Deventer is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands. It is on the river IJssel and was 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.
Deventer is home to just over 80,000 people, and was first mentioned in 9th-century documents. The city would have been a Saxon settlement around an important tree. With the coming of the Anglo-Saxon missionary Lebuinus, this site would have been used to build a church around 768 AD. This church, which would have stood where the Lebuinuskerk stands today, would see a city form around it, which grew to a religious centre for all of Oversticht (roughly modern-day Overijssel). In the 11th and 12th centuries, Deventer was a very important and wealthy city, in part thanks to its religious function, and in part thanks to trade. As a member of the Hanseatic League, this city profited greatly from trade along the river IJssel. Many of the buildings erected in those heady days remain standing and make the historical centre appealing for visitors. Deventer, once arguably one of the most important cities of the Netherlands, holds claim to the oldest surviving house of the country, which dates from 1130, as well as the oldest city park of the Netherlands, De Worp, which was opened some time before 1699.
Some might refer to Deventer as the "Moscow of the west", due to its left-leaning political stance during the last half of the 20th century, but Deventer is more commonly nicknamed 'Koekstad' (Cake City) for its Deventer Koek, or 'Stokvissengat' (Stockfish Hole) during Carnaval, stockfish being one of the more prominent historical trade goods of the city.
Schiphol Airport (AMS IATA) near Amsterdam is the largest airport in the vicinity. From there, directly under the arrivals area, regular trains can be boarded that take about 1½ hours to reach Deventer. By car, the journey takes fractionally longer and will involve navigating the ring roads around Amsterdam before hitting the A1.
From Amsterdam, Deventer can be reached via the A1 motorway. The ride takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes, depending on traffic. From the north or south of the country, use the A50 to get to Apeldoorn from either Arnhem (south) or Zwolle (north). To the south-east of Apeldoorn, turn onto the A1 following signs for Deventer. Other important road connections into town are the N337, N344 and N348.
Deventer has two train stations; 1 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. The second station is 2 , which mostly serves the east of the city. This station is one you'll likely not see, since only local trains between Almelo and Apeldoorn call here.
Direct intercity services connect Deventer to Amsterdam (€19.40) and Schiphol Airport (€20.70). In both cases, the journey will take about 75-80 minutes. Other direct connections (typically running every half hour) include Zwolle, Arnhem, Enschede, Utrecht, Tilburg, 's Hertogenbosch and Rotterdam. Taking the Intercity service from Berlin sets you back €38, but prices might be higher depending on demand. The connection with Berlin sees a train depart in either direction every two hours.
Deventer has a marina (3 Jachthaven Deventer), though it is a small walk (2.1 kilometres (1.3 mi)) away from the city centre. The walk to the city centre is relatively flat and properly paved though, following the dike defending against the river IJssel, so it doesn't take loads of effort to reach the city either. Still, if necessary, there are bikes that can be borrowed. The marina offers at least thirty spots for passers-by, varying in length between 6 metres (20 ft) and 17 metres (56 ft). The price for mooring in the marina is €1.80 per metre, per night, which includes the price of electricity, water, a shower and Wi-Fi. Add onto that €0.50 per person per night of tourism tax. You can find the marina between the kilometre markers 947 and 948.
The historic city centre is small and most suited to explore on foot. The Brink is a good place to start, as it houses the Tourist Information Office (at number 89) and a museum in the Waag. Maps to themed walking routes can be obtained there. As in most Dutch cities, pedestrian road signs also give directions to the prime sights.
A small 1 passenger ferry brings 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 riverside beach areas. A single/return ticket costs €1.10/1.70. The ferry ride offers some nice views over town and makes it possible to park without charge at the Worp (which is on the other side of the river). It runs regularly until late (23:00), but don't worry about not catching the last one: taking either of the bridges is an easy (though less entertaining) alternative.
To see more of the city's natural surroundings, renting a bicycle is a good alternative. They're available from bike shops like 2 Hein van Langen Tweewielers. When it's closed, on Sundays or Mondays, try the Fletcher Gildehotel (Nieuwstraat) or the Sandton IJsselhotel (at the Worp).
The oldest part of the town, just south of the railway station, still contains many medieval buildings. Just walking around the compact centre, there will be plenty to look at. The 1 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 centred 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, which is situated between the Brink and the harbor. The prosperity ended in 1570, when Deventer became the focal point of various wars. New defensive works were created to protect those in the new part of town, which later helped to secure the city from unwanted company. This spelled 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 warehouses 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 Noordenbergkwartier is a very old quarter west of it.
- 2 Bergkerk (Saint Nicholas Church), Bergkerkplein 1. The Gothic church dates from circa 1200 and stands on the highest part of the Bergkwartier. Today, it is used for concerts and exhibitions.
- 3 Saint Lebuïnus Church (Lebuïnuskerk), Grote Kerkhof 42. Nov 1-Apr 1: M-Sa 11:00-16:00; Apr 1-Nov 1: M-Sa 11:00-17:00; Su closed. The main church of Deventer, built in Gothic style. No entry fee, donations welcomed.
- 4 Waag (Weigh house), Brink 56, ☏ , email@example.com. M closed, Tu-Su 11:00-17:00. Deventer has its own Leaning Tower of Pisa, the 'Waag', which leans quite a lot. The museum, located within the Waag, of course features some of the best works of art from Deventer, as well as a large collection about the city itself. It also has rotating exhibitions, often of more contemporary themes to accompany the main collection. 18+: €9, 13-18: €2.50; <13: free.
- 5 Toy Museum, Brink 47, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Located in two late-medieval storehouses, this museum features some 13.000 items of toys used in the Netherlands, from dolls to trains to mechanical and optical toys to board games. The museum is catered to both children and adults. €7,50; age 4-18: €4. Ticket can be combined with one for the Waag museum (€12).
- 6 Geert Groote Huis, Lamme van Dieseplein 4. Museum about a religious leader.
- 7 Proosdij, Sandrasteeg 8. The Proosdij is the oldest stone house still standing in the Netherlands, having been built around 1130 AD.
- 8 De Drie Ridders (Mini Oranje Museum), Pontsteeg 24, ☏ . W-Sa 11:00-17:00, Su-Tu closed. Being primarily a shop for delicacies, De Drie Ridders also houses the Mini Oranje Museum, a small museum dedicated to the house of Orange-Nassau, the royal family of the Netherlands, featuring mostly a plethora of smaller curiosities.
- 9 Stadhuis (City Hall), Grote Kerkhof (across the street from St Lebuïnus Church). Both the old and new city hall stand almost as neighbouring buildings. The old city hall (at #4), built in 1693, consists of different architectural styles including a neo-classic front facade. The new city hall, opened in 2016, is a copper-colored modern building built with patterned windows. Between the two city hall buildings is the Landhuis, built in 1632. An interior courtyard has access to all three buildings.
- 10 Broederenkerk, Broederenstraat 18. The Broederen Church was built in the 14th century.
- 11 Rijsterborgherpark (Vogeleiland). The park is a national monument (rijksmonument) and features works of art between the greenery, a Bird Island (Vogeleiland), a pavilion and a music pavilion.
- 12 Het kloostertuin Buiskensklooster (Cloister Garden), Het Klooster 3. Unlike the former Buiskensklooster building, a former convent now used as a city archive and library, the cloister garden is open to the public. The garden contains a few large trees and a large plant collection provided by two local residents.
- 13 Museum EICAS, Nieuwe Markt 23, ☏ , email@example.com. Fr-Su 10:00-17:00. Lovely museum for modern and contemporary art, taking the Nul group and the wider ZERO movement as a starting point. €5.
Beyond the city centre:
- 14 Wilhelminabrug, Rijksstraatweg. The bridge from the movie A Bridge Too Far. In the movie, the bridge substitutes for the one at Arnhem, as its surroundings had changed a lot between Operation Market Garden and the shooting of the film.
- 15 Bolwerksmolen, Bolwerksweg 6 (across the river, near the Wiliminabrug). Tu-Sa 9:00-17:00 April-Sept. Historic windmill powering a sawmill; completely rebuilt in 2007.
- 16 Watertoren (Water tower), Ceintuurbaan 401 (in the park: het Nieuwe Plantsoen). interior not open to public. This late 19th-century water tower looks as if it should belong to a fairy-tale castle rather than a water utility.
- 17 Kunstenlab, Havenplein 20, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Art space: exhibitions, experiments, events.
- 18 Museum MORE, Hoofdstraat 28, Gorssel, ☏ , email@example.com. Museum for Modern Realism. Ma-Su 10:00-17:00.
- 19 Burgerweeshuis, Bagijnenstraat 9 (Through the large doors, to the right). Concert venue.
- Go up the bell tower in the Lebinius-church for some amazing views as well as the bullet holes in the walls outside.
- Take a walk on the river promenade, if it's not high tide. The park at 1 De Worp is another nice place for a walk, it being the oldest park in the Netherlands, its first mention of usage as a park stemming from 1578. Another iconic park of Deventer is the Rijsterborgherpark (listed in #See) to the north-west of the train station. Its lay-out is largely based upon the shape of the old city defence works.
- 2 De Scheg, Piet van Donkplein 1 (Directly south of the railway outside of Deventer Colmschate station.), ☏ . Hours not standardised. Sports and activity centre in Colmschate. Aside from swimming pools, De Scheg also allows for ice skating and curling during some parts of the year. It also offers facilities to play squash. Pool: €9.50; Ice rink: €8.05.
- Football: Go-Ahead Eagles play soccer in Eredivisie, the country's top tier. Their home ground De Adelaarshorst (meaning "Eagles Nest", capacity 10,000) is 1 km northeast of town centre.
Deventer hosts a number of large events every year, attracting many thousands of domestic and international visitors. See also the book market mentioned in the buy section.
- Dickens Festival, Brink 89, ☏ . The last weekend before Christmas, the annual Charles Dickens festival brings some 140.000 visitors to Deventer's Bergkwartier. Local volunteers and business owners turn the city quarter into a 19th-century town by enacting famous scenes from Dickens' novels and dress up to be Oliver Twist, Scrooge and hundreds of other characters. The rest of the city joins in the celebrations with Christmas markets and other activities, providing a lively, overall buzz. Admission is free, but count on some queueing to enter.
- Deventer op Stelten (Deventer on Stilts). This July weekend is full of international theatre acts, including a good number on stilts. Most of the acts are performed free of charge and on stages throughout the city.
- Deventer Boekenmarkt (Book market). The first Sunday of August, the biggest European book market is held in the city center.
Every first Sunday of the months, shops in the city centre open their doors between 12:00 and 17:00. Thursday evening they stay open late, until 21:00.
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 6 km long, due to the 875 or so book stalls, this large market attracts up to 130,000 visitors. The market is hard to overlook when it is held, but it tends to be centred around the riverfront (Welle, Onder de Linden, Kapjeswelle) the old city gates (Vispoort, Zandpoort) as well as the larger squares in the city centre (Nieuwe Markt, Brink). A booklet with some information about the book market, including information on vendors, an overview map and specialisations of vendors can also be purchased for €2 at most bookshops and the tourist office (VVV). The booklet, named the Boekenmarktboekje, is a must-have if you come to the market looking for any specific kind of literature. The market can be overwhelming because of the sheer offer in stalls, but information stalls are dotted throughout if you need help finding your way about.
In the way of bookshops, antiquities and similar shops, you will be able to find several in the following streets:
- Nieuwstraat: At numbers 29, 37 and 38, you will find a antiquary and bookshop (Papyrus), bookshop (ABC) and comic book shop (Knibbel) respectively.
- Kleine Overstraat: Features all sorts of dedicated shops. Not only does it have five bookshops, those being Alternote (30-32), Das Gute ist immmer da! (33), Gedrukt & Geknipt voor U (50 and 83), De Kameleon (81) and De Voet (69), it is also home to many (used) clothes shops, a (board)game shop (Koning Willem, 24-26) and record store (Variaworld, 8).
- Near the intersection of the Lange Bisschopstraat and Proosdijpassage, you will find both another bookshop (Broekhuis), as well as three record shops (Plato, Variaworld and Walk-In).
- The Walstraat is also dotted with small shops, including several bookshops, but moreso antiquaries, as well as several home goods stores, a toy store and candy shop.
The city's most famous foodstuff is "Deventer Koek", which can be bought in the Koekhuisje (Cake House) at Brink 84, which is easily identified by its two Royal Denominations, featured on the north wall of the building. The company producing the cakes, Jb. Bussink, has been doing so since 1593, and has served many prominent guests over its lifetime. The cake is in fact so important to Deventer, that it lends its nickname of "Koekstad" (Cake City) to this very cake.
- 1 Deventer Koekwinkel (Bussink Koek), Brink 84, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. The average cake sells for a couple of euros, but bundles with Deventer Koek and other local products are available as well, with seasonal bundles selling for €15 and the average bundle coming in around the same price.
Most restaurants in Deventer are found along the Brink, Grote Kerkhof en Nieuwe Markt (around the Lebuïnuskerk), as well as the roads between the two, most notably the Grote- and Kleine Overstraat, which connect to the Brink directly west from the weighing house (or to your right when facing the Waag).
- 2 Chez Antoinette (bar bodega Chez Antoinette), Roggestraat 10-12, 7411 EP Deventer (walk from Central Station, 5 minutes), ☏ . Portuguese restaurant, bar and bodega in the historic heart of Deventer. It is the town's evergreen—this place has been around for a long time and is rated high by the locals. Don't get fooled by its French name—this place serves truly authentic Portuguese drinks and dishes. There's a very nice bar which is open till late at night and things can get quite crowded or gezellig as the Dutch would call it. The restaurant definitely requires a booking if you want to be sure of a table. Just ring and make a reservation.
- 3 Le Thai Cuisine, Grote Overstraat 30, ☏ . Those with a taste for Asian food return time and again to this local favourite. It serves a range of Thai dishes in a cosy restaurant, situated in the arched vaults of a historic mansion. For groups of 4 to 8 people, there's a free taxi service if you're staying in or directly around the city. Mains from €16, surprise menu €32 per person.
- 4 ’t Arsenaal, Nieuwe Markt 33-34, ☏ . If the weather is nice, reserve a table on the charming inner courtyard, rather than the terrace in the front. The food is French/Mediterranean and of good quality. Service can be a bit hasty when it's busy, but is overall adequate. Good spot for a romantic dinner too. €35.
- 5 Theater Restaurant Bouwkunde, Klooster 2-4, ☏ . The floor above is a theatre, but the cozy downstairs restaurant serves non-theatre guests as well. High-quality produce and a love for food are their corner stones, but take into account that waiting times between courses can be on the long side. €32.
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.
- 1 Bierencafe de Heks, Brink 63, 7411 BV Deventer (It's next to the Waag.), ☏ . M-Th 15:00-02:00, F 15:00-03:00, Sa 14:30-03:00, Su 15:00-02:00. A small pub that specialises on all kinds of beer. They have more than 70 different sorts of beer.
- 2 Cafe het Glas in Lood, Nieuwe Markt 4 (Near the tower of the Lebuinuskerk), ☏ , email@example.com. Th-Mo 17.00-19.30. Homely bar with board games & beers. Pub quiz every Monday.
- 3 Burgercafe (Burgerweescafe, Burgerweeshuiscafe), Bagijnenstraat 9 (Through the large doors, to the left). Bar of the Burgerweeshuis.
- 4 DAVO, Sluisstraat 6. Brewpub, plenty of beers on tap, good to have a chat, can get loud. Nice garden when the weather is good, good barfood.
