A Quick Guide to the Dutch Province of Friesland

Its 11 historical cities possess quiet cobblestoned streets that are a welcome change of pace from destinations nearer to Amsterdam.

Photo: Tom Coehoorn

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 there’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 dancer–cum–World War I 
spy Mata Hari.

Getting There 


From Amsterdam’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 


In Leeuwarden, the former 1885 post office and an adjoining bank building reopened three years ago as the 82-room Post-Plaza Hotel & Grand Café (31-58/215-9317; doubles from US$130).

Don’t Miss

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 2018 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Going Dutch”).

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