Heerenveen

Travel Guide Europe Netherlands Friesland Heerenveen

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Introduction

Heerenveen is the sports capital of the Northern Netherlands and one of the eleven Frisian cities. The city is famously home to the Thialf stadium, the largest indoor ice arena in the country and the stage for many international ice skating tournaments. But there's more to this town, including some nice historic sights, plenty of shopping opportunities and events all year round. Compared to other Dutch cities, Heerenveen is not very old. It was established around 1550 at the crossing point of two water ways. Those canals were dug out at the order of the "Heeren van het veen", or "Lords of the Peat", from which the city derived its name.

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Sights and Activities

There aren't too many national monuments to be found, but Heerenveen has a few heritage sights worth seeing. The Crackstate is a 17th century castle and now serves as the city hall. The little tower on the roof was originally probably a lookout post, but now has a carillon. The only remaining windmill is called Welgelegen, Tjepkemastraat 23. This mill was built in 1849. Once used to mill grains, it's now owned by a special foundation and open to public on Saturday mornings. edit

Other notable buildings include the Oenemastate, Gemeenteplein 33. This 17th century villa served for some time as the city hall, later housed the regional courts and is now a café. edit

There are no cathedrals or other grand religious monuments around, but two churches are listed as national heritage monuments. First, there's the 18th century Doopsgezinde Kerk, Vermaningsteeg 5. edit The other one is the 19th century Heilige Geestkerk, Crackstraat 13.

As in any town in this area, the locals love water. Heerenveen isn't exactly a hotspot for boating or other water activities, but you'll find some options in town (especially in the yacht harbour along the Nieuwe Heerenveense Kanaal) and plenty of renting opportunities or sailing courses in nearby towns.

If you've had enough of the water, biking is a perfect way to explore the surrounding of Heerenveen. There are several scenic routes along the lakes and water ways; head to the tourist office to get some maps.

Visit the Thialf Stadium, especially when there's a competition going on. It's one of the major ice skating arenas in Europe.

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Events and Festivals

Koningsdag (King's Day)

In 2013, the Dutch throne was passed on to King Willem-Alexander and what used to be Koninginnedag (Queen's Day) will from 2014 become Koningsdag (King's Day). The date will be changed to the 27th of April, which is the king's birthday. In 2014 however it will be on the 26th of April because the 27th falls on a Sunday. On this day the streets of almost every sizable town in the country come alive with activity.

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Getting There

Highways A7 (from Groningen to Sneek) and A32 (from Zwolle to Leeuwarden) intersect near Heerenveen, making the city well reachable by road from all directions. Regionally, the town is also served by the N380 (Schoterlandse weg) and N924 (Rottumerweg).

Heerenveen is a stop on the intercity train from Leeuwarden and Zwolle, and is served by a direct intercity train with only a few stops, and a second intercity train which stops at more destinations on the way. They run once per hour each, providing a connection between the major destinations every half hour. It's about 20 minutes from Heerenveen to Leeuwarden or 40 minutes from Heerenveen to Zwolle. If you're on the train that stops more often, your travelling time is only a few minutes longer, so don't bother waiting for the other one. The sports stadium has its own stop, but is only served by the stop train.

The bus station is next to the train station, and buses run to and from most regional destinations. There are Qliner services to some further destinations, including Groningen and Lelystad.

Heerenveen is easily reachable by bike, with many roads leading into town. If you have a boat, you can also get to the city over water. The main waterways are the Heeresloot, the Engelenvaart and the Nieuwe Heerenveense Kanaal. Along this last one you'll also find a yacht harbour (De Welle) .

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Getting Around

You'll get around fine on foot, for the major sights and shops. This is not a particularly small city, however, so a bike can be convenient if you want to see even a bit more. Bikes can be rented at the bike parking on the train station, and several hotels rent them out as well.

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Eat

  • Restaurant Het Ambacht, Burgemeester Falkenaweg 56. Probably the best cuisine in town, with nicely plated dishes and fine service too. This place teaches young people the ins and outs of the restaurant business. If you're not on a tight budget, this is a great place to eat. €35.
  • Spoorzicht, Parallelweg 48, ☎ +31 513 436 973. The menu here is rather limited, but the food is tasty and fresh. They serve good portions and the staff is friendly.
  • perBacco, Herenwal 186-188, ☎ +31 513 648285. This is not just your pizza place on the corner; it's an ambitious Italian restaurant serving no pizza, but all kinds of delicious Italian specialities. Interesting detail: you can bring your own drinks! If you have a favourite wine, you're allowed to bring it, with your own cork screw, open, poor and drink as much as you like. €37.50 for 3 courses.

