Frisian Towns and Lakes
6 days / 5 nights
Friesland is one of the most rural provinces in the Netherlands. If you like peaceful wide open green spaces, it's the place for your. Discover attractive towns and villages, some of them with a rich historical past. Safe bicycle tracks lead you past the varied scenery of woods, dunes, marshes, crop fields and pastures with grazing piebald / Frisian cattle and proud black Frisian horses. Tourists travel from far and wide to experience the wild purity of the Wadden Islands that are a part of Friesland province. Opt to stay an extra night in the town of Harlingen to visit Wadden Islands Vlieland or Terschelling.
Day 1: Arrival in Heerenveen
Heerenveen can be reached by train from Amsterdam Airport in approximately two hours and fifteen minutes. Free parking at the hotel. Attractive Heerenveen originated as a peat digging site in 1551 on a spot where two canals crossed. It is the Netherlands’ oldest peat canal village. You might like to visit nearby country estate Museumpark Landgoed Oranjewoud, a woody and elegant country park which is the lovely natural setting for the Belvédère Museum for Frisian 20th century and contemporary art.
Day 2: Heerenveen – Oudemirdum (Cycling 47 km / 29 miles)
The rural landscape and the lakes you will encounter between Heerenveen and Lake IJsselmeer are man-made. This is peat bog, dug up for fuel (turf) many centuries ago, then partly drained and reclaimed for pastures for grazing cattle. The first large village you will reach on the route is bustling Lemmer, a port for pleasure craft on Lake IJsselmeer. The Wouda steam driven pumping station near Lemmer is the largest of its kind in the world. It has been operational since 1920 and is a World Heritage Site. From here, you will cycle through woody, slightly undulating Gaasterland, past the curious “klifs” on the coast, to Oudemirdum.
Day 3: Oudemirdum – Harlingen (Cycling 60 km / 37 miles)
After the varied landscape in Gaasterland you will reach Stavoren, the oldest town in Friesland. Continue up the coast of Lake IJsselmeer, remembering it’s amazing history and enjoying the stunning views. Pass through the towns of Hindeloopen (world famous for its painted furniture), Workum and Makkum (known for its pottery) and find out about the history of these pretty towns. End the day in Harlingen, a harbour and trading town directly connected to the sea.
Day 4: Harlingen – Leeuwarden (Cycling 65 km / 40 miles)
Today’s trip will take you along the Frisian coast of the Wadden Sea. The edges of the shallow Wadden Sea are characterised by mud-flats with specialised vegetation that can cope with the salty tide seeping in twice a day between the mud banks. This landscape has always been shaped primarily by the sea. However, man has built dikes and terps to try to keep the sea out. In the afternoon, follow the River Dokkumer Ee all the way to compact and friendly Leeuwarden, the interesting capital of Friesland Province.
Day 5: Leeuwarden – Heerenveen (Cycling 61 km /38 miles)
On your last cycling day, you will leave the monuments and cultural highlights of Leeuwarden to set off south. This part of Friesland is known as It Lege Midden (the empty centre). We hope you will enjoy the vastness and emptiness as well as the beauty of today’s scenery. It is low-lying peat country, with scattered lakes in the holes in the landscape where peat was dug up centuries ago for use as fuel (turf). Your main stop will be the bustling water sports village of Grouw where you might like to pause at a waterside cafe for a bite of one of the sweet Frisian specialties.
Day 6: Departure from Heerenveen after breakfast
Please note: All cycling distances stated above are approximate only.