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Introduction

Zwolle is the capital of the province of Overijssel. Zwolle was the birthplace of legendary Dutch rocker and painter Herman Brood. It is known as a "green city" for its many parks and the municipality's efforts to maintain them through sustainable activities. Zwolle is surrounded by different rivers and lies at a meeting point of different ecological zones. For visitors, it's well-kept town centre is one of the main attractions, with an abundance of historic buildings and a pleasant city atmosphere.

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Sights and Activities

Most of the city's 14th century defensive walls are gone, but a few parts remain. Especially in combination with the few surviving city gates, some towers and the canals, it's not too hard to get an impression of the extend of the fortified city from late Medieval times to the 17th century Dutch Golden Age. This area, the historic city centre inside the canal ring, is the most charming part of town and holds a range of other old buildings.

  • Sassenpoort, Sassenstraat 51. Building of this city gate started in the late 14th century. Today, it's one of the city's main landmarks. It's built largely with natural stones and today it's owned and maintained by the national government. It's classified as a monument of extraordinary cultural-historical importance. The building is not open to visitors.
  • City wall ruins - Only small pieces of the former city walls can be seen today. The best place to see them is at the end of the Diezerstraat. Once, the Diezer tower stood here too.
  • Basiliek van Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-ten-Hemelopneming and Peperbus tower, Ossenmarkt. This church was built in stages, with the first parts completed in the late 14th century. The final stage was the tower, which was constructed between 1454 en 1463 and is commonly known as the Peperbus, a nickname it gained from it's resemblance to a pepper pot. The church was granted the title of basilica upon its 600 year anniversary in 1999. The 75m high tower is one of the main landmarks of the city and it's possible to climb the first part of the tower (236 stairs), to a height of 51 meters, which allows for great views over town. Entrance to the basilica is free, climbing the tower costs €2.50 for adults and €1 for kids, including an information leaflet.
  • Grote Kerk (Sint-Michaëlskerk), Grote Markt 18. This large church right on the central market was built in the 15th century and is dedicated to the archangel Michael. Already weakened by repeated lightning strikes, the tall church tower (the highest tower in the country at the time) collapsed in a 1682 storm. The church has Sunday services but is not open for visitors during the week.

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Events and Festivals

Koningsdag (King's Day)

In 2013, the Dutch throne was passed on to King Willem-Alexander and what used to be Koninginnedag (Queen's Day) will from 2014 become Koningsdag (King's Day). The date will be changed to the 27th of April, which is the king's birthday. In 2014 however it will be on the 26th of April because the 27th falls on a Sunday. On this day the streets of almost every sizable town in the country come alive with activity.

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Weather

The weather, like much of the Netherlands, is of the maritime variety with relatively cool summers and mild winters. Precipitation is evenly distributed throughout the year, with somewhat heavier showers possible in the summer months from June to September, when temperatures are mostly around or slightly above 20 °C. Winters see occasional frost and snow.

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Getting There

By Plane

The nearest airport is in Groningen, but has few flights. Amsterdam Schiphol International Airport near Amsterdam is about 2 hours away by car or train, while Weeze Airport is about 1.5 hours away, and has more budget flights.

By Train

Zwolle is a major rail transportation hub, and with trains running in 8 different directions from here, it's second only to the central station of Utrecht. The standard schedule sees eleven different trains arriving around the same time, twice per hour (~.15 and .45). This allows for a broad range of easy transfers. All southbound trains from Groningen and Leeuwarden stop in Zwolle, allowing for transfers from those lines to connections in all other directions.The station is served both by fast intercity trains to large destinations and regional services to smaller towns. Important train connections passing through or ending in Zwolle include:

  • The intercity train from Rotterdam Centraal - Utrecht Centraal - Amersfoort - Zwolle - Groningen/Leeuwarden.
  • The intercity train from Den Haag Centraal - Schiphol - Lelystad Centrum - Zwolle - Groningen/Leeuwarden.
  • The intercity train from Roosendaal - Tilburg - 's-Hertogenbosch - Nijmegen - Arnhem - Zutphen - Deventer - Zwolle.
  • The intercity train from Vlissingen - Roosendaal - Dordrecht - Rotterdam Centraal - Den Haag (Hollands Spoor station) - Schiphol - Amsterdam Centraal - Lelystad Centrum - Zwolle - Leeuwarden/Groningen

Other directly connected destinations via several regional Sprinter trains are Enschede, Almelo, Hengelo, Emmen and Kampen.

By Car

Zwolle is connected by the following three major roads:

By Bus

Apart from smaller regional towns, it is best to take a train.

By Boat

It is theoretically possible to approach Zwolle via the IJsselmeer, leave your vessel at Kampen and take a train from there. You will need to rent your own boat, though, since there is no regular public transport taking this route.

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Getting Around

By Car

Don't use a car to get around the centre. It's too small and crowded for that. Automatic signs placed at the entry points to the city will point you to a suitable car park. Avoid rush hours from 7:00am to 9:30am and 4:00pm to 6:30pm from Monday to Friday.

By Public Transport

The city has an adequate network of city busses which will get you within 10 minutes' walking distance from every possible location. Within the city centre, you won't have any need of public transport, as the centre is tiny.

