Volendam is the Netherlands best-known fishing village that attracts visitors from around the globe. The village is located on the Markermeer lake, in the Dutch province of North Holland. Only 20 kilometers from Amsterdam, it’s a popular day trip from Amsterdam, often in combination with Zaanse Schans.
In this article, we’ll share with you the best things to see in Volendam, along with our travel tips.
What is Volendam?
Volendam is known as the Netherlands’ most popular fishing village. The village features colorful houses, a beautiful harbor and plenty of activities for solo-travelers and families alike.
Volendam used to have direct access to the North Sea. However, in the 14th century, neighboring town Edam constructed a shorter canal with an independent harbor. That’s when the need for Volendam harbor’s disappeared. The old harbor was then dammed up and reclaimed for land. That explains the name Volendam, which translates to filled dam.
After the land was reclaimed, many local fishermen settled in the area. Today, Volendam is the country’s most iconic fishing village.
What to See and Do in Volendam
1. Tour the Fishing Village
Go to the De Dijk (The Dyke) for a walk alongside the lake Markermeer. It’s lined with many souvenir shops and restaurants. Due to Volendam’s popularity, De Dijk is quite touristy and can get crowded during summer time.
Nevertheless, walking up and down the length of the dike is a must-do. The harbor is full of old fishing vessels, and freshwater fishing still takes place at IJsselmeer lake. If you like fish, you should definitely eat freshly-caught fish in one of the restaurants in Volendam.
If you’d like to eat typical Dutch food, try the kibbeling (battered, deep-fried cod), paling (eel) or herring. If you happen to be in Volendam in June, you’re in luck as this is when Hollandse Nieuwe (New Dutch herring) season opens. At this time, you’ll get freshly-caught herring that the Dutch usually eat raw with onions and pickles.
Moving along, you’ll come across St. Vincentius, an old fish auction monument. The building is no longer used for this purpose, but the structure itself is what attracts people. Standing on concrete legs, the building is made of 100% wood.
If you’re interested in getting to know Volendam as it was in the 18th century, try Experience Volendam. It’s a modern experience using virtual reality but with a computer-generated host dressed in an original Volendammer costume!
Our Tip: If you want to take your picture dressed up in traditional Volendam clothing, we recommend the Photo in Traditional Clothing and Experience Volendam ticket combo.
2. Het Doolhof-Oude Kom
Het Doolhof-Oude Kom is the oldest part of Volendam. This is where you’ll see ancient houses and narrow streets. What’s unique about this place is that the houses were built without any street pattern. And this streetscape naturalness is one of the reasons popular painters such as Picasso and Renoir stayed at Volendam and considered it a ‘retreat’ in the late 19th century.
3. Volendams Museum
At the Volendams Museum, you’ll get an insight into how Volendammers lived in the late 19th century up to the first 50 years of the 20th century. Volendam-centric paintings by Masters will make you understand why art was one of the key factors of Volendams worldwide popularity.
The Palingsoundmuseum (located at the Pavilion Smit-Bokkum) hosts 100 years’ worth of Volendam music history. Why is the place called Palingsoundmuseum or Eel Sound Museum? Pavilion Smit-Bokkum is a 160-year-old smokehouse popular for smoking locally caught fish and eel (paling). Over the years, the ‘smooth sound’ of the music in the region simply got related to eel, and so Palingsoundmuseum seemed like the logical name to give the music museum!
5. Cheese Factory Volendam
If you’re in the mood for some cheese-tasting and shopping, you can’t go wrong with visiting Cheese Factory Volendam. At the museum, you’ll learn about cheese in general and the processes involved in manufacturing Dutch Gouda cheese in particular. A short 10-min cheese demonstration is also held throughout the day.
If you love cheese and would like to learn more about traditional cheese making, we recommend a visit to the famous cheese market in Alkmaar.
6. Halve Maen
If you are interested in naval history, visit the VOC-ship called Halve Maen (Half Moon). It is a replica of the ship that used to sail to Manhattan Island in the 17th century. It’s a great way to learn about the time when the Dutch ruled the seas and traveled worldwide engaged in trade.
How to Get Around in Volendam
The charm of Volendam rests in its harbor and its old-style fishing village, which is characterized by authentic fishermen’s houses. As such, the best way to explore Volendam is by walking around the village.
