After spending some excellent time exploring Amsterdam, its canals and cafés, you may feel like venturing a little outside the city centre and discovering what the surroundings of Amsterdam have to offer.
Day trips from the capital of the Netherlands are very rewarding and fascinating. What follows are three destinations that lead to the discovery of the Dutch countryside, which magically appears only 15 minutes by bus from the centre of Amsterdam.
It is an area characterised by a group of small villages on the banks of the river IJsselmeer, which retain a magical atmosphere of canals and windmills. Let’s see which ones are not to be missed on a day trip.
The most characteristic town among those surrounding Amsterdam is undoubtedly Marken, a former fishing village, famous for its wooden houses built on stilts on the water.
This small town was originally located on an island. However, floods were so regular and disastrous that the inhabitants decided to build artificial hills on top of which to lay the foundations for their houses.
Marken saw a great economic development with fishing, until the Afsluitdijk, the great dam in the north of the Netherlands, was built. With its construction, access to the sea in Marken was blocked and fishing activities came to an end. However, Marken still has the appearance of a fishing village and island today.
In the small old town you will find museums, a clog factory, cafés and small shops. Marken and its inhabitants attract a lot of attention from tourists as it is regarded as a relic of traditional native culture that was destined to disappear with the modernisation of the country.
From Marken, one can decide to take a ferry across the river and in about 30 minutes reach Volendam, called the ‘pearl of the Zuiderzee’.
Its rather isolated location and the character of its inhabitants have given Volendam a very special atmosphere. The dialect spoken here is difficult to understand even for standard Dutch speakers.
Volendam has always been a fishing village, and although the fishing industry is no longer what it once was, the harbour area with its many boats is still a great attraction. In the 20th century, it was a destination for many artists, who drew inspiration here, so that Volendam has been the subject of many works of art.
The traditional costume of Volendam is one of the best known examples of typical Dutch clothing; walking through the streets of the village, it will not be difficult to see some residents wearing it.
Another destination you may choose to visit, also not far from the centre of Amsterdam, is Zaanse Schans. This place is nothing more than an open-air museum, consisting of a small park with eight windmills.
It is not every day that the windmills are allowed to enter, so visit the Zaanse Schans website for information on when they are open or take part in a guided tour to make sure you get in.
Within the park there is also a jenever tasting room, a Pannenkoeken restaurant and a cheese producer. The route is suitable for both walking and cycling. It is also possible to take a ferry that circumnavigates the entire area, offering an excellent view from the sea.
In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article
A great way to visit these villages is by taking part in a guided excursion from Amsterdam. You won’t have to worry about the itinerary or means of transport and you will be guided to discover the most authentic villages and enchanting Dutch windmills!
City Card allow you to save on public transport and / or on the entrances to the main tourist attractions.