© Anna van Vliet

Historic harbor town: Enkhuizen

140 out of 192 visitors find this information valuable.

The picturesque little town of Enkhuizen in the province of North Holland invites thousands of tourists all year round. Many people love Enkhuizen for its numerous historic buildings and monuments, while others love it for its harbor and the perfect water sports opportunities.

  • Visit the Zuiderzeemuseum and experience the culture and history of this region here.
  • Walk along the fortress walls from the 16th century.
  • Enkhuizen is a key water sports center on IJsselmeer lake.

Enkhuizen: a harbor town with a rich past

Enkhuizen was one of the most prosperous cities in the Netherlands in the 17th century. It gained power and influence – together with the city of Hoorn - as a member of the Dutch East India Company (VOC). Today, you can remind yourself of Enkhuizen's rich history with a walk through the old city, with its many villas, channels, churches, city walls and harbors.

During the Golden Age, Enkhuizen recorded even more residents than today. The city defense gate, known as Drommedaris (from 1540), the Waag building (1559), the Zuiderkerk and the classical town hall are testimonies to the prosperity of the past. In addition to this, there's also an idyllic old city with historic buildings, where pretty shops and cozy restaurants have set up home today.

Sightseeing in Enkhuizen

In Enkhuizen, the sights can easily be explored by bicycle or on foot. Zuiderzee Museum is the most important museum in the city. There, you'll get a good impression of the history of Enkhuizen and and the former Zuiderzee ('southern sea'). Enkhuizen also has many opportunities to offer for water sports enthusiasts.

  • The most remarkable sight in Enkhuizen is the city defense tower known as Drommedaris, which watches over the harbor as part of the city walls. Today, cultural events are held in the defense tower.
  • The town hall (Stadhuis in Dutch) is a lovely building in the classical style, which was built when the heyday of Enkhuizen in the Golden Age was already over (Breedstraat).
  • The Waag of Enkhuizen: goods were previously weighed in this Renaissance building, and it acted as a meeting point and auditorium for the barbers' guild from 1636 onwards. The Waag building can be visited on Saturday in the summer months.
  • The Westerkerk is one of the Netherlands' 100 loveliest monuments. It is famous for its richly decorated choir screen, the magnificent organ and pulpit (accessible daily in the summer months).

    The Zuiderkerk watches over the town with its high elegant church tower. In this tower, you'll find a carillon (chime) by the Hemony brothers, which is still played today (Wednesday 11-12 am, Friday 6:30-7:30 pm).

  • From the Zuiderkerk to the Zuiderzeemuseum, which - as already stated - is the most important museum in the city. The outdoor area with its historic houses, shops and workshops is open from March to October, and the indoor area, with the largest collection of wooden ships from all over Holland, is open all year round.

How do you get to Enkhuizen?

The pretty harbor town of Enkhuizen is surrounded by water on three sides: by IJsselmeer lake and by Marker lake. Because of this location, Enkhuizen is a popular starting point for all water sports enthusiasts. Even if you're not a sailor yourself, you can also visit Enkhuizen by boat. From the lovely area of Stavoren , the saloon boat Bep Glasius will take you across IJsselmeer lake to Enkhuizen. If you fancy traveling by train, the Intercity from Amsterdam Sloterdijk will bring you to Enkhuizen Station in about an hour. If you're coming by car, you need a parking disc so that you can park for free.  

Places to visit near Enkhuizen

  • Leave your car behind and take the historic steam train, to explore the 'historic triangle' of  Hoorn, Medemblik and Enkhuizen.
  • Enkhuizen is located on IJsselmeer lake, and in the north, it is also separated by the Afsluitdijk (closure dam) from the North Sea. The 32 km long dam is an impressive testament to the battle between the Dutch and the water.
  • Another embankment is the Houtribdijk, which cuts IJsselmeer lake off from Marker lake, and begins south of Enkhuizen. Cross the 30 km long dam, and then you'll come to Lelystad, a popular starting point for water sports enthusiasts and shopping fans (Batavia Stad Amsterdam Fashion Outlet!)
  • At the other end of the Afsluitdijk, in the province of Friesland, you can explore the beauty of the Wadden Sea and go for a mudflat hiking tour. The many embankments and the flat land are also perfect for cycling tours.

Enkhuizen with children

At the northern border of Enkhuizen lies the Sprookjeswonderland, a theme park based on fairytales. A historic carousel, a miniature train and the fairytale forest make the Sprookjeswonderland a popular destination for families with young children (Kooizandweg 9). Other children will certainly be able to enjoy the many water sports opportunities around Enkhuizen, which include sailing, waterskiing, canoeing and surfing.

Staying in Enkhuizen 

In the historic harbor, in an old school building, in an authentic hostel or in a cozy B&B at the village border: you can stay at special addresses in Enkhuizen. A beautiful renovated boat and a spellbinding, historic vacation house are also among the extraordinary accommodation types in Enkhuizen. As the city has so many sights and interesting destinations to offer, it's worth staying for a few days!

More places around IJsselmeer