Jacobijnerkerk Leeuwarden
© Mijke Bos via Merkfryslan Roal

Attractions in Leeuwarden

Leeuwarden has a beautiful historic inner city full of great attractions. Enjoy the extraordinary and medieval buildings, monumental ships, and don’t forget to visit the Dutch Tower of Pisa, the leaning Oldehove. One thing is certain, your visit to Leeuwarden won’t be complete if you have not seen these extraordinary places!

  • Climb the Dutch Tower of Pisa: the Oldehove.
  • Enjoy the many monuments in Leeuwarden.
  • Admire the floating monuments in the Museumhaven (Museum Harbor).

The Oldehove

It should have been so good: a 120 meter church tower in the heart of Leeuwarden. Construction of the Oldehove, the leaning tower of Leeuwarden, started in 1529. When they had reached a height of 10 meters, they found that the tower was starting to lean over. The master builder tried to correct the inclination but once the tower reached a height of 40 meters, it was found to be not just leaning, but crooked as well. The Oldehove was never completed although it became a symbol of Leeuwarden. 

Today, you can still climb the 183 steps to enjoy the view of Leeuwarden from the top. The tower is accessible to the public daily from April through October.


What used to be a prison is now a lively cultural center. There was a prison in this location as early as the year 1500. In the end, the Blokhuispoort (’Blokhuis gate’) served as a penitentiary until 2007. Stroll past the building and experience the rich history of the old prison. If you want to enjoy a bite or a drink, you can go to restaurant Proefverlof in the  Blokhuispoort. It also houses the VVV tourist office.


If you love old ships, you should definitely go for a walk past the Museumhaven (Museum Harbor) in Leeuwarden. The ships moored at the Willemskade are often more than 100 years old and are called floating monuments with reason. Most of these ships are inhabited these days and cannot be visited by the public. If you do want to have a look inside one of the ships,  order a meal at ’t Pannekoekschip, a pancake restaurant on board a twin mast clipper. 

Grote or Jacobijnerkerk

The Grote or Jacobijnerkerk (Great Church or Church of the Jacobins) is the biggest medieval church in Leeuwarden. This is where the Friesian members of the Nassau family, the forebears of our current  king, were buried after they passed away. The family even had its own entrance for church services. The so-called Orange Gate can still be recognized by the family arms above the door. Services are still held at the church so please make sure the church is accessible to visitors before walking in.

The Waag

Dairy produce used to be traded at the Weighhouse on the Nieuwestad. Today, great meals are served for lunch and dinner in this building that dates from 1596, and you can also enjoy an aperitif here. Admire the historic ambiance and if the sun is shining, find a table on the terrace.

Did you find this interesting? Discover more