River Vecht Tour
Exploring the banks of the River Vecht
The Vecht is a 42 km-long river that runs from from the city of Utrecht and flows into the IJmeer (part of the former Zuiderzee). Nowadays it is mainly used for pleasure boating. With many castles, country residences and tea domes on the river banks there are many picturesque places to view.
River Vecht Tour
|Tour operator:||A3's Bike Tours|
|Duration / distance:||2 to 3 hrs|
|Minimum group size:||2|
Depending on the wishes and physical capabilities of the participants, different distances can be cycled. All routes have the first part in common. The shortest route can be extended by cycling two optional loops creating the following distances:
- 16 kilometers (common part)
- 20 kilometers (common part + Op Buuren loop)
- 22 kilometers (common part + Maarssen loop)
- 25 kilometers (common part + Maarssen loop + Op Buuren loop)
The optional op Buuren and Maarssen loops are described at the end of this text. The tour requires a minimum of two participants.
In Roman times and in the early Middle Ages, Utrecht was located where the Vecht branched away from the Rhine. Around Utrecht both rivers became less and less navigable and were therefore gradually replaced by a system of canals. The Vecht was important in connecting the Zuiderzee to the hinterland.
Our tour starts in the historic heart of Utrecht. We cycle along the Oude Gracht (Old Canal) where below street level there are many cafes and restaurants. Until the end of the nineteenth century the quays and cellars were part of warehouses. After we pass the Stadsbuitengracht (Outer City Canal) and the locks the Old Canal turns into the river Vecht.
In the nineteenth century the New Dutch Waterline (Dutch: Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie) was constructed as a defence line against foreign attacks. With a complex system of canals, locks and waterways large land areas could be inundated in a controlled manner. The waterworks and locks are very visible near two picturesque windmills (Westbroekse Molen and Buitenwegse Molen ) in Oud-Zuylen.
In normal circumstances, the windmills pumped water from the polders (land below sea-level) to keep them dry. In case of an enemy attack the locks could be opened to let the water flow from the Vecht into the polders. Many areas around Utrecht are too far above sea-level and cannot be flooded. For that reason these areas were protected by forts and bunkers. Around Utrecht there are fourteen forts each with its own character. There is one fort on our route. Fort aan de Klop (1821) is now home to a campsite and cafe. The complete 85 kilometres of the New Dutch Waterline is a national monument and nominated as an Unesco world heritage site.
Slot Zuylen (Zuylen Castle) dates from the early 16th century. The beautiful building and surrounding gardens are now a museum which is also in use as an official wedding location.
Op Buuren loop (20 km and 25 km):
Op Buuren is a 21st-century residential area built from 2007 on the grounds of a former quinine factory. Eight architects designed op Buuren inspired by historical architectural styles in the surrounding area. Each house shows its own style and there is variation between the neighborhoods. The architectural style of Op Buuren is classified as retro architecture.
Maarssen loop (22 km and 25 km):
Maarssen has a number of beautiful country estates. We cycle through the fields around Vechtenstein. This is now a public park. After crossing the Vecht we arrive in the old village center. Again along the Vecht there is an estate on both sides: Bolenstein and on the opposite side Doornburg.
This tour includes:
- Bike rental
This tour does not include:
- Lunch, food or drinks