Leeuwarden is the capital of the Dutch province Friesland. Located in the North-West of the country, Leeuwarden and Friesland as a whole are often overlooked by visitors. As the Netherlands are small, however, and the famous "Afsluitdijk" connects Friesland to the provinces in the west, it's just a good 90 minutes drive from Amsterdam to Leeuwarden. For those willing to make the trip, the city has lots of history to offer and gives an insight in the proud local culture of the Frisians. There are several worthwhile museums, including large Fries Museum.

The former weigh house in the city centre is one of the key monuments in town.

Get in

By car

From Amsterdam, Leeuwarden can be reached by two different routes: the western route via the A7 and the A31 and the eastern one via the A1, A6 and A32. From Groningen and northern Germany, Leeuwarden can be reached via the A7 and N31.

By public transport

An intercity train service connects Leeuwarden to both Amsterdam and Schiphol Airport. There are direct connections once per hour, and additional ones with a transfer in either Zwolle or Almere. For Amsterdam Central Station you must transfer at Lelystad or Almere Centrum. The journey will take about two and a half hours and costs about €24 for a single ticket. Direct train connections to and from Leeuwarden include services to Utrecht (2h, €23), Groningen (35m, €9.30), Heerenveen (20m, €5.40), Franeker and Harlingen. Most trains that come here have Leeuwarden as a final station.

The nearest airport is Groningen Airport Eelde, a small airport with flights to a number of European cities. For example London, Gdansk and Palma de Mallorca. From the airport, take bus 2 towards Groningen Central Station, from here you can take the direct train to Leeuwarden (3x/hour).

Bus services run to nearby destinations in Friesland, including Franeker, Heerenveen, Sneek and Harlingen as well as villages on route. The journeys typically take longer than the same ones per train.

Get around

As is the case with all old city centres in The Netherlands, the old centre of Leeuwarden is compact and can easily be explored on foot. The tourist information centre (VVV) has a number of walking and biking routes, if you want to make sure to catch all major sights. * Fietspoint Leeuwarden. is located at the trainstation and rents out bikes for around 7.50 euro per day. Cycling is an excellent way to discover the city as well as the surrounding natural areas.

All city bus lines depart from the busstation, which is located next to the trainstation. Note that the busstation is divided in a (covered) part for local city lines, and one for regional lines. The city lines are exploited by Connexxion but for some lines smaller buses under the name "Maxx" are used. Regional lines, which operate routes to and from villages and cities in the area, are also operated by Qbuzz.


The Fries Museum re-opened in 2013, after moving to an excellent new building on the Wilhelminaplein.
The city centre with the late 19th century Bonifatius Church in the background.

Just north of the railway station lies Leeuwarden's compact medieval centre, surrounded by defensive canals. With no less than 617 buildings listed as national monuments, the city has no lack of heritage to see. The old town is small enough to easily explore on foot, with plenty of time to take in the many historic buildings. Among the most notable ones are:

Other attractions include:



As it is the province capital, Leeuwarden is a regional centre for shopping and services. You'll find the range of shops and large chain stores you'd expect from any city its size but also a couple of cosy shopping streets and fun boutiques. The Kleine Kerkstraat is considered one of the most charming shopping streets in the country, with about 30 speciality shops. Good places in the Kleine Kerkstraat include Italian delicacy store Bellini or the Zuivelhoeve, with an excellent collection of Dutch cheeses and other dairy products, including many local goods. It also houses a design store and a couple of clothing boutiques. The Sint Jacobsstraat is another fun shopping street, with, among others, one of the best model cars and trains stores in the Netherlands, called De Treinenpassage. Both streets end in the Nieuwestad. which is pretty much the heart of the city's shopping area.

Thursday evening is so-called "koop-avond" or shopping night for Leeuwarden, with most stores closing only at 21h instead of the usual 18h.



A good beerenburg is produced by local brewery Boomsma, it is available in almost every liquor store.

Cafés are common enough and in summer, outdoor terraces pop up all around. Many double as restaurants, serving small menus. Some popular places are:


Go next

There are plenty of good destinations in Friesland and in the rest of the Northern Netherlands. Just west of Leeuwarden lie Dronrijp and Franeker, both interesting and picturesque towns. Only slightly further are the harbour town of Harlingen and the water sports destination Sneek. Go sailing on the Frisian Lakes or hop on a train to bustling student city Groningen, to see its Martini-tower, the 15th century inspiration for Leeuwarden's failed Oldenhove.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Friday, September 11, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.