Most travelers visiting the Netherlands limit themselves to Amsterdam and its surroundings. It’s a shame, because there’s so much more to discover. There are loads of opportunities to enjoy water sports like sailing and kayaking in the northern province of Friesland, for example. But Leeuwarden, Friesland’s capital, is also worth a visit. There are enough activities to entertain yourself for a few days. From museums and water sports to good food and letting your hair down at one of the many festivals. If you’re coming from Amsterdam, you can choose to travel via the ‘cheese city’ Alkmaar and take the bus to Leeuwarden from there. The nice thing about this route is that it takes you over the famous dam ‘de afsluitdijk’. A 32,5 km long dam which helps to keep the Netherlands from flooding, by separating ‘het IJsselmeer’ from ‘de Waddenzee’. Once you’ve arrived in Leeuwarden you can further explore Frisian culture.
1. Visit the Frisian museum
‘Het Wilhelminaplein’ (Wilhelmina square) in Leeuwarden underwent a metamorphosis several years ago, which included the construction of the beautiful new Frisian museum. A must see for those who love culture. Even if you’re not a big fan of museums, it’s still worth a visit. The exhibitions vary from Frisian culture to modern art and are all exhibited in a unique and modern way. You’ll also find the new resistance museum here, a surprising and beautiful display full of striking personal stories from the war. We were impressed!
2. Shop till you drop
Leeuwarden is also a great place for a day of shopping. The center offers a wide range of shops. And when you get tired of shopping, you can sit down at one of the many terraces.
3. Drinks at Fellini
Fellini is a nice place to relax after a day of cultural activities and shopping. Besides nice cocktails and wines they serve various appetizers. A great way to start the evening! You can also have a delicious meal here.
4. Enjoy the view from ‘de Oldehove’
The leaning tower ‘de Oldehove’ is an icon of the Frisian capital. If you want to see the city from a different angle, climb the stairs to the top of the tower for a panoramic view of Leeuwarden.
5. Dinner at ‘het Mauritshuis’
Restaurant ‘het Mauritshuis’ is an absolute must for a night of dining out. Not only is the food great, it’s also cheap. Mains start at €10, and you’ll get an excellent meal for that price. It’s truly a great place for an evening of culinary pleasures, accompanied by delicious wines.
6. Spend the night at the hotel management school
Leeuwarden may not be known for it, but it’s definitely a student city. Stenden University has one of the best Hotel Management schools in the country. And the nice thing is, you can spend the night at the school! The Stenden Hotel has neat hotel rooms, a beautiful restaurant and relaxing lounge as well as excellent service provided by the students of the college. It’s a ten-minute walk from the Stenden Hotel to the center, making it a good base camp for a weekend in Leeuwarden. If only for the delicious, elaborate breakfast!
7. See Leeuwarden from the water
If you fancy a bit of action, go supping through the canals of Leeuwarden. From the city beach you can get on a board with Sup skool Leeuwarden and paddle through Leeuwarden in 2 hours. A really fun activity and a great way to see the city from the water.
8. Have a coffee at Vinny & Jo
In ‘de Grote Hoogstraat’ you’ll find the trendy coffee bar coffee bar Vinny & Jo. They offer delicious, unique coffee from al over the world. It’s also the right place for delicious cake, a glass of wine or a cocktail. The cozy interior will make you feel right at home.
9. Taste Friesland in the Frisian local specialty shop Priuw
If you want to have a taste of the real Friesland then Priuw in ‘de Oosterstraat’ is the place to go. The shop offers many Frisian specialties that are also available to taste! From a large collection of Frisian beers, liqueurs and wines to cheese, dry sausage, jam, cookies and other delicious products from the province. It’s quite exceptional to see just how many delicious products are made locally in Friesland. And of course they also make a good souvenir from your weekend away.
10. Visit one of the many festivals
Leeuwarden was crowned cultural Capital 2018 of Europe. This is reflected in a wide range of cultural activities on offer, including festivals. All summer long, you can find the nicest festivals in the city as well as the surrounding recreational area. We recommend Welcome to the Village, where you can get away from it all for a weekend. It’s a fully sustainable festival with music, food trucks and creativity along the water. Another fun festival that combines well with a city trip is ‘Ljouwert culinair’, which takes place in early September. No festivals on during your stay? Visit the brand new pop podium ‘poppodium de Neushoorn’ or ‘podium Astriks’ housed in the old jail ‘de Blokhuispoort’.
Do you want to get away for a weekend in Leeuwarden too? Find loads more tips and information at Friesland.nl!