Day 2. Zuiderzee Open Air Museum & Volendam, The Netherlands

After a delicious breakfast in the Park Plaza Vondelpark’s restaurant we set off bright and early to visit some interesting places outside of the city.  After taking Tram line 2 to Central Station we caught a train to Enkhuizen one hour away.  Standard single fares are €13.20 each but by purchasing online tickets we saved €1 per ticket.

Amsterdam Central Station
Amsterdam Central Station

We found seats on the train’s upper deck so we could make the most of the views along the way.  On reaching Enkhuizen we followed signposts to the Zuiderzee Museum which led us along the harbourside through the pretty town passing the archway of the Defence Tower on our way.

Amsterdam Central Station, Enkhuizen platform
Taking the train to Enkhuizen

Zuiderzee Museum

In addition to walking to the museum, visitors can also arrive by ferry, crossing the IJsselmeer (included in the standard ticket price of €18).  The ferry also calls at the landing stage of the museum car park for those travelling by road.

Zuiderzee open-air museum
The open-air museum is beautifully laid out

Zuiderzee is the Netherlands largest outdoor museum comprising a complete village and harbour and is open between April and October.  The museum first opened in 1983 and every one of its buildings including houses, cottages, farms, shops, the school and church date from 1880-1930 and had to be transported here brick by brick from around the Zuiderzee region.

House interior, Zuiderzee Museum
The interior of one of the homes of a wealthy local person

Wandering around the folk museum was like stepping back in time as it felt like a truly authentic experience.  The staff wear traditional costumes of the period for their type of work and there are actual shops to walk inside including a bakers, butchers, chemists and a sweet shop.  In the post office, there’s even an opportunity to buy postcards and have them franked with a museum stamp before posting.

Traditional gabled fronted buildings at the Zuiderzee Museum
Traditional gabled fronted buildings

It really is an enchanting experience to saunter along the cobbled lanes of brightly painted gabled houses.  Along one street washing was drying in the breeze and the ‘neighbours’ were sitting around a small table enjoying their morning cups of tea in the sunshine and chatting to us as we passed along.

Zuiderzee Museum street
Viewing life from days gone by at the museum

We popped into the brush-maker’s workshop and observed how traditional brush heads were made and in the coopery we watched an artisan hard at work making wooden barrels.

Barrel making at the Zuiderzee Museum
A demonstration of barrel making

The village setting is truly beautiful with small bridges crossing the canal, a village church and a school with coat pegs in its entrance hall and two classrooms each with wooden desks complete with inkwells, blackboards and chalk.

School room at the Zuiderzee museum
Inside one of the classrooms in the village school

The harbour is attractive too and is a replica of the one built in 1830 on what was then the island of Marken.  Numerous old sailing vessels are moored there and we admired them as we strolled around.

The harbour, Zuiderzee Museum
The pretty harbour at Zuiderzee

In the far corner of the village stands a 19th century windmill, a sight synonymous with the Netherlands.  The Dutch used these windmills to pump the polders (large areas of land encircled by dykes) dry by lifting the water up and diverting it into canals.

Zuiderzee museum windmill
The Zuiderzee museum windmill

The museum has a pleasant cafe/ restaurant from where we collected packed lunches which can be ordered when purchasing tickets.  These can either be eaten in the cafe or if it’s warm and sunny, enjoyed on one of the picnic benches scattered around the village.  I can recommend the packed lunch as it contained two delicious filled rolls, a currant bun, piece of fruit and bottle of water.

Herring smoking at Zuiderzee Open Air Museum
Herring Smoking

There is also a fish smokehouse where herring and salmon can be bought at a reasonable cost.  We were looking forward to sampling a herring each but sadly they were not quite ready when we were around that part of the village.

VIllage centre, Zuiderzee museum, Enkhuizen
The village centre of the open-air museum

I would definitely recommend visiting the Zuiderzee Museum as it is one of the best open-air museums we have ever visited.  All the staff we came across were obviously passionate about their roles and the ancient crafts they demonstrated and talked about.

Information panels at the Zuiderzee Museum
Information panels with spoken narrative at various points in the museum

At various points information panels are to be found where visitors can press a button to hear stories of village life.  All signage is in both Dutch and English and the museum is a lovely day out for all ages and especially those with an interest in social history.  We managed to see everything in three hours but at busier times I would allow longer to get around.

