Friesland is one of the Netherlands’ most northerly provinces; you can find it just west of Groningen. Friesland is famous for its eleven small cities and its various rivers, lakes, waterways, and canals, but we’d like to spend a little time today focusing on its beautiful and unique national parks. If anything here inspires you to start planning your own trip to Friesland — or perhaps a larger trip throughout the Netherlands as a whole — then take a look through our Netherlands Tours. With this short guide, we hope we can inspire a few readers to add at least one (or two) of Friesland’s national parks to their Netherlands bucket list!
Lauwersmeer National Park
Lauwersmeer National Park belongs to both Friesland and Groningen as it straddles the boundaries between both provinces. Looking out onto Wadden Sea, this national park forms part of the larger Dutch Wadden Sea Conservation Area. Lauwersmeer National Park has many fantastic hiking trails that are suitable for beginners as there is little relief so the walks are relatively gentle. The park is at its most photogenic when you look out over the Wadden Sea, with lagoons and canals bringing the sea deep into the park. There are over 100 species of birds, making it one of the best birdwatching spots in the country. Lauwersmeer National Park was also given official ‘Dark Sky Park’ status in 2016, meaning that it is sufficiently far enough away from light sources to preserve the true natural darkness of the night’s sky. This makes it ideal for stargazing — and even better if you have a small telescope!
De Alde Feanen National Park
De Alde Feanen National Park is found almost in the centre of Friesland. This striking park is only 25 square kilometres (9.7 square miles), yet it is home to over 450 plant species and approximately 100 different species of birds, including the rather impressive white stork. It’s also impressive that this relatively small park contains a vibrant mixture of biomes, including lakes, forests, peat bogs, and meadows. While not a wild inhabitant of De Alde Feanen National Park, there are domesticated Shetland ponies in paddocks. With permission, you can enter some paddocks and pet these charming little ponies.
Schiermonnikoog National Park
Schiermonnikoog National Park is an island just off mainland Friesland’s north-eastern shore. The island covers approximately 72 square kilometres (28 square miles) and it is home to a diverse roster of flora and fauna. Bird lovers should look out for spoonbills, hen harriers, oystercatchers, and barnacle geese, to name only a few, and everyone should look to the shore to spot grey seals and common seals swimming in the water, occasionally even coming onto the land to sunbathe. For many visitors, sunbathing is also the best thing about visiting Schiermonnikoog National Park as it has some truly exceptional beaches to either lie in the sun, take everything in, or get out into the [admittedly chilly] water.
That’s all we have time for today. Friesland has some of the best national parks in the Netherlands, and no two are the same! We hope this guide will inspire you to add Friesland and its incredible parks to your next adventure in the Netherlands. If you’re almost convinced and you’d like to look at some of our packages, check out our South East Friesland Tour and our Friesland & Groningen Tour. And if you have any follow-up questions for us, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Your big Friesland trip could be only a few clicks away.