Want to explore one of The Netherlands most beautiful small towns in the Utrecht region? Then keep on reading, because you will see the things you need to do in Maarssen in this travel blog!
Are you thinking of exploring more destinations within the Utrecht region? Then Maarssen cannot be missed. As one of the best Utrecht daytrips, there are tons of things to do in Maarssen and its surroundings. So, whether you want to admire the beautiful buildings and streets in one of the top places to visit in the Utrecht region, or simply want to spend one day in Maarssen, you will find all the information you’ll need in this Maarssen city guide.
From travelling to hidden gems in the Utrecht region to places to see in Maarssen. Tourism in Maarssen isn’t that developed, and mostly during summer, there can be a few visitors on the dreamy terraces along the riverside or in the idyllic streets. Whether you’re looking for where to go, what to do or see in Maarssen, this article shows you everything and more.
Things to do in one amazing day in Maarssen, Utrecht, The Netherlands
This Maarssen itinerary will answer every question you might have about this town. From things to see in Maarssen to ‘where is Maarssen, The Netherlands’. And from figuring out how you can spend 24 hours in Maarssen to cheap and fun things to do in the surroundings of this part of the countryside of the Utrecht region.
Maarssen is one of those places that has surprised me with how much the town and its surroundings have to offer. So, that’s why you will be discovering all the things you can do in Maarssen right here in this city blog. From must-sees to free things to do in the Utrecht region and from best things to do in Maarssen to must do’s.
History & Facts about Maarssen
The name Maarssen comes from ‘marse’, which meant swampy ground at that time. Maarssen was first listed as a possession of the bishop of Utrecht as Marsna in 866. That year, there were two houses located on that location, which slowly turned into a settlement around 1000. Interesting to know is that from 1000 to 1514, the farms and homes found here only slowly increased to around 33, as a settlement around Castle Maarssen, in 1514.
From the year 1000, peat was slowly extracted west and east of the settlement of Maarssen. Chapters and monasteries of the diocese of Utrecht had an essential role in that, as they lend pieces of land to vassals. These then built castles and homesteads. The bishop of Utrecht assigned a wooden defence tower in a curve of the Vecht river to defend the shipping industry on the river in 1083. Later on, the Castle of Maarssen that was built here, the French destroyed that in 1672.
In the 15th century, the peat was already extracted and sold, but a lot more was sold due to the need of fuel from brick-making factories, new estates and the ever-expanding city of Utrecht in the 17th century. In the 19th century, poverty was a very much prevalent and to combat this, polders were created, such as the Bethunepolder in Maarssen.
Along the Vecht river, farms used to be found here. However, these buildings were changed into houses from the 17th century. The village of Maarssen was mainly focused on being located around and near the Vecht river for industrial purposes. The number of ships between Utrecht and Amsterdam continued to grow, and wealthy merchants from Amsterdam built tons of estates in Maarssen in the 17th and 18th century.
Both merchants from Amsterdam and Portuguese Jews are to be thankful for the wealthy period in Maarssen. Around 1650, the Portuguese Jews settled in Maarssen to create a silk industry, as they weren’t allowed to do that in Amsterdam. In 1680, they got permission to hold services in a house, and they were allowed to create a synagogue in 1736 (which existed until 1839).
There were also Jews from High-German origin living in Maarssen; they got a synagogue in 1758, that functioned until 1927. Interesting to know is that the High German and Portuguese Jews formed a significant part of the population of Maarssen. This also meant that the influence that they had on the society was pretty grand. Eventually, the Jewish community left Maarssen when they were finally allowed to settle in the city of Utrecht in 1789. Before that, they could visit the city or study there, but not live in Utrecht.
When the French occupied The Netherlands between 1795 and 1813, Maarssen (and the rest of the country) suffered. Revenues fell through, estates stood empty and were demolished, the income of peat extraction decreased rapidly, and so on.
In the second half of the 19th century, the economic situation in Maarssen slowly bettered. The Vecht river was deepened and widened for bigger ships, the railway Utrecht- Amsterdam was taken in use in 1843, which meant that Maarssen also got a train station. Then in 1892, the Merwede channel was finished, later named Amsterdam-Rijnkanaal. That’s when many companies started to move to Maarssen for its excellent logistics, and with that, the number op inhabitants of Maarssen increased as well.
In 1866, there was a gas factory in Maarssen: the gas was used for street lights. In 1898, Maarssen had its first electrical lit house, which is eight years earlier than the city of Utrecht. In 1911, water pipes in the homes of Maarssen were made from 1911.
