Did you know that there are many great trails for cycling and hiking in Southwest Friesland? Here are some awesome itineraries for this beautiful region in The Netherlands.
Nature in Southwest Friesland
Friesland is a province in the northern part of the Netherlands. The Southwest is well-known because of all the lakes (filled with sailboats), so they’ll also call it Waterland of Frielsnad. There are many pittoresk towns and villages and there’s a lot of space, so you can really enjoy nature here! There are many cycling and hiking trails, so if you want to get active, this is the place to be. In this article, I’ll share some tips for cycling and hiking in Southwest Friesland.
Cycling in Southwest Friesland
All over The Netherlands, you’ll find many bicycle junctions. When you like to cycle, you’ll probably have seen some signs with numbers, those numbers point to a bicycle junction.
Because of this network, it’s really easy to make your own cycling itinerary. At the bicycle junctions, you’ll find a map of the area and other cycling junctions. On the map, you can also see how many kilometers it is from one junction to another. So you can connect several of these junctions to make your own itinerary. You can make them as long as you want.
One of the best cycling itineraries in Southwest Friesland is the Brekkenroute. This trail circles around the Brekken, a couple of lakes. The start and end of this itinerary is the gorgeous town of Workum. If you don’t bring your own bike, you can rent one at Fytsmakkerij Scheltema.
Get on your bike!
Cycling the Brekkenroute takes three hours and the itinerary is 29 kilometers long. It’s based on the numbers of several cycling junctions, so it’s really easy to follow.
You’ll start at cycling junction number 17 in Workum. Then you’ll follow the signs to number 4 and number 6. Close to number 6 you can get some delicious ice cream at “IJsboerderij Margje”.
When you continue your bicycle tour in the direction of junction 16, you might see some authentic Dutch tiles on some of the pastures. They all have a wise saying on them (in Dutch). It’s a really cool thing to see!
Past junction 16 you’ll cycle along the Oudegaaster Brekken to junction 15. Between junction 15 and 31, you’ll see this beautiful old wooden mill called “Doris Mooltsje”. From here you’ll have a great view of the lake.
After junction 31, you’ll follow the signs to junction 32 into the small town of Oudega. For me personally, this was a feast of recognition. My grandparents used to stay at the campground here most of the summers and had a sailboat. I used to come here a lot when I was a little girl. This is the first time in 20 years that I’m back here and I was still able to recognize some things. The view was just as good as I remembered! I especially loved seeing the gorgeous church in the center of Oudega.
Extra stops during this itinerary
Do you love cycling in Southwest Friesland and would you like to add some extra stops? You can make some between junction 32 and 33. One of them is the tiny village (it’s only a couple of houses) of Sandfirden, which also has a nice historic church. Another one is the hamlet called Idzega (this is actually where my grandfather was born). Here you’ll find a national monument on a small cemetery, a wooden belfry.
When you reach junction 33, follow the signs to junctions 34 and 23. You’ll cycle through a lovely village called Gaastmeer, which is a great place to take a break.
From Gaastmeer, you’ll cycle through a field with cows (don’t be scared) and you have to take the ferry (which is only suitable for cyclists and pedestrians) to get across the canal.
Tip Take some cash for the ferry. It’s one Euro per person. Also, check this website for opening hours, since the ferry isn’t always available.
Cycle back to Workum
From junction 23 you’ll cycle through many grasslands and see some picture-perfect views of the Dutch landscape with a couple of mills. Follow the signs to junctions 18, 21, and 20 for the most scenic route. When you arrive in Workum, make sure to stop at the museum harbor “Blazerhaven”.
Then you follow the signs to 22 and 17 to finish your cycling adventure in Southwest Friesland. Don’t forget to check out Workum, the town has many beautiful treasures.
Hiking in Southwest Friesland
Besides cycling, you can also go hiking in Southwest Friesland.
Just like cycling junctions, you can also spot some hiking junctions. Those are usually purple and green. Unfortunately, there’s not a map at every junction, so it’s a little harder to find your way. Check this website for a couple of nice hiking trails in Southwest Friesland.
Long-distance hikes in Southwest Friesland
Did you know that there are a couple of long-distance trails in Southwest Friesland? One of them is the St. Odulpustrail, which is also known as the ‘Camino of Friesland’. The whole trail is about 260 kilometers long, and you’ll pass many churches and small towns like Oudega, Gaastmeer, Hindeloopen, and Warns. On the trail, you find some signs with lots of information about the area you’re walking through, so it’s very educational. The whole trail consists of fifteen sections, so you can also just pick one or two.
Hiking tip: over the dyke from Hindeloopen to Stavoren
On a rainy day, I hiked a section of the St. Odulpustrail, over the dyke from Hindeloopen to Stavoren. Despite the bad weather, it was still a great hike. It’s quite the adventure and the views are really nice. On your right, you will see Lake IJssel and on the left side of the dyke you will see the typical Frysian landscape with grasslands and cows.
The trail is really easy to follow because you pretty much walk over the dyke all the time. Sometimes you have to climb over a fence and hike between the sheep. They don’t do anything, but they are very curious!
You’ll also pass a nature reserve called ‘Bocht fan Molkwar’ where you can visit a bird watching hut.
Right before you enter the town of Stavoren, you will be treated to a nice view of the harbor filled with colorful houses. The harbor is also a great place to go for a drink or something to eat.
The total length of the hiking trail from Hindeloopen to Stavoren is about 10 kilometers and takes about two to three hours. If you like, you can take the train back from Stavoren to Hindeloopen. Check the website of Arriva for the latest schedule.
These are my tips for cycling and hiking in Southwest Friesland. If you can’t wait to explore this undiscovered part of The Netherland by bike or on foot, check out this website for more information about this region.
Go on a city trip in Southwest Friesland!
Besides cycling and biking, you can also go on a city trip to Southwest Friesland. In this article, I’ll tell you all about the most gorgeous towns and some tips on where to eat.
Would you like to read more about The Netherlands?
Get one of these guidebooks that are great when you’d like to travel to The Netherlands for the first time:
And discover hidden gems in The Netherlands by reading these articles:
- Hidden gems in The Netherlands
- Schokland: a hidden island in The Netherlands
- Fun things to do in Groningen
This article is a collaboration with the tourism board of Southwest Friesland. I only collaborate with companies that are a good fit for this website. I will always share my honest opinion.