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East-West, Home is best, the Dutch saying goes. In Friesland you could say, North, East, South, West, all of it is best. Friesland is worth visiting in all of its directions and has unique properties that are very popular with visitors, tourists, and residents. On this page, we have tried to map these properties. We did this by dividing the province of Friesland into six main regions. The landscape variation in these main regions is enormous and is determined by nature, cultural history, and land use.
In the North, you have the Waddensea coastal area, the Wadden Sea itself and the Wadden Islands. They are famous for their much-praised sandy beaches. In the East, we find Northeast Friesland. A vast area, full of mounds, medieval churches, and ancient historic villages that have been built around it. If you descend to the south you will arrive in Southeast Friesland. The landscape here gradually changes into a hedged landscape with protected status and then wooded areas. The Frise-Wouden area is centrally located and it merges seamlessly into the Drents-Friese Wold.
On the other side of the province, you will find the vast Greidhoeke in Northwest Friesland. Here too you also have many ancient mounds and, as the word 'Greidhoeke' suggests (greide = meadow), many hectares of meadows with associated flora and fauna such as birds and small and large livestock. On the east side of this area, you will find 'Het Bildt'. Again a wide area, but this part is all about arable farming. Especially potatoes are grown here. Fabulous routes lead through old meandering sea dikes for cycling or to explore at your leisure by car or convertible. Lastly, the landscape of Southwest Friesland is dominated by water. Here you will find the famous IJsselmeer coastal area with old harbors and fishing towns such as Hindeloopen, Stavoren, and Workum. But you will also find the popular Frisian Lake District here with famous tourist places such as Langweer, Heeg and Woudsend.
In short, we mean it: 'North, East, South, West, all of it is best in Friesland!'
Between Leeuwarden, Drachten, Heerenveen, and Sneek, the four largest towns of the province, lies the beating heart of Friesland. The area is enclosed and intersected by a number of highways, railways and the Princess Margriet Canal. From here you have the whole of Friesland, with all its variety and variation, within reach.
But the area also has more than enough to offer for a shorter or longer stay. Water sports have traditionally played an important role in the area. Grou and Earnewâld were the first real water sports villages in the province and the Snekermeer is perhaps the most known lake in the Netherlands.
Drachten, Heerenveen, and Leeuwarden nowadays also focus on water sports, but have much more to offer. You will find an extensive range of shops, museums, theaters, cinemas, cafés, restaurants, etc. In Leeuwarden, this is also accompanied by a beautiful historic ambiance.
In addition to the crowds off and on the water and the bustling cities, the area also has a completely different face. Outside the large (water sports) centers you will find an oasis of tranquility, picturesque villages, a beautiful wide landscape, and beautiful nature reserves. The 500 hectare nature reserve south of Aldeboarn, De Deelen, is very special. Just like De Alde Feanen National Park (south of Earnewâld), this area was created as a result of large-scale peat extraction in the olden days.
Tekst: © Foto: © Bauke Folkertsma
The Wadden area is unique in the world. It is obvious that the largest part has been designated by UNESCO as World Heritage. The landscape was created after the last ice age, around 7000 years ago. In geological terms that is very young. And the landscape is still changing, almost as you look at it.
The Wadden are also unique in terms of living nature. There is no comparable wealth and variation of flora and fauna anywhere else in the world. No fewer than 10,000 different plants and animals live in the area. Permanent residents, but also frequent visitors: 10 to 12 million migratory birds use the area every year in spring and autumn.
. The Wadden islands, that form a natural boundary between Waddensea and Northsea, offer a pleasant mix of nature, tranquility, cultural history. Charming villages, beautiful beaches, forests, dunes, events, entertainment and all kinds of sporting activities. Despite similarities, each and every island unmistakably has its own atmosphere. In fact, the Wadden Sea region cannot really be captured in words. It has to be lived, experienced, and tasted on the spot.
Tekst: © Foto: © Bauke Folkertsma
The northeast of Friesland is the example of what Germans so aptly call a "Geheimtipp". The area is still largely undiscovered, very varied and offers something for everyone. What more do you want!
Nowhere in Friesland will you find an area with so much variation in landscape and nature: the unique, semi-open landscape of the Northern Frisian Forests (designated as National Landscape) with adjacent National Park De Alde Feanen; the vast "terpen" area with its beautiful views; Lauwersmeer National Park; and, just around the corner’ the spectacular Wadden Sea World Heritage Site and the wonderful islands of Schiermonnikoog and Ameland.
Northeast Fryslân is an area where you can really experience peace and quiet. Cycling, walking, sailing or just lazing around. Enjoy the beautiful landscapes and unique nature reserves. Taste the rich cultural history, which is shown in, among other things, the 20 (!) Smaller and larger museums in the area.
But it’s not just peace and quiet. The area also offers plenty of activity for young and old: sailing, (kite) surfing, the largest climbing park in Europe and many fun and spectacular events. And Dokkum, one of the famous Eleven Cities, is a bustling center, especially during the tourist season. In a beautiful historic ambiance, you will find lots of beautiful, nice and surprising shops, cozy terraces and attractive restaurants.
Tekst: © Foto: © Hendrik van Kampen
Nowhere is the age-long struggle against the water more "present" in the landscape than in the Northwest of Friesland. The age-old mounds, and the impressive contemporary Wadden dike are the most striking. Less visibly present are the many old and historic dikes that wind their way through the area, among which the famous Slachtedyk.
In the Middle Ages, the northwestern part of Friesland was still an island, Westergo. It was enclosed by the Middelzee and the Marne, two sea arms that came together between Bolsward and Sneek and gradually silted up and poldered. The history of its origins has resulted in a beautiful area with alternating ’old’ and ’new’ land, an unprecedented vastness, picturesque villages and three fascinating cities: Bolsward, one of the two Frisian Hanseatic cities; Franeker, the second city in the Netherlands with a university; and Harlingen, port city and gateway to the Waddensea UNESCO World Heritage.
On the shores of the IJsselmeer lies the only real seaside resort of Fryslân: Makkum, which is often called the ’twelfth city’ of Fryslân for good reason. Makkum is renowned for it’s so-called "Makkumer Aardewerk" (pottery) and nowadays also it’s superyacht shipyard of Feadship.
Therefore, Northwest Friesland has a lot to offer for young and old. You will find a breathtaking landscape, space, tranquility, nature, and rich cultural history; you can cycle, walk, sail, sail, surf, shop, go out, buy a superyacht, and much more.
Tekst: © Foto: © FrieslandWonderland
Friesland is more than just lakes, mounds, dikes and the Eleven cities, it is also an area of peat reclamation, heathlands, forests, and streams. Together they form the unique landscape of Southeast Friesland.
It is here that Friesland slowly changes transforms into Drenthe and Overijssel. In terms of landscape, but also in terms of cultural history and language. South of the river Tsjonger is the " Stellingwerven", which were independent until 1504. A large part of the population speaks Stellingwerfs, a language that is more related to Drents, Gronings and Flat German than to Frisian.
Southeast Friesland houses a number of well-known touristic highlights: Bakkeveen, Appelscha, the Drents Friese Wold, Noordwolde, Oldeberkoop, Beetsterzwaag, and Oranjewoud. There you will find beautiful woodland and heathland areas, stately country houses, extensive cycling and walking paths, galleries, museums and attractions for children. But the less well-known parts of the area are also very worthwhile. Take for example "De Frije Wiken", a beautiful and still largely undiscovered area between the Opsterlandse Compagnonsvaart and De Tsjonger. Just like in De Grote Veenpolder, west of Wolvega, cultural history and nature merge almost unnoticed. The large-scale peat extraction in both areas has also led to a system of waterways, which nowadays form part of the Turfroute, a beautiful recreational boating route through Southeast Friesland, Southwest Drenthe and Northwest Overijssel.
Tekst: © Foto: © FrieslandWonderland
For many visitors, Friesland is synonymous with the water-rich southwest of the province. Friesland owes its fame as a water sports province par excellence to this beautiful area. And that is not surprising: an extensive system of lakes, ponds, and canals, a variety of cozy water sports locations and the IJsselmeer "just around the corner". A paradise for water sports enthusiasts! Often referred to as the "Friese merengebied"
But Southwest Friesland is much more than just water. Even without a boat, canoe or surfboard, the area is very worthwhile. The beautiful, wide lake area is also great for cycling, on foot or by car. Enjoy the silence, nature and the beautiful views.
You will find a completely different atmosphere in Gaasterland: a rolling landscape with a wonderful variety of forests, open areas and transitions between them. Unique for the Netherlands are the cliffs that in some places protrude up to ten meters above the IJsselmeer. In one of them, The Red Cliff, the famous Battle of Warns took place in 1345.
In addition to tranquility and space, excellent water sports, beautiful landscapes, and beautiful nature reserves, Southwest Friesland also has a rich cultural history. You will find no less than six of the Eleven Frisian cities here, each with its own charm: the bustling Sneek, the tranquil IJlst, the unique Sloten, the old Stavoren, the special Hindeloopen, and the quirky Workum.