For over 20 years, we have been organising and leading tours with a positive impact. Our focus on sustainable and responsible travel means you can feel confident that your travels are positively impacting the local communities and environment wherever we go.
Our tours in the Netherlands do not contribute to over-tourism in popular destinations. Instead, we encourage you to get out into nature and enjoy the wonders of this extraordinary landscape. We help you explore lesser-known destinations and learn more about the real Netherlands and Dutch culture.
Step off the well-trodden path with us. Let’s ensure our travels always leave a positive impact.
This Netherlands tour package includes visiting the provinces of Groningen and Friesland. Both located in the northeastern part of the Netherlands, these provinces boast fascinating local culture and history, alongside abundant natural beauty. This tour takes you from the city to villages, offering cultural insights that span centuries.
Take a trip back in time to uncover the stories this region has to tell and listen closely – who knows what you might find out! For more adventures in this part of the country, check out our Relaxing Friesland Holiday in the North East or take a look at our Netherlands Countryside tour in North West Groningen.
A Netherlands Vacation to Remember
If you like to dive deeper into local history and culture when you travel, then this is the Netherlands vacation itinerary for you! Get away from the busy tourist path in Amsterdam and come explore the beautiful provinces of the northeast. Groningen and Friesland are brimming with true Dutch culture and layers of history for you to explore across the centuries. When you join us at TravPact, our goal is to help you Travel with Impact. We carefully consider the environment and the local communities wherever we travel, so you can feel confident that the activities, accommodations, and dining we recommend are chosen with responsible tourism in mind.
Apr – Nov
TravPact is Travelife Certified, which means our tours are in line with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council Industry criteria and our certification is formally recognized by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.
With a professional background in the nonprofit sector working in international development, we are keenly aware of the impact tourism can have on a destination and its people.
That’s why we choose to bring your focus away from driving long distances, and instead offer alternatives such as bikes, sailboats, kayaks, or simply walking to reach a destination where possible.
Moreover, in order to give you the most authentic experience, we give preference to small local hotels, B&B’s, and campsites. In these spaces, you can connect with the Dutch culture in an authentic way and experience the cities and villages of the Northern Netherlands.
Your Netherlands tour package begins in the beautiful city of Groningen in the North East of the Netherlands. You can arrive by plane directly to Groningen Airport Eelde from some cities in Europe, or by train from Schiphol Amsterdam or Eindhoven airports, as well as by car. If you arrive without a car, we can either arrange car rental or adapt the itinerary for you, so that it can be done entirely by public transport and/or bike.
You have the rest of the day to yourself, with a vast variety of activities to explore in Groningen. We suggest taking an evening bike stroll or a walk along the canals of the town.
Tonight, you will stay at a 15th-century mansion that is now utilised as a hotel with a sophisticated restaurant. This is definitely on the must-see list for a cultural Groningen experience, together with the magical gardens (Prinsentuin) that are open to the public.
Today, you will be taken on a walking tour of the city of Groningen. You will be introduced to the secrets of the city by an experienced local guide, who will show you the lesser-known and hidden places of this charming place. Make sure to bring your camera! The city’s architecture offers postcard-perfect views all over, with lots of narrow alleyways and secluded alms-house courtyards.
You will also, of course, see the Martinitoren, which is the highest bell tower in Groningen, located right in the city centre on the edge of the main square, called the Grote Markt. Here, you will also see the recent addition to the city’s landscape: the Forum. This building hosts exhibition halls, cinema theatres, Storyworld, and more on its 45 floors of modern design.
This day will be eventful and we suggest carrying on exploring the city at your own pace after the guided tour. Groningen is bustling with energy and everyone can find something to love here, from charming parks to impressive museums.
Speaking of museums, this afternoon, we encourage you to pay a visit to Het Groninger Museum. Situated in a modern colourful building that can be considered an art piece on its own, the museum is located right next to the central train station. Here, you will learn about the art history of Groningen, as well as have the chance to see the current exhibitions ranging in themes and forms of art.
Today, you will leave Groningen and head north towards Uithuizen. Your first destination is Menkemaborg (Menkema Mansion), built in the 14th century and having served as a residence to Groningen noblemen up until 1902. The rooms and hallways are decorated with objects and artwork from the 17th and 18th centuries to take you back in time; it almost feels as if the residents are still there, busy around the mansion. Menkemaborg has magnificent gardens, featuring a classic 18th-century garden outline, a walled pleasure garden, a special sundial garden, and even a vegetable, fruit, and herb kitchen garden.
