Compact MIDDELBURG, the largest town in Zeeland, is by any reckoning the most likeable. Its streets preserve some snapshots of medieval Holland, its cobbled alleyways echo the sea-trading days of the sixteenth century, and a few museums and churches provide targets for your wanderings. Middelburg's centre holds a large Thursday market and if you can only make it for a day, this is the best time to visit. Set to the imposing backdrop of the reconstructed Stadhuis and packed with local produce, it's an atmospheric event that's guaranteed to draw a crowd – including, on occasion, elderly couples in traditional costume. With a range of accommodation, Middelburg also makes an ideal base for exploring the surrounding area, including Veere, Domburg and the Delta Project, with good bus connections and excellent cycling potential along Walcheren's windswept coast.
Middelburg is an appealing town to explore, small enough to cover on foot and scattered with architectural clues to its rich, sea-trading past. The town owed its early growth to its position on a bend in the River Arne, making it easy to defend. The slight elevation gave the settlement protection from the sea and its streets slope down to the harbour, protecting the centre from flooding. Look out for the surviving stone blocks at the end of Brakstraat, into which wooden planks were slotted then bolstered with sand banks, acting as a temporary dyke.