Many of the people who make tours to the Netherlands only get to visit its bigger cities. A good number of them are, however, left with questions as to how the scenery and life generally is in the more rural parts of the Netherlands. To ensure that you don’t leave with such questions, you should really make an effort to visit Winterswijk: a provincial town in a relatively far-flung part of the Netherlands.
It may look small and bereft of historical monuments, but Winterswijk has a history: one that goes back to at least the year 1000 AD. Winterswijk, however, never quite developed into a trading or military center. It remained as more or less a rustic farming village, until the age of the industrial revolution, when it emerged as a quite important center for the textile industry.
Today, about 30,000 people call Winterswijk home, and it is a place where life is serene, and where things seemingly get conducted without too much of a rush. It is also a remarkably beautiful town, one that is surrounded by scenes that qualify to be termed as genuinely ‘natural scenes’ and one that, ultimately, seems to have gotten stuck in another (saner) age.
Don’t let yourself be misled by the small size of Winterswijk, and imagine that a visit to or a tour of this town will not offer much or that such a tour will inevitably bring you boredom. Far from it, you will have quite a lot to see in Winterswijk. Winterswijk also offers much in terms of things to do and a tour there can lead to immense fun.
Getting around Winterswijk
What is referred to as the Winterswijk town center is really a small condensed area: one that you can even traverse several times on your feet without really getting exhausted. Still, if you want to visit the outlying rural settlements, you can take a bus. There are bus services around here, though you shouldn’t expect the level bus network coverage in a rural town to be the same as in a huge bustling city. To put it in other words, there are parts of Winterswijk that are not exactly within the bus network, though even in the worst cases, the next bus stop is always just a kilometer or two away (meaning that there isn’t great inconvenience).
Cycling is another mode of transport you can use to get around Winterswijk. Don’t, however, expect Winterswijk to have the extensive cycling paths like those found in the bigger Netherlands cities like the Hague. In a place like Winterswijk, cyclists share roads with motorists, but thanks to the Netherlands highly developed culture of respect for cyclists, what we end up with isn’t exactly a cut-throat competition for space. Actually cyclists get preferential treatment from the drivers, many of whom are also cyclists.
There are a few taxis around Winterswijk, and if you want to get around the town in a taxi, there is nothing to stop you from getting in touch with a company like Walhof, and using one of its cabs: especially if the relatively high fare isn’t really an issue worth fretting over for you.
Ultimately, a town as small and as picturesque as Winterswijk is best toured on foot, and this pedestrian touring option is a very reasonable option that you can consider as well.
Things to see and do in Winterswijk
Winterswijk is home to one those interesting, olden watermills that process grain into flour and, as a tourist to the town, you can have a chance to see it (it is locally known as Beerenschot).
Winterswijk’s two major museums are the GOLS museum (which is basically a railway museum) and the Mondriaan Museum (which is basically a local art museum).
In terms of things to do in Winterswijk, you can go swimming at places like the Strandbad or in the local Hilgelo Lake. You can also decide to go sailing (using a fascinating rowing boat) in the local stream known as Bekendelle or have fun at the local park known as Sevink Avonturenpark.
You can go shopping on streets like Wooldsestraat or Misterstraat. You can also eat out at the restaurant Stranlodge or enjoy a drink at one of the bars in the Markt (Market Square).