Deventer is a city that is split over the banks of the river IJssel and can be found in the Overijssel province in eastern Netherlands. Human settlements in this area have been dated as far back as the Bronze Age, however in recorded history, the city rose to prominence in the 900’s.
During its early years a settlement, Deventer was actually destroyed by Viking invaders – After this event, the city fortifications were built and from this time, trade in the city grew and it saw a rise in population and wealth. During the 1600’s and onwards, the city saw a slight decline due to the various wars that raged in the region, although it recovered in the 18th century due to the introduction of Iron as an industrial tool.
Today in Deventer you can find a charming mix of new and old, and a great deal of interesting attractions.
Lets explore the best things to do in Deventer:
1. De Brink Square
The main square of the old city centre, De Brink covers a large area and has a great deal to see and serves as a central point for a tour of the centre.
Encircled by a plethora of beautiful trees, the setting of De Brink is wonderful.
At one end lies the De Waag building which stands out as the main attraction of the square, and in the centre, there is an intricate stone statue.
If you are looking for a place to eat, have a coffee or watch the locals there is a host of reputable restaurants and cafes surrounding De Brink – You can sit outside in one of the pleasant seating areas under the shade of the trees and happily watch the world go by.
The Speelgoedmuseum showcases a huge display of toys from various eras.
With something for everyone, you can expect to see a great mix of old and new toys ranging from dolls to train sets.
The collection houses over 13,000 objects and is considered the largest toy collection in the country.
Included in the collect are a selection of vintage dolls and doll houses, and attic full of board games, a whole room dedicated to model train sets and a wing dedicated to transportation toys like model boats.
Located on the edge of the De Brink square this fantastic museum is a great place to visit for families.
3. Berg Kerk
One of the three main churches in the centre of Deventer, the Berg Kerk was created in 1209 in a Romanesque style.
Dedicated to Saint Nicholas (the patron saint of sailors), the church has a similar design and style to churches on the Baltic coast.
While the exterior of this church is quite impressive, the interior is the real delight.
Although only a small space, the many stained glass windows provide a great deal of light and the whole layout makes use of space.
At the far end of the church there is an immense ornate organ that is adorned with several marble statues, and there are many religious paintings on the surrounding walls.
Originally known as St. Lebuinus Church but now renamed the Grote Kerk, this religious building was once one of the most important structures of the region.
This fantastic stone church was constructed between 1450 and 1525 and has changed hands from various religious groups over the years.
A main feature of the church is its main carillon tower that stands at 62.50m – The tower is accessible by a series of stairs and open to the public.
From the top you are rewarded with panoramic views of Deventer and can even see across to the Ijssel River and further on clear days.
5. Deventer History Museum
Located on the De Brink square, the Deventer History Museum can actually be found in the ornate De Waag building and has served as the city’s main museum since 1915. This museum contains an extremely varied set of displays and exhibitions but centres on the history of Deventer and the region.
Collections include archaeological finds from the middle ages and earlier, paintings, silverware, clothing and machinery.
Presented in an interesting and engaging manner, you will find the museum a fountain of knowledge and you will learn a great deal about Deventer.
6. De Bolwerksmolen
Continuing the tradition of windmills in the Netherlands, the De Bolwerks Windmill lies outside the city centre across the Wilhelminabrug and provides an interesting attraction.
Constructed in 1863, this windmill originally operated as a sawmill but now stands as a museum after extensive restoration.
Set in the beautiful Bolwertsplas landscape, you can take a tour of this operational mill on Tuesdays and Saturdays and gain insight from the staff and volunteers who work here about the craft of wood sawing.
7. Sallandse Heuvelrug National Park
A smaller national park compared to Veluwezoom but still packed full of potential, the Sallandse Heuvelrug park is only a 20 minute drive to the east of Deventer.
Considered a moraine, this area was historically used as pasture and grazing land for cattle.
Covered mainly in heath lands, you can find a multitude of different plants, heather and vegetation, but also some species of lizard! For those who love hiking and camping, the wild expanse of Sallandse offers the perfect opportunity.
