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Oudewater/The Netherlands

Introducing Oudewater

There's one real reason to visit the sweet little town of Oudewater in the province's southwest: witchcraft. Until the 17th century the Heksenwaag in the town centre was thought to have the most accurate scales in the land; women came from all over the place to be weighed here, on suspicion of being witches.

The house has a modest display of witchcraft history in the loft upstairs, and at the end of your visit you'll be invited to step onto the old scale. If you feel light on your feet it's because your certificaet van weginghe (weight certificate) makes your weight shrink – an old Dutch pound is 10% heavier than today's unit.

Several bewitching cafes line the tiny canal here and you can see Holland's oldest in-use stork nest on the town hall.

Oudewater is on the route of bus 180, which runs in either direction between Gouda (33 minutes) and Utrecht CS (53 minutes) every half-hour. The town is 10km by a cycling route across canal-laced fields south of Woerden and national route LF4, which is 26km from Utrecht and 11km further southwest from Kasteel de Haar.