An old market town lying at the heart of an agricultural district, Leeuwarden was formed from the amalgamation of three terpen that originally stood on an expanse of water known as the Middelzee. Later it was the residence of the powerful Frisian Stadholders, who vied with those of Holland for control of the United Provinces. These days it’s Friesland’s capital, a university town with a laidback provincial air, its centre a haphazard blend of modern glass and traditional gabled terraces overlooking canals. It perhaps lacks the concentrated historic charm of many other Dutch towns, but it’s an amiable old place, with a couple of decent museums. Its most appealing feature is its compact and eminently strollable old centre, almost entirely surrounded and dissected by water. Leeuwarden is a real student town too, so it has a bit of life about it, not to mention a decent array of good-value places to eat and drink.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Netherlands features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

7 Dutch cities to explore beyond Amsterdam

7 Dutch cities to explore beyond Amsterdam

Amsterdam — with its museums, gabled Golden Age houses and network of historic canals — is a sure bet for a weekend break. But it's not all the Netherlands…

27 Apr 2017 • Stuart Forster insert_drive_file Article
An expert's guide: the best area to stay in Amsterdam

An expert's guide: the best area to stay in Amsterdam

Almost 50 years after John Lennon and Yoko Ono promoted world peace from room 702 of the Hilton, Amsterdam’s hotels are more worthy of the spotlight than ev…

08 Mar 2017 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
The best places to go in spring

The best places to go in spring

Springtime is beautiful, with its big blue skies and flowers in bloom, so there may be no better time to travel. If you're thinking about getting away, here are…

14 Feb 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook