Water mill near Haaksbergen

Overijssel literally means over the river IJssel. Not very well-known outside Holland but a real hidden treasure.

Where is it?

On the map below you see the province Overijssel in red. It is somewhere in the middle of the country. In the west bordered by the river IJssel, which is one of the delta branches of the Rhine. In the east you find the German border.

Map showiing province Overijssel


If you travel from west to east, first you will see the river IJssel, with its River landscape.Along the river IJssel you will find the richer towns of the province. In the 13th to 17th century they were part of the Hanseatic League, and played an important role in the trade along the North Sea coast.

When you leave the river, you will see the landscape change quickly to a small scaled friendly area with small towns, farms and woods. The farmland is less open than in the west of the country. Because this part is above sea level, the soil is essentially sand and not clay. This soil is much less fertile than the clay grounds in the west and north of the country. So the farmers were poor people, having a mixed farm with both cattle and grains. The western part of Overijssel is called Salland, Half this changes in a part called Twente. Twente was an even more poor region than Salland. In the 19th century, traveling salesmen offered the farmers some extra income by weaving and spinning raw cotton. During the industrial revolution, textile factories emerged. This resulted in towns like Enschede and Almelo. Als they found salt in the bottom, resulting in some chemical industry. Later also machine factories were built, especially in Hengelo. This resulted in a large difference between Hengelo and Enschede. Hengelo clearly a much richer town.

The landscape in Twente is not so much different from Salland. Also some woods, agriculture, and bushes that were used to get wood for fuel and construction. The whole province is an excellent area for hikers and bikers.You will find many sand roads, with small separate bike paths of excellent quality. It is nice, quiet and friendly. Really our country side.

In the North-West corner you will find a very special landscape, the nature reserve Weerribben. This again is the border of land and water. In some areas there are meadows floating on the water, so if you jump it feels like a soft bed. If you jump too hard, you get wet feet.


Zwolle, Deventer and Kampen are Hanseatic cities. All old and beautiful.

Hengelo and Almelo are typical industrial towns. You probably will not like them very much.

Enschede is also originally an industrial town, but in the late sixties of the last century most industry disappeared. The town is not very old, but has more and more the character of a University town, with pubs, restaurants etcetera. It also has a very large market on Saturday, attracting many German visitors to buy cheese and cigarettes.

Extremely nice is Ootmarsum. It still has the atmosphere of the old Twente. You will find there old houses, many art galleries and an old Farmhouse where you can see how farmers used to live.

Other towns worth visiting for a while are Ommen, Dalfsen, Goor and Haaksbergen. Delden has a nice castle.

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