Born in Leeuwarden and raised in Friesland, in 1546 Vredeman de Vries went to Amsterdam and Kampen. In 1549 he moved to Mechelen where the Superior Court was seating. Sebastian, his brother, was the organist in the local church. Vredeman de Vries designed ornaments for merry parades of Charles V and Philip II. Studying Vitruvius and Sebastiano Serlio, (translated by his teacher Pieter Coecke van Aelst), he became an internationally known specialist in perspective. He continued his career in Antwerp, where he was appointed city architect and fortification engineer. After 1585 he fled the city because of the Spanish occupation by Alessandro Farnese. Then the Protestants had to leave the city within two years.
He moved to Frankfurt and worked in Wolfenbüttel, designing a fortification and a new lay-out of the city for Julius, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg. After his death the project was cancelled and Hans worked in Hamburg, Danzig (1592), Prague (1596) and Amsterdam (1600). On his trips Vredeman was accompanied by Hendrick Aerts and his son Paul, both painters. His son Salomon was also a painter; Jacob Vredeman de Vries a kapellmeister and composer. Vredeman de Vries tried to get an appointment at the University of Leiden in 1604. It is not known when and where Hans Vredeman de Vries died, however, it is recorded that his son Paul was living in Hamburg when he inherited.