Its 11 historical cities possess quiet cobblestoned streets that are a welcome change of pace from destinations nearer to Amsterdam.
The northwestern Dutch province of Friesland is everything one would expect of the rural Netherlands: a lake-studded region of picturesque fields and pasturelands dotted with its namesake black-and-white cows. Stitched together by a network of waterways, its 11 historical cities possess quiet cobblestoned streets that are a welcome change of pace from destinations nearer to Amsterdam.
And thereâ€™s no better time to visit; Friesland is co-hosting the European Capital of Culture this year, with much of the action centered in the provincial capital of Leeuwarden. Expect large-scale art displays, music festivals, and events celebrating local figures such as M.C. Esher and the infamous exotic dancerâ€“cumâ€“World War I â€¨spy Mata Hari.
Getting There â€¨
From Amsterdamâ€™s Schiphol Airport, a direct intercity train service run by Nederlandse Spoorwegen whisks passengers to Leeuwarden in two hours and 10 minutes.
Where to Stay â€¨
In Leeuwarden, the former 1885 post office and an adjoining bank building reopened three years ago as the 82-room Post-Plaza Hotel & Grand CafĂ© (31-58/215-9317; doubles from US$130).
A bike ride around the Wadden Sea island of Terschelling, whose UNESCO-listed moorlands, sand dunes, and beaches draw local holiday-makers each summer.
This article originally appeared in the February/March 2018Â print issue of DestinAsian magazine (â€śGoing Dutchâ€ť).