10 things to do in Coevorden (Netherlands)

Cowarden is the oldest town in the province of Drenthe and grew up around a castle on a shoal on the road between Münster and Groningen.

In the 17th century, Dutch military master Menno van Coehoorn completely transformed Cowarden into a fortified city.

The pattern of concentric polygonal streets and star-shaped outer moat has been preserved to this day.

The moat north of the old town centre is now the verdant Van Heutszpark, while the fort’s arsenal houses the municipal museum, and the old castle houses a hotel and restaurant.

Drenthe is a province with a strong cultural identity, brimming with attractions such as the nearby Ellert en Brammert open-air museum.

1. Cowarden City Museum

Cowarden City Museum

Just next to the market, Coevorden’s restored 17th-century arsenal includes the library and this municipal museum.

Completely renovated in 2013, the museum documents the entire history of Coevorden from the early days of the castle and its Burgraves to the 21st century.

An interesting display here is a 36-meter timeline that showcases artifacts such as fossils, weapons, pottery, tools, bookbinding and armor, all enhanced with interactive panels and multimedia.

Coevorden has seven scale models from different periods, one of which shows a complex system of fortresses and grottoes from the 17th century.

Participating temporary exhibitions delve deeper into specific historical periods in Cowarden, as well as topics such as local music, architecture and folk traditions.

2. Kasteel van Coevorden

Kasteel van Coevorden

Coevorden Castle is at the center of the city’s polygonal street plan, dating back to 1522, when it was rebuilt by Charles II, Duke of Guelders.

By the 20th century, the Renaissance palace had fallen into disrepair, and the brick monument was only partially restored after it was acquired by the municipality.

The castle is now a hotel and restaurant, accessible from its former walls, which are now green lawns equipped with cannons.

The medieval castle before this building appears on the map of the Drenthe province of great strategic importance, causing a lucrative toll on the transit route between the Hanseatic cities of Münster and Groningen.

Today, the patio is an evocative dining venue in a green space in the heart of the city.

3. Hervormde Kerk

Hervormde Kerk

Coevorden has one of the first Protestant churches built in the Netherlands.

This happened in the 1630s, when the previous buildings were already dilapidated.

Funding was short at first, but after the tax was imposed on beer sold in Coevorden, funding was no longer an issue.

Another interesting detail is that during the construction of the new church, services were held in the stables.

In Reformed style, to encourage full participation, the church has a symmetrical octagonal floor plan with four thick columns in the hall.

The roof tower burned down in the 19th century and took away the 17th century pipe organ.

The replacement was inaugurated in 1897 and sits on a restored 17th century wooden gallery.

4. Van Hertzpark

van Hertzpark

On the jagged route of Coevorden’s old defensive moat, Van Heutszpark is a relaxing green space where you can have a picnic by the water or watch the ducks and boats on the Sieltjeskanaal.

This waterway marks the eastern boundary of the park and is surrounded by bike paths under mature trees.

The beautiful water tower standing above the park from the south dates back to 1914 and has a 150m3 reservoir.

Also worth a visit in the park is Oranjebank, a memorial bench made of brick to commemorate the birth of Princess Beatrix in 1939. On the back wall is a portrait of Beatrix’s grandmother, Queen Wilhelmina, with her parents, the future Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard of Lipper-Bissfeld.

5. Elert Enbrammert

elert embrammert

Relive the cultural history of South East Drenthe at this open-air museum in Schoonoord.

At the center of the attraction is a pair of giants, Ellert and Brammert, who lived in a cottage under the moor, according to a folktale first written by 17th-century historian John Picard.

As a side note, Picard was also a missionary to Hervormde Kerk of Coevarden.

In any case, the giants would set traps in the way with ropes, and if anyone passed by to let the bell ring, they would rob him and beat him with clubs.

The museum goes into more detail about the legend, but also relocates a group of historic country buildings to the site.

There is a church, a village prison, a typical sod house, a schoolhouse, a replica of a stone tomb and displays of traditional trades such as peat cutting.

For refreshments, here’s a proper country inn.

6. Vogel Park “De Lorkeershoeve”

Vogelpark De Lorkeershoeve

On the way to Hardenburg, this small family-run zoo park has something for all visitors.

In the aviary you will come face to face with ibises, kookaburras, macaws, parrots, cockatoos, pheasants and a range of waterfowl.

One of the residents, Tommy the parrot, may greet you with a cheerful “hello”. The zoo is set in neatly landscaped gardens with a pond and has a walking area where birds will fly overhead.

The park also has a nine-hole miniature golf course, seven-hole billiards golf course and a restaurant.

7. Plopsa Indoor Coevorden

Plopsa Indoor Coevorden

Connected to the nearby Centre Parcs resort is an indoor theme park with attractions and shows related to TV programming invented by the Belgian studio 100 TV.

For children under 8, characters such as Samson en Gert, Piet Piraat, Mega Mindy and Kabouter Plop are well known in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Of course, younger kids don’t have to be familiar with these characters to have a great time at the park’s 18 or so different rides, including carousels, bumper cars (and boats), roller coasters, playgrounds, and ball pools.

Cheerful mascots in bright costumes live throughout the park, while outside there’s a new petting zoo themed around the classic Japanese animation Heidi.

8. Bearden of Guise

Bearden at Guice

In a beautiful corner of the Drenthe countryside, Beelden in the Gees blends display gardens with seasonal exhibitions of modern sculpture.

The garden features ponds, expansive lawns, secluded groves, borders and flower beds, all carefully marked.

There are benches everywhere, so you can stop and think about water lilies, surprising views of the garden, or artwork.

The garden hosts exhibitions twice a year, including a larger summer exhibition that emphasizes sculpture, but also displays paintings and applied arts in the garden’s airy pavilions.

More than 30 artists participate from April to September, and there is also a smaller autumn exhibition from October to December.

9. Museummolen Jan Pol

Museum molen Jan Pol

In the outlying village of Dalen, 5km away, there is a fine workwear mill built in 1876 to replace an earlier one that had been burned by lightning.

Jan Pol is the tallest surviving windmill in Drenthe at just under 22 meters, with a three-story brick base and a three-story thatch above a wooden gallery.

Jan Pol was used to make wheat flour and husker and was restored in the early 1970s after being abandoned three years after the war.

From early April to early November on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday afternoons, you can drop by to see the working gears and shafts of the mill.

10. Peter Pad

Peter Pad

Coevorden is located on the longest walking path in the Netherlands, winding down from the east side of the country, from Pieterburen in the Wadden Sea to St. Peter’s Hill, south of Maastricht and bordering Belgium ( Mount Saint Peter), with a total length of 498 kilometers.

If you want to do a day hike in Coevorden, you can walk along the trail’s famous white and red markings to Hardenberg, 19 km southwest.

The countryside is idyllic as you enter the picturesque Vecht Valley at De Haandrik, encountering highland cattle and grazing horses along the way.

Cyclists can also ride along Vecht on the LF 16 trail, which stretches from its source in Dafeld, Germany, to the mouth of the Zwolle River.

Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Covolden, The Netherlands
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