After exploring the Mansion, we suggest having lunch or just stopping for a drink in the Farmhouse restaurant, where the terrace will offer a magnificent view of the estate.
Your next destination is just a short drive away, in the village of Warffum. Here you will find the “polar opposite” of Menkemaborg: Het Hoogeland. This open-air museum showcases the life of the Groningen rural population in the 19th century. Located on the highest part of the mound right in the centre of the village, you will find twenty authentic buildings in this restored neighbourhood, as well as temporary exhibitions related to the rural life and craft of the Groningen population. Today is a trip back in time!
From Warffum, you will drive westward towards your accommodations. You can choose from a hotel in a small village or a cosy B&B (very calm place) located in a rural area. We recommend having dinner in the restaurant at your accommodation, where dishes are made using fresh, regional, and organic produce.
This morning, we invite you to take it slow, go on a little walk around the village, or perhaps visit De Groene Luwte – a landscape garden and gallery located just across the road from your accommodation, where you can go on a guided walk with the founders or even attend one of the workshops offered.
In the afternoon, you will drive to the Verhildersum Estate in Leens, just 5km away from Molenrij. Built as a fortified farmhouse in the 14th century, the estate is now home to a museum, decorated in 19th-century style, offering a peek into the life of that time. There is a chamber organ in the main hall that is played on occasion.
Apart from recreating and preserving the interior, the museum has a demonstration plot, where ancient crops like rapeseed, emmer wheat, Tartarian oats, and others are grown and harvested. In addition to the main building, there is a barn showcasing a typical Groningen farm in 1870, and a farmer’s market with fresh produce for sale is also organised every 3rd Saturday of the month.
Walk through the intricate gardens, pass by the beautifully-kept orchard with traditional fruit tree varieties, and enjoy being submerged into the countryside life two centuries ago.
We highly recommend staying for dinner at the estate’s restaurant, Ons Schathoes, which we can book for you. You will have the choice between a set daily menu and a 3-course meal, all prepared with regional produce by enthusiastic locals.
Tonight will be spent at the same accommodations as day 3.
Today, you will leave Groningen province and head to Friesland, starting with the capital: Leeuwarden. Upon arrival, you can discover the historical centre part of the city (binnenstad) with choices of walking, renting a bike or an electric scooter, and even a sloop boat.
In the past, Leeuwarden has been home to kings, artists, spies…and you can see that reflected in the intricate architecture of the beautiful old buildings.
A point of interest is the mist fountain next to the central train station, which is a part of the 11 fountains of Friesland (Elf Friese Fonteinen) international art project. This particular fountain was created by the Spanish artist Jaume Plensa and is called “Love”.
We also recommend paying a visit to the Fries Museum to observe a showcase of all things Frisian, including items highlighting the legacy of Mata Hari, 18th-century silverware, the Hindelopen room, and more.
Today is all about exploration, learning more about the Frisian identity and position in the world, and opening your heart to the culture of the region. You might be pleasantly surprised!
This morning, you will continue to explore Leeuwarden, this time with a guide. This is your chance to ask all those questions you surely came up with yesterday. There is a group of enthusiasts offering walking tours around the city, showing it to you through the eyes of a local, with all the hidden street art, small shops, and galleries, making sure that you fall in love with the town. A personalised tour can also be arranged by us, taking into account topics that interest you the most.
One of the most recognisable buildings of Leeuwarden is Oldehove, which is an unfinished church tower that is — at one point — leaning even more than the tower of Pisa! Any of the city guides you meet today will definitely tell you about it.
After the tour, you have the afternoon to yourself. You may choose to stay in the capital of the province or venture out to one of the nearby towns. We will share our highlights and recommendations with you based on your wishes to create the perfect experience!
Today, your vacation in the Netherlands continues as you drive to Lemmer, a town in the southwestern part of the province. Lemmer is a very special place to visit, with the main attraction being Woudagemaal: the largest steam-pumping station in the world. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and still functional, used as recently as last year as a preventive measure during heavy rainfall to lower the water level in the Frisian lakes and canals. If you are lucky enough to visit on a training day, you will witness the station going “up in steam”.
Walking around the town, you will notice characteristic canal locks and traditional churches, as well as picturesque canals and, of course, the Lemmer beach.
Tonight, you will stay at a traditional guesthouse consisting of three historical buildings, for example, the Heechhûs, where each room has a name of an ancient Lemster.
You depart from Lemmer today. We hope you have enjoyed exploring the culture of Groningen and Friesland during this Netherlands vacation, and we wish you a safe trip home or to your next destination!