- 1 Hotel Gilde, Nieuwstraat 41, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 11:00. Upper budget hotel in the historic center of Deventer. Some rooms have a balcony and view over the inner garden, but not all of them. Free Wi-Fi. €92.
- 2 Hotel De Leeuw, Nieuwstraat 25, ☏ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:00. A small, quaint family-run hotel with an atmosphere quite like no other. It's in a historic building and a former bakery and houses a small museum collection on the Hanseatic League. Rooms come in different sizes and prices. The cheaper ones are a bit small but the exceptional charm and friendly owners get this place raving reviews nonetheless. €102.
- 3 Pillows Boutique Hotel aan de IJssel, Worp 2, ☏ . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. On the other side of the IJssel river, the terraces and restaurant of this modern 29-room hotel offer some of the best views of the city around. Some of the rooms have those views too, but ask when booking. The small passenger ferry is right outside the hotel, making it an easy 5-minute trip to the centre. The ferry runs every few minutes until 23:00 and costs €1.50 for a return ticket. Use of the fitness area is free, the sauna costs €10. From €75 for a standard room.
- 4 Hotel Royal, Brink 94 (On the northern end of the Brink.), ☏ . Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 11:00. Two-star hotel and grand café/restaurant on the north end of the Brink, giving the hotel a very central location within the historic city centre. The hotel has 20 spacious rooms and the staff is more than happy to help you figure out places to visit in both Deventer and the wider Salland region. €95.
- 5 Hotel Finch, Keizerstraat 20 (From the train station, walk towards the theatre (Schouwburg). The hotel is roughly 120 metres further down the street.), ☏ , email@example.com. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 11:00. Located between the train station and Brink square, Finch is a boutique hotel that aside from comfortable beds, fits their rooms with less obvious amenities the likes of a record player with a selection of records, a coffee machine and tea set. Rooms vary from 17 to 45 square metres (183 to 485 sqft). €99.
- 6 De Vischpoorte, Nieuwe Markt 40, ☏ . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. A decentralised hotel, spread along the riverfront of the city. The hotel offers a series of studios, apartments and penthouses, as well as a bed and breakfast. The hotel also offers several multi-day packages tailored mostly to those that wish to explore the city and region by foot or bike. €77.
- 7 Hostel Short Stay, Nieuwe Markt 3, ☏ . Check-in: 15:00 - 22:00, check-out: 10:30. Hostel in the shadow of the Lebuïnuskerk, featuring a fully automated check-in and check-out system. The hostel offers five 2-person bedrooms (four of which with shared bathrooms), two one-person bedrooms and a dormitory. €53.
- 8 Huis Vermeer, Grote Kerkhof 9, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 11:00. Hotel with nine spacious rooms fitted and somewhat themed to the original purpose of the rooms in the house they occupied. The hotel has its own restaurant, as well as a complimentary breakfast service. €95-200.
- 9 Camp Site De Worp (Stadscamping De Worp), Worp 12, ☏ , email@example.com. Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 11:00. Right on the other side of the river, and easy to reach through the ferry, this quiet campsite is just a stone's throw from the city centre. It has 60 camp spots, including a number of tents ready for rent. €18 per night for 2 people.
As of July 2022, Deventer has 5G from all Dutch carriers.
- A ten-minute drive from Deventer, Zutphen and Apeldoorn (home to a royal palace open for the public) both have pleasant historic centres too. Zwolle (30 min) and Arnhem (1 hr) are other options with the same kind of qualities.
- If you're rather looking for some nature, head to Hoge Veluwe National Park.
|Routes through Deventer|
|Amsterdam ← Apeldoorn ←||W E||→ Hengelo → Osnabrück|
|Hoogeveen ← Ommen ←||N S||→ Zutphen → Arnhem|
|Zwolle ←||N S||→ Arnhem → Roosendaal|
|Schiphol Airport ← Amsterdam Zuid ←||W E||→ Hengelo → Enschede|
|The Hague ← Utrecht ←||W E||→ Hengelo → Enschede|
|Amsterdam ← Amersfoort ←||W E||→ Hannover → Berlin|