Hike, bike, float or drive the Elfstedentocht all year long

The Dutch have eagerly been awaiting a new Elfstedentocht, or 11 cities tour, since 1997, but winter in the Netherlands hasn’t been cooperating.

Year after year, the Dutch painstakingly measure the growing thickness of the ice, hoping it will reach the required 16cm, but since the late 90s that anticipation has only led to disappointment.

Not to worry, because now you can follow the exact same route even when there isn’t enough ice, or any ice at all!

During the summer of 2016 it’s for the first time ever possible to do the Elfstedentocht without wintery weather! Part of the 240-kilometre-route is still being worked on and will be finished in 2017, but you can already enjoy many dozens of kilometres through the idyllic Frisian countryside.

No matter what your preferred mode of transportation is, whether it’s by car, bicycle or boat, it’s all being accommodated.

Walk the 11 cities route

In 2017 you will be able to walk along the entire Elfstedenwandelpad. Yellow/red signage will show you the way and guide you to all the see-worthy destinations along the route. Explore the historical city centre of Dokkum, and enjoy a cup of Dokkumer coffee. Discover the old fort of Sloten, which is also the smallest of the 11 Frisian cities.

Friesland is the cycling province

In 2015, the province of Friesland was voted as the best region for cycling in the Netherlands. Exploring the 11 cities route by bike is definitely the most enjoyable way to experience this unique flavour of Dutch countryside and historical sites.

It’s easy to create a custom route that fits your skill level and wishes. Cycle across the distinctive bridges of Hindeloopen, pay a visit the cultural water city of Sneek or try to discover traces of the former university in Franeker. Don’t be surprised if you come across deer roaming around the countryside!

You can use our in-depth cycling guide with all of the different routes in the Netherlands for planning your bike trip.

If you’re concerned about not being able to cycle such long distances yet, not to worry, just rent an e-bike and enjoy the sights at your leisure.

Want to make it into a multi-day excursion? That’s also possible thanks to the camping terrains on various locations along the 11 cities route.

Frisian road trip

Friesland is perfect for taking out your motorcycle or favourite oldtimer, and of course anything else on wheels. The Elfstedenroute is an ideal combination of countryside, quaint towns and villages and interesting sights along the way.

Enjoy a glass of the typical Dutch Sonnema Beerenburg spiced jenever in Bolsward, admire the old city centre of Workum or stretch out on the beach by the fishing town of Harlingen.

How long your road trip ends up being is entirely up to you, as you can create your own custom route!

On water

Considering the original Elfstedenroute was held on ice, exploring it by boat during the summer is of course a very popular option.

You can start out in the Frisian capital of Leeuwarden and by boat explore the many rivers and waterways of the northernmost Dutch province.

Cities such as IJlst and Stavoren are very popular destinations for water sports. There are plenty of accommodations for staying the night as well, so you can rest up before you continue on your way by boat.  

Great summer destination

You can already explore great portions of the historical Elfstedentocht by foot, bicycle, motorcycle, car or boat. For a day or weekend outing with your family or friends, it doesn’t get any more Dutch than this! More information can be found here.
How would you like to explore the 11 cities route? Walking, cycling, car, motorcycle or by boat?

Photo creadits: Merk Fryslân

Thomas Lundberg


Thomas Lundberg

Born as a Swede in the Netherlands, this life-long expat has spent his time in Belgium, the United States and Amsterdam. He began his professional career as a regional news...

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