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Sailing heritage

Located on the Wadden Sea World Heritage Site, the rich, nautical past is still noticeable in Harlingen. The many warehouses, canal houses, and, of course, the unique inland ports  - including a tidal port - are visible examples of the unique and special past. In addition, Harlingen owns the largest Brown Fleet in the Netherlands with more than 70 historic sea vessels that moor in the outer and inner ports. The term “Brown Fleet” stems from the sails’ original colour, as the sails were toothed with catechu, a colourant from the bark of tropical acacia wood. Harlingen is very proud that it is home to these historic sailing ships. Together, the historic sailing ships form a unique decor in the ports of Harlingen, on the mudflats, and on other Frisian waters.

Sailing on a ship

70 Brown Fleet ships are moored in Harlingen. You can take passage on one of them for a trip on the Wadden Sea or the IJsselmeer. Whether you would like to sail one day or stay a little longer, the possibilities are numerous. Be inspired at: and on: 

On the water

Event: Fleet Day (“Vlootdag”)

The Fleet Day (or “Vlootdag”), once started as a big thank you to the citizens of Harlingen by the Netherlands’ largest Brown Fleet, which has Harlingen as its host port, is the start of Harlingen’s tourist (nautical) season. During Fleet Day you can make trips on the Wad, discover many historical sailing ships and vessels, learn what life of a skipper or sailor really looks like, and enjoy music, culture, and other nautical heritage. You can find out if and when the Fleet Day takes place in our event calendar.