It is interesting to know that Maarssen is divided into two parts: the old and beautiful part that you want to visit, called Maarssen-dorp and the new part, called Maarssenbroek (where you can find the train station of Maarssen). The population of Maarssen is around 38.000, and an inhabitant of Maarssen is called a Maarssenaar. Maarssen is located in the Utrecht province, nearby the city of Utrecht.
Where to stay in Maarssen
If you’re looking for accommodation and places to stay in Maarssen, then there are a few places you can stay in. Below you can find some great hotel and B&B options in Maarssen.
- De Eendracht Maarssen
- Bed & Breakfast Nieuw Geesberge
Best restaurants in Maarssen
Surprisingly, the small town of Maarssen is filled with great restaurants. Some of my favourite restaurants in Maarssen are ALEX, Restaurant De Zusters, Restaurant Enya and Delice. But honestly, I’ve heard great things about quite a few other places as well (they need to be great to survive in a small town), so don’t be afraid to try out some places.
What to do in Maarssen
Free walking tour in Maarssen
This walking route in Maarssen is around 6,8 kilometres long.
First, you will walk to Herengracht and then to Herengracht 20. There you will see the estate of Raadhoven, which was built in the 17th century. It is said that the interior of this beautiful house is home to ceiling fresco’s that date back to the beginning of the house. Unfortunately, we can’t have a peek inside, as it’s privately owned.
Now you will continue walking alongside the Vecht river, where you will see a tea dome that dates back to the 17th century. Then, you keep on walking next to the Vecht and stop where you will see Straatweg 17 (it’s the house on the opposite side of the river). This is where you can see Estate Herteveld, sometimes named Harteveld. The first owner was Dirck van Zennick, who assigned the creation of this beautiful house. The estate is home to the main house, a park, carriage building, Orangerie and more.
Then walk a bit further and look at Straatweg 23 (which is also on the other side of the river), another estate that dates back to the 17th century and is called Vredenhoef.
Shortly after that, you will leave the path next to the river for a little bit and head into the way to the right. This will lead you to the old municipality building of Maarssen at Diependaalsedijk 19. It’s housed in one of the first estates along the Vecht river, named Estate Goudestein. In 1608, the wealthy merchant Jan Jacobsz Huydecoper from Amsterdam bought some land and buildings. His son, Johan Huydecoper van Maarsseveen, was a trustee of the Dutch East India Company and mayor of Amsterdam. He then assigned the creation of the estate Goudestein on the land of his father in 1628. He grew melons and yews here. In the disaster year of 1672, he could prevent the French troops from plundering the estate.
The son of Johan, Joan Huydecoper, bought the neighbouring estate Silversteyn in 1717 and added that to Goudestein. After his first wife died, he married Sophia van der Muelen in 1733 and reconstructed the Goudestein estate in 1754. After Joan died, his wife Sophia lived on Goudestein for 25 more years and stated in her will that only the family name Huydecoper could inherit the estate. And this happened for a long time until the municipality of Maarssen bought the house in 1955. You can visit the park of this estate.
Now, you’re returning to the path along this beautiful, Dutch river to Diependaalsedijk and Timmermanslaan 1. There you can see estate Doornburgh and Park Doornburgh. The wealthy merchant Jan Claesz Vlooswijck (from Amsterdam), bought a piece of land in 1623. After that, Hendrick de Beijer owned the ground and a building created there, who then sold it to Pieter Brugman in 1653. Johan van Eegeren bought it two years later when it had become an estate.
One of the canons’ of Utrecht, Willem van Zon, owned it from 1684. He was also the one who assigned a massive reconstruction of the house. When van Zon passed away, Abraham van Romswinckel bought it in 1718. He then sold it to two Portuguese- Jewish families and one of the remnants from that time is the gate on the Vecht river side of the park of this estate.
Jan Elias Huydecoper bought the estate in the 1700s, and it stayed in the same family until 1912. The grounds of Doornburgh were expanded and landscape architect J. D. Zocher designed the park and the forest. The next owner, Jan Pieter van Voorst, gave the house a new destination as a museum. He then sold the estate to a women’s monastery of Reguliere Kanunnikessen van het Heilig Graf.
The monastery that you can find on this estate was used by a Roman- Catholic order since 1966. Before that, the nuns were using the manor house of Doornburgh as their home, and after the new monastery was built, it was then used as a guest house. Don’t forget to enjoy a beautiful walk through this park in Maarssen.
Then walk to Kaatsbaan, Langegracht, Maarsseveensegrachtje and Zandweg 44. There you can admire Huys ten Bosch, which is a 17th century estate. It was the municipality centre of Maarssen for a bit during the 20th century.
