On our summer trip to the Netherlands we were reading and researching about all the wonderful little towns in the country and came across Zwolle which is an inland island circled by canals and looked beautiful. I really wanted to visit and we started planning our trip for a fun family day out in Zwolle, the perfect day trip from Amsterdam or the Landal Landgoed t’ Loo park we were staying at nearby.
Zwolle is a picturesque town in the north-east of the Netherlands and fairly car free in its centre which makes it perfect for wandering. We started our day at Het Zwolse Balletjes Huis, an adorable sweetshop in the heart of the old town.
The shop had been a place of business for hundreds of years and you if you look at the doorstep in to the building you can see where it has been worn down by years of feet stepping over the threshold to buy the groceries that were sold here before it became a sweet shop. Today it still makes the hard sugar dough candies that were first rolled out here in 1845 and they are delicious, caramal-tasting sweets which are addictive.
From here it was a short walk around the corner to the Peperbustoren or pepperbox tower which is 75 metres tall and has amazing views over Zwolle.
Unfortunately on the day we visited it turned rainy as we set off for the tower so the views were somewhat obscured but we loved our time here, climbing up the steps to the very top.
As the rain started to fall heavier we quickly ran to take cover in one of the most beautiful of cafes, Waanders in de Broeren which is a converted church.
The building was beautiful with tall ceilings and such imaginatively used space. We wandered through all of the books and gorgeous stationery and gifts. It’s a great place to spend time and shelter from the rain. We stopped in the cafe at the end for the most amazing hot chocolates ever. There are large glass jars filled with different types of chocolate which you select.
Then they bring you the hot milk for you to drop your chocolate ball into and then add the cream on top. It was absolutely delicious.
With the rain easing off we headed out to explore more of the streets. Zwolle is a really interesting town and so picturesque, it’s a really lovely place to get lost in.
We loved the glass angel at the centre of the square.
Right opposite the glass angel is another angel, or Engel in Dutch, the sweetest little cafe.
We spent ages in Engel, relaxing with fruit juices and the tastiest Dutch version of a ploughmans with thick, flavourful bread, the nicest goats cheese I think I’ve ever had, caramalised onions, apple and balsamic. It was so good I keep dreaming of it and wishing I could pop back to have it again.
It wasn’t far from Engel to the craziest of sights in Zwolle, and Museum de Fundatie which looks a fairly traditional mid-nineteenth century building until you look up at the odd egg-shaped construction billowing out the top. The children thought it was hilarious to look up and see it there.
The Museum was perfect for a wander and we loved the exhibitions including the display of a portrait series called “Face Value” by Bob Dylan.
It was fun to walk up to the top and look out through the glass with its views all across Zwolle.
For our final outing we needed to head out of the town and we took a cycle taxi. Since so much of the town is only accessible by bicycle it’s a great way to travel and even as a family of five they told us we were fine to all squash in together in the back (poor cyclist). It was surprisingly comfortable and we happily bumped along the quaint streets, our cyclist pointing out parts of the town and the history we hadn’t yet seen.
We ended up at The Nooterhof, a really sweet play area for kids with a cafe for the adults to grab some coffee. I loved the space here and that it was largely local, Dutch families. We spent a really long time with the kids playing in the mud kitchen, wandering through the bee gardens or playing on the imaginative structures.
Zwolle is a lovely little town. It might not have all of the attractions and sights of the big cities but that’s its charm. It represents an opportunity to see the real Netherlands, going about its daily business with glimpses in to its past and its future. We loved our fun family day out in Zwolle.
We were helped with our trip on a fun family day out in Zwolle, Netherlands by Zwolle Tourist Board