World-class museums and a lively café culture make Leeuwarden one of the most captivating cities in the Netherlands. Canals criss-cross the city and are lined with scenic footpaths and bike trails, giving Leeuwarden a postcard-perfect feel. Relax at waterfront cafes, browse independent boutiques and soak in the culture.
Things to do in Leeuwarden
It’s easy to spend hours wandering around De Binnenstad, the city’s medieval centre. The atmospheric neighbourhood is laced with shimmering canals and cobbled alleyways. Admire the handsome heritage buildings and browse independent boutiques selling everything from cheese and chocolate to antiques and travel books.
With numerous museums and galleries to explore, it’s no surprise Leeuwarden was crowned the European Capital of Culture in 2018. Keramiek Museum Princessehof occupies a handsome 17th-century mansion and is filled with beautiful ceramics from around the world. Fries Museum is housed in a striking contemporary building made from glass, wood and steel. Exhibits chart the unique history, heritage and culture of the region.
Art studios, tattoo parlours and trendy cafes are just some of the businesses you’ll find at the Blokhuispoort cultural centre. The complex occupies a 19th-century prison, with the old cells reimagined as shops and boutiques. Guided tours offer more information on how the city transformed a derelict prison into one of the top cultural centres in Europe. Stop at a canal-side café for lunch with a view.
Polar bears, penguins, crocodiles and sea lions are just some of the animals you can see at AquaZoo Friesland. In addition to marine and coastal animals, the zoo is also home to monkeys, lemurs and other exotic animals.
Getting around Leeuwarden
Leeuwarden is pedestrian-friendly and easy to get around on foot. Renting a bike is a fun and eco-friendly way to explore the city. Leeuwarden Train Station is within walking distance of the city centre and offers connections to Amsterdam in around two hours. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is a 1.5-hour drive away.