By Foot

Zwolle is small, and the historic center can easily be explored on foot. Especially the part within the limits of the medieval walls is of interest to tourists. The train station is located some 10 minutes from the centre; city busses #2, #3 and #4 pass through the centre.

By Bike

Bikes are a good way to get around town. They are for rent at the train station's bike park.

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Eat

One of the two, three michelin star awarded restaurants in the Netherlands is located in Zwolle. It is called De Librije, and is run by master chef Jonnie Boer. It received its third star in 2004 and has kept it every since. If you want to eat here, dress smart, bring a BIG wallet and book well in advance; 8 months isn't exaggerated.

Another good option is Het Pestengasthuys, located in a building that used to be a 15th century plague house. It serves elegant food while not being too expensive. You need to book in advance; usually, a week's notice is sufficient.

In the cheaper segment of the market, Zwolle abounds with cafetarias, steak houses and the like. Most of them are located at Grote Markt and Melkmarkt.

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Drink

The old centre is full of small and large cafés, perfect for some drinks and a good conversation. When the weather allows, outdoor terraces fill up. Thursday - Saturday, there are several dance clubs to choose from.

De Tagrijn (Buitenkant 8, Phone: +31 (0)38 4211867) is the nicest bar in town. It draws a mixed crowd of intellectuals of all ages, and serves a very good home-brewn beer that is named after the late owner. Most other bars are your typical run-of-the-mill kind of watering holes.

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Sleep

Unless you want to go cycling or if you plan a brief stay in the Dutch country side, there won't be any need to sleep in Zwolle, since the city itself can easily be explored in a day-trip from Amsterdam or Utrecht. Probably as a result of this, Zwolle hasn't much to offer in the way of budget accommodation.

View our map of accommodation in Zwolle or use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

Booking.com

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Work

Unless you speak Dutch at (near) native level, better forget about it. Try your chances in the Randstad area.

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Learn

Zwolle has one of the largest non-universitary student populations, due to an unusually large number of institutions for tertiary education. Since almost all programmes are taught in Dutch, there won't be much reason for you to enroll here, though.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafés are not as widespread as you would expect, but you can easily find one in the popular cities. Most hostels, hotels and camp sites have several computers, so you can keep connected with folk at home. Here is a list of internet cafés that could come in handy for travellers. Otherwise, most libraries have lots of computers and prices are around the €2-3 per hour range, although sometimes it can be even more expensive.

Wireless internet access using wifi is becoming more popular and is usually available at most hotels and increasingly at train stations. Also in trains (at least in most first class wagons, but also more and more in second class) and some buses you can use wifi. Finally, places like McDonald's and Starbucks have free wifi, and smaller individual business like cafés and restaurants are on the rise too offering these services. More often than not, these service tend to be free of charge, though there might be a limited time you can use the internet.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The country code for the Netherlands is 31. The outbound international prefix is 00. The general emergency number is 112, like many other countries.
0800 numbers are toll-free and for 09xx numbers are charged at premium rates. Mobile phones have numbers in the 06 range, and calls to cell phones are also priced at higher rates.

From internet cafés, it is also usually possible to make long distance international calls. Like in other countries, telephone booths have almost disappeared, though some are still found around public transport stations, where you can use a few coins to make calls. It is only recommended for local calls.

The cellular phone network in the Netherlands is GSM 900/1800. The main providers of cell phone networks are KPN (Dutch only), T-mobile and Vodafone, who cover the whole country. Other operators, like Hollandsnieuwe, Simyo or Tele2, use one of these 3 networks basically.

It is best to buy a SIM card when in the Netherlands for use in your cellphone, as this usually works out cheaper than using the one from home. If you are planning to study or work in the country and stay for several months, buying a cellphone is the best option. A simple one, sometimes with €10 worth on it, can be bought from around €25. The simplest smartphones are around €75.

Post

The rate for sending a postcard or letter up to 20 grams within the Netherlands is €0.64 (2014). Since 2010 there are stamps available for domestic post which no longer include the value in €. Instead, there are stamps available with either a '1' or a '2' as a substitute for value. The '1' can be used for letters and postcards up to 20 grams, while 20-50 grams require you to use the '2'-valued stamps (or two '1'-valued stamps of course).

Sending items to other EU countries and the rest of the world (there is one price since 2014) will cost €1.05. Stamps are sold at post offices, supermarkets and smaller shops/kiosks; often the place where you buy your postcards can also supply you with stamps.

Sending parcels abroad is more costly. A standard-sized parcel between up to 2 kilograms will cost you €9 for destinations within the EU and €18 (both without Track & Trace) to the rest of the world. Prices with Track & Trace start at €13 and €24.30 respectively. Parcel service is available from major post offices only; standard-size boxes are on sale there as well. For sending parcels, it might be just as competitive and fast to use a company like TNT, UPS or DHL.

If you need to receive mail while moving around, you can have it sent poste restante (to be called for) to a post office of your choice, where it will be kept for a month. If you come to claim it, bring a valid ID, and make sure to have told the sender that the name on the envelope must be an exact match with that in your passport. For addresses of post offices, as well as more information, consult the TNT website.

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Quick Facts

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Population
118.779
Coordinates
  • Latitude: 52.512055
  • Longitude: 6.092498

Accommodation in Zwolle

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This is version 19. Last edited at 11:32 on Oct 13, 17 by Utrecht. 3 articles link to this page.

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