the elfstedentocht by boat, discover friesland in a fortnight!
Until a few years ago, this route was not accessible to all boats. The northern part of the Eleven Cities Route, including the world-famous Bartlehiem bridge, caused problems for motor yachts and sailing yachts with regard to draught, width of the canals and clearance heights.
After major modifications in 2013, this unique waterway in Friesland is accessible to boats and yachts with a maximum draught of 1.30 metres and a vertical clearance of 2.40 metres.
The whole route is a real boating holiday in Friesland and therefore not a route to be navigated in a few days. Please take your time for this route. We recommend taking at least a week for the whole route. Should your boating holiday in Friesland take longer, this will certainly be an advantage to fully enjoy the Frisian Eleven Cities Tour.
11-city route with large ships
Starting point Koudum (Kuilart)
Via the Morra you can sail to Stavoren , then back via the Morra and the Fluessen to Workum (Inthiemasloot).
Then you sail to Bolsward (Workumer Trekvaart) and on to IJlst and Sneek (Geeuw).
After Sneek, you sail via the Geeuw to Woudsend and Sloten.
Via the Tjeukermeer you sail to the Sneekermeer, when you cross the PM Canal you reach Grou.
Along Grou another small piece of PM Canal, then turn right via Driehuisstersloot to Earnewoude.
Then enter the Lange Sloot and cross the PM Canal to Wartena via Lang Deel (left along the bend) Leeuwarden .
Moor in the Prinsentuin and then via the Dokkumer Ee, via Birdaard to Dokkum.
From Dokkum take the same route back to Leeuwarden and via the Van Harinxmakanaal to Franeker and Harlingen.
Back over Franeker and Leeuwarden, the Princenhof (Eernewoude) to Grou.
There pick up the PM channel and turn right on the Johan Friso channel (Jeltesloot bridge), Heeg by, the Heegermeer, the Fluessen and so you are back on the Kuilart. Unfortunately it is not possible to visit Hindeloopen with the big boats.
Tip: Before or after your holiday visit the town with your car.
The regular route is for boats up to 2.40 metres.
Stavoren; Friesland's oldest city, Hanseatic city and one of the Frisian Eleven cities is located at the IJsselmeer and has a direct connection to the Frisian Lakes. This makes Stavoren an ideal place for water sports enthusiasts. But lovers of culture and nature will also find plenty to enjoy in the surroundings of Stavoren . The beautiful open landscape with its canals and lakes offers many opportunities for long walks and varied cycling tours.
In 't Ponthús the visitor is told about the history of the city in a contemporary way. A time bar runs through the building, from the year zero up to the present, from which a link is made to the history of the city. By means of this timeline, an event from history is briefly touched upon, such as the Battle of Staveren, the St. Odulf Monastery, the Hanseatic past, the plundering by the Vikings, shipping, etc.. Recent history is not forgotten, such as the rise of tourism and the Hoogland pumping station.
from friesland boating by boat to stavoren
Restaurant de Kruitmolen
Cosy restaurant with a large terrace on the water, located directly at the J.W. Friso lock. Wide choice of lunch dishes, snacks, pancakes and meat and fish dishes for a fair price. From 8 o'clock in the morning you can come to us for an extensive breakfast, but also for fresh rolls to take away.
Hotel Restaurant Serre De Vrouwe van Stavoren
You will find Hotel-Restaurant-Serre "de Vrouwe van Stavoren" at the old harbour of Stavoren . From the cosy conservatory, its exceptionally beautiful location offers you a view of a fascinating spectacle of coming and going sailing yachts and traditional ships such as clippers, schooners and other large flat-bottomed vessels. The restaurant offers a variety of dishes.
One of the smallest Elfsteden: Sloten, a small town with around 800 inhabitants. Sloten has always been small, but well armed. The walls, moats, ramparts and gates had to protect the town from intruders. This is also what charms Sloten, the old architecture of the past is still intact.
City walls, canals and gates
From the medieval city walls, see the cannons that once protected the inhabitants of Sloten. You can hear them pop! Or listen to the voice of the town crier, who still roars through the streets of Sloten. Here you will get the news announced in an old-fashioned way. During the high season, the town militia fire the Sloten cannon at the mill yard of corn mill De Kaai every Friday evening. City announcer Pieter Haringsma explains the history of Sloten!
All passing ships had to pay a toll in Sloten. The favourable location brought in a lot of money. You can see this wealth in the merchants' houses with beautiful gables and in the former town hall. It now houses a museum. The seventeenth century church is also not to be missed.
