Volendam Harbour

Head to the town’s esplanade for cafés and restaurants with fresh fish, views over the water and shops where you can photograph yourself in traditional costumes.

The liveliest place in the old fishing village of Volendam is its harbor full of historic sailing ships. Here you’ll find cafés where you can relax on a sunny afternoon and visit stalls selling salted herring, smoked eel and kibbeling. See Volendam Harbour’s traditional triangle-shaped architecture and forest of sailing ship masts which make it seem miles away from Amsterdam.

This town was originally the harbor of nearby Edam, but in the 14th century the Edammers dug their own canal to the Zuiderzee. Notice that the original harbor was reclaimed by damming and became the fishing village of Volendam, complete with its own traditions and culture.

If you have ever wanted to know how you’d look in a traditional Dutch costume, Volendam is the place to find out. Along the harborfront are shops where you can try on and photograph yourself in the Volendam style of “klederdracht,” complete with pleated hat and clogs for the ladies and wide-legged pants for the men. If you’re not interested in dressing up yourself, find plenty of photo opportunities with the many statues in the harbor depicting Volendammers in historic dress.

Walk just behind the harbor to the Volendams Museum where you can learn about the history, costumes and culture of the area between 1850 and 1950 in rooms decorated in period furniture.

If you have time, take the ferry from the harbor to the village of Marken. After a 13th-century storm, it became accessible for hundreds of years only by watercraft. Now it is joined to Waterland south of Volendam by a dike.

Having been isolated for so long, Marken maintained traditional culture and architecture much longer than did other mainland towns. Inhabitants developed their own traditional costumes and unique houses on stilts to deal with regular flooding. Walk along the island’s beach to see the lighthouse, built in 1839. When you get hungry, visit one of several restaurants around the ferry terminal. Try the local delicacy of smoked eel.

Be sure to visit Volendam Harbour and Marken for traditions, food and culture that you’re not likely to see in many other places.