In the heart of Drenthe, where history, culture and natural beauty come together, an ideal day trip awaits to be discovered. Combine a visit to Assen, the charming capital of Drenthe, with a visit to Zweeloo, the town which seems frozen in time. By experiencing both the city and the countryside in one day, you will get the best of both worlds.
What to see and do in Assen
Start your morning in the charming city of Assen, which is known as 'De stad der paleizen' (The city of palaces) and for its many lush parks. At the tourist office (Marktstraat 8-10) you can get a city map which helps you to find the highlights of the city. As the centre is not that big, you can easily get to any sight within a 10-minute walk.
Bartje Bartels, many Dutchies will know him as he is the main character of a series of famous books from the 1930's about the life of a poor family in Drenthe. Until today many people in the Netherlands still use his famous saying 'Ik bid niet voor bruine bonen' (I don't pray for brown beans), which means that you won't settle for the ordinary.
In addition to the permanent collection, the Drenthe Museum has changing exhibitions, and this beautiful mural is a silent reminder of a previous exhibition relating to Frida Kahlo. This artwork is created by Roos Vink and Michel Velt.
The Drents Museum is for sure the highlight of Assen and not to miss. Currently there is an exhibition about the world famous Dutch master painter Vincent van Gogh, as he has lived in Drenthe for three months in 1883. The exhibition Op Reis met Vincent (Travelling with Vincent) runs from 11 September 2023 until 7 January 2024. It is very exceptional that 140 years after his arrival in Drenthe, as many works as possible from his Drenthe oeuvre can be seen together for the first time.
Where to enjoy coffee and lunch in Assen
Grab a cup of coffee during your city walk at the cozy bar of City Hotel De Jonge where it seems nothing much has changed since its opening in 1874.
For lunch, head over to Brasserie Pingo, the modern museum café of the Drents Museum. These veggie sandwiches were healthy and delicious at the same time.
Where to stay in Assen
City Hotel De Jonge has one very unique suite, completely in the theme of Vincent van Gogh. While you step into the room you see and feel that every little detail has been thought of, giving the room a very artsy and cozy atmosphere.
What to see and do in Zweeloo
Continue your day trip with a visit to the beautiful country village of Zweeloo. Here you experience a pleasant and peaceful rural atmosphere, where everything seems to be frozen in time. Besides its beauty and its green environment, the village is also known for the visit of a famous Dutch artist...
...Because on the first day of November in 1883 Vincent Van Gogh decided to go on a day trip to Zweeloo as the village was known for the many artists who worked there. He hoped to meet the German art painter Max Liebermann, but it turned out that all artists (including Liebermann) only stayed here during the warmer months of the year. Afterwards he wrote in a letter to his brother Theo that he thought the village was so beautiful with its moss roofs, stables and barns.
Discover the locations that he painted and drew, and described in his letters while following the 8 km walking route Symfonie van kleur (Symphony of colour).
Van Gogh made several sketches in Zweeloo like for example "Apple orchard with linden tree" and "Shepherd with flock at a church". The small church from the second half of the 13th century still exists and is located on the edge of the village.
Where to enjoy dinner in Zweeloo
The best way to end this day is, in my opinion, having dinner at the gastronomic restaurant Herberg de Aelderstroom. Fresh, local and seasonal produce are of great importance to owners Floris and Gert. Their historic building with thatched roof exudes time gone by and the beautiful garden with ditto views is a feast for the eyes.
A beautiful summer evening in the garden with soft evening light. Just perfect...
The vegetarian starter, with creamy Drenthe goat cheese rolled with herbs (from their own herb garden) with various preparations of beetroot, was simply delicious.
Beets for the starter literally come from a few kilometres away.
Summer on a plate with this sea bass ceviche with notes of citrus and a granité of cucumber and corn wine.
The herb garden has a wide variety of herbs, which is an important ingredient for several dishes.
Ravioli filled with mushrooms and taleggio, served with a chutney of pumpkin and sage butter. Finished with one of the most delicious things in existence, truffle...
A day in Assen and Zweeloo is a journey through the past and a celebration of Drenthe's highlights and timeless charm. Whether you're captivated by history, art or simply the beauty of Dutch villages, this day trip offers a well-rounded experience. So, pack your curiosity and your camera, and let Assen and Zweeloo reveil their hidden gems to you in this enchanting corner of the Netherlands.
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