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Things to Do in Leeuwarden, Netherlands (Hometown Series)

The hometown series has taken us around the world, to small towns and big cities, as travel bloggers highlight the many unique things to do and food to try. This series is designed to encourage you to look at your own hometown through the eyes of a traveler and to appreciate what it has to offer because it is easy to forget to savor what is right in front of your face when there is so much to see around the world. In past articles we visited the Spanish City of Valencia, the U.S. city of Boston, the German city of BerlinSan Jose in California, and more! Now, we will head over to the Netherlands to discover all the fun things to do in Leeuwarden with Sabrina from Shades of Summr.

Leeuwarden is the capital city of the Dutch province of Friesland, and it has been my home for the
past three years. Leeuwarden is located all the way up in the North of the Netherlands. The beautiful
city has a population of about 120,000 people, so it is quite big. Let me share my best tips and
recommendations for your visit to Leeuwarden in this post.

Things to Do in Leeuwarden

There are a lot of things to do in Leeuwarden, and here are my favorites:

1.) Visit the Fries Museum

The Fries Museum is located right in the city center of Leeuwarden on the Wilhelminaplein, and the structure itself is pretty impressive already. Inside the museum, you can learn about the history, culture, and art of the Frisian people. It’s a great place to learn more about the region and its traditions. On Fridays, you can visit the Farmers Market in front of the Fries Museum, be sure to stop by and shop for some local cheese.

2.) Walk Around Old Town and Enjoy the Terraces

Leeuwarden’s Old Town is a beautiful and historic area with many charming streets, buildings, and canals, making it one of the best things to do in Leeuwarden. It basically looks like a smaller version of Amsterdam. Take a scenic walk through the old town and the beautiful parks in the city and have a coffee on one of the many terraces on the water.

historic church in the city of Leeuwarden
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Photo Credit: Shades of Summr
historic building on a street corner in Leeuwarden
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Oldehove. Photo Credit: Shades of Summr

3.) Climb the Oldehove

The Oldehove is a leaning tower in the heart of Leeuwarden. It is much more crooked than the leaning tower of Pisa, but a little less famous. You can climb to the top and enjoy a great view of the city or simply have a coffee in one of the restaurants below. From the Oldehove you have a lovely view over the Prinsentuin.

4.) Visit the Aqua Zoo

The Aqua Zoo is located on the outskirts of Leeuwarden and is definitely worth a visit. You can see many sweet animals there up close. Unlike other zoos, they do not live behind glass walls, but the enclosures are very much out in nature. You can even walk through the penguin area and meet the little friends or pet some goats.

Photo Credit: Shades of Summr

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5.) Visit the Blokhuispoot

The Blokhuispoot is a former prison that has been transformed into a cultural center and a library. There are also a few shops, cafes, and galleries. It’s a unique and interesting place to visit. From the restaurants, you also have a marvelous view of the canals. If you are interested, you can even take a tour of the former prison that is led by a former inmate.

6.) Rent a Boat

Leeuwarden has many canals, and taking a tour by boat is a great way to see the city from a different perspective. If you are an adventurer, you might even want to rent your own boat. The GreenJoy company lets you rent boats online via your phone, you can easily and without a license steer them around the city. In summer, many people host their parties on boats and drive around town with them. If you are up for a bigger boat trip, you might even go all the way to Ameland end enjoy the beaches there.

bridge crossing over a canal in Leeuwarden, best things to do in Leeuwarden
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Photo Credit: Shades of Summr

7.) Shop for Some Traditional Food in the Kleine Kerstraat

Try some traditional Frisian dishes like suikerbrood (sugar bread) or some locally made cheese. In the small alley, there are many culinary shops in a row. They offer meat products, roasted nuts, and seeds, chocolate, patisserie, and many more delicious things. Grab an ice cream if it is warm outside. 

Where to eat in Leeuwarden

Luckily for you, Leeuwarden has an amazing food and drink scene. I have lived here for a while and am still amazed at all the great restaurants they have.

One of my favorite restaurants in the city is ROAST. They are located right on the water of the canal and serve delicious dry-aged meat, fish, and other regional delicacies.

For vegetarian and healthy cuisine, I can recommend STEK. The little café is super cute and is located on the water as well. From Stek you also have a great view of the Oldehove tower.

Of course, you also need to grab a bite at the Koperen Tuin restaurant. It is located in the middle of the Prinsentuin (a famous park) and they serve delicious, shared dining dishes. You can have a lovely view of the park while you eat.

Where to stay in Leeuwarden

There are a couple of amazing hotels to stay in Leeuwarden. The Oranje Hotel is located right in the city center of Leeuwarden, so you can easily walk all around town from there. They offer a delicious breakfast buffet, and their bar makes the best gin and tonics in town.

If you wish for a more unique stay, check out Slapen an de Gracht. That’s a little AirBnB that rents out rooms on a houseboat. How original is that?

For a more luxurious stay, check out the Hotel Post-Plaza. It is located in a unique historical building and is quite fancy.

About the Author

Sabrina is a passionate content creator and travel blogger that lives in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands. Her goal is to show people how to explore the world in a more mindful, yet luxurious way. Her blog Shades of Summr focuses on Slow Travel Experiences.

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Discover the best things to do in Leeuwarden. Situated in Northern Netherlands, the city offers historic charm, fun, shopping, and dining!
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