Zwolle has been continuously growing in popularity among tourists to The Netherlands. It has a small town feel in a larger city and offers a diverse selection of attractions, with something for everyone who visits.
With a population of just over 120,000 full time residents (known as Blauwvingers - or Bluefingers -, the capital of Overijssel is the second largest city in the province. Founded in 800 BC, the city has now gone considerably modern with many college and different forms of transportation (rail, water, and highway).
Tourism is one of the most prominent industries in Zwolle, and the city is full off different attractions and landmarks for visitors to enjoy while visiting.
- Church of Our Lady - A stunning architectural wonder, the Church of Our Lady (a still functioning Catholic Church) was built in the mid-1400s and is one of the largest of its type in The Netherlands. During the “time of reformation,” the church was taken from its original, Catholic owners, but was returned to the faith at the start of the 19th Century. The church is affectionately known as The Pepperpot, due to the shape of its distinctive tower. Guests are allowed to take a guided tour of the tower, as well as being able to climb it to view the city from the unique vantage point provided by the observation deck at the top.
- Stedelijk Museum - Due to its recent addition and update, the Stedelijk Museum combines both the old and the new to provide visitors with a comprehensive picture of the history of the area. The newer wing presents a variety of traveling and rotating exhibitions, and the original wing houses the permanent collection (focusing on Zwolle and the surrounding area from the prehistoric times through the 1900s).
- Sassenpoort Gatehouse - Originally part of the fortification of the city in the 1400s, the Sassenpoort Gatehouse is an official national monument that has been restored to nearly original condition. With crenulations, two original circular gate towers, city emblems, and decorative windows, the gatehouse is tour able both inside and out.
- Museum de Fundatie - One of the more original and unique buildings in Zwolle, the Museum de Fundatie focuses on the visual arts and attractions thousands of tourists yearly. The museum features more than 7000 works of art of all mediums (drawing, painting, sculpture, print, etc) and has works from some of the most famous artists of their time - Chagall, Mondrian, and even Van Gogh.
- Bonami Spelcomputer Museum - This large warehouse museum, on the outskirts of Zwolle, is a gamer’s paradise. With a large collection of historical consoles, computers, video game memorabilia, and pinball machines, this museum also features a section of machines and consoles that guests can actually play. Many visitors spend hours here.
- Canal Boat Tours - For a unique tour, guests can take one of the canal boat tours which lead them through Zwolle’s canals with a knowledgeable tour guide who will explain some of the architecture and history of the city.
For visitors wanting to spend some time outdoors, there is the Nationaal Park Weerribben Wieden. With over 100 kilometers of fields, waterways, and bogs, guests can enjoy the natural beauty of both the scenery and the diverse variety of local wildlife (black terns, water soldiers, northern pike, and sundews, among them).
A unique event that happens yearly in Zwolle is the Dutch Ice Sculpting Festival. The fest takes place around Christmas time (generally starting around the 23rd of December) and goes through the beginning of March. It is the largest of its kind in Europe and each year features a different theme and the ice creations have to be seen to be believed.
A newer addition to the special events held in Zwolle is the Fieldtrip Festival (also known as the Veldtrip Festival in the native tongue). Seeking to be a larger musical festival, Zwolle brings in a variety of techo and DJ based artists (many from the local area).
Although there aren’t many large events, the city offers many different street fairs and weekend festivals. One of them is the Zwolle Unlimited Festival, which frequently happens at the end of May or the beginning of June. The fest features a variety of events as well as food stalls from local restaurants, live music performances, farmer’s market goods, and merchandise for sale.
Dining and Shopping
One of the top-rated restaurants in Zwolle is an Italian restaurant named Vito’s. Although small in size, the food is big in flavor and the place is a favorite of both locals and tourists alike. A unique option is the De Koperen Hoogte, which is located in an old water tower. As for shopping options, Zwolle has multiple shopping malls as well as local stores and public markets.