A welcoming fishing village in every season
Volendam: local costumes and a love of music
The historic village is located by Lake Markermeer, and once had direct access to the North Sea via the Zuider Zee. Because of the good location by the water, many fishermen settled in the village. In comparison to other areas of North Holland, Volendam records many Catholic residents, who stand out from other Dutch people not just because of their beliefs, but because of their typical costumes and their own dialect, the Volendams.
Even today, many tourists come because of the costume-clad locals, but also because of the pretty fishermen's houses and friendly souvenir shops. Volendam is also known throughout Holland for its population's love of music; several famous musicians who have made their mark with their own style of music, the Palingsound ('eel sound', see below), hail from Volendam. Incidentally, if you're visiting Volendam, don't forget to try a smoked eel sandwich!
Top 7 things to see and do in Volendam
Volendam is known as a fishing village with typical authentic little houses. Therefore, the best way to discover Volendam is by walking around it, such as through the Dijk or the Doolhof. In these old neighborhoods of the village, you'll find lovely old fishermens' houses in a labyrinth of lanes, which have cast an enormous spell over painters and artists for centuries.
- The pop music which comes from Volendam is known as Palingsound (eel sound). Paling (Dutch for 'eel') is a reference to the eels living in Volendam. You'll find out in the Palingsound Museum what the typical hallmarks of this musical style are.
- In the same building as the Palingsound Museum at the harbor, you'll find the Smit Bokkum eel smokehouse owned by the museum founder, Jan Smit. During a guided tour, visitors will learn how eel is smoked in a century-old tradition. The in-house restaurant serves delicious eel dishes.
- In the Volendams Museum, the typical costume of the fishing village is on display, as well as originally arranged rooms from the last century. Ship models, paintings and other works of art can also be seen. One curious collection belonged to a Volendam man who decorated the walls of his room with mosaics made from 11 million cigar bands (which can also be seen today in the Volendam Museum).
- Where there's costumes, you'll also find the Dutch wooden shoes, known as klompen. In the Wooden Shoe Factory at the harbor, you'll learn more about the making of these comfy wooden shoes, which you can also purchase for your garden at home.
- Holland and cheese always belong together. You can also buy this in Volendam, at the harbor, in the Cheese Factory Volendam, where the traditional production methods are explained. An experience for all the senses!
- As with many other attractive Dutch places, the latest technology has taken hold even in traditional Volendam. Experience Volendam shows living quarters from 1916, amongst other things, in a holographic display, and a stormy ship voyage from the same period in a virtual reality film.
- And how would you like a portrait in traditional costume? This costume photo is a really nice souvenir that you can take home with you. You can find Foto de Boer at Haven 82.
Where can you get a decent meal?
In Volendam, you'll find plenty of small restaurants and bars at the Dijk. You can eat well and have your favorite drink at places such as Lotje aan de Haven and Grand Café Restaurant De Dijk. And of course, when you visit, you just have to try fresh fish.
Volendam attracts thousands of tourists all year round. If you want to visit Volendam in June, you can combine this with the Volendam Weekend, or with a trip to Marken and to Zaanse Schans.
Discover the surrounding area
Around Volendam, there are various lovely villages by Lake IJsselmeer, such as Edam, Monnickendam and Marken. You can also visit the Alkmaar cheese market, which takes place from April to September inclusive. And if you're in Volendam earlier in the year, combine your trip with a visit to the Keukenhof, where millions of bulbs are in full bloom.
Getting to Volendam
Volendam is located north of the capital Amsterdam and Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, and can easily be reached from there in around half an hour with public transport. However, you can also travel from Amsterdam to Volendam by bicycle. It's an unforgettable tour in any event.
Volendam does not have a station itself, but a bus from the central station in Amsterdam (Amsterdam Centraal) will get you to Volendam in half an hour. If you're traveling by car, you can find parking lots in the center, e.g. in the Havenhof Parkeergarage. It's definitely worth bringing your own bicycle with you (or renting one when you get there), as the marvelous flat around Volendam is fantastic to explore on a cycling tour.
Tip from the editor
Book a boat trip with the Volendam Marken Express and discover the little village of Marken. You can call in at Sijtje Boes, walk through the small old streets, and drink a cup of coffee at the old harbor. Or book the pancake arrangement and have a taste of a typical Dutch pannenkoek on the idyllic island of Marken with its magical lighthouse.