Volendam, situated in the Dutch province of North Holland, is just about 20 kilometers from Amsterdam. As such, it’s a popular break from the Dutch capital, too, like Zaanse Schans. 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.
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, so the Volendam harbor’s need disappeared. The old harbor was then dammed up and reclaimed for land, and this explains the name Volendam, which translates to filled dam.
After the land was reclaimed, many local fishermen settled in the area, and this is why the place is now known as the country’s “most popular fishing village”.
What to See and Do in Volendam
Tour the Fishing Village
Go to the De Dijk (The Dyke) for a walk alongside Lake Markermeer. It’s lined with many souvenir shops and restaurants, and many find it a bit too touristy, but if it’s your first time here, 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, so it’s almost a sin not to eat freshly-caught fish here.
Please try the kibbeling (battered, deep-fried cod), paling (eel), and 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 consume 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, 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.
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.
For such a small place, it’s amazing that there are so many museums to visit! Here’s a quick rundown and what to expect in each of them.
At the Volendams Museum, get an insight into how Volendammers lived in the late 19th century up to the first 50 years of this century. You’ll find out too how art (i.e., Volendam-centric paintings by Masters) played a significant role in making Volendam world-renowned.
At the Palingsoundmuseum located at the Pavilion Smit-Bokkum, you’ll see 100 years’ worth of Volendam music history. Why is the place called Palingsoundmuseum or Eel Sound Museum? PavilionSmit-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!
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 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.)
Volendam Travel Tips
How to Get There
By Public Transport
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. You can, of course, just type Volendam into Google Maps to find your way there. Volendam has plenty of parking garages, and parking rates (as of this writing) are €1 for the first hour, with a daily maximum rate of € 9.
If you don’t mind walking – and why would you in such as scenic fishing village! – then note that there are many free parking spaces outside the Volendam center, the biggest of which is the Marina Park, located at Roompot Marinapark, which holds up to 300 cars.
As the Netherlands has amazing bike and cycling routes, note that it’s possible to bike to Volendam. At just over 20 kilometers north of Amsterdam, biking is definitely possible. You’ll come across small towns and a windmill or two as well. Please check Google maps for the route or, if you’re staying at a hotel, ask the concierge for tips on the best way to bike to Volendam.
You don’t need a ticket to visit Volendam and walk its scenic streets. Boat tours and entry to museums do require a ticket but 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!
How Much Time Do You Need at 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 at Volendam
Hotel Spaander is a popular destination. 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. Marinapark Volendam is great for families and is known for accommodations decorated in the traditional Volendam style. Various B&Bs, boutique hotels, apartments, and even a boathouse can be rented at Volendam.