Born in the Netherlands, Friesland has always been a different country within the Netherlands to me. They speak ‘Fries’ and are proud of that. The language is officially recognized as one of the minority languages in the Netherlands.
Friesland is also known for their lakes, sailing, ice skating and some typical sports only practiced in Friesland.
We went to the Northern area of Friesland for a short week and we enjoyed ourselves very much. The people are relaxed and are curious for new comers. You often have to start the conversation yourself, but they are happy to have a small talk with you.
Some tips and hints for a good time in the Northern part of Friesland.
Of course you will visit Leeuwarden, the capital of Friesland. A small city with some beautiful old Dutch architecture. We walked around the city for a day with a walking route we found in the Capitool travel guide , which I borrowed from the library. We visited the Friesland museum, where we spend a lot of time learning about the unique history of Friesland. We bought a combination ticket, so we could also visit the Princessehof National museum of Ceramics. We went there two days later and it was wonderful. We are no fans of traditional ceramics, but they also had a lot of modern ceramics and a nice temporary exhibition about ceramics in the 20st century. The combination ticket was 14 euro’s, well worth the price.
If you have a car, we recommend you to take the ‘ANWB Terpelan’-route. It’s a signposted route for cars that takes you to different historical places in Nothern Friesland and especially the typical ‘terpen’ –villages. ‘Terpen’ are small man-made hills where the first people of Friesland settled. You can get a description of the route through the VVV-office in Leeuwarden, or make a print of the route on the ANWB-site (only if you can read Dutch). We only made it half-way the route, due to all the stops we made in the different villages and spots. Along the way we bought some fruit and vegetables from farmer stalls.
Along the Terpelan route, just outside the village of Hantum, is the only Tibetan Boedist temple in the area. In the middle of polders, you will find this quiet and peaceful stupa, temple and meditation center. When we visited the temple, we had a nice and long chat with one of the monks living there.
We went for a day to the island of Schiermonnikoog. The island is a national park and ideal for hiking and cycling. You can also stay overnight, if you want to. We recommend making a counter-clockwise walk around the island, so you will end in the village where you can treat yourself to a nice drink and/or meal. As we were on a budget, we took our lunch with us and ended the hike with nice fried fish and fries at the Schiermonikoger Vishandel. We enjoyed the diversity of the dunes, beach and forest on the island. Roundtrip from Lauwersoog to the island costs 15 euro in summer, 12,75 in winter.
During our stay in Friesland, we booked a small house just above Leeuwarden through AirBnB. That way we could make our own breakfast, if necessary lunch and diner. It saved us a lot of money. The diversity of restaurants in Leeuwarden is small. Most restaurants serve meat, fries and vegetables. There are some Turkish and Indian places in Leeuwarden, but we were not impressed and thought they were quite expensive. An average main course meal is about 13 euros. So we often bought fresh take-out diners from the supermarket. We treated ourselves with one very nice diner, which we had at Vrouwenpoort. The atmosphere was really nice and the food delicious. It was the first time my partner had ‘wild’ meat.
We enjoyed our stay in Friesland, and are definitely going back visit the more Southern area of the province.