The world’s leading travel guide has just announced their Top 10 Europe destinations, highlighting the hidden gems you have to visit when you want to avoid mass tourism. Being a self-proclaimed traveller myself I’ve crossed of a whole three of them: Vilnius (you can read my findings here), Dundee (maybe one day I will find words to describe my experience) and the province of Friesland in the Netherlands. I lived in Leeuwarden during a lost few months in my life so as an expert and expat I can tell you what to see and do there.
When you think of Netherlands you think of Amsterdam and perhaps Rotterdam or The Hague. But according to Lonely Planet, Friesland is where it’s at. It’s located in the North West of the Netherlands and stands out as it has its own language, traditions and lovely nature (very hard to admit from someone from the the rival province). What are some things to see, do and eat then?
Visit One Town Visit All Towns
No matter which city of town you visit they all have the same blueprint: cute historical city centre with an old church, a random museum that showcased why it was important at some point in history and boats to escape to other places. If you have time to visit one city then make it Harlingen: get lost in the compact city centre and check out the charming houses, visit the port and see the #AccidentalWesAnderson light house and top it off with an ice-cream at Min 12. It was where I lost my salted caramel virginity and it changed the game (and jeans size) for me.
Culinary Sugar Explosion
The French have a croissant, the Scandinavian have cinnamon buns and Friesland has … sugar bread. It’s literally a white loaf of bread, with large lumps of sugar mixed in with the dough. Wait … what? It gets better… To top it off you it’s best when served with a layer of butter. So definitely not for the ones working on their #Summerbody2018.
Bring Out Your Inner Water Rat (It’s a weird Dutch phrase, but bear with me!)
Friesland is the watersport capital of the Netherlands and many school trips have taken me there. Canoeing or sailing are great, but you really want to go traditional rent a sloop and explore by boat. The engines are silent so you can also combine it with nature and visit a reserve like De Alde Feanen.
If you like climbing poles Fierljeppen might be for you: you basically jump and grab your pole (usually between 8 and 13 metres) and then climb to the top of the pole while trying make sure it moves forward and lands on a designated spot.
Or perhaps mudflat hiking: Twice a day – when it’s low tide, the Wadden Sea gets all dry and you have can actually walk in the gooey seabed to one of the nearby islands. I did it twice and ended up crying both times, once out of frustration and other time out of happiness that I made it. Make sure you book a guided tour unless you want to end up stuck in the mud!
Have you been to any of Lonely Planet’s Top Europe Destinations?