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Most Dutch would never suggest putting Middleburg on your itinerary, and yet it was the first town in the Netherlands that I visited. Perhaps it’s because it was my first Dutch experience, but I fell in love with Middelburg and would recommend others visit as well.

What’s So Great About Middelburg?

Bicyclists in Middleburg

Middelburg is the capital of Zeeland, the southwesternmost province in the Netherlands. It only has a population of about 50,000, making it more of a town than a city in my book. Just like Haarlem, Utrecht, Alkmaar, and other small towns in the Netherlands, Middelburg has the quintessential Dutch feel with brick streets, windmills, and flowers everywhere (even though I visited in February).

Theodore Roosevelt Bust

The University College Roosevelt is located in Middelburg, essentially making it a college town with plenty of students wandering around day and night. I figured the University was named after FDR, but not quite. While Franklin Roosevelt was born in Hyde Park, NY, his family roots came from Middelburg, and thus you’ll see a bust of him and Eleanor in the city.

A Town Where Everyone Knows Everyone

Middelburg is very much a town where everyone knows everyone. To accentuate that point, I stayed with two different CouchSurfing hosts in the two days I was there. Not only did they know each other, I found several people in town who knew them as well. We even ran into the boyfriend of one of them as she showed me around the city. Talk about a small world! I wish the rest of the world were more connected like that.

Dinner, Concert and Movie with Host #7

Things got really strange a few months later when I entered a hostel in Korenica, Croatia. Another girl checked into the hostel right after me. After chatting with her a bit, I found it she was at the same party I attended in Middelburg several months earlier. Not only that, she also lived next door to the second Couchsurfing host I had in the student apartments!

The Beaches of Middelburg

Middelburg is in the center of the peninsula, but the beaches are as little as 4 miles away. Most of the Netherlands has a sandy coastline, perfect for a day sunbathing at the beach. When you visit Middelburg, consider renting a bicycle for a day. The closest beach is a 30-minute ride away. Just remember to bring water and sunscreen.

Restaurants in Middelburg

Zeeland has an incredible gastronomy scene. As of 2023, there are 36 Michelin restaurants in the province, including six 1-star Michelin restaurants, and a 2-star restaurant! That’s more than Edinburgh, Scotland has. Two of the restaurants are in Middelburg – Barres and Scherp, while three more restaurants are out by the beaches.

Personally, I prefer Dutch cafes with nice terraces on the street for a relaxing meal. The city center of Middelburg is full of these, especially on the southwest side of town where you’ll also find the walking streets lined with shops. One particularly good spot for coffee is Cafe de Zaak, just off the main square in front of the Town Hall.

My 48 Hours Exporing Misselburg

I was quite excited to finally make it to the Netherlands, the birthplace of my grandparents, as my third country in my travels. As mentioned, Middelburg is a very remote Dutch town and not a place any Dutchman would ever recommend visiting, but that only enhanced the wonderful experience.

Couchsurfing in Middelburg

I spent 48 hours in Middelburg, having been brought up by my Workaway host from Brussels. On the one hand, 48 hours is more than enough time in the small town, as there are hardly any attractions. On the other hand, if you just want that quaint Dutch village feel, Middelburg is the perfect option.

The highlight of my stay was my two Couchsurfing hosts. They were great chefs and had really nice apartments to stay in. The first was hosting a great dinner, concert, and movie for a dozen people the night I arrived, and the second host brought me to a midnight dance party at the uni. (Shhh…don’t tell anyone – I wasn’t supposed to be in there.) I was also honored to be the first Couchsurfing guest of the second host.


Hagel SlagI particularly enjoyed my host’s breakfast of toast with hagel slag (chocolate sprinkles) which was always a favorite of mine when I would visit my grandparents. Other great Dutch dishes I tried were apple strudel, stroopwafels (waffle cookies with a caramel center), honingkoek (honey bread), and Dutch frites (fries). The one meal I didn’t get was hutspot (potatoes, onions, and carrots). That one was always my favorite growing up. Oh well. Next time.

Exploring Middelburg

Original Warehouses in Middelburg

The town itself was fantastic. As small as it is, I still managed to walk about 12 miles in one day, visiting the two windmills, walking along the star-shaped canal surrounding the city, the Oostkerk (west church), and visiting nearly all the shops. While I still believe Belgian chocolate is the best, Dutch chocolate is not far behind.

Water Tower Converted into House

The architecture was particularly spectacular. I’m sure there’s no way to know for sure, but I’m guessing there are over a billion bricks used in the city’s construction. Nearly every street was made of bricks, as were most of the buildings, walls, and other structures, even if they were painted white.

Abbey Tower of Long John

My favorite building was the Abbey Tower of Long John. Aside from it being next door to my first host, it was tall enough to be seen from nearly every part of the city and was great for navigating. It made it impossible for me to get lost while wandering the narrow streets. If I ever lost track of it momentarily, it wouldn’t take long for the tower to come back into view after a few more minutes of wandering. It is 297 feet high and capped by a beautiful golden roof.

Artists of Stukafest DrawingsMy only disappointment was not being able to stay for Stukafest. While walking around, I came across a group of uni students making chalk drawings on the market square paving stones. After talking to them, I found out it is a festival with several concerts and shows occurring right in the dormitories of the students. It sounded amazing, but it happened on February 24, two days after I left.

De Seismolen Windmill in Distance

Beyond that, it was just a fabulous weekend. The weather was great (light rain one day and beautifully sunny the next). Overall, I would recommend putting Middelburg on your itinerary, at least after you’ve visited the other major cities of the Netherlands.

Further Reading

In case you missed them, here are all the links to my other articles concerning the Netherlands.

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Author Skye Class

Hi, I'm Skye. Writer, photographer, adventurer, foodie, teacher, masseur, friend, dreamer, etc. I think "normal" sucks. Let's aim for extraordinary. SkyeTravels seeks to find the good around the world, focusing on adventures, food and wellness. Be inspired. Be yourself.

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