Volendam is a fishing village in North Holland, 20 kilometres north of Amsterdam. Sometimes called "the pearl of the Zuiderzee", this place is a highly popular tourist destination. Here, you'll find many Dutch clichés, including the traditional costumes and wooden shoes. Most of them, however, have a lot of historic truth to them.
Its rather isolated location and the character of its inhabitants, have given Volendam a very specific atmosphere. It's a fishermen's village, and the bustling harbour area with the many boats are still a major attraction today. From the 1880s it was a popular dwelling place for artists, who found that the town seemed hardly touched by time and captured its characteristics in lots of different paintings and other works of art. Volendam's traditional costume is one of best known examples of ancient clothing in the country. Only a handful of people wear it in their daily lives today, but as the locals have recognized its value for tourism you will probably still run into it here or there.
In the Netherlands, Volendam is famous for its singers. There's an extensive Dutch music scene here and several of the most popular Dutch singers originate from this village. This music is known as the palingsound, literally "eel sound", a reference to the village's heritage as a fishing village. In the 1960s, the Cats was a popular group and in the 1970s BZN took over as the new flagship group. In 1995, BZN performed a duet with the ten year old Jan Smit, who quickly became a celebrity in his own right and is now the leading singer of the village. You can find posters and merchandise of him across town.
- VVV tourist information office Volendam, Zeestraat 37, ☎ +31 299 - 36 37 47. The tourist information office is very helpful. It has lots of information on sights, activities and lodging options.
By road, the N247 will take you to the municipality of Edam-Volendam from Amsterdam or Monnickendam. To get to Volendam centre, exit the N247 where it connects to the N517, which will lead you there. The N247 connects to the A7 just before Hoorn. Alternatively, the N244 connects Volendam to Purmerend and connects to the A7 there.
Bus lines 110, 112, 118 and 373 connect Volendam to Amsterdam. Lines 113 and 213 run to and from Purmerend.
In summer, a ferry connection between Volendam and the peninsula of Marken every 30 to 45 minutes.
A great way to get to Volendam is by bike. There are many cycle routes that will take you there:
- From Purmerend train station - Volendam Cycle Route (45 or 37 km).
The village is best explored on foot or by bike. If you're travelling with two or more people, renting a "freemover", a Segway, is a good alternative. Short boat rides are another excellent way to see region around Volendam. There are different types of boats for rent or you can get on an organized trip.
What draws most travellers to Volendam is the typical village centre with its old houses, the bustling harbour area and fishermen's town atmosphere. Just walking around the old centre will quickly make you get the vibe. The oldest part of the centre is sometimes called "the labyrinth", for its narrow streets and seemingly random plan. There are a few specific sights of interest:
- Stolphoevekerk, Burg. Kolfschotenplein 1. Volendam has 4 separate churches, which are easy to spot. The two most interesting ones are in the old town centre. The oldest one is the wooden Protestant Stolphoevekerk, build in 1658. This lovely little church is still in use, and most of the time isn't open for visitors. It's a national heritage sight.
- St. Vincentiuskerk, Kerkepad 1. The St. Vincentiuskerk was opened in 1860 after strong protests from the Roman Catholic community, which had to walk to the church in Edam for centuries. On weekends, it's open for visitors.
- Visafslag, Haven 41. The wooden building where fishermen sold their fish to customers for a large part of the 20th century. Build in 1934, it was a central point in town. Now a heritage sight, it remains a landmark today, even between the many other wooden houses.
- Volendams Museum, Zeestraat 41, ☎ +31 299 - 369 258. 10AM-5PM, only from March 14th-Oct. 30th. For an insight in life and work in Volendam as it was at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, visit this museum. As Volendam was a popular painters subject, you'll get to see a good deal of art, but also traditional costumes, expositions on the fishery and cigar activities, ancient house interiors and folk art. € 3.
Have your picture taken, dressed in an original Volendam costume. It's a popular thing to do and, although not very authentic, it does provide a fun souvenir. There are a few places that offer this service, all in the harbour:
Foto de Boer, Haven 82.
Foto Zwarthoed, Haven 12.
Fotoshop Volendam, Haven 102.
The dike is lined with restaurants, bars and shops. You'll find an ample collection of typical souvenirs, including clogs and local costumes.
There are many restaurants in this town, most of them close to the waterfront. Unfortunately, the tourist crowds, who will usually not eat more than once at the same place, seem to have had a bad influence on the quality of food and service. Some of the better restaurants are connected to the larger hotels and bed&breakfasts, so check the Sleep section too.
- Paviljoen Smit-Bokkum, Slobbeland 19, ☎ +31 299 363 373. Has its own eel-smoking facilities. Not the cheapest place around, but the sea-food dishes get good reviews. They have a small delicatessen store too, if you want to take the smoked food home. €25.
- d' Oude Helling, Zuideinde 5, ☎ +31 299 321 333. Of the larger restaurants in town and quite nice in terms of atmosphere. The service isn't always great and the food seems to have good and bad days, too. mains ~€18.
- De Witte Deli Snacks, Steile Bank 2, ☎ +31 299-367139. This place is a combination of a fresh fish store and a snack place. It's a great option if you want a fast bite or a cheap meal. It has a good range of standard fries and snacks. There are simple, pre-made meals too, which they can either warm up for you to eat straight away, or pack to take home and heat there. Of course, they also sell the typical Dutch herring, smoked fish and other seafood snacks. from €4.
- Viswinkel en Traiteur De haven Volendam, Zuideinde 2, ☎ +31 299-322822. Located directly on the Dike in Volendam this is a fresh fish and take away meals store with only top quality products. There's a cook with 35 years of experience to deliver the best quality. You can ask for the special takeaway dinner for the Marinapark Volendam. from €4.
In the evenings, the lively dike and seaside area is the place to be. In summer, the bars and restaurants there all have outdoor terraces and make a great place to have a beer.
- DV Groep Bed & Breakfast, Zeestraat 13a, ☎ +31 299 321678. Modern rooms above a pizzeria from the same owner, which is a good choice for food. It's a no-frills place but has all basic needs. Some rooms have no windows, only sky-lights. 70.
- Hotel Restaurant Spaander, Haven 15-19, ☎ +31 299 363595, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Hotel in the Best Western chain with reasonable rooms. Breakfast is not included and a bit overpriced. Ask for a room with lake view. €100.
- Hotel Old Dutch, Haven 142, ☎ +31 299 399888. Recently renovated, spacious rooms and friendly service. The restaurant is good, too. It can be a bit of a challenge to find the place though, and if you're a light sleeper, the noises from the popular harbour area might keep you up. Otherwise, an good pick. € 99.50.
- Hotel Restaurant Van den Hogen, Haven 106, ☎ +31 299-363775. Rooms have basic facilities. The central location is great for those looking for some nightlife, but can be a bit noisy for those who aren't. € 90.
- Vakantiepark & Hotel Marinapark, Pieterman 1, ☎ +31 900-8810. A rental home in this seaside holiday park (part of the Roompot chain) is a comfortable option if you're staying at least a good weekend or if you're travelling in a small group. Fully equipped kitchens are available in every apartment. There are also a few hotel rooms. For all: make sure to book well in advance. € 79 for a hotel room.
Hop on a boat to visit the nearby village of Marken. The ferry leaves every 30 to 45 minutes from the harbour. Or take a cycling tour across the region taking in Monnickendam, Broek in Waterland and the windmills of the Zaanse Schans. The adjoining village of Edam is so close that it can be reached on foot.
|Routes through Volendam|
|Amsterdam ← Purmerend ←||S N||→ Edam → Groningen|