Discover Friesland: Paradise for water sport enthusiasts

Friesland boating holidays 2019

According to Lonely Planet one of the best European destinations

Friesland, a province in Northern Netherlands, is third listed on Lonely Planet best European destinations of this year. A huge win for this province. Because it is the first destination in the Netherlands that has ended up so high on this famous list. But what is making this province so special that Lonely Planet has chosen it as one of the best European destinations?


This has not only to do with the election of Leeuwarden as European Capital of Culture in 2018. But the region is also bursting from history, vibrant city centres, culture and nature. Furthermore, it seems to be a paradise for water sport enthusiasts. Because of that (beginning) skippers and water sport enthusiasts can discover Friesland easily by boat.

The rich history of Friesland

Inhabitants of Friesland are a staunchly self-reliant bunch, with their own language. In Friesland its early history the inhabitants had to build their own dykes to prevent themselves from the water. This eternal struggle is perfect to see in both culture and nature. Formerly, the many waterways were the only connection between villages and cities and were used for commodity transport. Nowadays the waterways are still used for inland shipping. But mainly used through water sport enthusiasts from all over the world. The water does not only connect Frisian city centres, but it is also directly connected with the rest of the Netherlands.


Not only in summer the Frisian lakes are popular, but the lakes are also used for water sport in the winter. One of the most famous and familiar sports in the winter is ice-skating. The water network is then used for the expansion of various ice-skating trips, with the Elfstedentocht as the most well-known. The participants skate a tour of morte than 200 kilometers (approx. 125 miles) and get a stamp in all eleven cities. If you have interest in ice-skating and the history of this sport, then you can visit the first Frisian ice-skating museum in Hindeloopen. Click here for more information.

Hindeloopen Friesland Hindeloopen elf steden Friesland

Vibrant city centres

The province counts eleven unique cities of which the largest is its capital Leeuwarden. Leeuwarden might be familiar because it is European Capital of Culture in 2018. But this city offers more, because of its beautiful canals, a mooring place near the city centre and this various city centre has multiple shopping possibilities, cafés, and restaurants.


Other beautiful cities that are worth a visit are the from fishing grown city Hindeloopen and port city Harlingen. Both with an 16th-century architecture. Water sport city Sneek is familiar at home and abroad for its many sailing regattas and the beautiful watergate, but it also has, like Leeuwarden, nice musea and a several shopping possibilities.


The eleven cities have a new link through water with each other since 2018. This through an art project where 11 unique fountains were created and built in the 11 Frisian cities, designed by artists from all over the world. Read here more about this project.

Fontein Leeuwarden Leeuwarden by boat Oldehove

Cultural rich area with many activities and beautiful nature

Yearly, many water sport enthusiasts from all over the world come to Friesland for a boating holiday. This ensures various water sports activities in the province. One of the well-known sailing events is the competition with the Skûtsjes (flat-bottomed boats) built in Friesland around the famous water sports places. If you are searching for more activities with history, than the Eise Eisinga Planetarium in Franeker or the steam pumping station in Lemmer is worth a visit.


Between 1774 and 1781 Eise Eisinga has build a Planetarium (solar system) at the ceiling of his living room in his beautiful canal house in Franeker (more information). This is the oldest still working planetarium in the world. In Lemmer is the oldest still working steam pumping station in the world. In 1920 this steam pumping station with the name Woudagemaal, after its founder Ir. D.F. Wouda, has opened. Its task is to pump out all the excess water from Friesland into the IJsselmeer (more information).


Nature lovers can indulge in Friesland. The province offers a various nature, what has arisen after digging various waterways. The landscape offers several farms with agriculture and livestock alternated with lakes and canals. In National Park De Alde Feanen (more information) there are more than 100 species of breeding birds and over 450 species of plants. The nature reserve has several free mooring locations, named Marrekrite, where you can relax, fish or swim.

Planetarium Eise Eisinga Franeker  Woudagemaal Lemmer Woudagemaal Lemmer

Friesland is the perfect location for the beginning skipper

Friesland can be easily discovered by boat. The region is accessible for everyone and offers through it watersport kindness several possibilities for both starting and experienced skipper. In Friesland it is then also possible to drive a motorboat up to 15 metres (50 feet) with a speed slower then 20 km/h (approx. 12,4 miles an hour). Beginning skippers can alternate mooring in nature with mooring in marinas and city centres. In Friesland everything is equipped for water sports, what makes it easy to find a mooring place.


The best period for a boating holiday is from the start of the watersport season at the 1st of April until the 1st of November.


If you want to expand your route and see more of the Netherlands, Friesland is a good starting point of your sailing holiday. All the waterways stand in good connection with the rest of the Netherlands.

BunBo in nature - Marrekrite Friesland Drait motor boat in nature Bridges in Friesland

Renting a boat at Yachtcharter De Drait

Yachtcharter De Drait has more then 35 years of watersport experience and owns an extensive charter fleet of approx. 80 motorboats in Drachten (Friesland) and Brandenburg (Germany). De Drait offers various boats from 7,5 metres (approx. 25 feet) up to 15 metres (50 feet), with a speed limit less than 20 km/h (12,4 miles).


Therefore it is possible to sail all yachts without a license. Our team of water sport enthusiasts are glad to help you with all your questions prior to your sailing holiday. After the check-in all skippers get an instruction and for the non-experienced skipper we offer a skippertraining. In this 2 hour training we will gain more experience and explain how to moor a boat and how to leave a berth, more about the different marine knots and the meaning of buoyage. Furthermore you will get more information about the sailing area, navigation, the handling of the bow and/or stern thruster and you will receive other practical tips.

Last minute discount

Curious about this region?

Friesland is a versatile region that offers culture, nature and a rich history. The best way to discover Friesland is by boat, due to its easy accessibility for the non-experienced skipper. Therefore skippers do not need a sailing license. If you are still curious about how easy Friesland can be discovered from the water, then click here to see our video of a boating holiday in Friesland. If you are interested in a boating holiday or if you want to receive more information, than do not hesitate to contact Yachtcharter De Drait: