The Hanseatic city of Zwolle

301 out of 379 visitors find this information valuable.
Address:
Grote Kerkplein 13
8011PK Zwolle
Visit the website

Zwolle is a lively Hanseatic city with a medieval center. The city invites you in for shopping, cultural events and days out.

  • The single remaining city gate from the previous fortress, the Sassenpoort, is a real Zwolle landmark.
  • Blauwvingerdagen takes place in July - one of the biggest markets in the Netherlands, with 450 stalls.
  • Be amazed by the works of Vincent van Gogh and Piet Mondriaan in the Museum de Fundatie.

Zwolle: a historical yet trendy Hanseatic city 

The city has a medieval center, a magical theater, a large variety of shops, marvelous hotels and restaurants, and several lovely parks. Zwolle really does offer everything you'd expect of a modern city, yet also preserves the intimacy of the past. The historic facades, the city walls and towers, the 600-year-old Sassenpoort (city gate) and star-shaped city canal, flanked by impressive merchants' houses and trees, are Zwolle's distinguishing features. The wonderful lanes and impressive fortresses invite you to explore this city. 

Sightseeing in Zwolle

The Peperbustoren is a landmark of the city of Zwolle. This 75 m high tower of the 'Onze Lieve Vrouwenbasiliek' has been a landmark of the city since the 14th century. You can also climb this tower and enjoy a marvelous view of the city.

If you're planning a trip to Zwolle, there are some highlights that you just can't afford to miss. The Grote or Sint Michaelskerk from the 15th century is a building with a rich cultural and historical past. The church is famous for its Gothic architecture, its various historical building sections and the world-famous Schnitger organ with 4 manual stops (1721). 

The Museum de Fundatie organizes interesting exhibitions, and has branches in Heino and Zwolle. You should also visit one of the many culinary establishments and try some regional dishes, such as Zwolse Mosterd (mustard), Peperbuskaas (cheese specialty), Balletjes (sweets) and Blauwvingerkoekjes (cookies).

In the historical Hanseatic city of Zwolle, visitors will find striking trendy and pretty shops for gifts, furniture, clothes, sweets and specialties from Zwolle. A real eyecatcher is the bookshop 'Waanders in de broeren', which has set up shop in a magnificent church.

A Hanseatic city lives on the water, which means it's no surprise that waterways play an important role in Zwolle. Today, visitors can explore the star-shaped canal around the old city by boat during a tour.

In the Dutch Bakery Museum, housed in three historic buildings, visitors can learn everything about bread and baking; there's also a wonderful corner shop from the 1900s. Children can help with baking every Saturday.

Where can you get a decent meal in Zwolle?

Zwolle is well-known throughout the Netherlands as a culinary city, as De Librije is one of the best restaurants in the country - awarded with three Michelin stars. However, those who would rather pay a bit less for lunch or dinner will be well looked-after in Zwolle. The cozy restaurants in historic surroundings, such as De Hoofdwacht in a building from 1614 or the Pestengasthuys (see below), add to the charm of the Hanseatic city. Like everywhere in Holland, you'll also find typical restaurant terraces in Zwolle in the marketplaces and church squares, where you can enjoy coffee and cake or a beer with snacks in the sunshine.

Restaurant recommendations for Zwolle 

The restaurant De Hofvlietvilla (Pannekoekendijk 6) can be found in an old villa on the Zwolse Canal with a lovely terrace by the water. We also recommend the Pestengasthuys (Weversgildeplein 1), where you can also enjoy a fantastic meal. In the brasserie category, there's the Brasserie Jansen (Nieuwe Markt 14), housed in a building that's centuries old, and with friendly service. The mince dumplings (Gehaktbal) on the menu are prepared after a recipe by chef Johnnie Boer (owner of the Michelin starred restaurant De Librije *** in Zwolle).

Where is Zwolle?

The historic Hanseatic city of Zwolle is located near IJsselmeer lake, and is connected to it via the river IJssel and a channel. However, Zwolle isn't just a Hanseatic city - it's also the capital of the Dutch province Overijssel, which is known for its historic cities, the many rivers and streams, and nature reserves. As a capital, Zwolle is very easy to reach with public transport such as buses and trains. Zwolle Station is in a central location, only a few meters outside the star-shaped historical center.

Trips from Zwolle to the surrounding area

Besides Zwolle, there are other Hanseatic cities in the Netherlands. Hasselt, also known as Little Amsterdam, is only 15 km away from Zwolle, and is as easy to reach with public transport as the charming Hanseatic city Hattem (10 km). Particularly fascinating is the Hanseatic city of Kampen, which possesses a rich history and over 500 monuments. A replica of a medieval trading ship can be found in the harbor there! Larger cities near Zwolle include Apeldoorn (about 40 km) with the fairytale palace of Het Loo, and Utrecht (100 km) with a formidable cathedral tower. Do you prefer nature and typical Dutch countryside? Then visit the Hoge Veluwe National Park, where wild boars, red deer, roe deer and mouflon sheep wander. Tip: At the entrance of the park, visitors can borrow one of the 1,800 white bicycles for free to explore the national park. From bicycle to boat: The Venice of the north, the village of Giethoorn, and the surrounding Weerribben-Wieden National Park, the largest lowland moor in north west Europe, are best explored by canoe or whisper boat.

Booking a hotel in Zwolle

Your availability of hotels is as diverse as the city. Would you rather stay in a state-of-the-art hotel or a cozy bed and breakfast? Take a look at the hotels most rated by visitors to Zwolle:

© Bart Ros - Unsplash

Hansa Towns

Discover more about the Hansa towns of Holland.

Watch this video: