Bordering the North Sea, Friesland is a fascinating cultural region in the north-west of the Netherlands. It’s renowned for its natural scenery, which includes sparkling lakes and windswept islands and boasts charming towns and villages where West Frisian is spoken.
Things to do in Friesland
Whether you want to get cultured in Leeuwarden, shop ’til you drop in Dokkum or escape to the West Frisian Islands, you’ll find all of this and more in Friesland Province.
Explore the West Frisian Islands. Stretching between the Wadden Sea and the North Sea, this archipelago encompasses photogenic villages, wildlife-filled wetlands and windswept beaches. Rent a bicycle to explore Texel and Terschelling, marvel at the red-and-white-striped lighthouse of Ameland or birdwatch amidst the dunes and salt marshes of Schiermonnikoog National Park.
Visit fortified Dokkum. Clustered with independent boutiques and interior design stores, Dokkum is famed for its beautifully preserved bulwarks. Its historic streets are lined with stepped gable houses, several of which house cultural museums, while centuries-old buildings and windmills are exhibited at the open-air De Sûkerei.
Cruise the canals of Leeuwarden. Famed as the birthplace of graphic artist, M.C. Escher, Leeuwarden is a beautiful city traversed by cobblestone streets and canals. Cruise along its waterways to admire the historic townhouses and heritage-listed buildings or delve into the regional history at the Fries Museum, which houses an extensive collection of portraits by Adriaen van Cronenburg.
Relax on the docks of Harlingen. Overlooking the Wadden Sea, Harlingen is an atmospheric port city with a rich history of fishing and shipping. Watch the boats coming and going from the busy harbour or explore the cultural exhibits of the Hannemahuis, which occupies a magnificent 18th-century merchant’s house.
Getting around Friesland
Friesland is around 1.5 hours’ drive from Amsterdam and Schiphol Airport while Groningen Airport Eelde is about an hour away. Regular trains connect to the Leeuwarden and Harlingen railway stations while buses travel to smaller towns and villages throughout the province. Renting a car is the most convenient way of exploring Friesland.