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 lively town of Sneek
- Eisinga Planetarium
- The Wadden Sea
- Dokkumer Ee canal
Be sure to check our our full list of bike tours in the Netherlands.
Day 1: Arrival in Leeuwarden
Day 2: Leeuwarden – Sneek, 32 mi. (52 km)
Day 3: Sneek – Rijs/Stavoren, 31 mi. (51 km)
Day 4: Rijs/Stavoren – Makkum, 20 mi. (32 km)
Day 5: Makkum – Franeker/Harlingen, 31 mi. (51 km)
Day 6: Franeker/Harlingen – Dokkum, 37 mi. (60 km)
Day 7: Dokkum – Leeuwarden, 16 mi. (26 km)
Day 8: Departure from Leeuwarden
All distances are approximate.
DAY 1: Arrival in Leeuwarden
Your Frisian adventure kicks off in Leeuwarden, the vibrant capital of Friesland province. If the spoken language sounds different to you here, you are absolutely right. The Frisian language differs from Dutch and is an important aspect of local culture.
DAY 2: Leeuwarden – Sneek, 32 mi. (52 km)
Three of the eleven towns highlighted on this tour are lined up for you today. Bolsward is a lovely historical Hanseatic town that captures the hearts of many tourists. You will stay the night in the lively town of Sneek which is especially popular among water sports enthusiasts. Everybody loves the canals that adorn the center. Waterpoort (1613) is the town’s pride and joy. Way back when the town was surrounded by a defensive wall, this was one of the town gates through which boats were permitted to enter and leave town. If you have a sweet tooth, try to get hold of the local brittle buckwheat cookies known as “drabbelkoeken”. End your evening in one of the many bars and cafes that liven up the town!
DAY 3: Sneek – Rijs/Stavoren, 31 mi. (51 km)
Leaving behind the hustle and bustle of Sneek, you will dive into the peace and quiet of the Frisian Lake District. Comprising nearly thirty inland lakes, it is said to be the largest lake district in western Europe. With water all around, experience a feeling of calm and forget about time for a while. Further on, you will reach a geologically interesting wooded area called Gaasterland, which is not so typical of the Netherlands. You will find meandering creeks, slightly rolling terrain, and deciduous woods directly on the coast of what used to be Zuiderzee. Even more unexpectedly, a wall of boulder clay called Rode Klif, rises up from Lake IJsselmeer, offering endless views.
DAY 4: Rijs/Stavoren – Makkum, 20 mi. (32 km)
There’s more Frisian cultural heritage in store for you today. In Hindeloopen, wooden bridges, houses with characteristic façades, narrow streets and an ice skating museum hold great appeal. But there’s more! You may have heard of Hindelooper painted furniture and traditional fabrics used for the local costume. The people of this town had a style all of their own, influenced by trading connections with Scandinavia and the Baltic. Feast your eyes on fantastic floral patterns and find out about the town’s history and traditions at Atelier Glashouwer or Museum Hindeloopen. Next up is Workum, which was once a town of potters famed for their grooved ceramics (clay is readily available around here). At Koch’s workshop you can still see them at work. At the town hall get a glimpse of the town’s rich history. Inside, visitors can see an original wooden prison cell. Round off the day in historical Makkum, famous for producing Frisian pottery. The Tichelaar factory of tiles and ceramics has been going strong since 1594. To see Frisian pottery, the ceramics museums in Harlingen and Leeuwarden are recommended!
DAY 5: Makkum – Franeker/Harlingen, 31 mi. (51 km)
Pass the borders of Lake IJssel once again on the way to the next of our eleven towns, Franeker, a small but impressive town. It houses not only the Netherlands’ second oldest university, the oldest student bar “Bogt van Guné” but also the country’s oldest working planetarium: Eisinga Planetarium. From Franeker, it’s only a very short ride to Harlingen, smell the briny sea air as you approach this friendly harbor town. As you amble up and down the Wadden Promenade on the sea front, consider what a special place the shallow Wadden Sea is. It is even listed as a Unesco World Heritage site. At low tide, the mudflats and tidal creeks are revealed and shore birds arrive to forage. During a walk through the center of town you will discover a great number of monumental warehouses, buildings of architectural or historical interest, and picturesque canals.
Tip: if you want to spend a day cycling on the Wadden Island of Vlieland or Terschelling, it is possible to book an extra night in Harlingen with a ferry ticket included.
