Deventer is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands. Situated along the river IJssel and a member of the Hanseatic League, this town in the province of Overijssel offers a great collection of heritage. It is home to the country's oldest brick house, the oldest park and the oldest academic library. Today, the town is also known for its annual Dickens festival in December.


View of the city from the river side.

Currently home to almost 100.000 people, the city is first mentioned in documents of the 9th century. It is believed that it was the Anglo-Saxon missionary Lebuinus who established the settlement that became Deventer, by building a church there around 870. In the 11th and 12th century, Deventer was a very important and wealthy city. A member of the Hanseatic League, her wealth was mostly achieved by trading along the river IJssel. Many of the buildings erected in those profitable days still remain and the historic centre make Deventer an appealing town for visitors.

Get in

By air

Schiphol Airport (IATA: AMS) near Amsterdam is the largest airport in the vicinity. From there, directly under the arrivals area, regular trains can be boarded that take about 1,5 hours to reach Apeldoorn. By car, the journey takes fractionally longer and will involve navigating the ring roads around Amsterdam before hitting the A1.

Eindhoven Airport (IATA: EIN) caters to low-cost airlines. The train journey to Deventer from Eindhoven takes about 2 hours, while the journey by car is less than 1.5 hours.

By car

From Amsterdam, Deventer can be reached via the A1 motorway. The ride takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes, depending on traffic. Other important road connections into town are the N337, N344 and N348.

By train

Deventer has two train stations, of which Station Deventer is the main one and of most use to travellers. Regular trains connect the city to all major destinations in the Netherlands. The international train between Amsterdam and Hannover/Berlin also makes a stop at Deventer.

Direct intercity services connect Deventer to Amsterdam as well as Schiphol Airport. In both cases, the journey will take about 90 minutes. Other direct connections (typically running every half hour) include Zwolle, Arnhem, Enschede, Utrecht, Tilburg, 's Hertogenbosch and Rotterdam.

Get around

The historic city centre is small and most suited to explore on foot. The Waag is a good place to start, as it houses the Tourist Information Office as well as a museum. Themed walking routes can be obtained here. As in most Dutch cities, pedestrian road signs also give directions to the prime sights.

A small passenger ferry runs all through the day to bring pedestrians to the other side of the IJssel river, allowing for easy access to the Ossenwaard natural area, which offers lovely walks and (in summer) some pleasant river side beach areas. No bikes are allowed on the ferry, and a single/return ticket costs €1/1.40. The ferry ride offers some nice views over town and makes it possible to park without charge at the Worp (so on the other side of the river).

To see more of the city's natural surroundings, renting a bicycle is a good alternative. They're available from the VVV Tourist Office in the Waag building. When it's closed, on Sundays, try the Fletcher Gildehotel (Nieuwstraat) or the Sandton IJsselhotel (at the Worp, across the river).


Deventer Waag-VNP

The oldest part of the town, just south of the railway station, still contains many medieval buildings. Just walking around the compact center there will be plenty to look at. The Brink is the central square, and when the new city wall was constructed in 1350, it became an important trading quarter.

The Bergkwartier area is a small part of Deventer centered around the Bergkerk, a church placed on a hillock that came into being around the 12th century. The yearly markets ushered in a new age of prosperity for Deventer. Newcomers settled in the newest part of town, Bergkwartier. It is situated between the main marketplace (Brink) and the harbor. The prosperity ended in 1570, when Deventer became the focal point of various wars. New defensive works where created to protect those in the new part of town, which later helped to secure the city from unwanted company. This irrevocably meant the end of the expansion of the district, as tearing down the defense works to expand the city was forbidden. The traders that came until 1570 left leaving Bergkwartier and all the heritage that can be seen today.

Today, after many years of restoration, many old buildings have lost their function as warehouse and have become living quarters, shops, taverns, restaurants and offices. A lot of old sights were restored, as some were in decay or damaged by various wars. Now the Bergkwartier is one of the main tourist attractions in Deventer because of its rich history and very open character.

The Noordenbergkwarier is a very old quarter west of it.


Actors on stilts during Deventer op Stelten.


Deventer hosts a number of large events every year, attracting many thousands of domestic and international visitors. See also the bookmarket mentioned in the buy section.


Every first Sunday of the months, shops in the city centre open their doors between 12.00 and 17.00h. Thursday evening they stay open late, until 21.00h.

Deventer has a good variety of boutiques and stores, including all the common Dutch brand stores and dozens of small, individual shops and galleries. The large chain stores are mostly situated in the Smedenstraat, Lange Bisschopsstraat, Korte Bisschopstraat and the Engestraat. If you're more interested in the small scale businesses, make sure to stop by at the Tourist Information Office to pick up its free walking route along some 75 speciality stores and boutique shops. The Walstraat and the Bergkwartier are good places for antique shopping.

Deventer is moderately famous for its bookstores. Most will be in Dutch, but there might be a rare find somewhere. Every first Sunday of August, the city centre hosts the largest open-air bookmarket in western Europe. Some 6km long, due to the 875 or so book stalls, this large market attracts up to 130.000 visitors.


The city's most famous foodstuff is "Deventer Koek", which can be bought in the Koekhuisje (Cookie House) at Brink 84.


There are countless establishments throughout the city centre. In summer, when the weather allows, the outdoor terraces at De Brink and the Grote Kerkhof are especially packed and buzzing with life.


Go next

Routes through Deventer

Amsterdam Apeldoorn  W  E  Enschede

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Friday, March 04, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.