The house was built on the assignment of Amsterdam merchant Pieter Belten and his wife Constantia Coymans (daughter of a wealthy merchant) and designed by Jacob van Campen. Jacob Cromhout bought the estate in 1642, and it stayed within this family until 1764. After that, it belonged to the Bicker family, and then Johannes Buys got the house in 1816. It changed owners several times after that until the municipality of Maarssen bought the house in 1922. In 1961, the house was purchased by an art collector, and it was heavily restored to the origin of the house.
Now walk through park Vechtenstein. Vechtenstein was an estate with a main building that was created in the 18th century but demolished in the 19th century. The current main building dates back to 1936. The 18th-century garden house is still found on the estate, and you are allowed to walk through certain parts of the park.
Then you will continue your walking route in Maarssen to Zandweg and Straatweg 68. That’s where you can see Estate Vecht en Dijk, which was built somewhere in the 18th century. It is currently an apartment complex.
Continue to walk, and now you’re headed to Binnenweg 60. This is home to estate Hazenburg, which is also named Hasenburg and was also named Vegt en Rust (Vecht river and peace). It dates back to the 17th or 18th century.
After that, you will make your way to Kerkweg 19, which is the Protestant church’s location in Maarssen. The oldest part of the church, the Romanesque tower, dates back to the 12th century. This makes the church the oldest monument in the town of Maarssen. It’s called the Dorpskerk (or the village kerk) but is originally named St. Pancratiuskerk. The rest of the church dates back to the 16th century, with the first stone placed here in 1519.
On the south side of the church, there is a burial chapel and basement of the family Huydecoper. The chapel is separated from the church by a gate that was made in 1721.
Interesting to know is that the church was the chapel of the castle of Maarssen, which was destroyed by the French in 1672. Another cool thing to know is that there are ten historical mourning signs found in this church, with nine of them coming from the Huydecoper family. It can be visited during Open Monumentendag (which always takes place during a specific weekend in September).
Then head over to Kerkweg 10. That’s where you can admire a historic house that dates back to 1776. Now walk to Bolensteinseweg 1 to see Estate Bolenstein. Parts of the house have been changed over time, but it has been almost entirely restored into its glory in 1960.
The house was first named in 1340 and was probably built on the assignment of Derck van Bole. In 1404, the owner at the time lent the house to the bishop of Utrecht. In 1438, it was sold to knight Otto Snaef and later on to the Van Nijenrode family. After that plenty of wealthy families have owned the estate and the grounds, such as Snellenburg, Van Zuylen van Nijvelt, Godin, De Malapert and Van Heeckeren. After even more families owned the lands and estate, J. M. de Muinck Keizer bought it at the beginning of the 1900s and sold it to the municipality of Maarssen in 1942. They used it as a distribution location and police station until the 1960s. Then it was sold to an architect and later to a film producer.
Walk to Schippersgracht and Breedstraat 1. There you will see the church’s rectory next doors, and it dates back to the end of the 19th century. After that, you will head over to Breedstraat 3. There you can see the Roman Catholic church of Maarssen, called Heilig Hartkerk. It was designed by Alfred Tepe and was first taken in use on the 9th of September 1885. Did you know that there are three clocks in the tower and that the largest one weighs 1200 kg?!
Walk further into Breedstraat and then you will end your Maarssen free walking tour at Breedstraat 15. Here you can see, yet another, former estate in this part of the Utrecht region. Nowadays it’s called Nieuw Vechtevoort, but it has had many different names over the last centuries, such as Hoge Sant, Hogesant, Vegtevoort, etc. The first stone building was named under the name of Hogesant around 1600. The Vechtevoort name was first mentioned in 1633, but people aren’t exactly sure where the name comes from. After a massive reconstruction of the building, the house was named Nieuw Vechtevoort since the 18th century.
Interesting to know is that the house has had many owners, and one of them was Abraham Aboabab, the first Portuguese Jew who was settling in an estate in Maarssen. The house has been used as many different things, such as a clandestine Catholic church, synagogue, boarding school, bakery and a pharmacy.
Visit an estate filled with art and science in Maarssen
Estate Doornburgh, also home to a monastery that’s not in use anymore and a beautiful park, is one of the best places to visit in The Netherlands if you’re interested in art and science. On their agenda, you can explore what exhibitions are taking place in this estate, and you can reserve tickets for tours through estate Doornburgh.
Buitenplaats Doornburgh is a historic estate at the Vecht river, with a park in the English landscaping style of more than 9 hectares. It used to be only 0,85 hectares, but as three nearby estates disappeared, Doornburgh took over. The park can be visited for free between 08:00 – 21:00, and if you visit with a dog, your dog must be on a leash.
