Are you seeking a relaxing getaway to explore natural beauty, learn cultural history, and truly slow down to appreciate it all? This Friesland holiday is designed for exactly that. Over your week in this beautiful part of northeast Netherlands, you’ll spend some time exploring small cities and villages as well as meandering around one of the islands just off-shore. For a relaxing week in the Netherlands, this holiday in Friesland is idyllic!
At TravPact, we want you to travel with impact, having a positive effect on the places where we go. From interacting with the local community to exploring nature, we want you to slow down and enjoy travelling to different places for their culture and beauty. We avoid going to the top Netherlands tourist spots and instead offer you a chance to see the real Netherlands, beyond Amsterdam. Come learn about the unique culture of Friesland. Cycle along the paths to enjoy the sand dunes of our Frisian Islands. Marvel at the wonders of nature while immersing yourself in Dutch culture in small cities and villages.
If you’d prefer to spend more time in our islands, you might like this island-hopping adventure. Or, if you’re travelling with the kids, this Netherlands family holiday adventure is one for creating lifelong memories! We’re always happy to answer questions, so feel free to get in touch.
With 4 persons: €584 per person
Your Friesland holiday begins in Leeuwarden, the capital of Friesland. This charming town was named the European Capital of Culture in 2018 and has enjoyed more attention in the last few years, but still remains a quiet gem with lots to offer a curious visitor.
If you are arriving by plane to Groningen, Schiphol Amsterdam, or Eindhoven airports, there are good train connections to Leeuwarden. There are also connections to other parts of the Netherlands, as well as a variety of cities across Europe.
Upon arrival, you can explore the historic centre of the city (Binnenstad) at your own pace, with the option to walk, rent a bike or an electric scooter, and even a sloop boat. In the past, Leeuwarden has been home to kings, artists, spies…and you can see that variety reflected in the intricate architecture of the beautiful old buildings.
Have you ever spent a night in prison? We will book a room in the former prison for you…a very special place!
Today, you have a full day to explore the city and get to know the stories it has to tell. If the weather gives you a warm welcome, we can arrange a stand-up paddleboarding lesson and tour through Leeuwarden canals supervised by professionals, who will teach you the ins and outs of this water activity. There is also a group of enthusiasts offering walking tours around the city, showing it to you through the eyes of a local, with all the hidden street art, small shops and galleries, and making sure that you fall in love with the town.
A personalised tour can also be arranged by us, considering topics that interest you the most. For a romantic and relaxed exploration, it is worth considering a Venetian gondola tour, offering a unique experience on the Leeuwarden canals.
One of the most recognisable buildings of Leeuwarden is Oldehove – an unfinished church tower that leans more than the tower of Pisa! Any of the city guides you meet today will definitely tell you about it. Another point of interest is the mist fountain next to the central train station, which is a part of the 11 fountains of Friesland (Elf Friese Fonteinen) international art project. It was created by the Spanish artist Jaume Plensa and is called “Love”.
If you’d like, activities and accommodation today could be arranged outside of the city of Leeuwarden, in a Frisian town further north.
Today, you will drive to the port of Holwerd and take a ferry to Ameland, one of the Frisian Islands. For those who would prefer spending the full day taking life slowly and looking over the water on the island, we recommend an early morning start; you can drive directly to the port and have the whole day to enjoy on Ameland. We will book a morning boat for you.
However, if you would like to stay on the mainland for just a little bit longer, there are two places on your way to Holwerd that are worth a detour. The first one is the village of Jannum, where you can visit a museum in the Romano-Gothic church that dates back to the 13th century. The village itself is on a mound and is considered a part of the protected townscape of Friesland. Restored in the 1940s, the church is now home to a museum, where you can learn not only about the monument itself, but also the history of Jannum, the surrounding villages, and the people of this region.
Another non-tourist spot to see is Dokkum, one of the 11 Frisian cities with another fountain. This one is centred around the elements, you can see ice forming on the surface, water flowing, and mist all around. Dokkum is a fortified town, with the strongholds (bolwerken) still well-preserved. While exploring the town, you might wish to rent a bike or a boat, with the canal moats offering a beautiful view of the classic architecture and the bridges. This is a charming place that isn’t a typical tourist spot in the Netherlands, but it feels like going “back in time” with the fort and an emphasis on the particular Frisian culture. We highly recommend having lunch or a drink in one of the cosy small cafés along the canal before you carry on to Holwerd for the ferry.
