Zwolle in the Netherlands is a beautiful city to visit. It’s the capital city of the Overijssel province and you can find it close to Flevoland. Zwolle is a very old city; it got city rights in 1230 and was a town long before that. If you’re asking me: ‘Is Zwolle worth a visit?’ I would definitely say yes. Zwolle is a great destination for a city trip. There are many nice things to see and do. On this page I’m sharing the top sights and activities in Zwolle, the Netherlands.
The Sassenpoort (Saxon Gate), is a beautiful gate house that was build in 1409. It’s completely renovated, so it’s in very good condition. It’s an icon for Zwolle nowadays, so a trip to Zwolle isn’t complete without a picture of the Sassenpoort.
Historic center Zwolle
It’s lovely to see Zwolle on a map, as you can clearly see where the historic center is. Just cross one of the bridges over the star shaped ‘stadsgracht’ (city canal). There are so many beautiful streets in the old part of Zwolle that it’s too much to list them all here. But just stroll around and you’ll discover all the pretty streets of Zwolle yourself.
Museum De Fundatie
The exterior of Museum de Fundatie alone is already reason enough to check it out. It’s located in the former Palace of Justice, build in 1838 in neoclassical style. In 2004 it opened as a museum and in 2013 the shape on top of the building was added. The cloud, the egg, the eye, the zeppelin… there are many nicknames for the ‘blob’ on top of the historic building. But no matter how you call it; it looks amazing. Inside the museum you can find a collection and changing exhibitions of visual arts, mostly contemporary art.
On Saturday evenings you can visit Museum De Fundatie for free.
Waanders in de Broeren
Waanders in de Broeren is one of the prettiest bookshops in the Netherlands. It’s located in a former Dominican church. The church was done in 1512 and is used as a bookstore since 2013. I think they did a great job renovating the church and keeping all the old characteristics, and yet combining it with a modern book shop.
There’s also a tourist information point inside.
De Grote Kerk is the big church on the main square. It’s over 600 years old. The church is now used by the ‘Academiehuis’ who organize all kinds of (cultural) activities. You can find an area with books and you can also book the church for your own event.
Patisserie Lindeboom is one of the best bakers in Zwolle. They’ve got delicious and exclusive cakes, pastries and chocolates. Here you can also buy the typical cookie from Zwolle called ‘Blauwe Vingers’ (Blue Fingers). Don’t worry, they’re not actually blue. It’s a biscuit in the shape of a finger, named after the nickname for the people from Zwolle. Patisserie Lindeboom also sells blue bonbons and the ‘Zwollenaartje’ a typical Zwolle pastry.
Rent a boat
The canals of Zwolle are very suitable to sail around on. You can rent a boat and cruise the canal yourself. I always love seeing a city from the water, and the canal in Zwolle isn’t crowded so it’s very relaxing. A boat trip all around the historic part of Zwolle will take around 1 hour. You can rent a small boat that seats up to 5 people at Botenverhuur Schoone for 25,- an hour.
Also nice: you can order cakes at Patisserie Lindeboom and they’ll let them down in a basket from the bridge as you pass by with your boat.
Het Zwolse Balletjeshuis
Het Zwolse Balletjeshuis is an old candyshop selling the traditional Zwolse Balletjes. Deze ‘balletjes’ aren’t really round balls, but more cushion shaped hard candy. The bakery has been making them on this spot for years. The shop is still decorated as it used to be. In the first part you’ll have the candy shop and in the second part, that used to be the living room, you can find the tourist information center.
Going to Zwolle with kids? Then Dinoland is a great activity to do. They aim at kids aged 2-14 and there are all kinds of activities, all dinosaur related. There’s an indoor play area that’s perfect for when it rains in Zwolle. Throughout the park you can find 100 lifelike dinosaurs. Tickets are €14,75 (or €8,50 for 2 and 3 year olds), so it’s quite cheap if you consider that you can spend at least half a day there.
Best Hotel Zwolle
I recommend that you stay at Hotel Pillows Zwolle during your stay. This beautiful boutique hotel has a perfect location between the train station and the old part of the city. The official name is Pillows Grand Boutique Hotel Ter Borch, and it’s located in a villa. They’ve got 41 rooms and suites, a gym, a spa and a nice restaurant called Coperto Restobar.