IJlst is one of the smallest towns on the route of the Elfstedentocht by boat and is located in the midst of the Frisian lakes. But small certainly does not mean that it is less interesting than the other towns on this cruise route. IJlst is in fact rich in beautiful historic buildings and especially the authentic sawmill The Rat is definitely worth a visit. And if when you enter the marina or one of the moorings at the quay in IJlst, you get the feeling that you want to see more of IJlst, inquire about the city tour which will show you all the beauty of this little town.
Experience an Elfstedentocht adventure?
View the boats on offer here
With IJsselmeer on one side and the Frisian lakes on the other, there is plenty of opportunity to enjoy the water. You can go sailing, kite surfing, windsurfing, canoeing, fishing, swimming or just sunbathing on the beach.
Shopping in Workum is far from boring and predictable. Instead, the city stands out for its variety of somewhat larger and smaller stores with their own range and character. You will not find many large chain stores, but many surprising boutiques. The city also has a museum, one of the most popular museums in the north, is dedicated to the work and life of the Frisian master painter Jopie Huisman. Love of nature, compassion, but also giving value to the insubstantial. The Jopie Huisman Museum is definitely worth a visit.
Bolsward. Not the biggest city, but a gem. A city to love. To enjoy wandering around along the canals, the many monuments and through the beautiful park. Stand still and admire the graceful town hall which, according to many, is the most beautiful in the Netherlands.
You can also visit the small family business Frisian Beer Brewery Us Heit. Us Heit brews eight different special beers at Bolsward. It is naturally pure beer with character. During a visit to the brewery, you will get an idea of how they brew and distil this beer. Afterwards, you can enjoy one of the beers in the tasting room or on the terrace next to their own hop garden.
Sneek is a bustling water sports town in Zuidwest Friesland! Besides water sports and the Sneekermeer, Sneek has much more to offer. The city is richly endowed with monuments and old cityscapes, has various museums, a cosy and varied shopping centre and is rich in terraces, cafés and restaurants.
If you travel by boat during the Elfstedentocht towards Hindeloopen , you should definitely sail into this unique town and moor the boat in one of the marinas or city canals. And when you disembark, don't forget to bring your camera, because you will find a lot of history here. The authentic likhúsjes and commadeurs houses, beautiful churches, the famous Hindelooper painting, Museum Hindeloopen, costumes, beautiful bridges etc. But also for cozy cafes, terraces and (fish) restaurants you are here in the right city to disembark.
Salty history touches you everywhere in Harlingen. Its location on the Wadden Sea World Heritage Site defines the sturdy, headstrong character of Friesland's only seaport city. Thanks to its illustrious nautical past, you can see a rich heritage of canal houses, warehouses and canals.
Harlingen has the largest brown fleet in the Netherlands. This is the source of inspiration for many large- and small-scale events. In combination with special shops, eateries, cosy cafés, top restaurants, galleries, beach pavilion Het Zilt and terraces.
Visit the oldest working planetarium in the world.
It is bjusterbaarlik - Frisian for miraculous - what Eise Eisinga built on the ceiling of his own living room several centuries ago: an impressive moving model of our solar system. Curious visitors come from far and wide to see this planetarium - the largest and oldest still operating in the world - with their own eyes. This fascinating miniature sky is a must-see.
Visit the beautiful canal house of this special Frisian in Franeker and unravel the secrets of astronomy and modern astronomy.
The whole day Dokkum is a coming and going of ships with sometimes nice scenes while waiting for the bridge. Dokkum is one of the most beautiful fortified towns of Friesland.
In the historical town centre, you can take a lovely stroll along the old ramparts. During a lovely walk, you will get a good overall impression of the ramparts behind which the people of Dokkum felt safe for centuries. Especially the Westerbolwerk is very beautiful. A large part of the ramparts have remained intact and where necessary, they have been restored according to the model of the Old Dutch System. In the old inner city with many high streets, you will encounter few cars.
You will also come across 2 windmills, corn mill De Hoop and Zeldenrust. Cornmill De Hoop is still in operation.
Leeuwarden offers many activities and interesting monuments, including the historic Prinshaven harbour in the heart of the city. Nearby, in the Museumhaven, you will find old Tjalken, Trekschuiten, Melkboten, Vissersschepen and Klippers.
You can also wander through the historic inner city with its many beautiful shops and terraces. Or visit the versatile Fries Museum, with its many changing exhibitions. For children, there is a play paradise 'Monkeytown' and the watery animal park Aquazoo just outside Leeuwarden.
experience an eleven-city tour adventure?
View the boats on offer here