The small city of Enkhuizen is an old Dutch harbour town, and one of the most prominent ones of the Dutch Golden Age. It lost its trade position by the late 17th century, due to the wars with England, the silting of its waters and the rise of Amsterdam, but maintained much of its historic grandeur. Today, the town is famous for its herring and a beloved destination for its traditional Dutch feel and water sports facilities.


This is an old city with many centuries of maritime tradition. It gained city rights in 1355 and grew to be one of the main trade harbours of the VOC, the Dutch East Indies trade company. The town was one of the first to rally behind the Prince of Orange and in return was granted the exclusive right to produce and place the sea-marks in the Zuiderzee. For that, it was allowed to charge all vessels on that sea, making the whole thing a very lucrative affair. Enkhuizen blossomed in the 17th century, gaining wealth through international trade and herring fishery. Some 25.000 people resided in the city around 1650; substantially more even than today, as some 18.000 people live here now. The tide changed at the end of the 17th century, however, as shifting sands made the harbour less accessible, the wars with England took great costs and nearby Amsterdam rose to fame. By 1850, the population had dramatically declined to only 5400 and Enkhuizen became a sleepy fishermen's town.

Boats in the town harbour.

Get in

The main road into town is the N302. It connects to Hoorn and the A7 in the west, while running as a causeway to the east, connecting Enkhuizen to Lelystad at the other side of the IJsselmeer water. The smaller 506 provides an additional direct road connection to Hoorn.

Enkhuizen is connected by rail, with all trains running in the direction of Amsterdam. Until Hoorn, trains provide a "stop service", stopping at several smaller stations, while operating as an intercity fast train after that. Direct connections from Enkhuizen (all via Amsterdam) include Amsterdam Sloterdijk, Amsterdam Central Station, Hilversum, Amersfoort, Apeldoorn and Deventer. Amsterdam of course offers a wide range of other transfers.

In summer (May-September, plus more limited services in April and October), a ferry service connects Enkhuizen to Stavoren in Friesland. The ferries run 2 or 3 times per day, stopping also at the Zuiderzeemuseum, and their schedules match train times. In this way, the ferry serves as a public transport connection across the IJsselmeer, but also allows for a nice ride or fun day trip to Stavoren. The ferry is operated by Rederij V&O, takes about 80 minutes one way and costs €10,80/14,50 for an adult's single/return ticket. Children up to 12 pay €7/8,40 and bikes can be taken for €5,20/7,30. Departure times in summer are usually 08.30, 12.30 and 16.30h from the Enkhuizen platform, near the train station, but check in advance.

Get around

The town is small and easy to navigate the harbour area - where all the sights are - on foot. If you're interested in exploring the surroundings, it's possible to rent a bike.


The Drommedaris is the city's most famous landmark.

Enkhuizen boasts a remarkably well preserved historic centre, and no less than 370 of its buildings are listed as national heritage monuments. There's no escaping the monumental architecture, including numerous mansions, warehouses, bridges and parts of the historic defence structures. Among the most notable sites are:




There's a good range of basic stores around, and a number of gift shops targeting visitors. There's a market on Wednesdays from 9.00-16.00h, in the Westerstraat. Shops stay open late on Friday, until 21.00h. Shops are allowed to open on Sundays and in the summer season, many of them do so every week. Others open only one Sunday in a month, usually the first.



Nightlife in Enkhuizen consists of drinking beers, chatting and perhaps an odd dance here or there - there's no serious clubbing around. In summer, the outdoor terraces and the harbour views make lingering outside with your drink and some good company a pleasant experience, but if the weather doesn't allow, there are plenty of small cafés where you can sit inside. The best way to go about it at any given night, is to stroll around a bit and see where the crowds are. Some of the larger places are:



Most places that sell postcards and other souvenirs also sell stamps. Otherwise, try the VVV tourist information office, drugstores, supermarkets or bookstores. The postal service points inside the following shops offer not only stamps but also other services, including postal packages:

Go next

Hop on a ferry and cross the water to Stavoren, and the interesting Frisian Lakes region that lies behind it, full of water sports facilities. There's a range of historic Dutch towns to be discovered this region. Stop over in neighbouring Hoorn, try traditional Volendam, charming Haarlem or maritime Den Helder.

Of course you're only a quick train ride away from the fascinating Dutch capital, Amsterdam.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Thursday, April 02, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.