Zuiderzee Museum, indoor section
The indoor section of the museum

The museum also has an indoor section which is open all year and features an interactive exhibition entitled ‘Sea of Stories’ together with a collection of historic boats in the Ships Hall.  This explains that the Zuiderzee was once part of the North Sea but following a series of floods the 32 kilometre (19.9 mile) Afsluitdijk was built.  On its completion in 1932 the Zuiderzee was then completely cut off and became a lake called the IJsselmeer.

Enkhuizen, the Netherlands
The pretty little town of Enkhuizen

We could have taken the ferry back to the railway station but opted to walk so that we could spend some time exploring the charming harbour town of Enkhuizen.  This pretty little town was once one of the most prosperous in the Netherlands as in the 17th century it gained power as a member of the Dutch East India Company.

Defence Tower, Enkhuizen
Enkhuizen’s Defence Tower

Back at the station we returned to Amsterdam by train and from there made our way to the bus station at the rear of the railway station overlooking the IJ.  It was our plan to take another trip out of the city centre and to spend the afternoon in the picturesque villages of Volendam and Marken.  Getting there was easy, as we took Bus 316 which reached Volendam in 35 minutes.  Rather than buy separate bus tickets we used Amsterdam Regional Travel Tickets ARTT valid on bus, tram, train and metro for periods of 24 – 72 hours which can be more cost effective if making several journeys.

Volendam

Volendam church
Volendam church

We got off the bus on the main road through the village close to the tourist office so called in there to pick up a walking map and some useful leaflets.  From there it was just a short walk through the village centre to the seafront.

De Dijk, Volendam's seafront
De Dijk, Volendam’s seafront

Volendam’s promenade, De Dijk has a lively atmosphere with its rows of gabled houses, shops and cafes each with attractive outside terraces.  At the seafood stall we spotted a heron on the lookout for some fish.  It’s unusual to see herons in places like this as they are notoriously shy but this one has obviously learnt where rich pickings are to be found.

A heron outside a seafood stall in Volendam
A heron standing outside a seafood stall on the promenade

After strolling along the promenade we called into Experience Volendam (tickets €8.75 for a 30 minute activity tour).  In this interesting museum we were shown around by a lady wearing a traditional Dutch long dress and a high pointed white bonnet.  She explained what the interior of a small house in Volendam would have looked like a century ago.

Experience Volendam
Experience Volendam

She went on to tell us about the Volendam flood disaster of 1916 when most of the village was destroyed.  We then experienced this disaster ourselves by using virtual reality glasses whilst sitting in a wooden boat.  This was extremely well re-created as we were immersed into the life of a young fisherman who went out in a boat and survived the flood disaster.

The VR boat activity at Experience Volendam
The Virtual Reality boat experience

Afterwards there is an option to dress up in local costumes and have photographs taken as souvenirs (at extra cost).

Dutch costumes for souvenirs photos at Experience Volendam
Dutch costumes for souvenirs photos

We then continued our walk around the charming village, finding an attractive small cafe for a glass of beer before popping into the Cheese Factory shop and museum (admission free) which was also very interesting.

Cheese Factory, Volendam
The cheese factory

Here, we saw how the cheese used to be made contrasting with how it is produced today.  The museum extends over two floors alongside a large shop where complimentary cheese tastings are available.  I had never realised that there were so many varieties of Dutch cheese and guess what, I liked them all.

Old cheese making methods on display at the Cheese Factory, Volendam
Old cheese making methods on display

Leaving there, we enjoyed a walk along the top of the dyke passing a small beach before arriving at the Volendam Marken Express jetty just in time to take the 17.15 boat across to Marken (€9 single, €14 return).  The sun had disappeared and it had turned a little chilly but we still opted to sit out on the upper deck to enjoy the views and the fresh air on the 30 minute crossing.

The Volendam Marken Express Ferry
The Volendam Marken Express Ferry

Marken

Marken is a former island, now connected by a long causeway to form a peninsular.  It’s quieter than Volendam but equally scenic and a popular seaside village with its green wooden houses overlooking the harbour.  These homes have been built on stilts or clustered on artificial small hills two or three metres high to provide extra protection against high tides.

Marken harbour, The Netherlands
Arriving into Marken by ferry

We thought that Marken was a delightful little village from its smart cafes, shops and restaurants along the waterfront to its maze of narrow lanes behind interspersed with narrow canals and white drawbridges.

The pretty harbour of Marken
Marken’s pretty waterfront

There are also some pleasant coastal walking and cycling routes around the island which extend to 9 km.  These include to a lighthouse standing on the eastern most tip that dates from 1839 which was declared a national monument in 1970.

