If you’re looking to explore Holland, Volendam might be just right for you. This small fishing village on the North Sea has been around since at least the 14th Century and has remained largely unchanged since those days.
Volendam, the Netherlands, is a picturesque village only 21 kilometers from the Dutch capital, Amsterdam. We’ll discuss what Volendam is known for and why it’s definitely worth the day trip from Amsterdam.
Private day tours are available to book right from Amsterdam; for more information on check the best pricing with GetYourGuide.
Today, Volendam is known as one of the most charming villages in all of Europe thanks to its narrow cobbled streets lined with wooden houses and colorful flowers.
The best part about visiting?
Everything feels like it came straight out of a fairy tale.
What is Volendam known for?
Volendam is a village in the Dutch province of North Holland. Volendam actually translates directly to “filled” or “full dam”. It has a population of around 15,000, making it the largest village by population in North Holland.
Volendam is known for its windmills, and traditional costumes including wooden shoes, known as clogs.
This lakeside town was once a fishing Mecca until a neighboring town built a quicker route to the North Sea, and its primary industry quietly diminished.
It is still home to a fleet of beautiful boats along the harbor, and walking along the water’s edge is still the most popular tourist experience.
Volendam is a popular tourist destination for locals and international visitors alike. The town’s popularity as a day trip from Amsterdam has always been high because of its beautiful scenery and historical charm.
See Related: Best Places to Visit in the Netherlands
Fun & Best Things to do in Volendam, Netherlands
Let’s get into our favorite tourist attractions and activities in the old fishing village of Volendam. If you’d like some visuals, check out our video on YouTube:
1. Cheese Factory Volendam
You don’t need to be a cheese lover to appreciate the Cheese Factory Volendam. This fun and interactive museum are located in a former dairy factory, which has been transformed into an attraction that takes you back in time.
The museum offers tours of the old factory and explains how Dutch cheeses like Edam, Gouda, and Leyden are made.
The tour takes about 45 minutes; if you have more time on your hands, additional self-guided tours can be taken through the many rooms with historical displays that highlight life in Holland during different centuries.
The best part?
You get to taste some cheese at the end! Don’t worry though—you won’t leave smelling like stinky feet like some other attractions we’ve visited (cough cough).
Interested in more of this tasty gold in the Netherlands?
See Related: Visiting Kinderdijk Windmills: What You NEED to Know
2. Volendam Museum
The Volendam Museum is located in the former city hall. On display are an extensive collection of historic objects, photos, and maps tracing the early history of Volendam.
The museum is open on Sundays from 1 pm to 5 pm, while they are closed on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. Visitors can also visit the restored windmill De Haer, which dates back to 1673.
3. Take a photo in a traditional Volendam costume
If you really want to immerse yourself in that old-world feeling, you should take the opportunity to dress in historic Dutch clothing!
Now that fishing isn’t the top industry here, Volendam serves as a leading resource for traditional clothing in the Netherlands. Locations like Fotograaf Volendam give you the souvenir of a lifetime by transporting you back in time for staged photos with multiple backdrops.
You can experience wearing beautiful traditional clothing in an Original Volendam Costume Photography Session.
Walk a mile (ok, more like a few meters) in another’s clogs and enjoy the fun! You could also stop by the Volendam Museum to see a more extensive collection of authentic costumes, art, and even a full-sized ship. They will be happy to put on the costume and take your picture!
You can also buy costumes at their gift shop or at one of the many souvenir shops around town (just look for signs advertising “Boerenkool” or “Kruidkoek”).
See Related: Best & Most Beautiful Cities in Europe to Visit
4. De Dijk of Volendam
De Dijk is the oldest part of Volendam, and it’s a popular tourist attraction. The area is also known for its large number of shops and restaurants. De Dijk is the dyke, and it’s the heart of the sightseeing area in this town.