Upon your arrival on Ameland, whether it is in the early morning or a little later in the afternoon, we suggest going for a walk to enjoy the sea breeze and the stillness of nature. Make sure to watch the sunset over the water through the dunes of the island, seeing the sun gradually become one with the horizon until it disappears for the night.
You will have a full day to continue exploring the island of Ameland today. Enjoy nature, space, and tranquillity. With a variety of activities to choose from, there is something for everyone!
There are various walking routes, the option to rent a bike, or even boat trips to get the overview of attractions and culture of Ameland. If you wish to have an experience in an unusual vehicle, there are also tours offered on an auto-rickshaw (Tuktuk), a tractor, a covered wagon with horses, and even a plane!
One of the must-visit places is the nature reserve Het Oerd (‘t Oerd). This overgrown dune area has both high dunes offering a view over the salt marshes where the birds come to rest as well as moist dune valleys. The pride of the nature reserve is the Spoonbill colony, who have been permanent residents here for over 25 years. Short-eared owls come here to breed as well. The nature reserve is constantly moving and populated all year round, but it truly comes to life during Autumn when tens of thousands of birds find refuge and rest here during the high tide.
You can choose to climb the 55-metre-high cast-iron Lighthouse of Ameland, which is no longer in use by the coast guard (since 2005), but is open to the public and offers a breath-taking view. It’s well worth the effort for those who can withstand the tricky climb up 236 steps, stopping to look at exhibits now placed on several floors of the lighthouse.
If you still have time for a visit to a museum today, there are various options all over the island, including the Culture and History, Agriculture and Beachcombing, Maritime museums, and more. We can arrange guided or individual visits upon request and according to your wishes!
Your Friesland holiday continues today as you take the ferry back to the Dutch mainland and head towards Harlingen. But, before you do, upon your arrival at the port in Holwerd, we suggest taking a walk to explore the famous wide salt marshes, where you can walk along the dike and visit the bird hide.
Then, you will drive to Harlingen, a town on the coast of the Wadden Sea with a long history of fishing and shipping. If you wish to stay in very special accommodation, we could arrange a stay in a historic sailboat for you upon request (it is only possible during the weekend).
Harlingen and the surrounding area are home to multiple attractions and have picturesque walking, sailing, and biking places. Another fountain from the same art project can be found here: “The whale”, created by a Puerto Rican artist couple and representing the past of the area, where whale hunting historically took place.
Walking through the town, try counting all 21 of the restored advertisement murals on buildings – perfect for taking your old-fashioned townscape pictures in the form of a self-organised treasure hunt! Look into the alleys…wide, narrow, crooked, and bumpy, each one has a story to tell! Here, you will also see the “stumbling stones” (Struikelstenen) on the pavements in front of houses where Jewish residents used to live before the Holocaust. These have been placed in order to cherish their memory.
We have several very special overnight places for to choose from here.
You have today to yourself, with the possibility to explore Harlingen further and fall deeper in love with the maritime heritage and the cosy streets or opting to venture to the nearby town of Franeker, with a variety of interest points.
Firstly, it should come as no surprise to you that another fountain and part of the project is located in Franeker. This one is dedicated to the world-famous astronomer Jan Hendrik Oort and named “The Oort Cloud”, representing the solar system and our universe. Franeker is also home to the Eise Eisinga Planetarium with the oldest functioning planetarium in the world as the centrepiece! There is also an interactive permanent exhibition “De Ruimte”.
Another very interesting place to visit is Kaatsmuseum, which is the oldest sports museum in the Netherlands. Opened in 1972, you will learn the history, rules, and contemporary development of this characteristically-Frisian sport.
We recommend exploring Franeker on a bike or by foot, giving you easy access to charming hidden gardens, which will not be so hidden to you with our directions!
Tonight, you will stay in Harlingen once again, and we recommend having fresh seafood for dinner in one of the restaurants in town.
You depart from Harlingen today. We hope you have enjoyed exploring the province on your Friesland holiday, and we wish you a safe trip home or on to your next destination!
TravPact is Travelife Certified, which means our tours are in line with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council Industry criteria and our certification is formally recognized by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.
With a professional background in the nonprofit sector working in international development, we are keenly aware of the impact tourism can have on a destination and its people.
That’s why we choose to bring your focus away from driving long distances, and instead offer alternatives such as bikes, sailboats, kayaks, or simply walking to reach a destination where possible.
Moreover, in order to give you the most authentic experience, we give preference to small local hotels, B&B’s, and campsites. In these spaces, you can connect with the Dutch culture in an authentic way and experience the cities and villages of the Northern Netherlands.