Urk is a town and municipality in the Dutch province of Flevoland. This former island is situated on the edge of the Noordoostpolder and directly connected to the IJsselmeer. Because of this people in Urk still say they are living 'on' Urk instead of 'in' Urk.
Urk is a very old settlement, with written records of its existence dating back to the 10th century. While Urk endured, the conditions around it changed - the water body next to Urk turned from a peaceful sweetwater lake into a bay of the North Sea, ravaged by storms and tidal waves, while finally becoming shielded from the Sea by the dams built as parts of the grand water management works in the Netherlands. Finally, when the Noordoostpolder was reclaimed, Urk lost its status as an island and became a part of the large land mass, but did not lose its access to the IJsselmeer, which by that time was a sweetwater lake again.
All through that time, as well as today, Urkers have been relying on fishing as a source of both food and income. It was not easy life, which hardened the spirits of Urkers, and made them one of the most traditional and socially, as well as religiously, conservative communities of the Netherlands, which is a trait lasting until today. Urk has also developed a unique culture, with its own dialect and folk costumes, in which Urkers take pride.
Compared to the rest of Flevoland, which is mostly deprived of any historic buildings, Urk is quite unique in being a genuinely old settlement rife with genuinely old architecture.
The easiest way to get to Urk over land is by car (from the A6 going through Flevoland, exit into N351 or N352 that terminate in Urk), as the public transportation options are limited and complicated, unless you are arriving directly from Noordoostpolder. From the latter province, you can also obviously simply bike into Urk.
There are only two bus lines calling at Urk:
- line 141 from Urk through Emmeloord in the Noordoostpolder to Kampen in Overijssel. Some services continue to Zwolle
- line 149 from Urk to Nagele in the Noordoostpolder
In Emmeloord or Nagele, you can change to line 345, the fast bus that goes to Lelystad.
If you want to arrive by rail, e.g. from the Schiphol Airport, your best bets are to alight in Lelystad or Kampen and use any of the above busses. Be careful to check the running schedules and coordinate properly - 9292.nl can be very useful.
Urk has a small harbor which is directly connected to the IJsselmeer, on Sundays you can use the harbor for free, on all the other days you have to pay a small fee. In the summer you can also take the ferry from Enkhuizen.
Urk is just a small town, only 17.000 inhabitants, and everything you would want to see there is within walking distance of the harbor. Or you can rent a bike of course, but if you plan on staying on Urk you can do without one.
Urk used to be an island and still is a very traditional fishery village. There is a lighthouse, a fishery museum and the old part of the town is still very authentic and pleasant to walk around in.
Outside Urk there is a stone reservation. A place where a lot of stones which were laid there during the last ice age can be seen.
- Books. Koster-Urk is a large bookstore at the handelskade. Mangroove is a large bookstore in the city centre. Mangroove sells also dvd, bluray and music.
- Winkelcentrum Urkerhard. Is a new and big shopping area at Urk.
When you come to Urk make sure you try some fish. There are several restaurants of which one, Mes Amis, is in the top 50 of Netherlands's best restaurants.
Urk doesn't have any hotels but there are quite a few bed and breakfasts, pensions and vacation rentals in the old part of the town. You can also go camping in a tent, caravan or camper van on one of the camping grounds.
|Routes through Urk|
|Groningen ← Noordoostpolder ←||N S||→ Lelystad → Amsterdam|