Twenty minutes by train from Leeuwarden, Sneek (pronounced snake) was an important shipbuilding centre as early as the fifteenth century, a prosperous maritime town protected by an extensive system of walls and moats. Postwar development has robbed the place of some of its charm but there are still some buildings of interest, notably the grandiose Waterpoort at the end of Koemarkt, all that remains of the seventeenth-century town walls. At the beginning of August, crowds flock in for Sneek Week, an annual regatta, when the flat green expanses around town are thick with the white of slowly moving sails – and accommodation is almost impossible. The town is also known for its regional speciality, Beerenburg, a herb-flavoured gin, that you can buy at the Weduwe Joustra shop, at Kleinzand 32, which retains its original nineteenth-century interior, with the old barrels and till.

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