Stroll through the historic city centre, breathe in the culture, have fun shopping, grab a table at a café terrace. Everything’s possible in Gorinchem. There is plenty to see and do in the lively fortress city; however, there are a few sites you certainly do not want to miss. So, we have compiled 10 highlights for an unforgettable visit to Gorinchem and the surrounding area.
1. Climb the tower
The Grote Toren (grand tower) can be seen from far and wide, but the most spectacular view is from the top. Every Saturday from May to September, you can join a guide to climb the 256 stone steps to the top of the tower. On your way up, the guide explains all about the history of the tower, and once you reach the top you’ll get your well-deserved reward: a fabulous view over the city and surrounding area. On clear days you can see as far as the Cathedral Tower in Utrecht. Book your tickets at the VVV tourist office (also by appointment).
2. Explore our fortifications
Gorinchem was a key stronghold in both the old and new Dutch Water Line. And it’s the largest fortified city in the Netherlands that’s still fully intact. The 5km self-guided fortress walk (Vestingwandeling) takes you over the earthwork ramparts and past sights like the Tolhuis tollhouse, Dalempoort gatehouse, the caponier (a type of defensive structure), and two flour mills. Take a break on a bench along the way and enjoy a beautiful view of the river. You can buy a copy of the Vestingwandeling booklet with map at the VVV tourist office.
3. Explore the ‘fortress triangle’ by boat
In the middle of the ‘Rivierenland’ (river land) region you’ll find four fantastic strongholds of the new Dutch Water Line that form the ‘fortress triangle’. The fortified cities of Gorinchem and Woudrichem, the medieval Loevestein Castle, and the 19th-century Fort Vuren can all be reached by the foot ferry or water taxi. You can visit them all in just one day.
4. Discover the 8th city of ‘Holland’
Gorinchem, which was likely settled in the 11th century, grew to become the 8th city of the County of Holland. Gorinchem’s rich history is still reflected in its many preserved heritage structures, warehouses, ‘townhouses’ and other buildings. Discover the 8th city of ‘Holland’. Take a 3.5km self-guided walk and get an insider’s view of Gorinchem’s highlights and its history spanning ten centuries. You can buy the self-guided city walk booklet at the VVV tourist office.
5. Rondje Pontje ferry & bike tour
You can also explore the ‘fortress triangle’ formed by Gorinchem, Woudrichem, Loevestein Castle, and Fort Vuren by bike. To make things easy for you, we’ve marked out two ferry/cycling routes, one covering 21km and the other 30km. You can pick up your free copy of the cycling map—showing the numbered ‘nodes’ and ferry piers along the route—at the VVV tourist office and on the ferry. You can also download it here.
6. Gorcums Museum
The Gorcums Museum is housed in the old city hall dating from 1860. The museum tells the familiar (and the lesser known) stories from the city’s history, like about the ‘Martyrs of Gorkum’, Hugo Grotius, and the Renaissance painters from Gorinchem. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions with surprising themes.
7. Hugo de Groot portal
In 1621, the famous Dutch jurist Hugo Grotius (in Dutch ‘Hugo de Groot’) was smuggled out of Loevestein Castle where he was imprisoned and brought to the home of Gorinchem merchant Adriaan Daetselaar on Grote Markt square hiding in a book chest. Hugo emerged through a small portal dressed as a bricklayer. The portal, still standing to this day, has ever since been called the Hugo de Groot portal.
8. Hendrick Hamel Museum
In the Hendrick Hamel Museum, located in the Hamelhuis house, you’ll learn all about Hendrick Hamel and his exciting adventures in Korea. This sea traveller from Gorinchem was shipwrecked off the coast of Korea in 1653 and was held captive there for the next 13 years. His journal ‘Hamel's Journal and a Description of the Kingdom of Korea, 1653-1666’ gave the western world its first inside view of Korea. In Korea, Hendrick Hamel is a national hero.
9. Linge harbour (marina)
The charming Linge harbour (historically a harbour, but these days a marina), located in the historic city centre, is a must see! The café terraces on the water afford you a fantastic view of this lively little marina with its yachts, boating enthusiasts, and lock. An Open Harbour Day is held every year in May and a Boat Show every September. You can see the exact dates in the calendar.
10. Buiten de Waterpoort
The best place to ‘experience’ the river is from the waterfront area Buiten de Waterpoort. This is the spot where, for centuries, boats and ferries have departed. And still today, it’s the spot where you can catch the foot ferry to Woudrichem, Loevestein Castle, Fort Vuren, or close to Biesbosch National Park. Or just sit yourself down at one of the many benches and watch the boats pass by. The area also features a city beach.