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The Outdoors

Walking and biking are popular activities, as the countryside offers anything from forests and agricultural fields to lake areas. The countryside is dotted with villages and winding roads, meadows with sheep and cows, and typical Dutch vistas of trees, windmills, and church steeples. The lack of hills and mountains offers great cycling routes for everyone.

Mudflat hiking (wadlopen) should also be mentioned. At low tide in the shallow Wadden Sea, it’s temporarily possible to walk from the northern coast to one of the Frisian Islands. However, this should be done under the supervision of a professional guide because of the risk of unexpected tide runs. Good starting points include Pieterburen and Holwerd.

Boating and sailing are tremendously popular. The extensive network of waterways and, of course, the Wadden Sea to the north, make it possible to explore large parts of the Northern Netherlands by boat. Good places to start tours of the Frisian lakes include Sneek, Grou and Lemmer, although virtually every village on the water has boat rental options.

Throughout the northern region, ice skating is a major passion in the winter. Because the area is a bit colder than the rest of the country, the first chances for outdoor ice skating often happen in the north. Indoor ice skating begins in September when the two ice rinks open (Kardinge in Groningen and Thialf in Heerenveen). Both venues have an ice track (ijsbaan) for speed skating and a rink for ice hockey (ijshockeybaan). Even if you’re not planning on any ice skating for yourself, watching one of the competitions is a fun way to experience Dutch culture.