Knees-up Bar Tour

Knees-up Bar Tour, Zwolle, Netherlands (A)

The city of Zwolle is, as yet, an undiscovered kingdom of fantastic bars and cafés varying from traditional and cosy Dutch watering holes to glitzy and glamorous cocktail joints. Being a student town, Zwolle has much to offer the young traveller seeking to party with the locals.
As there are relatively few tourists at anytime of year, you can be one of the first to get a true sense of what real life in this little known city is all about.
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Walk Route

Guide Name: Knees-up Bar Tour
Guide Location: Netherlands » Zwolle
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (A))
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 5.0 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.1 Km or 0.7 Miles
Author: Maeve Innes
Author Bio: Having relocated 2 years ago to the beautiful city of Zwolle in The Netherlands, I sometimes find it quite mind boggling that more tourists do not flock in droves to spend time here. I truly feel that it has so much to offer and this is the reason for my writing these guides.
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Jazzy Jams
  • Café de Hete Brij
  • Sally O’Brien’s
  • In de Buurt
  • Swing café ‘De Docter’
  • De Belgische Keizer
  • Cafe t’ Beugeltje
Jazzy Jams

1) Jazzy Jams

Sitting comfortably in another of Zwolle’s historical squares, the laid back Jazzy Jam Jazz café has just the vibe to swing you into high spirits. The quick and competent service here is always offered with an easy-going smile making it one of the most welcoming bars in the city. The interior mixes classic trend with contemporary style combining to bring a fantastic ‘lounge’ atmosphere to this popular drinkery. Usually a great place for a drink and catch up, the sometimes noisy ambience of Jazzy Jam is easily forgivable as it is normally down to the live Jazz sets, DJ’s and gigs of up and coming musicians from the local, esteemed school of music. Pop in on Thursday evening for an hour of ‘old skool’ vinyl.
Café de Hete Brij

2) Café de Hete Brij

If you are a ‘local pub’ person, you will fall in love with the Hete Brij for it’s cosy aura. A small bar with an unassuming exterior, it would be easy to over look. This, however, would be a shame as The Hete Brij is an intimate and comfortable establishment where you can become acquainted with some interesting and colourful characters that have been frequenting the bar for years. This is the Zwolse bar most comparable to an English watering hole. The interior walls are covered from floor to ceiling with an array of framed photos and kooky art pieces from years of collecting. Very much a local pub, tourists and holidaymakers are also made welcome here. Note the typically Dutch, carpet-like covers that adorn the tables. If you are lucky, you may catch some live music from some superb local bands.
Sally O’Brien’s

3) Sally O’Brien’s

Zwolle’s ‘not particularly Irish’ Irish bar is none the less a good place to settle for the evening with friends. Do not expect to get cheap Guinness here though as ordering a pint of the black stuff will thrust up the price of a generally affordable round. Refurbished in early 2010, the bar serves good pub grub including a worthy hangover fry-up for the day after a heavy night before. During good weather, the bar extends itself onto the large and beautiful square in front of the building where you will be served by the friendly, often international staff. If you’re searching for a boozer that airs big sports competitions, you won’t need to look further than Sally O’Brien’s. Hosting special evenings throughout the week e.g. Guinness Mondays and Split the Week in Two Wednesdays, Sally’s also provides live music entertainment every Saturday.
In de Buurt

4) In de Buurt

Opening it’s door in early 2010, In de Buurt has quickly established itself with the laid back drinker who enjoys a chilled out atmosphere a mixture of Rock and Roll, Blues, Hip Hop and Funk music played by DJs’ on the weekends. This bar aims to attract the 25 plus punter who wants a relaxing drink without having to fight through drunken students to get a seat by the bar. The friendly owner says that everyone is welcome barring Stalin, Bin Laden and the entire Italian football team. In de Buurt offers a good range of beer and bar snacks.
Image by Ruocaled under Creative Commons License.
Swing café ‘De Docter’

5) Swing café ‘De Docter’

De Docter is one of the late-night hangouts for students and music lovers alike. Open until the early hours, this alternative bar has one of the few dance floors to be found in Zwolle. For this reason, however, on some nights the floor becomes impossibly packed with bodies, making dancing slightly uncomfortable for those undetermined to fight for space to show off their moves. Occasionally, the DJ may decide to play more obscure metal tracks but generally, the eclectic music will include Madonna, Nirvana, Jimmy Hendrix and other popular singers and bands from the 70’s onwards. Try not to miss the cool details that make this bar special e.g. the famous musicians who are portrayed in stained glass window. Drinks here are relatively cheap and it is a good place to end up after a Friday or Saturday night on the town. A smoking/ snooker room can be found downstairs. Wednesday night is ‘Wrong Request Night’ and you can delight in some embarrassing favourites such as Ace of Base and Britney Spears.
De Belgische Keizer

6) De Belgische Keizer

De Belgische Keiser, or Belgian Emperor, is located at the end of a long stretch of shops, bars and restaurants on the Market Square. This is a great bar in which to while away a sunny Saturday afternoon, watching the bustle of the Market but it really transforms into a lively hangout on weekend evenings. The energetic pop music and young trendy atmosphere collaborate to make this one of Zwolle’s most popular student haunts. Famous for it’s enormous range of bottled beers, students and locals alike flock to De Belgische Keiser to sample something different each week.
Image by Patrik Kristian under Creative Commons License.
Cafe t’ Beugeltje

7) Cafe t’ Beugeltje

Originally one of the towers that made up part of Zwolle’s medieval defending walls and situated on the moat that surrounds the city, you will not find a more relaxing bar to spend a quiet evening than t’ Beugeltje. Having spent a period of time unused, allowed to reach dilapidated state, the tower was restored in the early 1980’s. Every detail, from the brickwork to the cosy, vaulted crannies on the split upper level add to the bars historical ambience. In keeping with the quiet, relaxed atmosphere, the music is kept relatively low becoming part of the background noise. t’ Beugeltje takes its name from the old fashioned cap that gives the Grolsh bottle that distinguished popping sound. Although Grolsh, still bottled in the authentic way, is the central drink here, they sell 18 different bottled beers plus the usual wines and spirits, which will cater to most punters tastes. Tuesday evening is ‘Games Night’ where the second floor plays host to board game fanatics or students looking for a casual evening’s pastime with friends.

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5 Knees-up Bars in Zwolle, Netherlands

5 Knees-up Bars in Zwolle, Netherlands

The city of Zwolle is, as yet, an undiscovered kingdom of fantastic bars and cafés varying from traditional and cosy Dutch watering holes to glitzy and glamorous cocktail joints. Being a student town, Zwolle has much to offer the young traveller seeking to party with the locals. As there are...