This area is known for its cafes, restaurants, and plenty of beautiful old buildings that any architecture lover will appreciate. Because De Dijk is the dyke, it’s always open. You can visit De Dijk any time during your trip—it’s a great place to explore.
Walking around De Dijk, you’ll see many kwaks; traditional fishing boats that fill the harbor. These boats are a physical reminder of Volendam’s former glorious fishing industry.
If you’re interested in history or architecture, De Dijk is a great place to start your trip to Volendam. There are many historic buildings here, such as the Martinus Church (which dates back to 1120) and the “Boot” house built in 1646.
De Dijk is a popular tourist destination, so there are plenty of shops and restaurants to choose from. You can’t go wrong spending some time in this beautiful part of Volendam.
5. Take the ferry to Marken
There are many things to do in Volendam, but if you’re looking for a fun day trip with your friends and family, then you should definitely take the ferry to Marken.
This small island is known for its excellent fishing industry and has been a popular destination for day trips from Volendam since the 18th Century.
It’s also one of the most accessible destinations from Volendam by boat; there are frequent ferries that run throughout the day and only take about 20-30 minutes to get there!
Marken is well worth visiting even if you don’t have time for a full-day trip because it’s so easy to get there on public transit.
If you want an authentic Dutch experience that doesn’t involve Amsterdam or spending hours on a train or bus ride through flat farmland (which is boring), then Express Boat Cruise to Marken Island is an ideal experience to spend your vacation dollars!
See Related: Best Things to do in Utrecht, Netherlands
6. Het Doolhof – the oldest part of the city center
A doolhof is a maze-like garden made up of paths that lead to dead ends. There are some in the Netherlands that date back to the Middle Ages and have been restored over time.
In Volendam there are two doolhofs: one called Broeders van Liefde (Brothers of Love) and another called Het Doolhof (The Dwarf Garden).
Het Doolhof is located at the end of one of the streets leading into town from Amsterdam Central Station.
It was built between 1650 and 1660 for wealthy merchant Nicolaas Tulp to use as an escape from his busy life at home with his family on Sundays when he would retire here alone to practice meditation or pray.
Today it’s open every day during daylight hours so you can explore this piece of history yourself!
7. Eat eel in Volendam
If you’re looking for a place to eat in Volendam, you can’t do any better than eel. Eels are a traditional Dutch dish and Volendam is famous for them. There are plenty of restaurants and markets where you can buy them in the Netherlands, but we recommend that you try one at the Eel Museum.
This museum has been open since 1993, so it’s an excellent choice if you want a classic experience with local flavor. In addition to being good sources of protein, they’re also very tasty!
If you love eels or just want to learn more about them before trying one yourself (who wouldn’t?), check out this video from our friends at Lonely Planet.
8. Tour a historic ship at Volendam Harbour Head
There are plenty of things to do in Volendam, but one of the best is visiting Volendam Harbour. If you’re looking for an experience like no other, this is one place to see. You can take a tour of a ship or go on a canal cruise through Volendam’s waters.
If you choose the former option, there are many different boats available for your choosing—from small sailing boats to large ones that hold up to 200 people!
And if none of those sound interesting?
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9. Do a walking tour of Volendam
If you want to learn about the history of Volendam and experience it for yourself, you can book a walking tour of the town online.
The adult tours are led by local guides who will show you all of the best places to eat, shop, and sightsee as well as this village’s history. If you purchase an I Amsterdam City Card, you’ll likely have this option included in your visit.
The small group walking tour also includes plenty of time to explore on your own at your own pace. No matter how much or how little time you have in Volendam, this is something that should be on every visitor’s list—it’s an excellent way to get acquainted with this charming little town!
Walking too slow?
Try an afternoon bike tour!
See Related: Best Things to do in Haarlem, Netherlands
10. Take a day trip to Zaanse Schans
Most people take the mutual trip of all of Zaanse Schans, Volendam, and Marken in one trip. But when you visit Volendam, consider spending more time here to escape the bit city. From here, you’ll be centrally located in several great towns like Zaanse Schans.
