In the province of Friesland in the beautiful north you’ll ride the “Eleven Frisian Towns Tour”, also called “Elfstedentocht” in Dutch. The Elfstedentocht is a historical annual ice-skating race event which dates back to 1760. The ice-skating race touches eleven Frisian towns which are all connected by canals. These are the towns you will be visiting during this trip, only not in the winter but during the spring or summer when the area is even more beautiful. You’ll cycle through the eleven historic towns, hidden in a purely Dutch landscape. The towns are the beating heart of a unique piece of Dutch tradition and are all connected by long scenic canals. If its cold enough during the winter, they make up the route of a gigantic skating event, which takes place as soon as the ice is strong enough. The villages each have their own unique history and a visit to each of the towns is an experience in itself. And then there is the surrounding nature. In 2010, the province of Friesland was elected as the most beautiful province of the Netherlands. Friesland surprises you with a beautiful wetland landscape, unique nature, vast forests and typical Dutch sights.
Of course we have also thought about your comfort. You will sleep in charming, comfortable hotels, each specifically located in one of the historical towns, or in a green area just outside the villages.
You will probably find your answer on this page.
Your adventure begins in Friesland Leeuwarden, the bustling capital of the province. If the language sounds different as standard Dutch in your ears, you got it right. The Frisian language, which greatly differs from Dutch, is an important aspect of the unique Frisian culture.
Today you cycle from the provincial capital to another unique place: Sneek. Along the way you pass Bolsward and IJlst, two of the famous eleven towns. Bolsward is a beautiful historic Hanseatic city that has won the hearts of many tourists. The route takes you further to IJlst, perhaps the most beautiful of the eleven towns. Two small canals adorn the elongated center of this picturesque town. You’ll spot many gardens right on the water boundaries, making the appearance of the town even more special. These gardens were used to whiten laundry. Not just figuratively but also literally, one could say the gardens are a film set: a feast for the eyes!
Overnight you’ll stay in Sneek. The village is a popular destination for day trippers and watersports enthusiasts. The beautiful canals that adorn the townscape will draw your attention. Another pride of the town is the water gate, a seventeenth-century port that was part of the Frisian defenses. End your day in one of the many cafes that make the village so vibrant.
After lively Sneek you’ll enter an area with a little more peace and quietness. You’ll cycle through the famous Frisian lakes area: Europe’s largest chain of inland lakes. The watery landscape gives you a sense of peace and timelessness. In this landscape you’ll also find a sloping forest: Gaasterland. The vast deciduous forests right on the coast and the fields and meandering streams lull you into a different world. Then the tour takes you to another natural treasure: the Red Cliff. This steep boulder clay wall gives you an endless view over the IJsselmeer.
Your tour ends today in Stavoren. This medieval town is known for its picturesque harbor and the statue “The lady of Stavoren”. The story behind this statue makes it even more special.
Today there is a Frisian historical heritage on the program. Through winding roads through the beautiful Dutch landscape, you reach the town of Hindeloopen. The wooden bridges, characteristic gables and narrow streets give the town a picturesque sight. But there are more reasons to visit this town, like the traditional “Lie Bank” and unique traditional Hindelooper costume.
After Hindeloopen the journey brings you to the pretty town of Workum. Like Hindeloopen, Workum also has a rich history which is evident when witnessing the old town hall. The town hall is not only beautiful in appearance, you will also find a uniquely preserved wooden punishment cell where former tramps, drunks and criminals were detained.
Today’s tour ends in Makkum. The town oozes out the history. In your comfortable hotel “De Waag”, set in a typical building in the historic center, you can relax and think the adventurous day over.
After a beautiful bike ride you reach the port of Harlingen. Before you enter the town you can already smell the salty air. The Wadden Sea promenade with direct view of the Wadden Sea invites to long walks and bike rides. With picturesque canals, many monuments and imposing warehouses a walk through the city is an unforgettable experience. Time for rest and relaxation.
Today you cycle through various uniquely Frisian areas. First the small but impressive town of Franeker. Then – along the coastline and overlooking expansive polders – you cycle to the highest mound of Friesland: Hogebeintum (nearly nine feet high).
The tour ends in the town of Dokkum, once a seaport, now a beautiful fortress town with characteristic gables, moats and ramparts. A true showpiece of the town is the Town Hall. This imposing building was built in special seventeenth to nineteenth-century style and has a beautiful and authentic interior. A visit to the famous Boniface Source cannot be missed. The Legend is that the pure, sweet water has medicinal properties, as many older and younger Frisians still believe.
On your last cycling day you cycle through an open, typical Frisian green landscape with canals, pastures and cows. The Dokkumer Ee, a barge canal and known part of the Elfstedentocht, guides you toward the capital. At the end of your journey, you will encounter a unique piece of Frisian pride: the famous bridge at Bartlehiem. After that it’s only a short trip to the town Leeuwarden. Today’s cycling day is short, so you have the time to see this jewel of the north. The town has got six hundred monuments, is a shopper’s paradise and is adorned with charming harbors. You don’t know where to start? The “Frisian tower of Pisa” is a good starting point. The leaning tower, the Oldenhove, determines the townscape. The Kleine Kerkstraat is considered, by many Dutch locals, the most charming shopping street of Friesland.
Today your cycling holiday has come to a end. But not after you’ve enjoyed a delicious breakfast.
For your daily overnight stays we select the best hotels from our pool of quality hotels. Because some of the hotels are sometimes fully booked we use this selection system so we can switch to the next hotel on the list if the previous hotel didn’t have any rooms available.
|Eleven Frisian Towns Tour
|Double room per person, 7 nights
|Hotel-to-Hotel Luggage Transfers (1 suitcase per person)
|Rent 24-speed Hybrid Bike (go here for more options)
|€91 (7 x €13)
|Dinner (Every Night)
|€227,50 (7 x €32,50)
|€75 per night
|€10 (price per tour)