A day trip to Vesting Bourtange: the tiny village steeped in Dutch history

Rich in history, Vesting Bourtange dates back to 1580 when Willem van Oranje ordered an entrenchment be built with five bastions near the Dutch-German border. Now, this cute little village attracts visitors from across the Netherlands. 

Coronavirus Update: The Dutch government has asked that people always maintain a 1.5 meter distance from others. Some amenities in the village itself may be closed for the time being.

Built on a sandy ridge or tange in Dutch, Vesting Bourtange was completed in 1593. Over the centuries it was continually reinforced but as over time it eventually lost its military status and was dismantled by 1851. Since then it has grown into an agricultural village that is teeming with history.

Perfect for a day trip

Bourtange is located southeast of Groningen, not far from the German border, making it a fun day trip if you’re in the area. Its cobblestone roads, historic cannons and wooden drawbridges allow your imagination to wander back in time.

A few weeks ago, while the kids had a day off from school, we decided to take a trip North and spent the day soaking up some history.

This cosy rural village is steeped in history. Image: Victor Garcia/Unsplash

I automatically assumed the kids would be complaining of boredom from the minute we got there until the minute we left, but surprisingly they loved it!

We spent our time walking around the high ridges that line the town, the water canal on one side and the town in the center. The stunning views and fields as far as the eye could see made us feel as if we really were protected from the rest of the world.


Along with museums, Bourtange also has a Inn which usually allows you to stay overnight and enjoy the fortress for a little bit longer. We made sure to visit the candle maker and also enjoyed watching the residents having their breakfast in their gardens.

We eventually made our way to the center square where there were several restaurants available. I do suggest finding a table early as by the time we had finished eating it was already full and many were waiting for a table to come available.

Great for a day out! Image: Heather Court/Supplied.

The food was typical Dutch fare (not too amazing in my opinion) but it filled the tummies and gave us enough energy to start another round of exploring.

Our little tour continued with a visit to the church and windmill and then a little chill time watching the swans go by. By the afternoon the crowds began to get bigger and we were happy we had gotten to Bourtange early, allowing us a much more pleasant time.

The above video makes the village look larger than it felt, but in all reality it was quite a bit smaller than we expected.

Regardless it was a beautiful place to visit and a great way to expose children to history! No theme parks, no rides, just exploring and wandering the streets of this centuries old fortress. I highly recommend Bourtange for your next family outing.

Had you heard of this beautiful village before? Let us know what you think of Bourtange in the comments below! 

Feature Image: nl:Gebruiker:Bourtange/Wikimedia Commons/CC3.0
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in May 2016, and was fully updated in October 2020 for your reading pleasure.

Heather Court
Heather Court
Heather was born on the Dutch island of St.Maarten and recently traded in her flip flops for snow boots. Her blog mydutchlife.com documents her not so Dutch observations.



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