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Zierikzee

48km (30 miles) SW of Rotterdam

This harbor town on the Oosterschelde (Eastern Scheldt) shore of the one-time islands of Schouwen and Duiveland, now joined together, is reputedly the best-preserved town in the Netherlands. Just big enough (pop. 11,000) to escape the "sleepy" category, Zierikzee is still guarded by a wall constructed during the Middle Ages and has elegant whitewashed 16th- to 18th-century houses.

Getting There -- Zierikzee has no rail station. Buses depart every hour to Zierikzee from outside the rail station in nearby Goes. By car from Rotterdam, take A29 and N59 south and west. An alternative route, skirting the coast, is N57 south to the junction with N59, and then east on this road into town.

Visitor Information -- VVV Zierikzee, Nieuwe Haven 7, 4301 DG Zierikzee (tel. 0900/202-0233; fax 0111/412-450; www.vvvzeeland.nl), is at the harbor. The office is open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 4pm.

Middelburg

74km (46 miles) SW of Rotterdam; 27km (17 miles) SW of Zierikzee

At the center of Zeeland is Walcheren (often still called Walcheren Island even though it has long been connected to the mainland), which holds the bustling provincial capital, Middelburg (pop. 40,000). A medieval town that has restored its 1,000 historical landmarks so successfully you'd think they've stood undisturbed through the centuries, it began as a 9th-century fortress, erected as a defense against Viking raiders. The fortifications expanded into a settlement around 1150, when an abbey was established.

On Thursday, Middelburg's colorful market day, mingle in the Markt square with locals, some of whom wear traditional dress.

Getting There -- Two trains to Middelburg depart every hour from Amsterdam, Rotterdam, the Hague, and other points. By car, take A29 and N259 south from Rotterdam to Bergen op Zoom, and then go west on A58/E312.

Visitor Information -- Tourist Shop Middelburg is at Markt 65C, 4331 LK Middelburg (tel. 0118/674-300; fax 0118/674-333; www.touristshop.nl), across from the Town Hall. The office is open April to October Monday to Friday from 9:30am to 5:30pm, Saturday from 9:30am to 5pm, and the first Sunday of the month from 1 to 5pm; and November to March, Monday from 1 to 5pm, and Tuesday to Saturday from 9am to 5pm.

Veere

6km (3 3/4 miles) N of Middelburg

On the one-time island of Noord-Beveland, by the shore of a former sea inlet that is now a lake called the Veerse Meer, stands this charming village which was an important port for Scottish wool from the 14th to the 18th century. Those bygone trading links earned Scottish mariners the right to free hospitality -- a right they surely took full advantage of. Veere's streets are lined with houses and buildings straight out of the past, and its original fortifications are still intact, the ancient harbor tower now housing an excellent hotel/restaurant.

Buses go every hour from Middelburg. For visitor information, go to VVV Veere, Oudestraat 28, 4351 AV Veere (tel. 0900/202-0280; www.vvvzeeland.nl), in the center of the village.

Vlissingen

6km (3 3/4 miles) S of Middelburg

The port town of Vlissingen (in English the name translates to Flushing) is a popular resort and hosts the Royal Netherlands Navy's southernmost base. Standing on the town beach or atop the waterfont dike, you get a front-row view of the 50,000 seagoing vessels that sail up and down the Scheldt annually -- most of these are sailing to or from the ports of Antwerp, Ghent, and Terneuzen, but some head into and out of Vlissingen (pop. 45,000).

Getting There -- There are two trains hourly from Rotterdam and Amsterdam to Vlissingen, via Middelburg, and frequent buses from Middelburg. By car from Middelburg, drive south on N57.

A pair of twin-hulled passenger ferries, the Prinses Maxima and the Prins Willem Alexander, cross the Westerschelde (Western Scheldt) between Breskens on the coast of Zeeuws-Vlaanderen (Zeeland Flanders) and Vlissingen, opening up easy travel options from the neighboring Belgian seacoast resorts, and from Bruges and Ghent (but when going by car from Zeeuws-Vlaanderen you need to take the tunnel under the Westerschelde from Ternuizen). The ferries are operated by Veolia Fast Ferries (tel. 076/528-1000; www.veolia-transport.nl). A day round-trip ticket is 4.15€ ($6.65) for adults; 2.45€ ($3.90) for seniors, children ages 4 to 11, bicycles, and mopeds; and free for children 3 and under. The ferry ride takes 20 minutes and there are two departures hourly in both directions.

Visitor Information -- VVV Vlissingen, Oude Markt 3, 4381 ER Vlissingen (tel. 0118/422-190; fax 0118/422-191; www.vvvzeeland.nl), is in the center of town.

Yerseke

30km (19 miles) E of Middelburg

This busy little fishing port on the Oosterschelde is noted for its extensive offshore mussel beds and oyster farms, and for seafood restaurants that serve up these and other marine delights. Buses go to Yerseke every hour from the rail station at Goes.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.