Just north of Amsterdam lies a bucolic region known as Waterland which is home to several charming villages and towns. Let’s visit some of them on a day trip from Amsterdam!
DAY TRIP TO VOLENDAM, MONNICKENDAM & MARKEN
All three of these small towns sit on the Markermeer, more specifically the part called the Gouwzee. The Markermeer is a large freshwater lake, which used to be a saltwater inlet connected to the Zuiderzee. The construction of the Afsluitdijk in the 1930s created the freshwater lake.
Although the construction of dams and polders have changed the landscape, these traditional fishing villages date back many centuries. Check out the typical wooden houses and the bucolic landscape. A visit to the area is like a step back in time.
GETTING TO VOLENDAM, MONNICKENDAM & MARKEN
These charming towns to the north of Amsterdam can be reached by bus, bicycle, car or guided tour. You can combine all three villages in a day trip or only visit one or two. You could also combine a trip to some of these towns with a visit to the windmills of Zaanse Schans.
Catch the public bus from the north side of Amsterdam Central Station to any one of the villages. Take note that you may then need to walk a small distance from the bus stop to the center of town. It takes about 30 minutes to get to Monnikendam from Amsterdam Central by bus. Check 9292.nl for transit information.
You can also take the public bus to Volendam or Marken, and there is a public ferry that runs between them.
It’s easy to cycle to Monnikendam from Amsterdam through the green fields of Waterland. The ride is about 15km and takes less than an hour depending on your cycling speed and if you stop a lot for photos. For more information about cycling in the area, read more about a day trip to Waterland by bicycle.
There are also lovely walking routes all throughout Waterland. See more below.
If you are pressed for time or want to go the most convenient route you can also take a guided tour to the area. Here are a few options to choose from.
DAY TRIP TO MONNICKENDAM
Monnickendam is a quiet fishing village, but was an important port in earlier centuries. Take your time walking the streets and alleys of the city center and head to the harbor to check out the boats. Stop in at one of the canalside cafes for a drink and a snack. To us big city folk from Amsterdam, Monnickendam seems like a tiny village but it is actually officially a city.
Be sure to check out De Waegh, a 17th century weigh house, the church of Sint Nicolaas and the 16th century bell tower. You can download this PDF map (in Dutch) for a walking tour of Monnickendam.
Feel like exploring the countryside on a long walk? Check out the walking routes around Monnickendam that pass through polders and past windmills, like the Palingroute and Troeteroute. Click here for maps and directions. You just follow the poles with colored signs and numbers to find the paths.
DAY TRIP TO VOLENDAM
Volendam is the most popular tourist destination of the three towns, and is known for the traditional Dutch costumes and lovely harbor. Many visitors have their photo taken in this traditional outfit with a white pointed hat for the ladies.
Wander around this cute town and check out the painted wooden houses. On a sunny day tourists crowd the main sights but if you go just a few steps away you’ll find peace and quiet. Head to the small harbor to catch the ferry boat to Marken. Book your tickets in advance here, you can go one way or round trip.
DAY TRIP TO MARKEN
Originally an island in the Zuiderzee, Marken is now a peninsula, connected to the mainland by a causeway. It still retains its remote character and can be reached both by vehicle and ferry boat. Get boat tickets in advance here.
If you want to escape from the other tourists, Marken is the best place to go. Get lost in the small alleyways, cross miniature white wooden bridges, and check out the historic homes painted in green, white and black. But please be respectful of the residents and don’t peek in the windows or invade their privacy.
Head north from the harbor and take a stroll along the peaceful path that runs by the water. It’s amazing to imagine the crazy madness of Amsterdam’s Red Light District is just 30 minutes away. There are several walking routes around this island, follow the colored signs and check out the maps here.
Are you interested in spending the night in Marken? You can! Check out the rooms at Hotel Hof van Marken.
I hope this article gets you inspired to visit these picturesque places north of Amsterdam!
Other historic places to visit nearby include Durgerdam, Edam, and Broek in Waterland. Be sure to take a look at our article on bicycling through Waterland for more information about the area.
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