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24 hours like a local in Zwolle

With its cosy canals, historic city centre and relaxed atmosphere, the historic Hanseatic city of Zwolle is simply amazing. Don't know what there is to do in Zwolle? No problem. We've put together a 24-hour city trip guide, full of tips from locals, with the best restaurants, great shops and cool things to do in Zwolle. The best part is that the city is easy to explore. You can visit everything on foot from Zwolle station. So don't miss a chance to visit Zwolle!

10.00: Follow in the footsteps of Herman Brood

Your adventure starts with the Herman Brood Experience, just a 10-minute walk from Zwolle station. ‘Ik kom uut Zwolle, vette pech’ is one of Herman Brood's famous quotes. He used it in his songwriting, as well as in his art. Herman had a love-hate relationship with his home town. Learn all about it during the cool 'Brood Walk'. You'll find yourself in hidden places with fascinating stories about the Netherlands' iconic rock-'n-roll star. If you're travelling with a group, you can book a tour with guide Peter Vader. Peter is an enthusiastic storyteller and a real extrovert. Full of passion and interaction, he will guide you through Zwolle as Herman Brood saw it.   

  • The tour route is available online or at the Herman Brood Experience for € 7.95, you can book a guided tour online for € 17.95 p.p. for groups of 12 or more. 
  • The Herman Brood Experience is open Friday to Sunday, from 12:00 – 17:00. 

Blijmarkt 21,

12:30: Still your hunger at Gillende Keukenmeiden

It's lunchtime! This place to eat is worth a visit for the name alone: 'Screaming Kitchen Maids'. But the location makes it even better. Here, you can enjoy your lunch in a spacious-yet-cosy garden in the heart of the city. The colourful streamers, fresh-faced service and clown wagon atmosphere make it one of Zwolle's funniest restaurants. And they can make a delicious sandwich too, with love, attention to details and seasonal produce. But make sure to leave room for a sweet treat at the end, because the kitchen maids' pastry buffet is definitely worth screaming about. All of the baked goods are home-made, and they even have sugar-free cheesecake. So kick off your shoes, feel the grass between your toes, and take a seat. 

Gillende Keukenmeiden is a 15-minute walk from Zwolle station, and just 6 minutes from the Herman Brood Experience. 

  • Open daily from 10:00 to 17:00. 
  • A hearty sandwich will cost you around +/- € 11. 

Meerminneplein 7,

14:00: Boating, SUPping or shopping

SUP or boat along Zwolle's canals

If the weather's nice after lunch, then it's a perfect time to get out on the water. It's one of the fun things to do in Zwolle, and a great way to explore the city from a different perspective. Paddle on your SUP board along old canal houses, duck under historic bridges and wave to the houseboat residents and sightseers on the shore. Because now you're one of the sights to see in Zwolle. If you don't trust your sea legs, you can also rent a boat from Hiawatha Actief, so you can just sit back and let the motor do the work. 

  • The Hiawatha Actief dock is a 10-minute walk from Zwolle station, or 7 minutes from our lunch tip.
  • You can rent a SUP board for 90 minutes for € 12.50 p.p., and you can hire a boat for up to 8 people for € 35 per hour.  


Check out the best shops in Zwolle

If the weather lets you down, then it's a great time to go shopping! We have three tips for fun shops in Zwolle. To find something for all the senses, pop in to Konkeltje. This is the specialty shop run by Mocca d’Or, Zwolle's artisanal coffee roaster. They have 25 varieties of coffee here, and 150 varieties of tea. Order a coffee to go, and stroll down to the next address. Moonloft is the place to be for out-of-the-ordinary jewellery and home accessories. From retro coffee mugs and tinkly bells, to the cutest baby clothes with prints and ruffles. If you consider yourself a fashionista, then you should definitely visit Sassy. They have a great collection of Scandinavian clothing brands, with natural textiles and a simple-chic style. And the street where Sassy is located is also in the top-10 list of Dutch shopping streets. So you don't have to stop shopping if you don't want to. 

Konkeltje, Dijkstraat 3, 
Moonloft, Spoelstraat 32, 
Sassy, Sassenstraat 76,

18:00 Still your ravenous hunger at Het Refter

After such a busy day, you're probably starting to get a bit peckish. Zwolle has plenty of excellent restaurants to choose from, but locals tipped us about Het Refter. You can expect a bustling atmosphere inside. It's packed with Zwollenaren celebrating life together. Het Reftner is the place to be for craft brews, excellent wines or a solid meal. it's located in one of the oldest buildings in Zwolle, and perhaps the city's most charming square. Sit down at the long wooden tables, have a chat with your neighbour, and check out the expansive menu with plenty of vegan options. And don't miss the cocktail bar in the attic, for a bittersweet apéro. It's one of those places where you sit down and never leave.  

But if it's full, or you'd rather eat somewhere less lively, then check out one of the other favourite foodie restaurants in Zwolle

Het Reftner is a 10-minute walk from Zwolle station. 

  • Open every day, from 12:00 till after midnight. 
  • A main course costs around +/- € 20. 

Bethlehemkerkplein 35a, 

20:00: Enjoy an intimate concert at Cultuurschip Thor

If you don't feel like hanging around Het Refter all evening, then we'd definitely recommend Cultuurschip Thor on Zwolle's canals. The ship was built in 1915, and during the war it served as a minesweeper, then a training vessel. But where sailors once stood at attention, you can now enjoy a beer and an intimate concert. Jazz combos, singer-songwriters, classical pianists and slam poets all have a podium here. A perfect way to end your 24 hours in Zwolle with some easygoing vibes.

It's only a 7-minute walk from Het Refter. If you're ready to head home, you can get to Zwolle station in 15 minutes. 

  • Check the calendar of events in advance, and reserve tickets via the website. 

Pletterstraat 24,

Our hotel tip: a good night's sleep at Klein Hotel de Pelsertoren

Your 24 hours living like a local in Zwolle have come to an end. Or are you planning on staying the night? At Klein Hotel de Pelsertoren, you can keep enjoying Zwolle's idiosyncrasies. The Pelsertoren once served as part of Zwolle's city wall. Today it's a national monument where you can enjoy a comfortable - and romantic - night's sleep. The one-of-a-kind tower room offers a panoramic view of the city's canals. After a good night's rest it's only a 10-minute walk to catch your train. Or get up early and enjoy another 24 hours of art and culture in Zwolle.

  • You can book a room in De Pelsertoren for prices starting at € 130 per night. 
  • Tip: book well in advance, because a night in De Pelsertoren is very popular.

Pletterstraat 8, 

Copy: Christy Melsbach - Insiders
Image: Herman Brood Museum, Gillende Keukenmeiden, Hiawatha Actief, Moonloft, Sassy, Gijs Versteeg - Marketing Oost, Cultuurschip Thor, Pelsertoren

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