-A, Maarssen (1630).
- 9 Vechtenstein, Zandpad 1, Maarssen. 1637, rebuilt 1870.
- 10 Huys ten Bosch, Zandweg 44, Maarssen. 1628, architect Jacob van Campen. now Town House.
- 11 Doornburgh, Diependaalsedijk 17, Maarssen. 1655.
- 12 Goudestein, Diependaalsedijk 19c, Maarssen. 18th century, Drugstore Museum.
- 13 Vechtoever, Diependaalsedijk 31-33, Maarssen. 18th century.
- 14 Leeuwenburg, Zandpad 24, Maarssen. 1649
- 15 Gansenhoef, Zandpad 26, Maarssen. 1655, architect Philips Vingboons
- 16 Cromwijck, Zandpad 42, Maarssen (between Maarssen and Breukelen). 1637.
- 17 Boom en Bosch, Markt 13, Breukelen. 1673, now the Town Hall.
- 18 Vecht en Dam, Dannegracht 16, Breukelen (1682).
- 19 Vechtvliet (Veg(h)tvliet), Straatweg 220, Breukelen. 1670, architect Philips Vingboons.
- 20 Vegt en Hoff, Zandpad 43, Breukelen,. 1873.
- 21 Queekhoven, Zandpad 38-40A, Breukelen. 17th century.
- 22 Groenevecht, Zandpad 35-37, Breukelen. 17th century.
- 23 Over-Holland, Rijksstraatweg 14, Nieuwersluis (between Breukelen and Nieuwersluis). 1676, enlarged in the 18th century.
- 24 Sterreschans, Rijksstraatweg 18, Nieuwersluis. 1688, enlarged in the 18th century.
- 25 Rupelmonde, Rijksstraatweg 24, Nieuwersluis. 1659, enlarged in the 18th century.
- 26 Weerestein, Zandpad 29, Nieuwersluis. 17th century.
Loenen aan de Vecht
- 27 Nieuwerhoek, Rijksstraatweg 78, Loenen (Loenen, south of the village centre). 17th century, rebuilt in the 19th century.
- 28 Cronenburgh, Rijksstraatweg 84, Loenen. 1925
- 29 Vredenhoff, Rijksstraatweg 53, Loenen. 1749-1753.
- 30 Leeuwendijk, Dorpsstraat 69, Loenen. 1735. ,
- 31 Vrederust, Dorpsstraat 77, Loenen.
- 32 Vegtlust, Oud-Over 3. Loenen. 18th century.
- 33 Bosch en Vecht, Oud Over 5, Loenen. 1734.
- 34 Bijdorp, Oud-Over 8, Loenen. 17th century.
- 35 Oud Over, Oud-Over 33, Loenen. 1st half of the 18th century.
- 36 Kalorama, Oid-Over 59, Loenen. 1st half of the 18th century.
- 37 Schoonoord, Duinkerken 11, Vreeland. 1759.
's-Graveland has many significant estates. The village became a popular getaway among rich traders from Amsterdam in the Dutch Golden Age, who constructed, bought or inherited large estates at the eastern side of the s-Gravelandsevaart, which used to be an important trade route that connected Amsterdam with Hilversum. As the road wasn't hardened on most places, boat transportation was popular at that time. Now most of the property is owned by Natuurmonumenten, an organisation that buys, protects and manages nature reserves in the Netherlands. It's not a co-incidence that the organisation has its headquarters in 's-Graveland.
- Gooilust, Zuidereinde 49, 's-Graveland. A typical summer residence of a wealthy trader family from the Dutch Golden Age with an interesting history. Its enormous garden is a must-visit with trees and plants from all over the world. Previously a wide collection of exotic mammals and birds were held, but they moved in 1939.
There are lakes and waterways on both sides of the Vecht. These lakes and interconnecting waterways are referred to as the Vechtplassen ("the Vecht Lakes"), a series of man-made lakes resulting from the peat extraction. The lakes near Loosdrecht are especilly popular for sailing. West of the river Vecht there is another important area of man-made lakes, the Vinkeveen lakes.
A good way to spend a day is by making a bicycle tour through the area, passing many estates, polders and lakes.
A popular activity with the locals in the summer is to rent a boat and hit the lakes.
- 1 Vechtstreekmuseum (Vecht Museum), Diependaalsedijk 19b, Maarssen (in the park of Goudestein). May-Sep W-Su 11:00-17:00; Oct-Apr W-Su 14:00-17:00. €4.50.
- The Skating Museum (Schaatsmuseum Tienhoven), Laan van Niftarlake 49, 3612 BM Tienhoven, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. By appointment. Learn about the history of ice skates and other winter objects.
Breukelen's historic town centre has some nice shopping options.
Due to the affluent demographic, there are some high class restaurants in the area. There are also plenty of restaurants that cater to the many cyclists, so finding a day time snack or beverage should not be too difficult. Ankeveen is known by the locals as "the village with 0 shops but 4 restaurants". 's-Graveland also has some posh up-scale restaurants. Eateries in Abcoude, Kortenhoef and Nederhorst den Berg are generally cheap and aimed at the locals.
- De Molen, Loodijk 30, Ankeveen, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. This restaurant, nicely located next to a windmill, is a nice place to just sip a cup of coffee. Full meals are also served, they have the usual Mediterranean fish and meat dishes, as well as Dutch pancakes. The staff can help you pick a fitting wine. €25.
