Ringed by a star-shaped canal and ancient city walls, medieval Zwolle is often a case of love at first sight. Within the ancient city, quaint cobbled lanes lead to lively fountain-pierced squares framed by cafe pavement terraces, independent boutiques, contemporary works of art and hipster coffee shops. Summer ushers in weekend markets, festivals, cocktails on the beach and mellow paddling in a canoe or kayak along the lily-pad-speckled canal.
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. It remains the capital of Overijssel province and is an easy day trip from Kampen or Deventer.