Friesland, a province in the north of Holland, is just a little different from the rest of the country – they are the only country with an official second language.There are some truly stunning towns, villages and cities in Friesland, ranging from charming coastal communities, architecturally stunning settlements and four islands. Friesland is also a special place for culture lovers. It is definitely worth to be on your bucket list…
TOP 10 TOWNS TO VISIT
Founded in the 10th century, the town served as an important trading hub for many years. Like other mercantile cities in the Netherlands, the city features a canal belt that was built in order to facilitate water traffic flowing through the city. The Waterpoort, a Mannerist-style gateway with two pointed turrets is the cities iconic landmark
Provincial capital the city contains numerous architectural gems created during the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Modernity. The Oldehove Tower, which was completed in the 16th century, and more modern landmarks, like the 19th gaol Blokhuispoort, and the Art Deco pharmacy Centraal Apotheek is the centre features of this ancient city.
The village is surrounded by grassy dune lands and looks out onto the Wadden Sea, with a stunning, multi-tiered lighthouse called Brandaris standing in the centre of the village and has watched over Terschelling’s shores since the 16th century. The area is protected by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
The well-preserved fortified town walls are among the structures that follow a star-shaped canal that circles the city’s historic centre. In springtime, thousands of tulips burst into full bloom in gardens along these defenses, creating a stunning walking route that flows through the city. The two working windmills on the western side of its bulwarks is amongst the most iconic features of the city.
This coastal village developed around an ancient church called Mariakerk that was built on an artificial mound in the 13th century. Although the church originally stood inland, it currently overlooks Wierum’s shoreline due to floods and coastal erosion. For most of its history, Wierum’s economy revolved around fishing and there are many monuments in the village dedicated to the trade, including Mariakerk’s ship-shaped weather vane and a memorial on Wierum’s seawall honouring the memory of 22 fisherman who died at sea during a severe storm in 1893.
Harlingen was among the first settlements in the Netherlands to obtain city rights (1234 AD) and served as an important naval, fishing and trading hub for most of its history due to its strategic location on Friesland’s western coast. Although other Dutch port towns like Amsterdam or Rotterdam eventually became much larger than Harlingen, its docks still receive considerable trade and feature many stunning buildings that attest to Harlingen’s seafaring heritage, including a white, stone Art Deco lighthouse.
The city was the second city in the Netherlands to establish a university, which welcomed many famous students during its existence, including French philosopher René Descartes and Prince Willem IV of Orange. This institute was disbanded in 1811, but the university still features several buildings associated with the university, such as the oldest working orrery in the world, the Eise Eisinga Planetarium and Museum Martena, which houses a large collection of academic artefacts.
Just beneath the Afsluidijk causeway lies Makkum, connecting Friesland with North Holland. The town grew around an ancient, artificial hill that was built in order to safeguard against the frequent floods that plagued the area until the 20th century. The seafaring town has since developed into a major beach resort, due to its stunning coastline.
The former Hanseatic city was once one of the influential trading centres in Friesland – due to its proximity to its waterways that flowed between the North Sea and Zuiderzee. Many buildings from this time have survived, including Bolsward’s stately town hall that’s recognised as one of the most complete examples of Frisian Renaissance architecture.
As the smallest city in Friesland, surrounded by a wide moat that feeds into a nearby lake, the 760 inhabitants living inside Sloten’s historic city walls. Highlights of the city is the 18th century windmill and rows of charming, waterside houses complete with pointed gables.
The best time to visit, if you’d like to see the country’s tulips in bloom, is roughly mid-March to mid-May. Generally speaking, temperatures rise the further south you go. This is offset by the prevailing westerlies that sweep in from the North Sea, making the wetter coastal provinces both warmer in winter and colder in summer than the eastern provinces, where the more severe climate of continental Europe has an influence. As far as rain is concerned, be prepared for it at any time of year.