Things to do - general

Friesland as a travel destination

Friesland, land of lakes and waterways. Where picturesque cities border on versatile landscapes. Where the rich history is embraced by modern culture and where tranquility is a state of mind.

Did you know that Friesland is the only province with its own official language? It is not the only thing that makes the province so unique. The provincial capital of Leeuwarden with its canals, monuments and shopping streets is one of Holland’s best kept secrets. The wadden are a unique natural landscape that is transformed completely at the high and low tides. You should also visit the picturesque Eleven Cities or board the ferry to the Wadden Islands. Travel Experts have good reasons for putting the province of Friesland on its list of hidden gems in Europe!

Capital of Friesland: Leeuwarden

The capital of the province of Friesland is a mixture of shopping areas, cultural highlights and an exciting nightlife. Leeuwarden boasts over 600 monuments! Enough reasons for you to get a map with walking tours at the tourist information office. Shopaholics must visit De Kleine Kerkstraat, which is one of the most charming shopping streets in the Netherlands.


Mud walking (in Dutch: wadlopen) is an exciting and adventurous way of acquainting oneself with a unique nature reserve, the Wadden Sea, also the largest continuous national park in Europe. During low-tide, shallows fall dry making it possible to cross the bottom of the sea. These shallows consist of sandbanks, criss-crossed with trenches and gullies. During a typical mud walk, hikers wrestle through miles of mire and thigh-deep brown mud, wade through channels of waist high water before arriving on one of the islands in the Wadden Sea.

The Frisian lakes

Friesland is a water paradise! Nowhere else in Europe will you find such an extensive network of interconnected lakes, canals, ditches, ponds and rivers. The area attracts thousands of boaters and vacationers, who want to experience this unique water spectacle. The area offers a good balance between tourism, water sports and the extraordinary flora and fauna.

One of the most famous lakes in Friesland is the Sneekermeer. It originated in the Middle Ages due to peat extraction, and today it is equipped with all the necessary water sports facilities for every kind of water enthusiast. Anything is possible, from swimming, water skiing and surfing to sailing races and leisure boating.
There are more lakes to enjoy other than the Sneekermeer. In total, the area of the Frisian lakes consists of 35 lakes with a total surface area of 9300 hectares.

Wadden Islands of Friesland

Peaceful and spacious Vlieland
Vlieland is the Wadden Island that is the most remote from the mainland. This quiet island has only one village. The island is largely forested, but also has the eye-catching Vuurboetsduin. This is a forty-metre high dune with a red lighthouse on top. The island is around 12 km in length and no more than 2 km in width.

Long beaches and farmhouses on Terschelling
Terschelling is the second largest of the West Frisian Islands. The oldest lighthouse in the Netherlands, the Brandaris from 1594, welcomes visitors to the island. Good collaboration between humans and nature has resulted in a varied landscape that ranges from a shoreline to tidal marshes and forests.

Wadden Diamond Ameland
The natural beauty and quiet of Ameland, also known as the ‘Wadden Diamond’, earned this island the Quality Coast Award in 2009. De Hôn and Het Oerd nature reserves are home to fantastic flora and fauna, and the island has a rich history of whaling and merchant shipping.

With a length of 16 km and a width of 4 km, Schiermonnikoog is the smallest inhabited Wadden island. The only village on the island is also called Schiermonnikoog. Due to its varied landscape of dunes, woods, mudflats and polders, as well as diverse flora and fauna, the island has been designated as a National Park.

Interesting villages in Friesland

The province of Friesland has many interesting villages to visit, like Dokkum, Sneek, Harlingen, Franeker, Sloten, Stavoren, Hindeloopen and Heerenveen. Most of them are part of the Eleven Cities. As soon as temperatures drop below zero the Dutch are brimming with excitement about the legendary Elfstedentocht (Eleven Dutch Cities Tour), the world’s most prestigious speed and leisure skating events.

Since Leeuwarden-Fryslân European Capital of Culture in 2018, the eleven cities of Friesland have been equipped with unique fountains. Eleven internationally renowned artists have designed exceptional water artworks in all eleven cities. High time for an Elfstedentocht along these pearls.


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