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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, plus an insight in the proud local culture of the Frisians.

Historical map of Leeuwarden

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Leeuwarden nearest airport is Groningen Airport Eelde, a small airport with a few connections in Europe like London, Gdansk, Faro and Antalya. At the airport you can take bus 2 (twice an hour) towards Groningen Central Station and then take the train (3x/hour) towards Leeuwarden.

By car[edit]

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.

By train[edit]

A direct intercity service connects Leeuwarden to both Amsterdam and Schiphol Airport. The journey will take about two and a half hours.

Get around[edit]

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, [1].  edit 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.

See[edit][add listing]

City Centre: Just north of the railway station lies Leeuwarden's compact medieval centre, surrounded by defensive canals. Picturesque buildings all within walking distance of each other include:

  • Main Church, 95 Jacobijnerkerkhof. Partly dating from around 1300  edit
  • Waag, 148 Nieuwestad.  edit
  • Oldehove, 1 Oldehoofsterkerkhof. A leaning tower  edit
  • Kanselarij, 13 Turfmarkt.  edit
  • City hall, 36 Raadhuisplein. A Classicist building from the early 18th century  edit


  • Princessehof National Ceramics Museum, 11 Grote Kerkstraat, +31 (0)58 2 948 958 (, fax: +31 (0)58 2 948 968), [2].  edit
  • Natural History Museum Friesland, 2 Schoenmakersperk, "+31.  edit
  • Museum de Gruterswinkel, 5 Nieuwesteeg, +31 (0)58 2153427 (, fax: +31 (0)58 2 948 968), [3]. Museum shop from grandmothers time.  edit
  • Boomsma Distillery Museum, 42a Bagijnestraat, +31 (0)58-2990343, [4]. Old distillery where you can try the local bitter Beerenburg  edit
  • Historical Centre Leeuwarden, 1 Groeneweg, +31 (0)58 2332350. The History of Leeuwarden  edit
  • 't andere Museum, 8 Oostersingel, [5]. located in an old warehouse named Koophandel. You can view kant, old radio's and old sportcars.  edit

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Visit the Blokhuispoort, this former prison is now the cultural heart of Leeuwarden. There are exposition rooms, cells hired by artists that work there and sell their art, a pop podium, a cafe and more.
  • Have a drink at one of the terraces next to the canals at the Nieuwestad or Voorstreek.
  • Climb the Oldehove, this leaning tower is the symbol of the city. It's only 40 meters high, but it was supposed to be the highest church tower of the Netherlands. It's leaning 1,68 meter.
  • Take a boat tour (€5,00) through the canals and get a whole new perspective on the city. The guides don't speak very well English though (from May to October). [19]
  • Rent a bike at the train station (€7,50 a day) and explore the surroundings of Leeuwarden.
  • The Prinsentuin, Westerpark, Froskepolle and Potmarge are really nice parks to chill out in summer
  • Walk a route trough the city centre. There are several routes sold by the Tourist Information (located in the high Achmea tower).
  • Rent a kano or a silent electric boatto explore the canals.
  • Go to the Cinema and watch a movie. Almost all movies are subtitled and not dubbed, so you should be able to enjoy the movie in it's original language if you don't speak Dutch. For blockbuster movies go to Cinema or Tivoli[20] and for art-house movies to Slieker [21].
  • Get some Frisian classes. It's a great way to get in touch with the locals.
  • Visit a local sports game. The local football club is S.C. Cambuur. [22]
  • Ice-skate the canals of Leeuwarden when it's cold and freezing. You'll see the Frisians everywhere on the ice when it's possible.


  • Koningsdag (Kingsday,) Visit the festivities for the Dutch royal house on 27th of April (dress code is bright orange).
  • Befrijdingsfestival Fryslan, Liberation day, music and more, May 5th [23]
  • Bloemetjesmarkt, The biggest flower market of the north of the Netherlands on Ascension day (May)
  • Fries Straat Festival, Street theatre and music (May/June) [24]
  • CityProms, Classical music throughout the innercity (June [25]
  • Welcome to the village, indie music festival (July) [26]
  • Into the grave, Metal festival (August) [27]
  • Open Munumentendag, Monuments open their doors for you (September). [28]
  • Freeze Festival, Frisian music festival (September) [29]
  • Noordelijk Film Festival, film festival in the art house cinema (November) [30]
  • Explore the north, indie music and poetry festival in historical buildings around the city (November) [31]

Buy[edit][add listing]

Eat[edit][add listing]

You can find many restaurants in Leeuwarden with many types of kitchens, prices and quality. In many pubs you can get a cheap 'daghap' (daily dish) and if you want quality you can see iens[32].