One of the other great things to do in this estate in Maarssen is to get a nice cup of coffee (or tea), with some fresh baked goods at the Priorij, or visit the restaurant De Zusters on-site for a fantastic dinner.
Museums in Maarssen
The Vechtstreek Museum in Maarssen is a museum about the Vecht region and focuses primarily on the culture, history and art within this area. It’s housed in the Huydecoper family’s old estate and filled with interesting things to see and learn. This museum in the Utrecht region is an absolute must-visit for anyone keen on learning more about the area that they’re visiting.
Explore beautiful Dutch lakes in the Utrecht region
The Maarsseveense Plassen is a great recreational area and has two lakes: the Grote Plas (big lake) and the Kleine Plas (small lake). The lakes have incredibly clean water and the Grote Plas is at some places 30 metres deep. There is a beach with an entry fee to enter; most of the amenities are here. However, the most significant part of this lake area is free to visit.
Interesting to know is that both of these lakes exist due to sand extraction for constructing the neighbourhood Overvecht in the city of Utrecht.
Do some shopping in Maarssen
If you want to get some regional goods in Maarssen, you can visit the following streets: Nassaustraat and Kaatsbaan.
Go on a boat tour on the Vecht river
If you want to see more of the Vecht river by boat, without sailing it yourself, then the best option is to go on a river tour from Maarssen. During the high season in The Netherlands (summer months, so from around June/July until August), there are daily trips by Rederij Stichtse Vecht. The boarding place is Oostwaard 34 in Maarssen.
When you leave Maarssen by boat, it will take around 2 hours to reach Breukelen, 3 hours to Nieuwersluis, 3,5 to the village of Loenen aan de Vecht, 4 hours to the town of Vreeland and around 5,5 hours to the Dutch village of Nigtevecht. You can enjoy the beautiful surroundings and get some interesting facts on the many landmarks you will see along the Vecht river.
Enjoy a visit to a spa in Maarssen
A beautiful Dutch spa, called SpaSereen, is located at one of the most peaceful parts of the Maarssenveense Plassen. They offer tons of different treatments, and it is the perfect place to wind down. Enjoy a warm sauna to relax your muscles, eat at their fantastic restaurant or get a nice treatment.
Remember: in Dutch spas, you have to go n.a.k.e.d, unless there are special swimwear days (which not all spas offer).
More things to do in Maarssen & its surroundings
Walk from Maarssen to Muiden on a ‘trekweg’
It’s a bit of a walk, at least 32 kilometres, but then you will be witnessing one of the most remarkable and beautiful walking routes through the countryside in The Netherlands. A ‘trekweg’ is a small path next to a river used by either people or horses to pull boats filled with goods or people.
In Maarssen this path is called ‘Zandpad’, and it is a road along the eastern side of the Utrecht Vecht river. And as the Vecht river ends in Muiden, you will be walking a beautiful route from Maarssen to the city of Muiden. You will pass by many estates and unique buildings, making this trip in The Netherlands even better.
Walk or cycle in the surroundings of Maarssen
Whether you want to cycle along the Vecht river to explore villages such as Breukelen or wish to explore the beautiful Dutch nature in the Utrecht Region, Maarssen and its surroundings have it all. At Netjes Fietsverhuur in Maarssen, you can rent bikes. And at this bike rental in Maarssen, they also have great tips for cycling routes to explore in the Utrecht region.
If you’re more of a walker, then you also have endless possibilities. Walk to Castle De Haar from Maarssen to the Loosdrechtse Plassen area or the Maarsseveensche Plassen. You could also make a trip from Maarsen to Breukeleveen, Tienhoven, Oud- Maarsseveen and back to Maarssen. Here you can admire the Utrecht countryside.
Rent a boat or sup in Maarssen
There are a couple of options if you want to go with a rental boat on the Vecht river from Maarssen. The first company that offers rental boats in Maarssen is Dok 88; their cheapest boats are the Dock 360 boats. The second boat rental place in Maarssen is Boei 26, and here you can also rent a sup board.
Explore nature reserves & parks in and on the outskirts of Maarssen
The Bethunepolder is a nature reserve that stretches from Maarssen to the village of Tienhoven. It’s a beautifully protected area that is perfect for exploring by bike or on foot. You will see many meadow birds, ducks and so many more animals. It’s the ideal sight to see in the Utrecht region. The Gagelpolder is another beautiful nature reserve and can be visited by foot.
