According to, Friesland is a province located in the north of the Netherlands. The official name has been Fryslân since January 1997, but outside the province almost only the name Friesland is used. Frisian (Frysk) is an officially recognized national language and is widely used in Friesland in addition to Dutch. Friesland is a province where, by Dutch standards, there is a lot of space, supplemented with beautiful lakes that are frequently visited by recreational boats in the summer and in winter, weather permitting, they are used for frequent skating. Skating (Thialf skating rink & tours such as the Elfstedentocht) and Friesland are often mentioned in the same breath during the winter period.

We doubted whether we should put the Frisian lakes and canals in the top 10 sights of Friesland. If there is a place in the Netherlands where you can sail or sail around motorized, it is Friesland. But water sports enthusiasts know that and for the average tourist the phenomenon of ‘water’ is something you will encounter during your holiday in Friesland. If only because you have to wait once again because a bridge is being opened.

Top 10 sights of Friesland

#1. Leeuwarden

In our opinion, Leeuwarden is the nicest city in Friesland. This provincial capital has undergone tremendous development in recent years, providing plenty to see and experience. The fact that Leeuwarden used to be a prosperous city can still be seen in the beautiful historic warehouses and buildings such as the town hall, Palace of Justice, St. Boniface’s Church, Kanselarij, the Waag van Leeuwarden and the Oldehove. On the other hand, you see more and more art and modern elements appearing in the streets of Leeuwarden. Think of the sleek Fries Museum, the street art that has been applied in various places as part of ‘Writer’s Block’ and the artwork ‘Love Fountain’.

#2. Eleven Cities Tour

The Frisian Elfstedentocht is considered the tour of tours in Friesland when it comes to skating tours. Unfortunately, climate change means that this huge folk festival can take place less and less often. Last century, when we still had real winters, at least one Elfstedentocht was ridden almost every decade. Only the 1970s were then deprived of the Elfstedentocht. Nowadays it is becoming more and more difficult to say “It pours oan!” to hear.

Why the Elfstedentochtinclude it in a top 10 sights of Friesland? That’s because there are several other ways to experience an Eleven Cities Tour. For example, you can take the Eleven Cities Cycle Route. It has a total length of no less than 235 kilometers. No one is telling you to do this in one day. An exception is of course if you participate in the annual official Eleven Cities Bicycle Tour, which is held on Whit Monday.

In addition to cycling, you can walk the route between the eleven cities (in several routes) or alternatively drive a car route that takes you from Leeuwarden to Sneek, IJlst, Sloten, Stavoren, Hindeloopen, Workum, Bolsward, Harlingen, Franeker and Dokkum.

#3. Wadden Sea

The Wadden Sea does not only belong to the province of Friesland, but it is one of the most important sights of Friesland. The Wadden Sea has different roles for the Frisians. It is the place where fish has been caught for years. From an economic point of view, the Wadden Sea therefore contributes its share. From a touristic point of view, the Wadden Sea and the Wadden Islands located therein are also of considerable importance. Every year tens of thousands of tourists come to the Frisian islands of Vlieland, Terschelling, Ameland and Schiermonnikoog. It is for the tranquil atmosphere and special character that attracts visitors to the islands.

From the mainland you can participate in so-called mudflat walks. You can also walk along the Wadden Sea on the mainland. A soothing experience, we can say from our own experience. Along the way you will undoubtedly encounter sheep and all kinds of birds.

#4. National parks

The province of Friesland has four national parks, the largest of which can be found on the Wadden island of Schiermonnikoog. Most of this island belongs to the national park. Here you will find different land types and seals are regularly seen and it is a habitat for many different birds. De Alde Feanen National Park is located near the Frisian town of Eernewoude. The park, of which the Princenhof water area is part, is approximately 25 km² in size. Special about this park are the many windmills and the stork outstation ‘It Eibertshiem’. And then there is the 60 km² Lauwersmeer National Park near Dokkumer Nieuwe Zijlen. This park is popular for its beautiful orchids and birds such as the peregrine falcon.