As Volendam is a fishing village, you can’t go wrong with a boat tour. Try the Volendam Marken Express, a 30-minute boat ride to the small peninsula Marken. Enjoy the beautiful coastline of the former Zuiderzee area while learning about its history and development with an audio guide in English and Dutch. Note that you can get a roundtrip ticket to Marken or just get a one-way ticket, explore Marken and move on with the rest of your Dutch tour.
How to Get to Volendam
From Amsterdam, just take Bus 316 (Volendam-Edam), which departs every 15 minutes from the Amsterdam/CS IJzijde bus station located just behind the Amsterdam Centraal train station. Note that you have to go a level up behind platforms 14 and 15 to get there.
If you’re traveling by car, it’s just a 30-minute drive from Amsterdam taking the N247 route. We recommend that you set a car park as your destination, and then explore Volendam by foot.
The most central car park in Volendam is the Parkeergarage Centrum Volendam. It’s located right in the city center, a few minutes walk from the Dijk. Parking is €1 for the first hour or €9 for a day pass (as of 2022).
Free parking in Volendam? If you don’t mind walking, then there are many free parking spaces outside the city center. The biggest is the Marina Park, located behind Roompot Marinapark, which holds up to 300 cars.
The Netherlands has amazing bike and cycling routes! Are you visiting Volendam from Amsterdam? Then you can totally cycle here! The route is around 20 kilometers and takes about 1 hour to complete. You’ll come across small towns and a windmill or two as well.
You don’t need a ticket to visit Volendam and walk its scenic streets. Boat tours and entry to museums do require a ticket. If you have the I amsterdam City Card, then note that attractions are already included in that card, so do check it out to avoid extra costs!
Additional Travel Tips for Volendam
We’ve received quite a few questions about Volendam in recent years. To give you additional travel tips, we’ve compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions from our readers, and our answers.
Volendam or Zaanse Schans?
Volendam and Zaanse Schans are popular destinations for a daytrip from Amsterdam. But don’t worry that you’ll have the same experience. If Zaanse Schans is all about windmills, Volendam is an all-out fishing village. If you have time, you should definitely visit both places.
If you had to pick one, we would go for Zaanse Schans. Unless you have already been or planning to visit Kinderdijk. In that case, we’d recommend you visit Volendam
What are the best museums to visit in Volendam?
Despite being a village, there are several interesting museums in Volendam that are absolutely worth visiting. The best ones are Volendam Museum, Palingsoundmuseum and The Cheese Factory, If you’re short in time, you can just pick one of them. If you have a full day in Volendam or the weather is bad, museum hopping is a great activity.
How much time in Volendam?
Most people just make a day trip to Volendam. However, since it’s also the perfect place to jumpstart a trip to nearby Marken and Edam, most people stay longer and make Volendam their ‘base’ for these additional trips.
Accommodations in Volendam
Many travelers visit Volendam as part of a daytrip from Amsterdam, keeping their hotel in Amsterdam for the duration of their stay in the region. That’s a safe option if it’s your first time in the Netherlands and you want to mainly explore Amsterdam.
If you’d like to get out of Amsterdam and explore the Dutch countryside, you could spend a night in Volendam, and extend your trip to the beautiful Markermeer Lake.
There are various hotels in Volendam to choose from. These are our favorite hotels in Volendam:
- Van der Valk Hotel Volendam: Located off the city center. It’s a beautiful 4-star hotel with spacious and comfortable rooms and a large indoor pool. Our highlight at Van der Valk Volendam was the lake right behind the hotel and the beautiful nature all around. Despite its rural location, you can easily get to Volendam center.
- Hotel Spaander is another popular Volendam hotel. It’s been welcoming guests since 1881, and one of its rooms (Kamer 1 or Room 1) is still decorated in its original 19th century style. What we liked about Hotel Spaander is its excellent location. The hotel is located at De Dijk, very close to all main attractions in Volendam. It’s a great choice for travelers looking for a comfortable hotel at the best location.
- Marinapark is a great option if you’re looking for a unique place to stay. There are both holiday homes as well as several houseboats. During our last visit, we stayed at one of the houseboats which is a great option for couples and families. What we loved the most here is the beautiful view from the modern houseboat. The feeling you’ll get when waking up in the morning is truly unforgettable. The accommodation features a swimming pool and playground for children which makes it great when traveling with kids. In terms of location, Marinapark Volendam is close to the main sights in Volendam. It’s only a few minutes walk from the harbor.
Questions or Feedback?
Have you already been to Volendam or planning to visit soon? We’d love to hear from you! Share your experience or any questions you might have in the comment section down the page.