Walk one of the long distance hiking routes in The Netherlands
The Waterliniepad goes right through the town of Maarssen and is a path that starts from Volendam and ends in the city of Dordrecht (or the other way around if you prefer). This is a hiking route of around 350 kilometres and will show you two of the most critical defence lines in The Netherlands: Stelling van Amsterdam and the Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie. Here you will see fortresses such as Fort Ruigenhoek, come across beautiful villages and towns, and learn a lot about The Netherlands.
Visit a Dutch windmill in Maarssen
The Westbroekse molen, also named Molen van de Polder Westbroek (windmill of the Westbroek polder), is built in 1753. It was used to drain the Westbroek polder and still works today. It generally can be visited every Wednesday from 10:00- 16:00 and Saturday from 10:00-17:00.
Discover a regional Dutch museum
At Streekmuseum Vredegoed you will explore the villages and farms’ history in this peatland area in Utrecht at the beginning of the 1900s. In this small, local museum in the Utrecht Region you can learn how they worked with peat, tools they used to make cheese, what they used as farmers, how they did the cooking and washing, what an average living room looked like in this region, and so much more. There’s an entry fee of around four euros, which is worth every penny.
It is generally opened from the last Saturday of March until the last Saturday of October on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday from 13:00- 17:00.
Travel to the village of Breukelen
The small town of Breukelen is one of the most picturesque and beautiful towns to visit in The Netherlands. Filled with dreamy estates created on assignment by wealthy merchants from Amsterdam and stunning Dutch houses for the ordinary and less affluent people. Breukelen is a dream, and when you visit Maarssen, I can highly recommend you to travel to Breukelen as well. One of the things you need to do in Breukelen is to walk around the park of the castle Gunterstein.
Enjoy The Netherlands Lake District
When you travel to Maarssen, you’re in luck. Not only are you visiting one of the best regions in The Netherlands, but you’re also very close to one of the hidden gems in the Utrecht region. The Netherlands lake district is a large region of Dutch lakes that stretches over three provinces: Utrecht, Noord- Holland and Zuid- Holland. Several parts of this Dutch lake district are close to Maarssen, but the closest is the Loosdrechtse Plassen.
Go back in time and visit Dutch castles
Utrecht is one of those Dutch provinces that is filled, and with filled I mean; absolutely stuffed, with castles. If you’re like me and want to visit Dutch castles and go back into the medieval times, you’re going to love this area in The Netherlands. Some of the castles that are closest to Maarssen and can be visited are Zuylen Castle and Castle Ter Haar.
Find things to do in the city of Utrecht
The city of Utrecht is one of The Netherlands best destinations to visit, and if you have the chance to visit Utrecht, then I would totally recommend you to do so. Utrecht is a city where there are tons of things to do: visiting the best museums to eating in amazing restaurants in Utrecht. And from exploring the most beautiful streets in Utrecht to doing some shopping. This Dutch city has it all.
Get to know Nieuwersluis and eat at its fortress
The village of Nieuwersluis is small but still worth visiting when you’re in the neighbourhood, especially since a beautiful fortress is located at the other side of the river from Nieuwersluis. The tea garden of Fort Nieuwersluis is opened every Sunday from 10:00- 17:00, where you can enjoy incredibly delicious foods, such as pies, soups and so much more.
Bring a visit to the city of Woerden
Woerden is the only place in The Netherlands left that still has an original cheese market. The cheese market in Woerden is still used to sell and buy cheeses and not reintroduced for tourists, nor played by volunteers. Even though I love cheese, that’s not the only reason you should visit Woerden. Woerden is filled with museums and even has a city castle. Plus, it’s a cosy city in The Netherlands.
How to get to Maarssen, Utrecht, The Netherlands
I would always recommend you to use 9292.nl/en to plan your current trips by public transportation in The Netherlands. This is only used to give you a quick idea on the arrival time and how you roughly can travel to Maarssen.
- From Utrecht: To get from Utrecht city on a daytrip to Maarssen, you only need to take the sprinter train from Utrecht Centraal in the direction of Breukelen. Get out at Maarssen. To get to the city of Maarssen from Utrecht takes you only 8 minutes by train (seriously, I’m not lying, it’s very close).
- From Amsterdam: To go on a daytrip from Amsterdam to Maarssen, you need to take a train that will take you to Utrecht Centraal train station. From there, you need to transfer to a train in the direction of Breukelen train station. Get out at Maarssen train station. To get to Maarssen from Amsterdam takes you around 50 minutes.
- From Rotterdam: If you want to admire Maarssen on a daytrip from Rotterdam, then you need to take any train that will head to Utrecht Centraal. At that Dutch train station, you need to change to the train in the direction of Breukelen. Get out at the train station of Maarssen. To go from Rotterdam to Maarssen takes you around 50 minutes.
By: Manon/ www.visitingthedutchcountryside.com