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My neighbour walked up just as I was about to step into my car. I said hello and told him that I was going on a road trip in Friesland (a province in the north of the Netherlands) for a few days. “Ahh, I often go sailing around the Frisian lakes. You have to visit Hindeloopen. It’s a pretty village with a great history. Lots of interesting things to see there. I’m sure you’ll love it!”. I smiled, made a mental note and thanked him. Upon my return home several days later, I thanked him again for the tip. Hindeloopen (map) was indeed a very pretty village with a rich maritime history. I spent a lovely afternoon discovering its narrow lanes, canals and wooden bridges, and its long and colourful history.

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A beautiful canal in Hindeloopen flanked by historic houses.

A brief history of Hindeloopen

Hindeloopen was granted city rights in 1225. In the 14th century, it became a member of the Hanseatic League, a group of merchant guilds and trading towns in northwestern and central Europe. This allowed merchants from Hindeloopen to sail along the North Sea coast right up to Scandinavia and the Baltics, and trade with other Hanseatic cities such as Hamburg, Gdansk and Riga. These close trading relationships arguably led to the development of the unique Hindeloopen language (or Hindeloopers), a mix of West Frisian, English, Danish and Norwegian.

Driven by international trade, Hindeloopen experienced its pinnacle in the 17th and 18th centuries. The merchant and sailor homes, its traditional costumes and hand-painted artwork are a legacy from this era that can still be seen today.

A stroll around Hindeloopen

Located in southwest Friesland, on the shores of the Ijsselmeer (Ijssel Lake), Hindeloopen is one of the most popular places to visit in Friesland. Not surprising as it’s often listed as one of the most beautiful villages in the Netherlands. Hindeloopen is also one of the eleven Frisian cities, making it one of the eleven stops during the legendary Frisian Elfstedentocht (Eleven Cities Ice-skating marathon). Furthermore, its large marina and beach make it a popular yachting and watersports destination. Visitors arriving by road are required to park their car at the edge of the village and continue further on foot.

Join me through my photos of Hindeloopen on my stroll around the village:

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After leaving the parking area, the first thing I saw was this boatyard with its beautiful yachts.
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Further down the path, I arrived at the marina.
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I passed the sluice gates (which are still operated by hand) and the Zylroede, the main canal in Hindeloopen.

My plan was to have lunch before exploring the village. I checked out three restaurants at the edge of the marina (De Linde, Haiven 54 and De 3 Harinkjes) and found a table at the terrace of De Linde. I was delighted to find a typical Ijsselmeer delicacy on the menu so I ordered it: ‘paling’ or smoked Ijsselmeer eel. It was simply delicious!

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The smoked eel salad was delicious!

After lunch, I walked around the marina and onto the dike which protects the lower-lying village from the Ijsselmeer lake. It was a warm, sunny day and I welcomed the cool breeze coming in from the lake.

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The view from the dike.
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The old marine rescue house at the top of the dike.

From here, I continued my walk along the main street called Buren. This lovely street, lined by small houses, shops, antique and art & craft galleries, leads to the Hindeloopen Church, with its striking bell-tower.

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Buren street, with the church bell-tower at the end.
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This shop, packed with Hindeloopen art, crafts, costumes and local food, was a delight to visit.
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Typical hand-painted Hindeloopen craft.

At the end of Buren lies the Hindeloopen Church with its beautiful tower and surrounded by tombstones. Across the road from the church is the Museum Hindeloopen, which is a great place for those interested in the village’s rich maritime history.

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The Hindeloopen Church and the Museum Hindeloopen (right).

Across the path from the church, I noticed a curious tree-like structure. It turned out to be the Hindeloopen fountain (part of the ’11 Fountains’ project which had artists from around the world design fountains for each of the eleven Frisian cities). This fountain was designed by the Chinese artist Shen Yuan.

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The Hindeloopen fountain, the ‘Tree of Life’.

From here, I wandered around the maze of narrow lanes, passing picturesque canals and charming houses.

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A blue boat in a little canal.
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A gorgeous house.
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One way to see Hindeloopen is to hire a SUP board.
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One of the numerous wooden bridges.
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I passed this villa, called Slot Hylpen (or Hindeloopen Castle), which visitors can rent to stay in!
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Beautiful façades in the Nieuwstad street.
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I loved this particular façade.

I ended my walk at the village’s main canal: Zijlroede. From the wooden bridge that crosses the canal, I could see the sluices, the sluicekeeper’s house and drawbridge.

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The Zylroede canal.



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How to get to Hindeloopen

The easiest way to get to Hindeloopen is by car. The village is located about 1.5 hours from Amsterdam (via the A7 highway and Afsluitdijk) and Schiphol Airport, and about 40 minutes via the N359 road from Leeuwarden, the capital of Friesland. There are also regular trains from Leeuwarden. Hindeloopen can also be visited as part of a day tour from Amsterdam:

 

Read more about the Netherlands on Velvet Escape

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