#5. ir. DF Woudagemaal

Pumping stations ensure that the groundwater level remains the same throughout Friesland. The largest steam pumping station in the world still working can be found in Tacozijl, near Lemmer: the Ir. DF Woudagemaal. It is used to control water levels in Friesland. This prevents the Frisian country from being flooded in the event of a lot of precipitation. In 1920 the Wouda pumping station was put into operation for the first time by Queen Wilhelmina. The person responsible at the time of the Provincial Water Management was Ir. Dirk Frederik Wouda. He executed the pumping station according to the design and he conceived the adjacent building. That was in the year 1917.

The Irish. DF Woudagemaal is on the UNESCO World Heritage List and has become a fairly popular attraction in Friesland. Those who wish can take a look at the pumping station accompanied by a guide. The guide will explain everything about the Ir. DF Woudagemaal and try to answer even the most difficult questions.

#6. Museum ‘t Fiskershuske

A province like Friesland has quite a few large and smaller museums. It is often a matter of taste which museum is more appealing than another. One person is more likely to opt for typical Frisian products or culture, while others prefer to dive into history. A small museum worth visiting in our opinion is Museum ‘t Fiskershúske. This museum has been built in a number of former fishermen’s houses in the village of Moddergat. The museum tells the history of the village, what life was like as a fisherman or fisherwoman and what impact a heavy storm in 1883 had on the society of Moddergatand a number of other Frisian fishing villages such as Paesens and Wierum.

#7. Royal Eise Eisinga Planetarium

The oldest planetarium in the world can be found in the Frisian town of Franeker. Eise Eisinga built a scale model of our solar system, as it was known at the time, in his home. Later discovered planets such as Uranus and Neptune are missing from this masterpiece built between 1774 and 1781. Good thing too, because otherwise the room would have been far too small to complete the planetarium. Today the house is a very interesting museum where one can learn more about celestial bodies and planets: the Royal Eise Eisinga Planetarium. It is wonderful to see what Eise managed to achieve at that time (late eighteenth century). The fact that the planetarium is still operating on the right schedule can be called unique. However, this requires the necessary help from the museum staff. They perform a number of actions from time to time to keep everything working.

#8. Sneek

The town of Sneek is one of the most visited places in Friesland. The symbol of the city is the unmissable Waterpoort on the Stadsgracht. The two pointed octagonal towers each stand on either side of the nostalgic bridge. The building houses a gatekeeper’s house, which, together with the bridge that has been renovated several times, dates from 1785. The Sneekermeer and the historic city center attract many visitors every year. The biggest attractions are the Grote or Martinikerk and the historic area around it, the town hall and the Frisian Maritime Museum.

If you like sailing and/or partying, you should visit Sneek during the Sneekweek. This week is full of festivities surrounding the sailing competitions. This annual event is held from the Friday before the first Saturday in August to the following Thursday.

#9. Afsluitdijk

The Afsluitdijk is important to Friesland in many ways. This dike connects Friesland with North Holland. The IJsselmeer is separated from the Wadden Sea by means of this 32 kilometer long flood defence/traffic road. The dike should protect the land and agriculture against flooding. In 1982, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Afsluitdijk, a monument was placed which embodies a stone setter who worked on this dike from 1927. There is also a statue of the founder Cornelis Lely.

#10. Frisian Balloon Parties

Can you also enjoy the soothing effect that floating hot air balloons can have on you? Then you might have to go to the Frisian Ballonfeesten. In Joure, dozens of hot air balloons are launched during this annual hot air balloon festival. On that day there is a lot of fun surrounding this event at the Nutsbaan. Often foreign balloons also participate to represent their country during this event. The place Joure is also known as ‘Balloon City’ because of the event.

Friesland, Netherlands

Sights of Friesland, Netherlands
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