We visit our friends in Zwolle, Silvio and Jo, at least once a year. Usually we go to their home, eat, drink, chat and have a good time. We don’t go into town or anything.
This time, Jo, the female half of our friend-couple, and I planned a girlfriend-weekend. My better half was in Singapore. And although her hubby would join us here and there, this stay-over was in the first place about and for her and me.
City trip to Zwolle. What to see and do.
Mini-series; what to expect
This first post is about Zwolle in general. Fast facts, architecture, history and Zwolle as a Hanseatic city.
After this general introduction, I’ll show you where to go shopping in Zwolle.
Part three of the mini-series is about the coolest, best cafes, restaurants and bars in Zwolle.
Part four is about one restaurant in particular: La Cucaracha.
The fifth post will be about art in Zwolle: museums and street art.
Fast facts about Zwolle
Zwolle, a town with 250.000 residents and a charming historic centre, came to bloom in the early Middle Ages. When you walk through the medieval town with its numerous characteristic facades, you experience the rich past of Zwolle.
Thanks to its strategic location and through trade on the river IJssel, Zwolle developed into a powerful, rich city in the 15th century.
The centre once was protected by city walls, from which only some small parts remain today.
One gate, the Sassenpoort, still stands proudly.
A star-shaped defensive canal around the centre is also still there.
Zwolle; a Hanseatic city
Zwolle is a so called Hanzestad or Hanseatic city. This stems from the 15th century. In those days, a number of cities, like Hasselt, Kampen, Deventer and others, formed a Hanseatic League, to ensure and improve their trading power.
Hansa or hanze refers to a group of merchants that travelled together. Products that were traded included grain, salted herring, stockfish, furs, wine, ceramics, linen and wool.
How to explore Zwolle
The city centre is fairly small and can easily be covered by foot. It’s only a 10 minute walk from the train station to the city centre, in case you arrive by train.
You can opt for a guided walk:
- Overijsseltrips offers a number of walks for small groups. Their Hanze walk is very popular.
- Zwolse Balletjeshuis (Zwolle Balls House) has in-house tourist information and offers walks in Zwolle.
- Waanders, a spectacular bookstore (more about this shop in my next post), also has in-house tourist info and also offers walks, like het Zwolse Balletjeshuis. The walks on offer are not the same though.
- Via this app with a walking route for Zwolle: (in-)visible Zwolle. About hidden archeology and (architectural) history of Zwolle. Very interesting and beautifully designed. Unfortunately only in Dutch.
You can rent a bike at the train station.
It’s also possible to grab a bike taxi or move around on a segway.
Since there is a lot of water in and around Zwolle, it’s a fun idea to enjoy the city from the water.
Hiawatha offers a whole range of boating options, from kayaks and canoes to water bikes and so called lounge donuts.
Curly Traveller’s citytrip Zwolle map
I made a Google map with Zwolle’s main sights and hotspots on it. Be sure to check it out before you travel to Zwolle!
Got curious about where to shop in Zwolle? No worries; stay tuned and check out my next article.