12 Provincies Challenge


© Erik Baas / Creative Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0


Hello and a belated Happy New Year! How is everyone!?

After my Asia trip, I’m not loving Holland to be honest – sorry, but it is soooo fecking cold here!! And anyone who knows me will know that I’m NEVER cold. I must be broken!

Anyway, in the spirit of being English, I’ll shut up and carry on. And I have just had an idea… inspired by the #Take12Trips challenge that lots of travel bloggers have been doing for a few years now…

This year I’m going to visit all 12 provincies (provinces – or regions if you’re English) of the Netherlands.

Here they are along with the Hoofdstad (capital) and town/city with the most inhabitants:

Groningen ~ Groningen ~ Groningen
Friesland ~ Leeuwarden ~ Leeuwarden
Drenthe ~ Assen ~ Emmen
Overijssel ~ Zwolle ~ Enschede
Flevoland ~ Lelystad ~ Almere
Gelderland ~ Arnhem ~ Nijmegen
Utrecht ~ Utrecht ~ Utrecht
Noord-Holland ~ Haarlem ~ Amsterdam
Zuid-Holland ~ Den Haag ~ Rotterdam
Zeeland ~ Middelburg ~ Terneuzen
Noord-Brabant ~ ‘s-Hertogenbosch ~ Eindhoven
Limburg ~ Maastricht ~ Maastricht

In January, I already visited Arnhem, Delft and Scheveningen – so that’s Gelderland and Zuid-Holland ticked off – but I reeeeeally want to go to Nijmegen this year so maybe I’ll do Gelderland twice. Why the heck not!

So far in February I’ve only been to Utrecht, but I don’t think that counts as I go there all the time! What other gems can I find in the Utrecht region?

I need your help please! It would be pretty ‘obvious’ to just to go to the capital of each province… so do you have any suggestions? What are your favourite towns/cities from each province? And most importantly, where can I get the best bitterballen in each place?

Doe je mee? Please feel free to join in! And if you do, use the hashtag #12provincies so I can follow along 🙂

Hayley x


  1. Being a Grunneger I’m partial to Groningen, but another town of note is on the German border: historic Bourtange (where coincidentally they serve bitterballen in a cafe with Groninger mustard (the dark thick stuff, awesome!) on the side.
    While up north you should also hit Dokkum and the island of Schiermonnikoog, both in Friesland.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Every year my Dutch husband and I travel to the Netherlands and spend a month with his family. Here are a very few of my favorites!!
    Places to go in the province of Utrecht :
    Soestdijk has a lovely palace! https://www.paleissoestdijk.nl/
    The pretty little town of Breukelen. I’ve only been through that area briefly, but as I recall it was cute! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breukelen
    And if you’ve not been to Amersfoort, I enjoyed it a lot. And they have a nice museum!

    And for OverIjssel I recommend Zwolle! I love the atmosphere in Zwolle. And while you’re there, head to Gorssel and visit Museum More for great art! And stop in at Deventer, too. It’s very cozy there, with some lovely artist studios and eclectic shops that surprised me!

    In Zeeland, I highly recommend the quaint and picturesque Veere. If you go as far as Veere, you might as well go ten minutes more and go to Middleburg as well. Lovely!!

    Have you been to Dordrecht (Zuid)? I highly recommend it as well– it’s always a favorite way to spend a day. And you’ve seen Palais het loo (in Apeldoorn, Gelderland)?? If not, I say go!! The gardens are lovely and extensive, and the area is gorgeous!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great tips, thanks Nicole! 😊 I’ve been to Breukelen, Amersfoort and Dordrecht! Zwolle is high on my list because my nephew is studying there – so definitely going to check it out soon!

      We’re off to Zeeland in the summer so will visit the places you mention. 😁 Thanks very much for all the info! Much appreciated!


  3. What more can I say than; Oldenzaal! we have a whole market place, surrounded by pubs and restaurants and all serve perfect food and/or bitterballen. And not just there but also around the basilica tower in a wonderful bistro, called Puur! But my hubby makes the best 😉
    Get warm and enjoy the dutch enviroment xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Can I please suggest an alternative to Amsterdam? The whole world visits Amsterdam. My hometown Hoorn is Noord-Holland, but it is the capital of West-Friesland. Yes, that is in Noord-Holland, surprisingly enough. It has a very nice old harbour, beautiful buildings (dating back to the Golden Age when we exploited the hell out of Indonesia and Hoorn was a major town, they named the tip of South America for it), museums with old paintings and Delftware (Westfries Museum) but also recent stuff like Star Wars merchandise (Museum van de 20ste Eeuw), plenty of shops and nice restaurants and bars. Bitterballen are readily available at almost every bar, no problem!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Being from Friesland I would recommend you to go to Dokkum too, it’s a pretty town! But the best bitterballen are to be found at Snackbar Lucy in Gorredijk (also in Friesland). But I’m not objective, my hubby own it and makes the best bitterballen of course 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi, haven’t got any suggestions as I haven’t been to Holland for a while. Just wanted to ask how you get out of a car? According to the telegraph here in England Dutch people save lifes with their Dutch reach!! My inlaws have bombarded me with requests for demonstrations, but I’m clueless! Am I still Dutch?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I read about this! “They” say Dutch people reach across their bodies and open the driver side door with their right hand, thus also taking a look over their shoulder at the same time, checking for bikes and other oncoming objects. I’ve never actually heard about it living here, though. I don’t have a car… but I’ve ridden in them! And have never seen a Dutch person do the “Dutch Reach.” haha


  7. It’s been a while since I visited the Netherlands. We visited Delft and went to the Delft museum where we took a planting lesson. They fired our tile and shipped it to us in the U.S. We also visited the MC Escher Museum in Den Haag. The next day we hired a tour guide who drove us to the Afsluitdijk and what an engineering marvel it was to see it. Then we drove through Vollenhove, Workum, Lunch in Lemmer. Then on to the Hunnebeden in Drenthe. Then back to Amsterdam. What a fascinating country and I hope to return again soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Naarden is an interesting star fort town in the northern part of North Holland.

    In Gelderland, there’s a former fishing village called Elburg with a beautiful old city center and several good restaurants, including Le Papillon which serves nice bitterballen!

    If you want to get out of the cities, the Buitencentrum at the Oostvaardersplassen nature preserve in Flevoland is really cool. There’s lots of wildlife in preserve, including huge herds of wild horses.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Hayley, just to return the subject to Groningen for a sec, Bitterballen are fantastic of course, but when you are in Groningen, you kind of *should* try out the eierbal. It apparently is a very regional product, it originates from Groningen and is sort of cultural heritage.
    Eierballen are always fresh, never from the freezer. It’s basically a whole boiled (and peeled) egg, encapsulated in ragout and, like bitterballen and kroketten, in a breadcrumb outer layer. They are larger than bitterballen, it isn’t a one-bite snack, but I promise you it’s very tasty.
    Almost all good snackbars have them but they all taste a little different, since most of them make them themselves or they have their own provider.
    Try them at Friet van Piet in the Meeuwerderweg, not too far from the city centre. In my opinion it definitely is the best snackbar in the city of Groningen.
    Have fun at your bitterballentournee!


  10. Did a great cycle between Utrecht and Gouda that went to Oudewater. Lovely little place where you can be weighed on some medieval scales to check if you’re a witch or not. You get a certificate if you’re not. They don’t say what happens if you are a witch though…


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