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Exploring Friesland by Bike – the Eleven Cities Tour

Sabina Knezevic

Exploring Friesland by Bike – the Eleven Cities Tour

Bike Touring Collection by Sabina Knezevic - Farawayistan

6

Tours

16:14 h

166 mi

1,125 ft

The Eleven Cities Tour is a legendary skating route through Friesland in the north of the Netherlands. Many skaters dream of completing this 120-mile (200 km) stretch through wintery conditions. But, unfortunately, the ice has rarely been thick enough for skating in recent times. So, as skating may not be possible, why not ride your bike along the route instead?

The Friesland region offers more than just meadows and canals. Along the Frisian Ijsselmeer and Wadden Sea coasts, you’ll find picturesque villages and hamlets, vast lakes, historic farms, shipyards, and, of course, dikes. It’s Frieland’s unique scenery and traditions that make the region so special. You may hear locals speaking their own Friesian language or participating in Fierljeppen, a traditional sport where participants pole jump over canals.

This Collection guides you along the 165-mile (267-km) route to the 11 legendary Frisian cities in six stages. Some of the cities feel more like picturesque, small villages, but they still have ample to explore. The rides are suitable for all abilities, averaging around 30 miles (50 km) per day. You will follow well-maintained bike paths with plenty of facilities and places to stop en route. You should plan to spend around four to five hours a day on your saddle, so an e-bike might be a good option too.

During this adventure, you'll cycle almost entirely on paved paths and roads; more than 68 miles (110 km) of the route follows cycle paths. On these traffic-free sections, you can fully enjoy your surroundings, far away from busy roads.

Friesland may sound far, but Leeuwarden, Friesland’s capital city, is easily accessible by train. Along the route you'll find many camping sites which usually have spaces available. During the Sneekweek, Europe’s biggest sailing event, in August it can be a lot busier, so book in advance. To make sure your trip goes smoothly, it’s a good idea to book hotels in advance too.

Leeuwarden was the European Capital of Culture in 2018 and to celebrate, local artists in each of the 11 Frisian cities created a fountain. These striking fountains represent the history and culture of the region and are great places to stop for a selfie.

Friesland offers beauty in abundance and is a wonderful place to explore by bike. Hop onto your saddle and explore the 11 cities and the beauty of the far north.

On The Map

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De Fietselfstedentocht – Complete Tour

165 mi

1,150 ft

1,150 ft

Last updated: November 9, 2021

Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Dag 1: Leeuwarden naar Sneek (De tocht van start) — De Fietselfstedentocht

    Intermediate
    02:43
    29.5 mi
    10.9 mph
    175 ft
    200 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Your Eleven Cities Tour starts in the capital of Friesland. The Frisians also call Leeuwarden Ljouwert or Liwwadden. The starting point is the always pleasant Stadswaag. You drive past the station, so that could also be a good starting point of this Tour.

    

    Before you get off today after about 50 kilometers

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  • Intermediate
    03:57
    34.8 mi
    8.8 mph
    375 ft
    375 ft
    Ferry
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride. The Tour includes a crossing by ferry.

    From Sneek you set course for Sloten. The smallest and most cozy of the eleven cities. Medieval streets, canals with characteristic bridges and squares with monumental buildings. A lovely place for a lunch break.

    

    Suddenly it no longer resembles Friesland. In the Gaasterland forest area, the vast plains

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  • Easy
    01:48
    19.5 mi
    10.8 mph
    125 ft
    100 ft
    Easy bike ride. Great for any fitness level. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    From Frisia, this Frisian tour continues inland through fishing towns of Hindeloopen and Workum. For those who did not find Frisian difficult enough, they speak their own dialect in Workum.

    

    In the countryside it is especially enjoy the vast landscapes. Characteristic are the mounds on which churches and

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  • Intermediate
    02:14
    22.3 mi
    10.0 mph
    125 ft
    125 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Today the stage goes via Harlingen, among others. Harlingen is located on the Wadden Sea and with its characteristic monumental buildings is a real port city. Ferries leave from the harbor to Terschelling and Vlieland.

    

    From here it is only a short distance to the day destination: Franeker. The city has

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  • Intermediate
    02:49
    30.3 mi
    10.8 mph
    150 ft
    150 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    We reach Holwerd via vast polders and the highest mound in the Netherlands. Along the way you pass the Noardereech salt marsh center on the edge of the Noard-Fryslân Bûtendyks nature reserve, where you can spot enormous numbers of birds. The perfect place to get a breath of fresh air on the Waddendijk

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  • Intermediate
    02:44
    29.6 mi
    10.8 mph
    175 ft
    175 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Before the Elfstedentocht is completed, you still have to bring in the (imaginary) stamp of Dokkum. Dokkum is the most northerly Frisian city. You reach Leeuwarden via the iconic wooden bridge by Bartlehiem, known from The Tour of Tours.

    

    Completely in style you decide the tour at the official finish arch

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Questions and Comments

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    6
  • Distance
    166 mi
  • Duration
    16:14 h
  • Elevation
    1,125 ft

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