Not too long ago, I had the opportunity to venture the city of Leeuwarden on a weekend getaway with my 11 year old daughter. Leeuwarden is 3 hours away from Haarlem travelling on public transport. For this reason, an overnight hotel stay was a great excuse for us to embrace the city thoroughly. It was like visiting a whole different country!
The city of Leeuwarden is the capital of the Friesland province in the northern part of the Netherlands with a population of 108.249. Leeuwarden was granted its city privileges in 1435. Situated along the Middlelzee (translation: Middle Sea), Leeuwarden was once an active center for maritime trade until the river silted-up in the 15th century.
Within the province of Friesland, most of the inhabitants speak Fries [ˈfris] or Frysk in Frisian language. It is a West Germanic language widely spoken by those with Frisian ancestry. The origin of the city’s name is not certain but one historian has noted that there are as many as 200 different spelling variants on Leeuwarden. Liwwadden, Leewadden, Ljouwert, Luwt, Lintwarde …
Leeuwarden is definitely one of the best kept secrets of the Netherlands. It is full of history with a twist of local Frisian culture. Leeuwarden was the capital city of the Netherlands from 1584 to 1747. There are still lots of iconic building and national monuments within the city center itself. When you visit, try Frisian delights such sugar loaf, Dumkes (biscuit), cheeses or other dairy products (coz Frisian black and white cows are famous!), Oranjekoek (orange cake) and Berenburg (spicy liqueur). Friesland’s capital is well worth a visit!
The city center is compact and can be easily explore on foot so here is a list of things to do and see when in Leeuwarden:
>> Join in the free walking tour provided by A Guide to Leeuwarden.
>> Climb the Oldehove Tower – a tower that leans more than the one in Pisa.
>> Check out the former prison Blokhuispoort – now events space, retail stores and a hostel.
>> Selfie with Matahari statue – the dancer-turned-spy.
>> Lunch at the Waag former weigh house built in 1590.
>> Shop at the old-fashioned Dutch grocery store the De Grutterswinkel.
>> Visit museums such as Princessehof National Ceramics Museum, Natural History Museum Friesland, Piet Pander Museum and Fries Museum (Museum of Friesland).
>> Have a drink at Boomsma Distillery Museum.
>> Stop by the Historical Centre Leeuwarden.
>> Not forgetting other places of interest such as city park and several churches.
>> Retail therapy at Klein Kerkstraat street – voted twice as the best shopping street in NL.
>> Boat tour
My Leeuwarden trip coming up next.