Zaanse Schans is a popular day trip destination from Amsterdam, and it’s easy to see why. Located just a 40-minute train ride away, Zaanse Schans is considered a European Route of Industrial Heritage site. The area features several windmills that have been converted into museums or shops for tourists to enjoy.
If you’re interested in taking an overnight excursion from Amsterdam, consider experiencing the scene during sunset at one of these windmills.
11. Experience Volendam
For those of you who’d like to pair new technology with history, you should take some time to explore Experience Volendam. This 30-minute virtual reality tour transports visitors all the way back to 1916!
You’ll get a first-hand, 360-degree look at what life looked like back then. You’ll learn more about the history of this village and even “meet” a fisherman who sails you on his ship!
All these small, easy-to-wander-through museums may only take 30 minutes to an hour to enjoy. Still, they help paint the picture of what makes Volendam unique and charming.
See Related: Best Museums in the Hague, Netherlands
12. Woltjes Stroopwafels & Museum
In the mood for a sweet treat?
Well, look no further than Woltjes Stroopwafels & Museum. These tasty stuffed waffle-type delicacies are beloved worldwide, and one trip through the museum and shop will show you why.
The smell alone is intoxicating. A couple of euros buys your way into the demonstration and tasting, a bargain, and an excellent way to spend a little bit of your day.
13. Snap a photo of De Kathammer Windmill
While this area is known more as a fishing village, you can’t go far in this country without finding a windmill!
Just off Achterdichting Road, you’ll see “De Kathammer,” the local mill. While only available during certain times of the year and by reservation, you’re always free to walk by take a snapshot or join in on a small group bike tour of the town to see more in less time.
Photographers and artists can find inspiration throughout this beautiful town, much as Renoir and Picasso did in the early 20th Century.
With so many waterways and northern lighting, an unspoiled and tranquil atmosphere inspires creativity. Boat tours are a great way to enjoy the area and see some sites that may be further off the beaten path.
See Related: Best Warm Winter Destinations in Europe
If you happen to purchase an I Amsterdam City Card during your stay in the Netherlands, many of the main attractions we listed are included in both Volendam and Marken, so be sure not to overpay.
While Amsterdam certainly has so much to offer, there are plenty of relaxing and fun things to do in Volendam as well.
This town makes a great little getaway from Amsterdam’s busier city streets, from leisurely walks along the dike and enjoying the surrounding scenic roads to the charming appeal of the tourist quarter.
While many treat Volendam as a simple day trip from Amsterdam, there are beautiful accommodations here, from 4-star hotels to 19th Century throwback locations and even houseboats to rent. Regardless of your budget or desires, it also serves as a great launching point to enjoy other smaller towns in the area.
We hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know this village with us and why we feel Volendam is worth visiting. Be sure to book that tour if you want to take a day trip while staying in Amsterdam.
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Is Volendam worth visiting?
Whether you’re interested in the past or present, Volendam is a great place to visit. If you want to experience what life was like in the Netherlands in the 17th Century, then Volendam is for you.
And if you want to experience what life was like in the Netherlands in the 18th Century (or if you just enjoy fun things), then Volendam might be right up your alley as well.
How much time to spend in Volendam?
Allow around 3-4 hours for your visit to Volendam to ensure you explore the sights and make the most of your time.
This allows you to stroll around the village and dine at one of the many excellent cafes on the harbor. If you have extra time, consider taking one of the many great Volendam cruises or ferries to the island of Marken.
Is Volendam a nice place to live?
Volendam is an excellent location and conveniently located just north of Amsterdam on the sear. The village is notable for its fishing history and has several Dutch singers of past and present music, which is why it’s called the “Singer’s Village.”
It is on the coast of North Holland in the Zuiderzee region, near a picturesque harbor and a lively fishing environment.
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