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, Volendam is a popular destination for day trip, 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 most popular fishing village in the Netherlands. 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 that attracts visitors from around the globe.
What to See and Do in Volendam
Despite being a village, there are quite some things to experience in Volendam. The good thing is that all those activities and sights are close to each other which means you can perfectly combine them during a (half) day trip.
1. Walk along The Dyke
The highlight of Volendam is the Dyke (De Dijk). It’s a boulevard alongside the lake Markermeer, just a few minutes off the city center.
The Dyke is lined with many souvenir shops and restaurants. If you’re familiar with Dutch culture, you’ll know that Dutch people are all about gezelligheid (conviviality). When the sun is us, locals and international visitors stroll along the Dyke and enjoy having a drink or food (often fresh fish) in one of the many restaurants’ terraces. The ambiance truly adds to Volendam’s unique charm!
Even if you don’t like crowds, 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.
2. Eat Fresh Fish
If you like fish and would like to eat typical Dutch food, you should definitely eat freshly-caught fish in one of the restaurants in Volendam. Local specialities are 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.
Not in the mood for fish? Then you should head over to one of the pastry shops along the Dyke where you’ll get fresh stroopwafels (thin waffles with caramel filling), waffles (a type of cake, similar to pancake) or poffertjes (small pancakes).
3. Experience Volendam
One of the best things to do in Volendam is Experience Volendam, located off the Dyke.
Experience Volendam consists of a virtual reality experience. During the 30-minute show you’ll get to know how Volendam was during its heyday in the 18th century. It’s a modern experience using virtual reality but with a computer-generated host dressed in an original Volendammer costume! If you have time, we definitely recommend doing the VR experience as it allows you to understand the importance and history of Volendam much better.
4. Photo in Traditional Clothing
Our personal highlights in Volendam was the photo experience. You’ll get to wear traditional clothing (different local customs for men and women) and are photographed in front of a scenic fishing background. Depending on the package you choose, you can take home one or two print outs, and you’ll also receive a digital copy of your photo(s). A truly unique souvenir from your trip to Volendam!
As you walk along the Dyke, you’ll find multiple shops providing the photo experience. We walked into several of them and found quite a difference in quality. The clothing, background and photo quality isn’t the same everywhere. The most popular place for the photo in traditional clothing is Experience Volendam.
Our Tip: If you’d like to do the show and the photo experience, we recommend the Photo in Traditional Clothing and Experience Volendam ticket combo to get the best price.
5. Halve Maen
If you are interested in naval history, visit the VOC-ship called Halve Maen (Half Moon). As its name suggest, the ship ressembles the shape of a half moon. The ship on site is a replica of the ship that used to sail to Manhattan Island in the 17th century.
You can visit the ship for a fee of €5 (tickets have to be purchased on site). It’s a great way to learn about the time when the Dutch ruled the seas and traveled worldwide engaged in trade.
If you don’t want to enter the ship, it will certainly catch your eyes anyway as you explore Volendam. It’s located at the Volendam harbor along the Dyke.
Our Tip: Walk around the harbor (past the Halve Maen ship) to enjoy a great view of the ship and the lively Dyke.
6. Cheese Factory Volendam
Continuing on the Dyke, you’ll get to the Cheese Factory. 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.
Entrance, cheese tasting and the cheese demonstrations are free of charge, so it’s definitely worth a visit.
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.
5. 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. It’s located a little off the main part of Volendam.
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.
By the way, you’ll see a mini version of the Het Doolhof Oude Kom at Volendam Museum.
6. Volendams Museum
Volendams Museum is a small but beautiful museum situated in the city center of Volendam, a 2-minute walk from the lovely Dyke.
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 was popular for fishing and art throughout the past centuries and that’s what you’re going to experience here. The museum features numerous paintings by local artists and portraits the life of past generations. If you’ve done the Volendam photo experience, you’ll recognize the typical customs here.
One of the coolest things in this museum are the sigarenbandjes or sigarenbandjeshuisje. This artwork conists of a large room with mosaics made of cigar bands. These moscais show some truly impressive portraits of famous monuments (national and international), placed on its walls and ceiling. The project started in 1947 and consists of a remarkable 11 million cigar bands.
Are you into music? Then you might like the Palingsoundmuseum. The small museum 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!
The museum is located at the Pavilion Smit-Bokkum, near the Marinapark. If you’re in the area, it’s worth a short visit. If you aren’t interested in music history or short in time, you can skip this one.
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.
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.
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.
Parking in Volendam
There are several options for parking in Volendam. The good news is that you’ll find free parking in Volendam which is not always the case in the Netherlands.
- On-street parking: Depending on the zone, you’ll find 30-minute free parking or 4-hour free parking. It’s the best option if you visit Volendam for just half a day.
- Marinapark 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 walk to the city center (the Dyke) is about 10 minutes.
- Parking garages: If you intend to stay the whole day and would like to have your car parked at a central location, you’ll find several parking garages in Volendam. 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).
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.
Planning on roaming around Volendam? You don’t need a ticket to visit Volendam and walk its scenic streets. However, attractions such as boat tours and entry to museums do require a ticket. If you have the I amsterdam City Card, then note that some attractions are already included in that card, so do check it out to avoid extra costs!
Volendam attractions that are included in the I amsterdam City Card:
- Volendams Museum (regular price €5 as of 2022)
- Volendam-Marken Boat Cruise (regular price €10. Can be purchased individually here Volendam – Marken Boat Tour)
- Bike rental (free 24-hour bike rental at Haven 45 Volendam)
Tickets that you’ll need to buy indivually:
- Tickets for Experience Volendam (VR experience only)
- Tickets for Experience Volendam + Photo in Traditional Clothing (Combi Ticket)
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. Note that this hotel is about 5-minute drive from the center. It’s a great place if you’re looking for a quiet setting and don’t mind a short drive.
- 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 very central 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. Marinapark is a vacation park which is especially popular with families or groups (not the best option for solo-travelers). 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.
In the Area
Looking for nearby places to visit? Check out the following destinations:
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.