The capital of Overijssel province is a compact town that can easily occupy a day of exploration – longer in summer, when the weekend market is held and a seemingly endless schedule of small festivals keep things bubbling. In the 14th and 15th centuries Zwolle garnered wealth as the main trading port for the Hanseatic League and became a cultural centre of some repute.
Picturesque Kampen, a former Hanseatic city, is 15km west of Zwolle. Its historic centre is one of the country's best preserved, boasting numerous medieval monuments, including houses, gates and towers. The closing of the Zuiderzee ended Kampen's status as an important port and the long economic decline that followed kept modernisation down and old buildings up.
Like a vast garden, Twente forms a distinct region at the southeastern edge of Overijssel, straddling the German border. Walking and cycling paths crisscross a hilly landscape of old farmsteads and forests. Ootmarsum is the medieval showpiece with a handsome Gothic church and a surfeit of galleries and craft shops.