Ladies walk through historic Hoorn
© Ernst Wagensveld via NBTC
Category:North Holland

Hoorn, the pearl of the IJsselmeer lake

Discover the wonderful little town of Hoorn on the IJsselmeer lake, and enjoy the history, the typical pleasant Dutch atmosphere and the atmospheric nature in the nearby surrounding area.

  • Feel the flair of the Golden Age in the magical little harbor town.little city of Hoorn near IJsselmeer lake and enjoy the history, pleasant atmosphere and beautiful natural surroundings.
  • Experience the maritime history of the harbor with the historic sailing ship.
  • Travel on the steam railway or set out to sea in a sailboat!

The idyllic town of Hoorn

The heyday of Hoorn was in the 17th century, when it was one of the most important Dutch East India Company centers. Like Amsterdam and Enkhuizen, Hoorn developed into a very wealthy town. Even today, dozens of monuments and churches act as a reminder of this major historical period. The wonderful historic houses of the little town by the IJsselmeer lake now play home to pleasant shops and good restaurants. Visitors stumble upon galleries, studios, cafes and specialist shops while strolling through the town. Incidentally, Hoorn was the place that gave Cape Horn, the southernmost point of the American continent its name. Even today, the maritime past has left its mark on the face of the harbor town.

9 sightseeing opportunities and activities in Hoorn

Enjoy a day in Hoorn and combine a tour of the historic town center with a shopping afternoon and a delicious dinner. Hoorn is a little shopping paradise, with plenty of terrace cafes and restaurants to enjoy and rest in. If you fancy getting active for a couple of hours, Hoorn offers excellent water sports opportunities. The nearby dunes and beaches are perfect destinations for nature lovers. 

  • You can take a tour to the historic ship and along the 16th century warehouses with the water taxi.
  • You can still hear sailors' yarns being spun today at the 'little cafe by the harbor' (Veermanskade 1). The bar became famous in the 1970s, thanks to a Schlager music song by Vader Abraham.
  • The Westfries Museum, with over 30,000 exhibits, provides a good glimpse back into the days when Hoorn was a significant sailors' town.
  • De Hoornse Straatjes: the lanes named Nieuwe Noord, Kruisstraat, Lange Kerkstraat, Nieuwstraat, Kerkplein, Kerkstraat and Wisselstraat are impressive due to a large number of specialist shops and unusual stores.
  • The great defense tower (Hoofdtoren) from the 16th century helped to defend the town by the IJsselmeer lake. It can be viewed, and there's also a restaurant on the top floor.
  • The Hoorn cheese market, which was originally held back in the Golden Age, is the oldest in the Netherlands. It takes place every Tuesday between mid-June and the end of August on the Rode Steen square.
  • This square is also the home of De Waag, the weighing house from 1609, where Dutch cheese was weighed for centuries.
  • The Museum of the 20th Century, housed in a former prison, illustrates how our parents and grandparents lived, from tape recorders to rubber trees.
  • The Oosterkerk, which is located near the harbor, is the church for fishermen and sailors. One of its most recognizable features is the weather vane on the church tower, shaped like a ship.

The little harbor town by the IJsselmeer lake

Like the wonderful areas of Monnickendam, Marken and Volendam, Hoorn is also located by the IJsselmeer lake, the largest lake in the Netherlands. As well as lovely old Dutch villages and small towns, the IJsselmeer lake also offers some excellent water sports opportunities. The lake is especially popular with sailors. You can either set out to sea in your own boat (Hoorn has a city harbor with 90 berths) or hire a local sailboat. However, it's possible to not only easily explore the IJsselmeer lake by water, but by land as well, e.g. by bicycle; a IJsselmeer Tour encompasses at least 400 km! If you're traveling on the IJsselmeer lake, you should definitely also cross the famous 32 km long Afsluitdijk, which separates the IJsselmeer lake from the North Sea and connects the provinces of North Holland and Friesland.

Visit Hoorn

Hoorn is ideal for relaxing in a comfortable environment. Enjoy the countless shops, restaurants, monuments and water sports activities in and around Hoorn. You'll find peace and calm in the nearby dunes and on the beaches.

Getting to and parking in Hoorn

Hoorn is located in the north of Holland, by the IJsselmeer lake, only 45 or so minutes away by car from the capital city of Amsterdam and Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. You can also easily get to Hoorn by public transport (bus and train). If you're traveling by car, please pay careful attention to where you're allowed to park. The parking lots with charges in the center of Hoorn have a parking time limit of 2 hours. Parking time is unlimited at the parking lots in Lambert Meliszweg, Noorderveemarkt, Spoorsingel, Stationsplein, Vale Hen, Westerdijk, Westerdijk and on the southern site of the station route. Charges are €1.50 per hour and the maximum day charge runs to €7.50.

Trip destinations in the surrounding area

There's lots to experience in and around Hoorn. You can find plenty of lovely little towns and fishing villages by the IJsselmeer lake, such as Volendam. The historic city of Haarlem, with its lovely museums and wonderful restaurants, is also worth visiting. Traveling with children? Then we recommend a tour with the steam tram (see editor's tip) just as much as visiting the Sprookjeswonderland, a fairytale theme park in Enkhuizen. After that, it's time to try some cheese in Edam, which boasts cheese stops and 18th century warehouses as well as pretty canals. The little town of Monnickendam, with its old Dutch houses and harbor, is just as idyllic.

Editor's tip

Take an exciting journey back in time through the history of Holland with the Museum Steam Tram. Travel along the historic cities of the province of North Holland: Hoorn, Medemblik and Enkhuizen, and learn all about the history of the steam tram in Holland.

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