Deventer is one of the Dutch Hanseatic cities along the river IJssel in the east of the Netherlands. It is an old town with narrow streets, historic houses, good restaurants and bars, cute shops and excellent hiking possibilities. You can visit Deventer as a day trip, but might also consider staying in the area a little longer, to combine this adventure with a visit to nearby Hanseatic cities Zutphen and Zwolle, or with some hiking.
Why visit Deventer?
Deventer is popular with day trippers from the Netherlands and Germany, but has not been discovered by the great crowds yet. If you are interested in visiting off the beaten track historic towns, you should visit Deventer. I am sure you won’t be disappointed!
INDEX TO THIS PAGE:
- Exploring the historic center of Deventer
- Crossing the river IJssel
- Havenkwartier | the area around the harbor
- Museums of Deventer
- Drinking and dining in Deventer
- Deventer festivals
- Getting to Deventer by public transport
- A short history of Deventer
Visit the historic city center of Deventer
The heyday of Deventer was in the late middle ages. As most houses in the middle ages were made of wood and haven’t survived, most of what you see is newer. However, the town has a historical feel to it. Tiny houses, cobblestone streets, you get the picture. Visit the Deventer tourist info at Brink 89 for maps and walking routes. They are located in a historical building themselves. Check it out!
If you have a GPS device or know how to download GPS tracks to your phone, you can download a walk through Deventer from website Wandelzoekpagina (4 km).
When you visit Deventer make sure you don’t miss:
- Bergkwartier; the area around Bergkerk (the church with the 2 spires) with streets such as Walstraat, Roggestraat and Bergstraat. And try to find the old mint, hidden away in an alley called Muntengang.
- Noorderbergkwartier, the area north of the unmissable big Lebuinuschurch, with streets such as Papenstraat, Noorderbergstraat, Het Klooster (with its hidden public garden) and the lovely Kranensteeg.
- Climb the tower of Lebuinus church for a view from above.
- The shopping streets Kleine Overstraat and Grote Overstraat with their independent little shops.
Across the river IJssel
After your visit to the city center of Deventer, cross the river IJssel for a short hike and visit Deventer city beach. You can cross the river by one of the bridges or take the ferry (cost EUR 1,10 one-way, EUR 1,60 return). From the opposite side of the river you will have an amazing view of the skyline of Deventer. If you like this view a lot you could even spend the night here. The Sandton hotel is located right at the riverside, and so is the Deventer campsite. Waking up with a view of the river? Hard to beat that!
Need some chill out time? Visit Deventer city beach. You are not allowed to swim here as the current of the river IJssel is pretty strong. However, in summer time you can hang out at the café made of containers, or on the grass along the river. Bring your own picknick or order cake, lunch or Middle Eastern style dinner in the café.
Visit Havenkwartier Deventer
After all this history, you might be in for some more contemporary stuff. Head towards the harbor district (Havenkwartier) of Deventer, an industrial area that has now been taken over by small businesses. Have a coffee at Koffiedok or order your favorite snack at one of the stands in food court Fooddock. On a sunny day why not eat at their terrace-on-a-boat. In the evening, hang out at PIKNIK bar. You can even spend the night in one of the funny lodgings of Lucy in the Sky.
Visiting museums in Deventer
Deventer is not specifically known for its museums. However, if you happen to visit Deventer on a rainy day, you might consider visiting:
- Museum de Waag, located in the medieval weighing house on Brink square. This small museum delves into the history of Deventer. It is interesting to see this old building form the inside anyway.
- Kunstenlab, at Havenplein 20, a small (very) modern art museum in the harbor district.
- Deventer Toy Museum, at Brink 47. I guess that’s nice to do with kids.
- Or catch a bus to neighboring Gorssel to visit Museum More, the largest museum for modern realism in Europe!
Drinking and dining in Deventer
Deventer is an excellent place to enjoy the good life. For example on one of the terraces on central “square” Brink, or around Lebuinuskerk, at Grote Kerkhof. There is a great number of bars and restaurants to choose from.
Craft beer in Deventer
Deventer is not a big city, but still it offers some possibilities for tasting local and international craft beers. So as a beer lover I suggest the following:
1. Davo taproom
Davo is Deventer’s own craft beer brewer! It is named after the historic brewery Davo that existed from 1867 to 1909. But our present day Davo started in 2012, with a bunch of beer geeks experimenting. In 2016 they opened their own taproom outside of the historic city center (but only a few minutes walking from central square Brink). They aim to introduce craft beer to a public of pilsener drinkers, which means that the taste of their beers is a bit bland. If you are an experienced craft beer drinker you may not be impressed.
However, their taproom is a pleasant place to have a couple of drinks and/or snacks. They have both indoor and outdoor seating, and the atmosphere is laid back. Why not try the Surf Ale (a hoppy pale ale) on a sunny day?