DAY 6: Franeker/Harlingen – Dokkum, 37 mi. (60 km)
Set off along the coast, with vast polders to your right, and consider how the people of Friesland might have might have kept their feet dry in a flood before sea dikes were invented. In fact, they built “terps”, or raised dwelling mounds, and their churches and farmhouses perched on top. At Hegebeintum, your first stop of the day, you can see one that has been partly preserved. At nearly nine meters it’s the highest terp in Friesland. Today’s journey ends in Dokkum. Once upon a time, the town was orientated towards the sea to which it had an open connection. It became strategically important and was fortified with defensive earthworks and moats in 1582, the outlines of which can clearly be seen to this day. Later the harbour silted up and the town became land orientated. It has long attracted pilgrims who come to pay homage to St. Boniface, a missionary from England who came to convert pagan Frisians to Christianity. He was murdered here in Dokkum in the year 754. Outside the chapel, is a well that Boniface supposedly discovered and blessed. The clear water is said to have healing properties.
DAY 7: Dokkum – Leeuwarden, 16 mi. (26 km)
Today’s scenery is the typical open, green landscape with water, meadows, and cows of the Frisian region. The Dokkumer Ee canal (which features prominently in the skating marathon) leads the way to the capital of Friesland. The unassuming bridge at Bartlehiem is most famous perhaps for surviving the crowds of supporters jumping up and down and cheering on the skaters. From here it’s only a short stretch to Leeuwarden. Only a total of 26 km for you today, leaving plenty of time to look around this gem of the north. Feel like going shopping for a souvenir? Kleine Kerkstraat is one of the best-loved shopping streets in the country. The town has over six hundred monuments and boasts charming harbors. If it’s action you want, climb the Frisian tower of Pisa called Oldenhove. The bronze statue, “Us Mem” (meaning Our Mother) is a good place to start exploring.
DAY 8: Departure from Leeuwarden
Departure from Leeuwarden following breakfast.
Comfortable 3 star to 4 star hotels; rooms with private facilities.
- Accommodations for 7 nights in 3/4 star hotels
- Tour information packet
- Route descriptions & maps
- 24-speed city touring bicycle (high handlebars and more upright riding position) equipped with one pannier, lock, lights, bell, and adjustable seat
- One repair kit
- Luggage transfer (max. 1 piece under 20 kg per person)
- GPS tracks on request (GPS device is not available for rental)
- Emergency break down service
Dates & Pricing
Daily from April 1 to September 23, 2020
Double room: $ 1317 £ 730 $ 1,256 € 789 $ 1425 kr 8446 $ 943
Single room: $ 1667 £ 925 $ 1,590 € 999 $ 1804 kr 10694 $ 1,195
Upgrade to premium bike: $ 93 £ 52 $ 89 € 56 $ 101 kr 599 $ 67 * *27 gear KOGA Grand Tourer or similar, with disc brakes. Premium bike is lighter than the standard rental weighing +/- 15 kg.
Electric bicycle rental: $ 152 £ 84 $ 145 € 91 $ 164 kr 974 $ 109 * * 10-speed pedal-assist unisex frames with handbrakes. Please be aware that e-bikes are heavier than non-electric bikes
Aluminum road bike: $ 93 £ 52 $ 89 € 56 $ 101 kr 599 $ 67 * *Unisex Montreal 74 Eddy Merckx or Blockhaus 67 Eddy Merckx
Helmet rental: $ 17 £ 9 $ 16 € 10 $ 18 kr 107 $ 12
Dinners included: $ 350 £ 194 $ 334 € 210 $ 379 kr 2248 $ 251
Extra night in Leeuwarden: $ 117 £ 65 $ 111 € 70 $ 126 kr 749 $ 84
Extra night in Harlingen + ferryticket for 1 day to Wadden Island Vlieland or Terschelling included: $ 159 £ 88 $ 151 € 95 $ 172 kr 1017 $ 114
Supplement for extra luggage (price per bag weighing less than 20 kg): $ 58 £ 32 $ 56 € 35 $ 63 kr 375 $ 42
Skill Level — Easy
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.
Fly to Amsterdam.
Take the train from Amsterdam airport to Leeuwarden, ± 2½ hr.
The average high in °F in Leeuwarden is approx. 52 for Apr, 60 May, 65 Jun, 68 Jul, 68 Aug & 64 Sep.
Adult tandem, family tandem, road, tag-along, and children’s bikes, as well as electric bikes and child trailer and seats are all available for this tour based on availability.
This tour is run by Dutch Bike Tours.
We value the strong relationship we have with our local partners and the services we provide.
We are not a broker.
We do not inflate tour prices.
We are simply travelers helping travelers.