Welcome to Leeuwarden

The Netherlands is a very nice country to study abroad in – cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Leiden, Tilburg or Groningen are top picks. But few know about Leeuwarden, another amazing city that is amazing for exchange students. 


Leeuwarden is in the North of The Netherlands. It’s the capital city of Friesland and is the European Capital of Culture of 2018! According to Lonely Planet it’s ranked top 3 of the best destinations to visit in Europe in 2018. I’ll come to that, but let’s talk study options first.


The Universities of Applied Sciences

There are a couple of universities of applied sciences in Leeuwarden. I studied communication at the NHL University of Applied Sciences and graduated in 2017. But since 2018, NHL University of Applied Sciences merged with Stenden University of Applied Sciences and are now the NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences. They created a multi-campus and offer a wide variety of subject areas.


Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences is the most sustainable university of applied sciences in The Netherlands. The curricula of Van Hall Larenstein focus on the domains Delta Areas and Resources – Food and Dairy – Animal and Business.

Are you more into music? You should check out Minerva Art Academy of Pop Culture. It’s part of the Hanze University of Applied Sciences in Groningen.

There are no universities in Leeuwarden, but some universities do offer some of their programs in Leeuwarden. For students in the European Union, it’s nice to check out the Erasmus programme if you want to study abroad in The Netherlands. Visit the international office of your home university to find out more.


Let’s talk culture

Of course, you don’t go abroad just to study. You want to see the world and the place you would be living in for a while. Leeuwarden is the European Capital of Culture, and there is a lot going on and plenty to see, do and visit. A couple of weeks ago we had this BIG event going on: the Giants of Royal de Luxe. (You get the big part, I mentioned?). The whole city center was closed for the event and more than 400,000 people visited Leeuwarden. For your information, about 107,000 people live in Leeuwarden.



So here are 10 things to do in Leeuwarden:

1. LEIP! Deluxe


At the start of every academic year, student cities in The Netherlands start with an introductory week for new students. In Leeuwarden, this week is called LEIP! Deluxe. It’s a great way to get to know your new school and city, together with the other new students. There are a lot of activities. Plus, it includes a pubcrawl.


2. The Oldehove


The Oldehove is a leaning and unfinished tower. Almost like the leaning tower of Pisa. The goal was to build a big church, but it was never realised because the tower started to sink. Now you can climb the tower as an observation spot, and the area around is often used for events, like the festival of LEIP! Deluxe.


3. Blokhuispoort



The Blokhuispoort used to be a prison. Now you can find many start ups and artsy boutiques. You can also find the library here, poppodium Asteriks, a hostel and a restaurant Proefverlof.


4. Fries Museum


Want to learn something about Friesland’s material heritage? Visit the Fries Museum. It’s right in the middle of the city centre. At the moment the museum also has the exhibition “Escher’s journey” about the work of M.C. Escher. Did you know he was born in Leeuwarden?


5. Aquazoo


Aquazoo is right outside Leeuwarden. It has animals like capybaras, polar bears, otters, seals, crocodiles and African penguins. You can get pretty close to the animals! (Of course not all of them.)


6. Shopping

You’re definitely going to bring more stuff home than you brought with you. But you will only worry about that at the end. Every Friday there is a big market on the Wilhelminaplein in front of the Fries Museum. Stores normally close at 6pm but on Thursdays, they close at 9pm and on Saturday and Sunday at 5pm. Not all stores are open on Sunday, except for every last Sunday of the month. Do check out the market!


7. Eating & Drinking


There are a lot of restaurants in the city centre. There are two places I really like – Kelder 65 and ROAST. There is a variety of cocktails to try out and the food is very good. I also enjoy the satay from Talk Of The Town and it’s not very expensive. It’s in the Grote Hoogstraat together with some other bars and not so expensive restaurants. Finally, if you like sushi, like me, there are 2 options you should try, Tao and Sin Jah.


8. Theater

There are a couple of poppodia in Leeuwarden. I already mentioned Asteriks, but there is also the Neushoorn. Great for music, dance and film. There is a big theater; the Harmonie, Slieker film for arthouse movies and a regular movie theater; Pathe.


9. Going out


Clubbing isn’t really my thing, but there are many places where you can go to if it’s for you. Most of the bars are at the Ruiterskwartier. However, you can find the biggest club in Leeuwarden: Club Red. It is next to the Ruiterskwartier there is the Doelesteeg. Want to go to a bar? This is the alley to be. Oh and let’s not forget Club Hemingway, also in the Grote Hoogstraat. But there is still a lot more. Keep an eye on the international student nights!  


10. Coffee shops

You don’t have to go to Amsterdam to find a coffee shop… There are plenty of quality ones here at Leeuwarden! A quick google search will show you some of the finest in Leeuwarden, and you’ll have plenty of time to try out all of them! 

Have fun and enjoy your time in Leeuwarden!

Written by: Justine van den Hoed 


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