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Drink

The old town has several pleasant bars, in summer most with outdoor terraces. They're good for some drinks and a chat.

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Sleep

Surprisingly, although Heerenveen is a famous sports destination, lodging options are fairly limited and many are located closer to the stadium than to the city centre. If you have trouble finding a place, consider searching in nearby destinations closer to the lakes. Those are typically more popular with tourists and have ample places to stay. Note also that prices may rise significantly during major ice skating events.

  • Fletcher Hotel Restaurant Heidehof, Golflaan 1, Heerenveen, ☎ +31 513-63 02 00. Next to a golf field and close to the Thialf stadium, this place is a 10 minute drive from the city centre. It's a bit outdated but service is friendly and there's a bar and restaurant. Wifi isn't very good, though. From €89.
  • Hajé Hotel Heerenveen, Schans 65, ☎ +31 513 618 6 18. Also close to the highways, and fairly outdated, but one of the cheaper places in town. The rooms are okay, if not great, and there's a restaurant and outdoor terrace. This is a good place if you're wanting to discover the surroundings, as they're a bit out of town and have bike rental available. From €49/59 for a single/double.
  • B&B Veensluis 20, Veensluis 20, ☎ +31 622698760. This is a most welcoming bed&breakfast, with spacious, clean rooms and excellent service. Try to book well in advance, as it's regularly fully booked. It's a 5 minute drive to the city centre, and there are good opportunities for hiking or biking around. It's also well reachable by taking line 20 or 21 in the direction Leeuwarden, and get out at stop "Veensluis". € 75 for a double.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafés are not as widespread as you would expect, but you can easily find one in the popular cities. Most hostels, hotels and camp sites have several computers, so you can keep connected with folk at home. Here is a list of internet cafés that could come in handy for travellers. Otherwise, most libraries have lots of computers and prices are around the €2-3 per hour range, although sometimes it can be even more expensive.

Wireless internet access using wifi is becoming more popular and is usually available at most hotels and increasingly at train stations. Also in trains (at least in most first class wagons, but also more and more in second class) and some buses you can use wifi. Finally, places like McDonald's and Starbucks have free wifi, and smaller individual business like cafés and restaurants are on the rise too offering these services. More often than not, these service tend to be free of charge, though there might be a limited time you can use the internet.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The country code for the Netherlands is 31. The outbound international prefix is 00. The general emergency number is 112, like many other countries.
0800 numbers are toll-free and for 09xx numbers are charged at premium rates. Mobile phones have numbers in the 06 range, and calls to cell phones are also priced at higher rates.

From internet cafés, it is also usually possible to make long distance international calls. Like in other countries, telephone booths have almost disappeared, though some are still found around public transport stations, where you can use a few coins to make calls. It is only recommended for local calls.

The cellular phone network in the Netherlands is GSM 900/1800. The main providers of cell phone networks are KPN (Dutch only), T-mobile and Vodafone, who cover the whole country. Other operators, like Hollandsnieuwe, Simyo or Tele2, use one of these 3 networks basically.

It is best to buy a SIM card when in the Netherlands for use in your cellphone, as this usually works out cheaper than using the one from home. If you are planning to study or work in the country and stay for several months, buying a cellphone is the best option. A simple one, sometimes with €10 worth on it, can be bought from around €25. The simplest smartphones are around €75.

Post

The rate for sending a postcard or letter up to 20 grams within the Netherlands is €0.64 (2014). Since 2010 there are stamps available for domestic post which no longer include the value in €. Instead, there are stamps available with either a '1' or a '2' as a substitute for value. The '1' can be used for letters and postcards up to 20 grams, while 20-50 grams require you to use the '2'-valued stamps (or two '1'-valued stamps of course).

Sending items to other EU countries and the rest of the world (there is one price since 2014) will cost €1.05. Stamps are sold at post offices, supermarkets and smaller shops/kiosks; often the place where you buy your postcards can also supply you with stamps.

Sending parcels abroad is more costly. A standard-sized parcel between up to 2 kilograms will cost you €9 for destinations within the EU and €18 (both without Track & Trace) to the rest of the world. Prices with Track & Trace start at €13 and €24.30 respectively. Parcel service is available from major post offices only; standard-size boxes are on sale there as well. For sending parcels, it might be just as competitive and fast to use a company like TNT, UPS or DHL.

If you need to receive mail while moving around, you can have it sent poste restante (to be called for) to a post office of your choice, where it will be kept for a month. If you come to claim it, bring a valid ID, and make sure to have told the sender that the name on the envelope must be an exact match with that in your passport. For addresses of post offices, as well as more information, consult the TNT website.

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This is version 3. Last edited at 13:17 on May 10, 19 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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