Address: Sluisstraat 6, Deventer
Website DAVO bier
Open Wednesdays to Sundays
2. Bierencafé de Heks
This tiny bar with 25 taps (and a huge collection of bottled beers) is by far the best place in Deventer to drink craft beer. The staff know what they are talking about and will help you find the best beer to suit your taste. They have a sunny terrace that is perfect for a little pause on a long day of sightseeing. It can be crowded though, especially on Friday and Saturday nights, and on sunny days.
Address: Brink 63, Deventer
Website bierencafé De Heks (note that their beer menu is often outdated)
The beer menu of this bar is excellent, and with 11 taps and many more bottled beers you are sure to find something that suits your taste. Even though you will find international brews here, their focus is on Dutch beers. They have nice outside spacing, with a view of Brink square. Despite all these clear pro’s, this bar is not my favorite. Probably because the staff generally don’t know much about their products. I always think that’s a bummer. It is the best and nearest alternative to De Heks though, if that is too crowded.
Address: Brink 32, Deventer
Not that much into craft beer?
There are many bars to choose from in Deventer. Go to Brink or Grote Kerkhof and pick one that looks attractive. De Hip at Brink 21 is a cool place to be. And if you are into wines, there is a nice wine bar called Sandpoort at Zandpoort 7, close to De Brink.
Restaurants in Deventer
If you want to end your visit to Deventer with a good meal, there are plenty of opportunities to do so. I’ll name a few of my favorites. All of these are suitable for vegetarians. Note that especially on Fridays and Saturdays it is smart to make a reservation.
- Kreta, at Grote Overstraat 65. A small authentic Greek restaurant that doesn’t look too attractive, but serves perfect mezze and meals. An extra attraction to the craft beer aficionado is that they have good craft beers on their menu, from Greece and elsewhere, and that one of the owners can talk about this topic for hours if he is in the mood :-).
- Jackie’s New York Cuisine (and neighboring lunch restaurant No 11, inspired by Jackie’s) at Grote Poot 19. A lively place with an original menu and quick service.
- Raffaele’s foodbar, at Brink 93. A modern Italian restaurant that has so much more to offer than pizza
- El Popo, at Brink 13. Mexican cuisine, lively atmosphere. Difficult to choose between the tropical style terrace and the colorful inside dining area. Authentic Mexican craft beer. Reasonably good food.
- Het Arsenaal, at Nieuwe Markt 33 is more upmarket, and the kind of place you go to for an evening of fine dining. The food is good, service friendly.
- For lunch The Wall Street Tea Rose (British) and A Taste of Honey are nice places, but by far not the only ones.
Visit one of the Deventer festivals
Every year 3 big festivals take place in Deventer. The town is extremely crowded during those days, and it might be hard to go sightseeing or find a place to spend the night. If you want to visit Deventer during one of these festivals make sure you book your accommodation on time.
- Deventer op Stelten (first weekend of July): an open air theater festival that lasts 3 days.
- Deventer book fair (first Sunday of August): the town changes in a huge open air second hand book market;
- Dickens Festival (the weekend before Christmas): Walstraat and the surrounding area changes into a version of 19th century London, with local actors dressed up as characters from the Dickens novels.
Note that on Sundays and Mondays, Deventer may be a bit quiet, as a lot of the shops are closed. Fridays and Saturdays are the most lively days to visit.
How to get to Deventer by public transport
By public transport it will take you about 1,5 hours to get to Deventer from either Amsterdam, The Hague or Rotterdam. From Utrecht it is one hour. That makes into an excellent day trip. If coming from Amsterdam, the best station to depart from is Amsterdam Zuid. There is a direct train from Amsterdam Zuid to Deventer every hour.
In case you are coming from, or going to Berlin: the international train from Amsterdam to Berlin stops in Deventer, so why not do a short stop over here?
A tiny bit of history of Deventer
Before dikes were constructed, the lands that are now The Netherlands were pretty wet and swampy, especially in the west. People lived on the higher grounds, sometimes on man made mounts. Deventer is situated on higher grounds, so people lived in this area even in prehistoric times. The city of Deventer started to form in the 9th century. The Vikings loved to raid it, and they did so regularly.
In the Middle Ages, Deventer became an important trading city, because of its location along the river IJssel (which is a branch of the mighty river Rhine). It was a member of the Hanseatic league, a cooperation of trading cities in the area around the Baltic Sea and western part of the North Sea. The 15th century was Deventer’s golden age. After that things went downhill, due to competition from its Hanseatic neighbor Zwolle and later on from the mighty city of Amsterdam, the city of free trade.
Deventer has been a rather quiet town for centuries, but much of the historic architecture has survived, or been restored. During the second world war it was heavily bombed, because of its strategic location along the river and the presence of bridges. One of those even features in the famous movie “A bridge too far” starring Sean Connery and Robert Redford. That story actually took place in Arnhem, but at the time they shot the movie Arnhem looked way too modern, whereas Deventer was still more or less in ruins. Because of that movie a lot of money flowed into Deventer which helped restoring the old buildings into their original state.
Nowadays Deventer is gaining popularity, especially among people from the cities in the west, who want to escape from the crowds and are attracted by the lower house prices in this area