Marken, Holland
The picturesque village of Marken

After enjoying our walk through the tranquil village we returned to Amsterdam on Bus 315.  This route took us to Amsterdam Station Noord and from there it was easy to return to the centre by metro.

Prinsengracht, Amsterdam
Prinsengracht, Amsterdam

We concluded our fun filled day outside the centre with dinner in a cosy pub in the Prinsengracht district of Amsterdam.  I do hope that by documenting our visits to the Zuiderzee Museum, Volendam and Marken you might be inspired to add these places to your Amsterdam itinerary as they are all easy to reach by public transport and well worth the trip out of town.

 

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Zuiderzee Museum, The Netherlands

 

46 thoughts on “Day 2. Zuiderzee Open Air Museum & Volendam, The Netherlands

  1. Zuiderzee and Volendam look genuinely lovely Marion, can’t believe after all my years in Amsterdam I never made this trip. Looks like a step back from the frenetic buzz of the capital. I used to commute through Amsterdam Centraal every day to work for almost five years. Never actually took the train, just walked right through with my bike and then onto the ferry for the 5 minute zip across to Amsterdam Noord. Herring is an essential Dutch experience, you either love it or hate it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Zuiderzee, Volendam and Marken are all delightful Leighton and so easy to reach from the city centre. It’s really nice over at Amsterdam Noord where you lived, we took the free ferry over there one afternoon too. Hope you are continuing to enjoy life in Edinburgh.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My goodness, every one of your pictures is just so beautiful and charming. I always love those open folk museums because it gives you such a real glimpse into the time period and how people lived. And the Zuinderzee Museum looks like an absolute joy to wander through! I hope you have a wonderful week 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

      1. What lovely photos Marion, such gorgeous villages and you really seem to do so much in one day!
        I remember going to Marken around 30 years ago, I don’t think much has changed. It’s wonderful how much effort goes into making these places interesting with people even dressing up

        Liked by 1 person

  3. As always, I am impressed by how much you managed to fit in to your day, Marion. I love an open air museum and the Zuiderzee looks fantastic. I’m also very taken with the photo of the heron! I have visited Rotterdam and the Hague and your post reminds me that there is still so much more to see in the Netherlands.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. These places outside of the centre of Amsterdam are really beautiful and although Amsterdam is lovely too, they offer an insight into the more tranquil side of the Netherlands. Thank you for taking the time to comment, it’s much appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Marion this is such a fascinating site . We were in Amsterdam 25 years ago . I would love to return soon. Those Windmills were so fascinating . Now I have say the cheese is the best ever ..so delicious . Enjoy your time there . Thanks for sharing . Anita

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The open-air museum at Enkhuizen is one of the best I’ve visited and it felt as if we we had been transported back in time. I’m a big fan of cheese too and so it was great to sample some flavours that were new to us. Thanks for taking the time to comment and hope your weekend is going well.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Never heard of Enkhuizen, but what a charming little place! It really pays to go out and see more of a country outside of the main city (Amsterdam, in your case). Looks like you got to experience the true Dutch culture there, all the while learn about its artisanal history!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Exactly Rebecca. Enkhuizen is such an attractive little town and the open-air museum delightful. It really felt as if we were stepping back into the past. Also both Volendam and Marken were enjoyable too and provided a contrast to the city centre for a change of scene. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. ThingsHelenLoves

    The museum looks wonderful, I love living history style places. I’m a bit of a day dreamer so being able to literally wander through history is a lovely way to get a glimpse at the past. I’ve done some travelling in Holland but didn’t realise there is such a range of places within short distance of Amsterdam centre and accessible via public transport. Some great trip inspiration!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. It is so worth getting out of Amsterdam to see the smaller centres. Great synopsis and photos Marion. We only made it to Zaanse Schans in Zaandam when we were there, but it too was beautiful. Happy Saturday. Allan

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Wow, Amsterdam Central Station is such a beautiful building! How amazing is the idea of an open-air museum … a complete village and harbour – brick by brick (that must have involved really hard work to establish)! Oh, I remember those wooden desks in the classroom – we had exactly the same in secondary school! And another beautiful picture of a windmill 👏.
    Your walk in Volendam looks great … I would have loved to pop in at the Cheese Factory! And how lovely is the town of Marken … wow Marion, you definitely had a great day of exploring the surroundings of Amsterdam!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your kind words and interest Corna. We certainly enjoyed a splendid day exploring places outside of the city centre. I remember those wooden desks too and our classrooms had high windows so you couldn’t be distracted and see out!

      Liked by 1 person

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