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With the majestic IJssel River forming much of its western border, it's not surprising that this small province in Central Netherlands is called Overijsse or 'Across the IJssel'. In the east, next door to Germany, the lay of the land is refreshingly hilly, while 'flat and soggy' sums up the former coastline – now landlocked by Flevoland's Noordoostpolder – in the west.

To explore this rural neck of the woods, anchor yourself in the picture-postcard Hanseatic town of Deventer or provincial capital Zwolle. Mooching north, the sweat and tears of peat workers crafted the largely unsung, serene beauty of the Weerribben-Wieden National Park. Making your way through this wetland to the Venetian-style village of Giethoorn in an old-fashioned rowing boat is a highlight. The eastern region of Twente, anchored by university town Enschede, is a secret among local lovers of the remote wild.