24 hours in Leeuwarden

Leeuwarden Street Art

Nope, I haven’t forgotten… the 12 provincies challenge is still firmly in action. I haven’t written much about it (yet)… but behind the scenes, I have been visiting more of Holland than most Dutch people probably have!

Last week we ticked Friesland off the list! 🙂 Ideally, I would have liked to go to one of the islands – I’ve only been to Texel so far – but we only had limited time (and funds) so decided to stay on the mainland and visit the capital of Friesland instead.

I’m probably going to offend a lot of Leeuwarders now… but I thought Leeuwarden was just ok. Average. Sorry guys.

It reminded me a little of Utrecht without all the cool shit. Read: hipsters.

I don’t want to upset people who love Leeuwarden, honest, but I’ve got to be real. If people came to Hilversum and were disappointed, I’d get it. I know that I view Hilversum with rose tinted spectacles because it’s my adopted hometown.

When I was searching online for things to do in Leeuwarden (in both English and Dutch) it was slim pickings. I get it now. There’s not that much to do!! Hence why no one has written about it!

That’s not to say that we didn’t have a lovely time. We did. The people we met were lovely. (They did have very funny accents though, like a mix of Dutch and Norwegian. Friesland has it’s own official language!) The wine and food we had was lovely… so do go there if you just want a lovely time. If you want a fucking aaaaaamazing, staggeringly awesome time – go somewhere else! Amsterdam, Utrecht, Renesse, Zandvoort… I’m looking at you.

I’m glad I went, but I wouldn’t be climbing over myself to go back, nor do I recommend it as a must-see in Holland.

However, *if you do find yourself in the capital of Friesland*… here are my tips:

De Walrus

Trip Advisor to the rescue, you little beaut. This place was rated highly and praised for its wine. Sold!

Delicious wine and Dutchman's elbow

Delicious wine and Dutchman’s elbow

It didn’t disappoint. To go with our delicious wine, we also ordered a lil side of chips. Which turned out to be frigging massive! I’m not complaining. They were delicious.

Gouverneursplein 37, 8911 HH Leeuwarden | dewalrusleeuwarden.nl


Chips, jalapenos, red onion, pulled pork and cheese sauce. AKA chips on steroids. They were amazing!

Sjoddy wijn & spijslokaal

Definitely not shoddy! (Sorry, had to get that one in there! My Dad would be proud…)

Yummy mussels, friendly advice, trendy decor. A little pricey, but average for a wine bar in my experience. I’d go again (if it wasn’t in Leeuwarden!)

Druifstreek 55, 8911 LH Leeuwarden | sjoddy.nl 

Sjoddy wine bar, Leeuwaarden

Leeuwarden Lounge

I found out on TA that this place is owned by two brothers, with their Mum as the chef (she has now retired, but we were told the new chef uses all of her original recipes). One of Oma’s dishes is still on the menu too.

Leeuwarden Lounge

One of said brothers was our waiter for most of the evening, a very friendly chap who chatted to us in between courses. Highly recommended!! Excellent prices and the food is divine! Neither the Dutchie or I had ever tasted Afghan food before, but we will be looking out for it in future. Yum!! I can’t really recommend a dish in particular because everything was so good.

Also, voor de liefhebbers… they have shishas for after your meal.

Korfmakersstraat 13, 8911 LA Leeuwarden | leeuwardenlounge.nl



Top things to do in Leeuwarden: Fries Museum. We didn’t go because I already know everything there is to know about chips! 😉

De Oldehove is an unfinished church tower in the medieval centre which apparently leans more than the tower of Pisa in Italy. I couldn’t get the Dutchie to pretend to hold it up, so here it is in all its boring glory: De Oldehove, Leeuwarden

Boomsma Museum – we had planned on going here and tasting some of the brown stuff. (Beerenburger for you uncultured slobs out there.) But when we walked in it was busy and smelled like old people, so we went to the pub instead.

Canals and Historische binnenstad – does what it says on the tin really. It’s just nice to have a little mosey around the small streets and enjoy the architecture.




Red light district – no photos, obviously. (It’s illegal.) I was surprised to see that Leeuwarden even had a red light district! It was pretty ropey to be honest, as you might expect. But still worth a peek for the curious Englishwoman who still can’t get her head around legalised prostitution.

Leeuwarden by night. A photo NOT of the red light district.

Leeuwarden by night. A photo NOT of the red light district.

Where to stay 

We stayed at the Bastion hotel, nothing fancy but it did the job.

It was super clean, had free parking, free wifi, a fridge and tea and coffee facilities and was only a 20 min walk from town. If you walk the right way that is!! It took us almost an hour because we are morons and went completely in the wrong direction! 😀

Have you been to Leeuwarden? Did you love it, hate it, or were you just a bit indifferent towards it like me?

Hayley x


  1. This probably explains why when we took a private guided tour of the Friesland on our way to see the Hunnebeden, our guide by-passed Leeuwarden. We got to see Workum and Lemmer, lunch in Vollenhove, then off to Drenthe for the Hunnebedden.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My family is from Groningen and when one of my sisters moved to Leeuwarden my parents and other sister followed. On my visits home (I live in Arizona now) I’ve never felt Leeuwarden came close to the bustling college town Groningen is, it’s just so-so.. When in Friesland I always enjoyed smaller towns like Harlingen and Dokkum more, or the Wadden Islands for that matter.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Hayley, I have to correct you on one issue: Frysian is not a dialect but an official language. Other than that “you hit the nail on the head” as the Dutch saying goes. Been there for the same reason as you, nice city but not worth bothering to go again.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I recommend the old post office, now the POST-PLAZA HOTEL in the TWEEBAKSMARKT 25-27.. It’s a beautiful building, with a good restaurant and amazing toilets.


  5. Maybe Leeuwardenaars like it just like that, just ok as you call it and few tourists. “Tourists” look at any location in a completely different way then those that actually live there. Tourists, especially Americans are looking for “entertainment” and packed as much of it in a single day as possible. Leeuwardenaars love their town and their province because it is peaceful, quaint and quiet. To compare Leeuwarden and Utrecht is like comparing New York City and Nashville. Utrecht is about three times the size of Leeuwarden and receives many more tourists then Leeuwarden because of it’s proximity to Amsterdam and because it is dissected by the A2 and A12, two of the major North/South-East/West interstates. Leeuwarden…has none of that. I love Leeuwarden and have been there many times. Cool town in many ways, not just Ok.
    I enjoy your stories and the American point of view of my country though. Thanks and tot ziens.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jaap,

      Thanks for your comment and perspective. As I stated, it’s just my opinion. I’m glad you love Leeuwarden.

      Just FYI; I’m not American. I’m English. And calling an English person American is like comparing Leeuwarden to Utrecht. Just so you know. 😉


      Liked by 1 person

    2. “Utrecht receives many more tourists then Leeuwarden because of it’s proximity to Amsterdam and because it is dissected by the A2 and A12,”

      You think? Or maybe the fact that there’s much more to do and see in Utrecht plays a part in that.

      I also thought Leeuwarden was just ok. Nothing wrong with being just ok, and I’m glad people love it.


  6. Hi Hailey,

    I’m a Dutchman living in England, married with an English lady.

    Every time we are in Holland I show my wife a different part of the country

    When we were in Leeuwarden we had a meal in the old post office.

    A beautiful building with lots of original features

    Even the toilets were amazing (may be not original, but looking good – see pictures)

    Love your blog, keep writing.


    Paul Kröner



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