Traverse the Westerkwartier area to take in one beautiful village after another. You’ll see that each place in this region has its very own story and history. The Westerkwartier features a village that in 2019 was proclaimed the most beautiful village in the Netherlands, and another referred to as the Pompeii of the north. These are the villages of the Westerkwartier area.​ ​


The village of Ezinge is also known as the Pompeii of the north. Rightfully so, because the village enjoys international fame as a location of archaeological excavations, during which farms and outbuildings from the period between 600 B.C and the fifth century A.D. have been uncovered. When heading out to Ezinge, you’ll see that it was built on a raised patch of land. These places are referred to as wierden; hills people threw up to build their houses on. This protected them against the rising water and provided them with a dry place to live. The beautiful Torenkerk has a stunning view of the Nationaal Landschap Middag-Humsterland, and Museum Wierdenland will tell you all about the special history of this area.  

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Elsevier magazine once labelled Niehove the ‘Most beautiful village in the Netherlands’. When walking the narrow church paths of this charming village, nothing indicates that this was once the capital of the former island of Humsterland. However, standing between the red-brick houses provides a wonderful image of how things were centuries ago. The Romanesque-Gothic church from the 13th century is located in the centre of the village and on top of an artificial dwelling hill. The visitor centre in the church provides information about the village and Middag-Humsterland. Niehove resembles a spider’s web when seen from the sky: narrow church paths run from the church to the lower ring road. Be sure to walk around the church to see this for yourself. 

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The village of Visvliet was built beside the river Lauwers, on the border between the provinces of Groningen and Friesland. This village – with a rich history – has a beautiful single-nave church dating from 1427. Go to the Oudheidkamer antiquities’ room to take in the conservation of Visvliet’s history. You’ll be in for a special experience here, with traditional box beds and a cellar with old preserving jars. See their website for opening hours. If you prefer the outdoors, moor your boat in the harbour or by the landing. Alternatively, enjoy a delicious cup of coffee in the living-room shop, or search for the planets during the Droomtocht. Anything is possible. 

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“They did well!” This saying certainly applies to the farmers who decided to build houses on the ‘De Gast’ street in the village of Zuidhorn from sometime around the early-19th century until the mid-20th century. This protected rural area is easily recognised by its many beautiful and elegant villas, manors and other historic buildings, such as the old tax office. Zuidhorn also has great options for shopping or a delicious meal. Activities include a walk of the Johan Smit park. Watch closely: you just might encounter Scottish Highlander cattle here. 

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If you are into historic buildings, Tolbert is one of the best places to go. Do the audio tour by the Fredewalda foundation and learn all about the icons of Tolbert. Start at the Oudheidskamer in the Cazemierboederij farm, with a replica that shows exactly what the village was like in 1925. The tour also takes in the Postwagen, a new building from 2013 and built with the historic building from 1900 in mind. While the previous building functioned as an inn, stage stop and tram stop, the newly-built version is a place to be for various activities or a delicious meal. 

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It seems as if time has simply ignored the village of Garnwerd. Come and sample the historic environs while chilling in the grass. Take a dip in the Reitdiep canal – also suitable for children – on a warm summer’s day. Afterwards, set out for the Garnwerd aan Zee restaurant or the historic Bij Hammingh restaurant. Both are located next to the 19th-century De Meeuw flour mill, and have a wonderful view of the Reitdiep. Children have the best time at the Garwerd aan Zee playground with trampolines. If you’re up for a walk, take the narrowest street in the Netherlands that’s accessible to cars. Naturally, you could also immerse yourself in history. Guided tours of Garnwerd are available by appointment. 

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Take time to contemplate the sky over the water. Let your feet dangle from a canal-side bench, which features works of art that highlight the story of the village’s past. In the Kloostermuseum, learn all about the monastery that was once the largest in the province of Groningen. Aduard certainly has a very special way of displaying its history. With so many faces and aspects, be sure to visit. 

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