Skip to main content

IJlst: Elevencities City and Woodcity

Discover Elfstedenstad IJlst and its surroundings

IJlst (or Drylts in Frisian) is not only one of the famous 11 cities, but also a 'wood city'. For many years, tree trunks were processed here by the legendary wood trading companies Oppedijk and S.O. de Vries. The iconic wood sawmill known as the Rat is a lasting reminder of those days. IJlst is also known for its characteristic 'overtuinen' waterside gardens, where the Overtuinen fair is organised each year: a fair featuring historic décor along the canal. IJlst is the third Elfstedenstad to be visited during the Elfstedentocht and the tour takes you straight through the small town over the Geeuw. Below we would like to tell you about the best addresses for your visit to IJlst. Would you like to discover IJlst?

Book an overnight stay in the IJlst area

Traveling party

An overview of all addresses in IJlst

Discover the 7 treasures of IJlst

What you really shouldn't miss in IJlst

Waterside gardens

Unique and characteristic to IJlst are the waterside gardens on each side of the Ee. A river that almost resembles a city moat. In days gone by, the small common yards were used as bleaches, a spot where the white laundry could be left in the sun to bleach. The Netherlands had many more of these shared gardens back then, but virtually all of them have disappeared by now. Luckily for us, IJlst has preserved them, and the villagers cherish them for the historic jewels that they are.  

Visit the waterside gardens
stedentrip ijlst gracht

De rat wood sawmill

Nearly everyday, this iconic IJlst mill still produces shelves from sturdy timber. After all, the UNESCO trade of miller is practised here. A visit to this wood sawmill brings history back to life. Were you aware that this mill was actually first built in the Zaanstreek region in the northwest of the Netherlands, and then moved to IJlst as a construction package, to be rebuilt on De Geeuw river? 

Visit the windmill
molen de rat in ijlst in de nacht

Woodcity IJlst

The Frisian city of IJlst is sometimes also called 'Wood city'. If you would like to know why, pop into the Museum Houtstad IJlst, only a hop skip and jump from the mill and the fountain. Here you'll find the old steam saw previously owned by the Wood merchant known as Wed. W.J. Oppedijk, still in operation. During special steam festivals, the original sawing frame is once again driven by a steam locomobile. 

Visit the museum
de werkplaats van houtstad ijlst


One of the oldest Frisian 'extreme sports' is fierljeppen, a unique form of pole vaulting. 'Simply' climb up the pole and try to get as far as possible over a wide ditch. You can even try this for yourself in IJlst, by booking a clinic in IJlst. Plenty of laughs guaranteed! You'll be supervised by a team of experienced people, at one of the best facilities in the Netherlands. Once you've practised a little, you'll discover how much muscle strength it takes to climb to the top of the pole and cross the ditch as far as possible.

More information
een man is aan het fierljeppen




At the Tourist Information in IJlst you will always be personally attended by a 'local'. So ask them about everything you want to know about experiences in Southwest Friesland. Also pick up the free inspiration magazine and the inspiration newspaper full of events and stories.

Visit the Tourist Information
VVV-locatie IJlst

Search & book

Traveling party