A pleasant surprise on the scores of the Wadden Sea
“This town is always in motion,” explains Albert Hendriks, managing director of Friesland Holland Tourist Information & Travel Service. “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.
As Hendriks explains, “Small cruise ships also visit this town. Harlingen 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 Albert Hendriks explains, “A lot of the old buildings are reminders of the time that Harlingen 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 Harlingen isn’t a Hanseatic town.Harlingen presents itself as a sea and cruise port 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.”