The city of Leeuwarden is the capital of Fryslân (one of the 12 Dutch provinces) and situated in the Northern part of The Netherlands. Leeuwarden was European Capital of Culture in 2018 (together with Valletta) and has got more than 800 national heritage sites. Besides having the charm of these beautiful historical buildings, it's a vibrant city with lots of street art and many events and festivals. In this city guide you will find travel tips to make the most out of a weekend in 'Ljouwert', like the Frisians call their city.
See and do in Leeuwarden
The most iconic sight of Leeuwarden is the Oldehove leaning tower. It leans for almost 2 meters which is more than the Tower of Pisa. The construction began in 1529 but was never finished due to the simple fact that it began to sink. Its 39 meters height doesn't come close to the intended height of 120 meters and the rest of the church is still absent, but that does not bother at all. Because of this it got a symbolic status and is probably the most beloved building to the people of Leeuwarden.
De Prinsentuin was for me the perfect place to wake up in the crisp morning air right after breakfast. The park and marina were so quiet and soothing and therefore a great place to start the day.
The Princessehof National Museum of Ceramics was a real treat for the eye. It has astonishing pieces varying from several decades and changing exhibitions. The current exhibition is Sunken Treasures which runs to the 28th of June 2020. It shows how ceramics and other objects were found aboard of eight shipwrecks.
The top floors are dedicated to modern art from famous artists.
Belgian artist Eric van Hove is well known for disassembling engines and reconstruct them with different materials (glass, wood, bone, brass) made by artists from around the world. Many craftsmen take part in the process of designing one element (or more) to create a beautiful piece of art together. Several of his artworks can be seen until the 5th of January 2020 at the Fries Museum. I took these pictures at their atelier in Blokhuispoort.
De Waag is a weighing house where butter and cheese were weighed from 1598 until 1880.
Coffee and lunch in Leeuwarden
My number one favourite place in Leeuwarden was by far Nørd Concept Store! This coffee bar, plant and interior shop in one made my heart sing. It felt like a small community and the friendly owners have a special taste for local and sustainable design.
Their coffee comes from the Amsterdam based coffee-roaster house Bocca, who buy straight from the farmers without the interference of an intermediary, so the farmers get a higher price for theirs beans.
Go to STEK for a tasty lunch or dinner with lots of vegetarian options in this former bridge operator house.
At busy and vibrant Lazy Lemon I ate this delicious vegetarian beetroot burger with sweet potato fries.
The interior of Moon might be a bit too colourful for some, but a little bit of pink never hurt nobody, right? :) Either way, their coffee and home made cake was really good and the service was genuinely kind.
Dinner in Leeuwarden
Dinner at KOM (bowl in English) was simply perfect from starter to desert! Here you eat in a green interior (with a 5 meter tall tree) with good view at the open kitchen.
☞ Ruiterskwartier 177 (CLOSED)
Street Art in Leeuwarden
This city is packed with great murals! So I took tons of pictures, but here I will only share some of my favourite ones. There is even a guided street art tour via 'A Guide to Leeuwarden'.
Below mural at Ruiterskwartier 4 is made by Harres Brudersma.
At Ipe Brouwerssteeg you will find this bird made by Klaas Lageweg.
Impressive art at Parking-garage De Klanderij by the Rotterdam based artist Tymon De Laat:
Scan the streets to find the cute hidden Miniature People of Leeuwarden...
The Bollemanssteeg has been transformed to Poetry Street by the Dutch poet Judith from lttrvreters. Almost every door in this street has got a poem printed on it. I think this is such a beautiful and positive initiative!
Local shopping in Leeuwarden
Blokhuispoort is a former jail transformed into a cultural hotspot with local artists, a hostel, small shops and a restaurant/cafe.
Here you will also find the atelier and shop of Lies van Huet. Lies is a ceramist since 1980 and makes the most beautiful objects and tableware.
CEL is as well situated in an old part of the jail and is probably the coolest silver/goldsmith I've ever visited. It is run by Sanne and Melissa, two women who (besides making jewellery) give workshops and classes in this amazing craft.
Contemporary/urban fashion lovers probably like to stop by at KDD (Klup De Dag) for a full outfit from head till toe.
Hotel in Leeuwarden
I have stayed at the very charming Post Plaza Hotel which was a former post office. In the morning breakfast is served at the attached Grand Café.
This painting of a postman makes a link to the purpose of the building in the past.
The Grand Café is besides breakfast area for hotel guests, as well open to all visitors for lunch, dinner, drinks and high tea/wine.
Breakfast with fresh fruits and 'Fries Toast' instead of French...
This one is made with sugar bread and even more tasty!
As I was alone I've had breakfast at the long reading table (with lots of magazines and newspapers) next to this cosy reading area. The perfect spot to start the day!
Feeling a bit adventurous?
Combine a trip to Leeuwarden with a visit to one of the two 'Dark Sky Parks'!
Find out more about starry nights and the oldest working planetarium in my blog here.
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Please note: I was invited by Friesland to be part of the kickoff event of 'Discover the Dark'
and therefore able to stay in this beautiful hotel.