You can find several campsites, and many well-travelled hiking trails.
8. Veluwezoom National Park
One of the stunning national parks in this region, the Veluwezoom National park can be found near Arnhem which is to the south of Deventer.
For those who love the outdoors and nature, this is a truly magnificent place to visit.
Veluwezoom is actually the oldest park in the Netherlands and was created in 1930. Covering an area of over 50 square km, the landscape contains verdant moraines, meadows, flat lands and a huge area of heathland that bursts in to beautiful colours during the different seasons.
You can explore this park through the series of footpaths and cycle trails that wind through its boundaries.
Furthermore you can engage in horseback riding and search for wild boar and red deer.
9. Belevingscentrum De Scheg
If you are looking for a fun packed adventure that involves plenty of water, swimming and splashing, the De Scheg centre is the place for you.
You can find this wonderful establishment on the eastern side of Deventer in the suburb of Colmschate.
The main feature is undoubtedly the exciting swimming area that includes a myriad of water slides, water guns and waterfalls – great for children and for some light-hearted fun.
Aside from the swimming area, there is also an ice rink, a selection of sports courts including squash and badminton, and also a restaurant and sunbathing areas.
You can find this charming park at the north western edge of the old city centre, and the canal and waterway the lies at it southern end actually forms part of the old city defence line.
Created in 1874, locals know this as the old park and it is a great place to relax, bird watch and enjoy the outdoors.
Inside the park you can find a sculpture trail, a water fountain, bird island that contains a restaurant, a band stand and also a small animal park.
Bring your family here for a spot of outdoor activity, admire the beautiful trees and waterways, or just sit on the grass and bask in the glorious weather.
You may recognize this famous bridge from the World War II movie, “A bridge too far” and indeed the Wilhelmina bridge was indeed used as a location in this classic film.
Constructed in 1939, this steel arch bridge spans the Ijssel River from Deventer to De Hoven and stands at 100m long.
Walk across this feat of engineering and admire the views across the river and towers the city of Deventer.
From here you can see the relatively low rise skyline including the tower of the Lebuinuskerk.
12. Enjoy a local brew in the De Heks Bierencafe
If you enjoy sampling local brews then this is the establishment for you! The De Heks cafe and bar is tucked away on the southern edge of the De Brink square and due to its central location attracts a large crowd.
For the beer enthusiast there are 25 different taps and over a hundred different bottled beers to sample.
Beers served include Jupiler, Koninck, Bruges Fool, Kees Brewery, Jopen and Liefmans.
There is surely something to satisfy everyone’s taste and satiate the needs of even the most demanding deer advocate.
13. Enjoy a fine meal at the Huis Vermeer restaurant
This stand out hotel and restaurant can be found next to the magnificent Lebuinuskerk and is a great place to enjoy a fine meal in a charming setting.
Huis Vermeer has a reputation for quality food, efficient and warm service and a elegant and welcoming atmosphere.
Dishes to sample include duck, baked Guild Hoen, Veal, smoked salmon and more.
There is a choice of set meals, both 3 and 4 course plus an extensive desert menu and a selection of fabulous Irish coffees.
14. Take a day trip to Apeldoorn
Apeldoorn is a fascinating neighbouring city and a wonderful tourist destination in its own right.
Take the N344 to the west of Deventer which will take you right into the city centre of Apeldoorn.
Inside this fantastic city you can find a host of attractions such as the Paleis het Loo, the Apenheul Monkey Sanctuary, the Berg en Bos nature park and the De Veluwsche steam train.
Furthermore there is a plethora of shops, eateries and bars to keep you entertained for house.
15. Day trip to Enschede
To the east of Deventer and right on the Dutch/German border, Enschede offers something different and is a great tourist destination.
Regular buses and trains pass between the two cities and a journey would take approximately 50 minutes.
A city full of history and culture, you can visit one of the many museums here including the Rijksmuseum.
Furthermore Enschede is the home of the Grolsch beer company and you can take a fascinating tour of their brewery.
If museums and beer are not your cup of tea, there is also a myriad of historical buildings and public parks to enjoy.