- [dead link] Osaka, Loodijk 27, Ankeveen (from Ankeveen, follow the Hollands End north till the intersection with Loodijk), ☏ . Daily 17:00-23:00. You wouldn't expect it in this rural area, a Japanese teppanyaki restaurant. It's a self-service walking buffet, but don't order any extras if you're on budget. The only exception is the sushi, which is excellent, and for a small fee you can have as much as you want of them. €30-40.
- Pan & Koek, Stichts End 9, Ankeveen (from Ankeveen, follow the Hollands End north, then take a left the Loodijk), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. W-F 16:00-20:30, Sa Su 12:09-20:30, M-Tu closed. Dutch pancake restaurant mostly aiming at families with children. They serve the usual pancakes, but also some original ones, such as pancakes with shawarma or Parmesan cheese. €10-15.
- Veensche Plas, Stichts End 50, Ankeveen, ☏ . Its feature is its beautiful outside terrace, next to the water with a view over the rural landscape and the lakes. Their lunch consists of several bread dishes, while most dinner dishes are meat and fish in Mediterranean style. €25.
- [formerly dead link] Berestein, Zuidereinde 206, 's-Graveland, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-Su 12:00-22:00, M closed. Housed in two cute typical Dutch houses, which are over 250 years old, this French-European restaurant is well known as even Queen Beatrix is known to have visited this place. The outside terrace is really romantic with a view over the small canal. It's one of the better restaurants of the area, but the atmosphere is actually quite informal. €35.
- 't Swaentje, Noordereinde 353, 's-Graveland, ☏ , fax: . Tu-Su 17:00-22:00, M closed. Probably the best of the area, this French restaurant serves strange meals such as pumpkin soup. It's in a small 17th-century house, and its old-Dutch style interior fits properly. Its terrace outside offers nice views over the rural landscape. The staff is neat, yet personal and caring. Some people never leave, but spend the night at one of its rooms. €35.
- Dynasty, Meenthof 8, Kortenhoef, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Typical to-go Chinese/Indonesian restaurant as every Dutch town offers. Don't expect a fancy restaurant, just good food for not too much. This place does offer spicy dishes from China's Sichuan province which is quite uncommon in the Netherlands.
- De Sloep, Moleneind 5, Kortenhoef (From Kortenhoef, follow the Kortenhoefse Dijk southward, then cross the Vreelandseweg onto Moleneind), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-Su 17:30-21:30, M closed. It's generally a good restaurant, but even though they seem to want to be a top-class restaurant, it really doesn't qualify for that. It has a nice location at the water, but the service is a bit informal and feels a bit like a simple lunch cafe. €25.
- Osaka, Loodijk 27, Ankeveen (From Ankeveen, follow the Hollands End north till the intersection with Loodijk), ☏ . Daily 17:00-23:00. You wouldn't expect it in this rural area, a Japanese teppanyaki restaurant. It's a self-service walking buffet, but don't order any extras if you're on budget. The only exception is the sushi, which is excellent, and for a small fee you can have as much as you want of them. €30-40.
- Pronto, Dodaarslaan 6, Kortenhoef (Bus: Parklaan), ☏ . Italian pizzas, spare-ribs and shawarma. Not much to say about this one, it's a simple budget place for a quick snack.
- Solo, Kerklaan 6-8, Kortenhoef (Bus: Kerklaan), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Indonesian restaurant with cuisine from Central Java. The atmosphere is relaxed, but looks a bit old-fashioned (funnily it adds something to the experience). Try the "rijsttafel", it's the best dish they offer. Don't worry to order some extra rice, it's free. €35.
- Restaurant Het Drechthuis, Bloklaan 22A, Loosdrecht (inside the Mijnden camping compound), ☏ . 12:00-22:00. Restaurant for lunch and dinner near the Loosdrechtse Plassen with terrace view over the water. Do not expect luxury cuisine here, but the menu is extensive and is known for many fish and grill dishes. €25.
There's almost no nightlife to speak of in the area, the locals go to the surrounding cities for a night out. It is, however, possible to grab a cup of coffee at one of the restaurants.
It's fair to say that accommodation is limited; most visitors spend the night in Amsterdam, Utrecht, Hilversum or other nearby towns. But as the area is a popular getaway destination among the locals, there certainly are options.
- [dead link] Appartement 't Swaentje, Noordereinde 353, 's-Graveland, ☏ , fax: . Awesome view over the rural landscape. A maximum of three people can spend the night here, which feels like a B&B, but isn't really one as breakfast is not served. They can fill up the fridge with food for €10 extra, then you can make breakfast yourself the following morning. Also has a shower, toilet, kitchen, microwave, fridge, microwave, washing machine and internet connection. €62.50.
- B&B 't Zuidereinde, Zuidereinde 30, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Freestanding guesthouse at the river with shower, toilet, small kitchen and fridge. They only have place for two guests in total, so be sure to book early. Includes breakfast, lunch can be arranged for €5 extra. €50.
Muiden and Weesp are a part of the Vechtstreek, and each have a lot to offer the visitor. Muiden has a historic river quayside and the magnificent Muiderslot. Weesp was once fortified and several of the bastions, moats and forts have survived till this day.
|Routes through Vechtstreek|
|Amsterdam ←||N S||→ Utrecht → Arnhem|