Historic houses at the Noorderhaven harbor in Harlingen
© Marc Venema via Shutterstock


One of the Eleven Cities in the Tour, Harlingen is a real port town still intimately connected to the sea. You can smell the salty sea air. Enjoy the harbor, canals and old warehouses. Or board the ferry to Vlieland and Terschelling.

  • Enjoy the beautiful harbors, canals and warehouses.
  • Enjoy the Harlinger Visserijdagen.
  • From a sail boat, embark on a mudflat hiking adventure in the Wadden Sea.

Port of Harlingen

Harlingen has a beautiful center full of canals and historic warehouses. The harbor is Friesland’s only sea port and is always bustling with activity. From here, the ferries depart for Vlieland and Terschelling. During the annual Harlinger Visserijdagen (fishery days), the port is transformed. You can enjoy music, water sports, astronomy, markets, and a funfair.

Finger in the dike

Harlingen was also the home of the legendary boy who stuck his finger in the dike, thus preventing the sea from swallowing up the city. His statue can be found near the ferry departure point. You will also discover the statue of Anton Wachter. He was the main character in a novel cycle by the Dutch author Simon Vestdijk.

11 Fountains

Whaling has played a major role in the maritime history of Harlingen. At one time an object of trade, for romantics it also symbolized the sublime power of the sea. But instead of hunting them, people now try to protect or save them. This contrast in history forms the basis of the fountain created by artists Jennifer Allora (US) and Guillermo Calzadilla (Cuba): a life-sized reproduction of a sperm whale located at the Zuiderpier in the harbor of Harlingen, which at irregular intervals spouts a powerful stream of water into the air. ‘The Whale Fountain’ recalls the city’s heritage of shipping and whaling, and explores the enormous influence humans have on everything that lives in the sea. The artwork is part of the 11Fountains project, in which a fountain was designed for each of the 11 cities in Friesland.

Editors’ tip

Have you always wanted to walk across the sea floor? Take a low tide tour! You will board a sailing boat from the port of Harlingen to a sandbank in the Wadden Sea. At low tide, the boat will run to ground and serve as the starting point for an extraordinary walk across the sea floor. Or spend the day and night on the tidal flat aboard a historical sailboat. Experience the low and high tides, running aground and refloating the ship.

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