Publicatiedatum: 2 februari 2015
Reporter: Albert Hendriks - Friesland Holland Nieuwsdienst -

A delightful monumental harbour town with a wealth of unique shops, restaurants and cafes

Harlingen: a pleasant surprise on the shores of the Wadden Sea

“My town is always in motion,” explains Paul Scheffer, mayor of Harlingen. “Things happen here. There is always something to do, even on Sundays.”


That motion can indeed be interpreted quite literally. The location of this harbour town in the northwest of Friesland, on the shores of the Wadden Sea, means it is affected by the tides every twelve hours. The change in the water level in the harbour in the town centre is clearly visible and is at least 2.20 m. Additional motion is provided at set times of the day by the ferries to Vlieland and Terschelling and the water launches.
Harlingen is also the home port of around 70 traditional sailing charter vessels and hundreds or sailing and motor yachts. A lot of effort is being put into creating additional facilities for pleasure cruising vessels which now also enter the town from Bolsward. The local water sports club has an attractive club building with showers and toilets which tourists are also allowed to use. The club is located on the Noordergrachtswal, near the Tjerk Hiddes locks, and is accessible from the Bolswardervaart (Elfsteden sailing route max. 2.50 m vertical clearance) and the Van Harinxma canal. Incidentally, mayor Scheffer knows what water sports enthusiasts want because he has spent many years touring Friesland in a Doerak motor yacht hired from Holiday Boatin in Sneek.

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The historic sailing business, for example to the islands of Vlieland and Terschelling, is flourishing in Harlingen. Shipowners such as Traditional Sailing Charter (TSC) mainly offer group trips for tourists and business trips. A weekend trip for a group of friends to Vlieland or Terschelling, with all the trimmings, costs around 100 euro per person on the basis of accommodation in two to four person cabins. Sailing trips across the Wadden Sea can also be arranged for individuals.

Harlingen surprises
As the mayor explains, “Small cruise ships also visit our town. We can offer a lot more to tourists than is generally thought. A lot of tourists are en route to the islands or want to get home quickly after their holiday. These people really miss out! Those who take time to go into town are pleasantly surprised. Harlingen is one of the historic eleven Frisian cities and has the largest number of monumental buildings, 645 to be exact.”

Art and crafts, like the internationally renowned Harlinger pottery, are displayed in twenty or so galleries, museums and specialist shops.


Influence of Baltic countries
As Mr Scheffer explains, “A lot of the old buildings are reminders of the time that we maintained close ties with Great Britain, Northern Germany and Scandinavia. Warehouses have names like England, Poland and Russia. In fact, it is really a bit strange that we are not a Hanseatic town...but then you can’t have everything. We present ourselves as a metropolis because of all the maritime activities that take place here which are related to international pleasure boating, cruising and trading. And, of course, because of the town’s history. It really pays off to find out more. The great thing is that the residents of Harlingen have saved a great deal for posterity, including the structure and elements of this fortified town by the sea.”

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