Friesland 11-City Tour
Netherlands Bike Tours
Cycle the Scotland of the Netherlands
Largely a region for dairy farming, Friesland is also known for its impressive network of canals, rivers, and lakes that allow for an endless variety of water sports. In fact, the 11-City tour has been popular among ice skaters for many years. The scenic tranquility of the verdantly green landscape has earned Friesland the nickname Scotland of the Netherlands. It is a land full of history, quaint villages, vast manors, winding canals and natural reserves, which boast over 300 species of birds! Large farmhouses dot the landscape, where sheep, horses and cows graze. These farmhouses share a unique characteristic: they consist of a single roof that covers both the barn and the house. Frisian immigrants brought this style to the U.S. (particularly to Pennsylvania and New York), where many examples still remain.
The 11 cities on this tour include Leeuwarden, (the capital of the province and birthplace of the famous spy Mata Hari) and Harlingen (an old fishing village along the famous Green Coastal Road). The historically wealthy academic town of Franeker is home to a unique planetarium. Between 1774 and 1784, Eise Eisinga built this planetarium on the ceiling of his living room, and it still works perfectly today! Great examples of Renaissance architecture can also be found within the cities, and many locals still dress up in the traditional Frisian costumes.
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This is an easy self-guided hotel tour with distances averaging about 30 miles per day over 6 cycling days. Routes will traverse as much as possible over very good, asphalt side streets and bike paths. Terrain is almost entirely flat; sloping hills are rare and easily cycled. Due to greater winds in northern Holland, this tour is not recommended for children.
Where You’ll Stay
Comfortable 3 star to 4 star hotels; rooms with private facilities.
- Hotel accommodations for 7 nights
- Tour information packet
- Route descriptions & maps
- Bicycle equipped with saddlebags
- Luggage transfer
- GPS tracks on request (no GPS available for rental)
What’s Not Included
Day 1: Arrival in Leeuwarden
Day 2: Leeuwarden – Sneek, 31 mi. (50 km)
Day 3: Sneek – Rijs/Stavoren, 34 mi. (55 km)
Day 4: Rijs/Stavoren – Makkum, 19 mi. (31 km)
Day 5: Makkum – Franeker/Harlingen, 32 mi. (52 km)
Day 6: Franeker/Harlingen – Dokkum, 37 mi. (60 km)
Day 7: Dokkum – Leeuwarden, 16 mi. (25 km)
Day 8: Departure from Leeuwarden
For a larger map of Friesland's 11 cities, please click on Friesland map.
DAY 1: Arrival in Leeuwarden
Arrival in Leeuwarden.
DAY 2: Leeuwarden – Sneek, 30 mi. (48 km)
This first day of biking will bring you to Sneek. You will pass some of the most beautiful Frisian mansions, most of which are from the 17th century. Sneek is well known for its "Waterpoort" (water gate).
DAY 3: Sneek – Rijs/Stavoren, 34 mi. (55 km)
After breakfast you'll start cycling the Netherlands towards one of the smaller Frisian eleven cities, Ijlst. You'll take a ferry across a canal (Langweerder Vaart). From Langweer you follow the route via Sint Nicolaasga to the mini city of Sloten. Passing Balk and Oudemirdum, you arrive in Rijs where you spend the night.
DAY 4: Rijs/Stavoren – Makkum, 19 mi. (31 km)
Leaving Rijs behind, you continue to Stavoren passing the famous statue "Het vrouwtje van Stavoren" (The little woman from Stavoren). You will head to Hindeloopen. This boating and fishing village is well known for its narrow canals and streets, high wooden bridges, and old houses.
Via Workum, where you might want to visit the museum of the famous painter Jopie Huisman, you bike to Bolsward.
DAY 5: Makkum – Franeker/Harlingen, 32 mi. (52 km)
Today you'll bike through Makkum known for it's pottery, almost as well known as Delfts Blue. Makkum pottery is all hand painted.
You will spend the night in Harlinger or Franeker.
DAY 6: Franeker/Harlingen – Dokkum, 37 mi. (60 km)
Via numerous little villages such as Sint-Annaparochie, Ferwerd, Hegebeintum, and Burdaard you arrive in Dokkum.
DAY 7: Dokkum – Leeuwarden, 16 mi. (25 km)
One stretch left and you've completed the Eleven City bike tour. You'll bike via Bartlehiem to Leeuwarden.
After arrival in your hotel you will receive your award, a real medal!
DAY 8: Departure from Leeuwarden
Departure from Leeuwarden following breakfast.