6 Things to Do When You Move to Leeuwarden

Leeuwarden is the largest city in Friesland with a high international student population. So, let’s take a look at some of the things you should do when moving to Leeuwarden.


4 minute read
Updated on 21 May 2024

Leeuwarden is the largest city in Friesland, with a population of about 108,000, a good portion of which are students. In the North of the Netherlands, surrounded by green rolling hills and sparkling lakes, visitors and students relocating to the area will find that it is a welcoming destination, packed full of well-known learning institutions, things to do and a great selection of food and drink. In fact, it has just about everything that an incoming international student could want in their new home.

So, let’s take a glance at some of the things you should or need to do when moving to Leeuwarden, to make your time here exciting and filled with promising opportunities.

1. Learn the Language

As the capital city of Friesland, Leeuwarden is a unique province in the Netherlands, as that it is the only area to have its very own language, which is called Frisian. While many inhabitants also speak Dutch and English, this is actually a mixture that is closely related to both, making it easier for anyone speaking either language to understand it a bit more quickly.

Very few people throughout the rest of the Netherlands speak this language, but 70% of the people in Friesland speak it fluently as their primary language, and over 90% of the population is at least able to understand it.

Very few people throughout the rest of the Netherlands speak this language, but 70% of the people in Friesland speak it fluently as their primary language, and over 90% of the population is at least able to understand it.

Here are a few to get you started:

HelloHoi Goeie
How are you?Hoe giet it mei jo?
Cheers! (drinking toast)Tsjoch!
This gentleman will pay for everythingDizze hear sil foar alles betalje
This lady will pay for everythingDizze dame sil foar alles batsalje
I love youIk hald fan dy
Would you liek to dance with me?Soesto mei my dunsje wolle?
I don't understandIk begryp it net
One language is never enoughIen taal is noait genoch
My hovercraft is full of eelsMyn hovercraft sit fol mei iel

Also, there are some differences in the pronunciation that is used in the Frisian and Dutch languages. The pronunciation of the letter “J” is like the letter “Y” in English. The pronunciation of “IE” sounds like “I,” and “OE” will sound like “OO.” Additionally, both the letter “G” and “CH” are pronounced like the ending syllable of the word “Loch.”

2. Get a Bike

Leeuwarden is a great place to ditch your car and ride a bike. Of course, biking is the primary method of transportation all throughout the Netherlands, but in Friesland, it’s almost the norm. With so many beautiful, scenic roads winding throughout the area, going for a ride is a pleasant way to relax after a long week of studying at the university.

So, when you get to Leeuwarden, locate a shop where you can purchase a gently used bike for a reasonable price, set up a rental or even participate in a bike-share. You’ll look just like a Leeuwarden local, plus you’ll stay fit and save money on transportation. It’s a win-win!

3. Explore the Culture

Leeuwarden isn’t just known for its universities and vocational schools, but also for its colorful cultural scene. In fact, as soon as January rolls around, Leeuwarden will become the Cultural Capital of Europe for all of 2018! This means that, along with its regular offerings, the city will experience several events and activities to draw attention to its culture throughout all of Europe. It will even be ushered in with a street procession of gigantic puppets called the Royal de Luxe.

There are also numerous other ways to experience culture in Leeuwarden on any given day, including taking in a museum, witnessing the performing arts or visiting one of the area’s UNESCO World Heritage sites, like the Wadden Sea or the Wouda Pumping Station. You can also visit the Tower of Oldehove and dine at one of the area’s 20-something restaurants to experience a great Dutch meal.

4. Things to Do

When it comes to more things to do in Leeuwarden, the possibilities are endless. There is a host of nightlife spots, as well as student parties, that are often going on as late (or early) as 5:00 a.m. If you’d like to relax and take in a movie, there are several cinemas located throughout the city, or you can see a performance at City Theatre.

Also, keep an eye out for some of the area’s fun-filled fairs and festivals. There are also quite a few music festivals, especially, such as the Promised Land Festival, CityProms, Fries StraatFestival and Welcome to the Village.

And lastly, if you just want to find a nice green place to study or need to relax the day away, Prinsentuin and De Groten Wielen are two of the best parks, especially if a picnic is involved.

5. Try Berenburg

The local alcoholic beverage of choice in Leeuwarden is called Berenburg, so you have to have a bottle or two on your first night out in the city. This Dutch drink is about 30% alcohol, and it is made by adding herbs to jenever. It originated in the 19th century, and it was mixed with top-secret spices by a merchant, Hendrik Beerenburg, from which the drink was named, after dropping an “e.”

6. Find Student Housing

Of course, this should be done three to four months before your relocation, but be sure to use a trusted rental platform like HousingAnywhere.com to help find your accommodation in Leeuwarden, or in a number of other cities as well. You can search for rooms for students, or you can opt to share an apartment with a couple of your new classmates.

If you’re prepared before you go, and you have an idea of what you need to or would like to do when you arrive in Leeuwarden, you’ll have more time on your hands to explore the city and enjoy your studies abroad. Have a fantastic experience!

Share this article
Read more about renting in Leeuwarden
Browse other articles about the renting experience in Leeuwarden

In this article

Moving to the Netherlands?

Find accommodation in cities across the Netherlands. Book the place of your dreams from verified landlords even before relocating!

Start my Search