The 10 best sights in Zeeland
There are many special places of interest in Zeeland! And it’s no wonder Zee-land lives up to its name with so many of these being associated with the sea. But inland too, there are attractions aplenty that simply shouldn’t be missed when you visit Zeeland. We’ve put together ten of the best sights to visit in Zeeland
Oosterschelde flood barrier
Schouwen-Duiveland - Noord-Beveland
Here’s the numbers of the best known of the Delta Works, the Oosterschelde flood barrier: 9 km long, 65 pillars and 62 sluice gates. When the sea rises to 3 metres above the NAP level, the gates come down and the hinterland is protected against it. Some call the barrier the Eighth Wonder of the World, with visitors coming from far and near. Deltapark Neeltje Jans is located on the island Neeltje Jans, a work island during the construction of the barrier. Here you can see exhibitions and films about the flood disaster and the construction of the Delta Works.
Schouwen-Duiveland - Noord-Beveland
From the Oosterschelde, you can see the Zeelandbrug in the distance. The five-kilometer-long bridge has been declared a national monument and is among the longest bridges in the Netherlands. Since its opening in 1965, it has been the permanent link between the islands of Schouwen-Duiveland and Noord-Beveland. Before, the only way to cross over was by the Zierikzee-Kats ferry.
Crossing the Zeelandbrug north towards Zierikzee, long before you see the stately town, you’ll see the Sint Lievensmonstertoren – people call it Dikke Toren – emerging on high. It is the surviving part of a Gothic church which was burnt down in 1832. It was originally planned to be 130 metres high. Due to a lack of funding, the tower never went beyond a height of 62 metres. You can ascend the tower. The observation deck at the top of the tower, from where there is a magnificent view of Zierikzee and surroundings, can be reached by climbing the 281 steps.
Another tall giant that rises characteristically above its city is the Lange Jan in Middelburg. Some 90 metres high, it is part of the Abdij abbey complex. This tower can be visited. The top of Lange Jan can be reached by ascending the 207 steps. It might require some strenuous legwork, but at the top you will be rewarded with a splendid view across Walcheren. And with a little bit of luck you’ll even be able to get to see other Zeeland islands too!
Over in Sluis in West-Zeeland-Flanders is the Belfort Sluis belfry, the only one in the Netherlands. A belfort, or belfry, is a medieval watchtower with bells. Long ago, Belfort Sluis provided a look-out for city guards and stood as a symbol of freedom for the town. Nowadays, the Belfort houses a museum. At various floors inside the tower you will be able to read about the history of the stronghold of Sluis. The top of the tower can be reached by means of a spiral staircase.
The town walls of Hulst
Another fortified town in Zeeland-Flanders is Hulst. Its centre is still ringed by the original authentic town walls. You can take a walk of about 3.5 kilometers along the city walls. Along the way, you can marvel at the views across the old fortifications, the moat and the surrounding countryside. A visit to the Saint Willibrordus basilica (information only in Dutch) is also a must. Its imposing steeple can be seen from afar, rising above the town.
The Grote Kerk of Veere
Another church which should not be missed is the Grote Kerk in Veere. Over the centuries, the church has functioned in different capacities, amongst other things serving as a military hospital and an almshouse. Today the Grote Kerk is the town’s cultural heart. In the experience centre, the cultural heritage of the town magically comes alive.
A land-in-sea needs lighthouses, to be the beacons for shipping. Our most famous is the Westerlicht lighthouse in Haamstede, known for having featured heavily in the design of the old banknote for 250 guilders (NLG). During its first century, the lighthouse was plainly coloured. Later, it was painted with its now characteristic vivid stripes, to improve its visibility for aeroplane pilots. Admire it fully from the outside, the Westerlicht is closed to the public
In 2022, this imposing castle was voted one of the best 5 castles in the Netherlands by members of the ANWB, the Dutch touring club. And that’s not without reason! Kasteel Westhove was once an impregnable stronghold and you can still witness that today. It occupies pride of place in De Manteling nature reserve. In the former orangery of the castle is the Terra Maris museum. In addition to Kasteel Westhove, Zeeland has many more impressive castles you really must visit. Discover them all!
At Fort Rammekens, near Ritthem, are the oldest coastal fortifications in Western Europe. The fort stands on the shoreline of the Westerschelde estuary and was constructed in 1547. Fort Rammekens has played a key role in the maritime history of Zeeland. Many times it has been laid to siege by opposing armies over the course of several hundred years. Nowadays, the fort is open to visitors. From Fort Rammekens there is a splendid view across the estuary, on the other side of which lies Zeeland-Flanders.