West Frisian Islands
The Frisian Islands are a chain of islands that stretches from the Netherlands to Denmark. The Dutch islands are usually referred to as the West Frisian Islands or as Waddeneilanden in Dutch.
They separate the North Sea from the shallow Wadden Sea, with tidal mud flats. The uninhabited islands Griend, Rottumerplaat, and Rottumeroog are nature reserves, access requires a permit. Wieringen used to be an island, but has been connected to the mainland, since the reclamation of the Wieringermeerpolder in the 1930's.
The inhabited West Frisian Islands are, from west to east:
The islands can be easily reached by car from Amsterdam.
- For Texel take the highway up north to Den Helder and take the (car) ferry to Texel.
- For Vlieland and Terschelling, same way up north and cross the 'Afsluitdijk' (that separates the Wadden Sea from the IJsselmeer). Then follow the signs 'Harlingen' and 'Ferry'. Note: you can't take your car to Vlieland.
- For Ameland, follow the signs 'Leeuwarden' and from there 'Holwerd' and the ferry signs.
- For Schiermonnikoog from 'Leeuwarden' follow the signs 'Dokkum' and from there 'Lauwersoog' and look for the ferry sign. Note: you can't take your car to Schiermonnikoog.
The ferries to the islands can be reached by train and bus.
- For Texel, take the train to Den Helder, then take city bus 33 or walk (about 25 minutes) to the ferry.
- For Vlieland and Terschelling, take the train to Leeuwarden and then the train to Harlingen Haven, which is right next to the ferry. Note: until mid-2010, replacement buses are used between Leeuwarden and Harlingen Haven, due to works on the train track.
- For Ameland, take the train to Leeuwarden, then take the bus to Holwerd, where the ferry departs.
- For Schiermonnikoog, take the train to either Leeuwarden or Groningen, then from either city take the bus to Lauwersoog.
Another possibility to visit more Wadden Islands in a short period of time is island hopping on the Dutch Frisian Islands. In a week time you visit at least four out of five islands in an 8-days sailing/cycling trip by authentic sailing ship. Check out: [www.wadfietsen.nl/english.html wadfietsen.nl] (fietsen is Dutch for cycling).
The West Frisian Islands are an excellent place to relax, stay at a camping or small cottage, and enjoy the beautiful nature. Some nice activities include cycling across the island, visiting the beach, or just relaxing and reading a book.
In June, Terschelling is host to the 10-day Oerol Festival with a lot of theatre but also music and visual arts.