The coastal province of Friesland, with the lowest population density of the country, is home to unique traditions and charming towns and a bustling capital. Let Friesland take your breath away this summer.
1. Summertime on the beach
The many Frisian lakes, coastline and islands are popular with both locals and tourists. On sunny days some beaches are bustling with kids splashing in the water and families having picnics. Other beaches are more quiet and people and the bird population may outnumber people.
Take a ferry across the Wadden Sea to one of the islands to enjoy a day of horseback riding, cycling, swimming or for a walk along the beach.
2. Friesland for sweet tooths: Suikerbrood
Eventhough sugary bread loaves are eaten throughout the Netherlands, it is especially associated with Friesland. Suikerbrood is a yeast-based bread with large lumps of sugar mixed in with the dough.
The Frisian version has a very high sugar content, up to 40%. A visit to Friesland is not complete without a slice of suikerbrood together with a nice cup of coffee in the afternoon.
3. Friesland’s national sport fierljeppen
Fierljeppen (‘far leaping’) originates with Frisian farmers who used poles to cross drainage channels that divided plots of land. Today fierljeppen is considered as the national sport of Frisian people and pole jumpers compete for the honour during annual championships.
The long poles (up to 13 meters) have a flat plate at the bottom to prevent it from sinking into the mud. The jumper takes a short sprint to the pole, grabs it and then climbs to the top of the pole and flies to the opposite side of the waterway. The best fierljeppers can leap distances as far as 21 meter.
During the summer there are plenty of opportunities to see fierljep competitions. Take a look at the schedules of Fierljeppen.frl and Fierljeppe.nl to find out when you can see these amazing athletes live in action.
4. Leeuwarden, the dynamic capital of Friesland
With so many great festivals and spectacular events it is no wonder that the vibrant capital of Friesland has been chosen as Cultural Capital of Europe 2018. However, there is no need to wait until next year as there are plenty of great events this summer such as Leip! Festival on Thursday 7 September to celebrate the start of the academic year and Jaarmarkt on Sunday 24 September.
While you are in Leeuwarden, don’t forget to visit the famous Oldehove tower for a bird’s eye view of the beautiful historical center. Construction began in 1529 when the citizens of Leeuwarden demanded a church tower taller than the Martinitoren in Groningen. The tower already began to sag during construction and the project came to a halt in 1532, resulting in an unfinished tower which some people claim leans even more than the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Take a stroll down the pretty medieval streets and discover many monuments and museums. Blokhuispoort was built in 1499 as a fort and turned into a prison in 1580. The prison closed in 2007 and today it is a home to a cultural center. You can do a guided tour by a former warden and visit dozens of creative startups in former prison cells.
5. Tour the famous Eleven Cities
It has been 20 years since the most recent Elfstedentocht took place. This legendary ice skating rally is only held when the natural ice along the entire 199km route is at least 15cm thick. Every winter when the temperatures drop below zero the Dutch hope for a new episode of the famous speedskating race.
No more waiting for freezing temperatures and thick ice as you can now paddle the original waterways along the eleven Frisian cities. The SUP 11 City Tour challenges SUP boarders to paddle the entire route in five days.
Other alternatives to complete the Eleven Cities Tour are by bicycle or on foot. Bike or hike on traquil roads along open fields with windmills, cows and sheep and explore the eleven cities.
6. The world’s oldest functioning planetarium
In 1774 a Frisian reverend predicted the world would end that same year on 8 May when the planets and the moon would crash resulting the earth being pulled out of its orbit and be burned by the sun. This caused a lot of panic in Friesland and 30-year old amateur astronomer Eise Eisinga decided to build an mechanical model of the solar system on his living room ceiling to prove the reverend wrong.
Eisinga’s canal side house in the medieval town of Franeker is now a planetarium. It houses an extensive collection of historic astronomical instruments and and focuses on modern astronomy and space exploration as well.
The charming Eise Eisinga Planetarium is open Tuesday to Saturday 10:00–17:00 and Sunday 13:00–17:00. It is also open Monday 13:00-17:00 from April to October.
7. Party till you drop at Sneek Week
You don’t have to be a fanatic sailor to enjoy the annual Sneek Week because the cheery atmosphere and festivities draw more than 100,000 people to Sneek.
Europe’s largest inshore regatta is kicked off with the traditional fleet review, followed by spectacular sailing competitions the next days. By night there is plenty of entertainment with music performances, fairs and fireworks.
This year the annual event takes place from 5 to 10 August.
Find your hotel in Friesland