  • Eindeloos, Korfmakersstraat 17, +31 (0)58 2130835, [6]. Tue-Sat, 18:00-22:30. Very good food. Most is made by using prominent local and regional suppliers which produce their products in a sustainable way. €27.50 - €40.00 (ex. drinks).  edit
  • Restaurant BY ÚS, Over de Kelders 24. A Restaurant that tries to use only local biological products. €40.  edit
  • Leeuwarden Lounge, Korfmakersstraat 13. Afghan Tapas restaurant, where you can lounge on relaxt sofas and smoke a sisha afterwards  edit
  • Restaurant Us Heit, Hofplein 29. Have dinner in the former palace of the Stadtholders and dine within 16 century paintings of the Nassau family.  edit
  • élevé, Heliconweg 52. The only Restaurant in Leeuwarden with a Michelin star  edit
  • Spinoza, Eewal 50-52. Restaurant that is is housed in a beautiful monumental building  edit
  • De Yserman, Grote Hoogstraat 32.  edit

Drink[edit][add listing]

Because a lot of students live in Leeuwarden, there are also a lot of pubs. Most pubs are concentrated around the Doelesteeg, Ruiterskwartier, Gouveneursplein and along the Nieuwestad. The Doelesteeg and Ruiterskwartiers has a younger audience and louder music while the Ruiterskwartier and the Nieuwestad offers more terraces where you can enjoy a beer in the sun.

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


  • Paddy O'Ryan, Tweebaksmarkt 49, 058 212 2047, [7]. a nice little Irish bar full of music and culture and good food to boot.  edit
  • Café De Stee, Stationsweg 8, 058 213 505, [8]. a pub where everybody feels at home, top 10 in the misset cafe top 100 in the Netherlands.  edit
  • Café De Stroohoed, Eewal 72. A Pub specialised in speciality beers. Your beers come with care and may take a little.  edit
  • Oranje Bierhuis, Auckamastraatje 2. Oldest pub in the inner city, since 1857, no music inside.  edit
  • Café De Ossekop, Uniabuurt 8. (Since 1912)  edit
  • Café de Spoek, Sint Jacobsstraat 29, [9]. Music cafe for smokers.  edit
  • Bierhuis Lampie, Oostersingel 32. (since 1926)  edit
  • Alternatief Rockcafé Mukkes, Grote Hoogstraat 26. Cafe for people who like hard rock, Metal and Punk.  edit
  • Cafe de Rooster, Bij de Put 6. You can play the game of 'Spijkerslaan'  edit

Coffee & Tea[edit]

  • Douwe Egberts Café, Ruiterskwartier 111, [10].  edit
  • Bagels & Beans, Kelders 3, [11].  edit
  • Andere Koffie, Naauw 5. 8:00 - 22:00.  edit
  • Het Broodhuys, Nieuwestad 99, [12].  edit


  • Club Hemingway, Grote Hoogstraat 13, [13].  edit
  • De Gloppe, Poststraat 21.  edit
  • Club Red, Ruiterskwartier 91, [14].  edit
  • De doelen steeg. This is a street, not a single club  edit

Concert and Theatre[edit]

  • Stadsschouwburg De Harmonie.  edit
  • Poppodium Asteriks.  edit
  • Neushoorn, [15].  edit
  • Tromptheater.  edit
  • Café Scooter's.  edit
  • De Bres.  edit

Sleep[edit][add listing]

  • Grand Hotel Post-Plaza, Tweebaksmarkt 25-27, +31 58-2159317 (), [16]. A 4 star luxury hotel with good prices for what it has to offer. The staff is professional and helpful, rooms are nice and the location right in the centre makes it a great base to explore town. They have some spacious suites too, if you're looking for a really luxurious stay. around €100 for a double.  edit
  • Bastion Hotel, Legedijk 6 (Located along A32 highway. Easy access by car, or take buses 14 or 320 to Aldlanstate and get out at the last stop.), 31 (0)58-2890112, [17]. 3 star chain hotel with simple but okay rooms and good staff. Located outside the city centre but at no more than a 10 minute drive. doubles from €76.  edit
  • Hotel 't Anker, Eewal 73, +31 582125216 (), [18]. One of the cheapest options in the centre, with rooms located in 4 old houses. The cheaper rooms have shared bathrooms. All rooms are simple but clean and the service gets positive reviews. There's an in-house café and restaurant which serves simple, Dutch dishes. €29/55 for a single/double room with shared bathroom, €69,50 for a double with private facilities.  edit

Get out[edit]

Just west of Leeuwarden lie Dronrijp and Franeker, both interesting and picturesque towns.

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