Amsterdam is an exciting city, with a unique aesthetic and where there are many interesting places to see.
But why not make the most of this trip to Holland to see other places within the country? Don't think twice and embark on an adventure to the beautiful Dutch countryside.
1. Take an organized tour to Zaanse Schans
Windmills, cheese dairies, clog workshops, tea houses, lakes, beautiful flowery spots... If you want to discover the treasures of rural Holland, the best option is to take a day trip to Zaanse Schans, Edam, Volendam, and Marken by bus. The first stop on this tour is Zaanse Schans, a village on the banks of the Zaan River famous for its windmills.
If you want to discover what life was like in Holland during the 17th and 18th centuries, a stroll through this little village in the Dutch countryside is a good way to do so. Get your camera ready because its bucolic landscape seems inspired by a fairy tale and you will want to take pictures non-stop.
The windmills by the river are the main attraction of Zaanse Schans. The guide explained to us that this region became the country's first industrial region in the 17th century with more than 600 mills that were built to produce oils, dyes, paint, wooden planks, and to grind spices.
It is amazing to see after all this time that these mills are still in use and can be visited not only on the outside but also on the inside.
We were lucky that the day of the excursion to Zaanse Schans was sunny, something unusual in Holland, and the time we spent there we were able to walk along the central street enjoying the landscape of canals, meadows, flowers, mills, and typical Dutch houses. A beautiful place!
2. Combine your excursion to Zaanse Schans with other visits such as Edam, Volendam and Marken or Keukenhof Gardens
If you want to make the most of your day out of Amsterdam to get the most out of the Dutch countryside, you can complete your Zaanse Schans tour with a visit to Edam, Volendam, and Marken or even with a trip to the Keukenhof tulip gardens.
Whichever option you choose, you will have the opportunity to get to know the country much better and you will be able to take advantage of the proximity of the capital to incredible natural sites.
What is included in an excursion to Zaanse Schans, Edam, Volendam and Marken?
- Professional guide
- Transportation by bus
- Visit to the windmills of Zaanse Schans
- Visit the cheese market or the tea houses by the Edam canal
- Visit the village of Volendam, a clog workshop, a traditional cheese factory, and free tasting of typical products
- Visit the island of Marken
Tips for visiting Zaanse Schans
What do you need to bring?
- Comfortable clothing and footwear
- An umbrella or raincoat is always a good idea in the Netherlands because the weather is variable and it can rain at a moment's notice
- A bottle of water and some snacks
- Wanting to have a good time
Are you traveling with luggage?
Don't worry, during the tour you can leave it on the bus. When you return to Amsterdam the driver parks right next to Central Station so you can take the train to the airport or your next destination.
What is the best time to visit the Zaanse Schans?
May to October is the best time to travel to Amsterdam or any other area of the country.
- Spring is a special time because the fields start to bloom and nature looks at its best.
- On the other hand, summers are mild, the days are longer and as temperatures are around 26ºC, sightseeing at this time is a pleasure.
- In autumn, on the other hand, the days start to be shorter and it is necessary to put on some warm clothes as the weather starts to cool down
- As for winter, due to the influence of the Atlantic Ocean, they are cold with frequent rains, fog, frost, and strong winds. In other words, weather is not as favorable as at other times of the year to go hiking although for some people it can also have its charm.
What Edam, the town of the popular Dutch cheese, is like
The next stop on this tour through the Dutch countryside is Edam and when talking about this little village one cannot help but think of its cheese. In the 17th century, Holland was already exporting this famous product and since then it has been going to all corners of the world for centuries.
You will visit its famous traditional cheese market, which has been in operation since the Middle Ages and in summer they make historical recreations so that tourists can see how it was at that time. Visiting the Edam cheese market with a guide is a very interesting experience that keeps a part of the city's history alive.
But Edam is more than just cheese. It is a beautiful town located 20 kilometers from Amsterdam in an area called Laag Holland that looks like something out of a fairy tale.
Strolling through the old town of this typical village on the banks of the IJsselmeer lake you will find small shopping streets, cute little tea houses along the canal, and cozy terraces where you can have a drink. Some of its main monuments are the church of St. Nicholas, the Town Hall, the Carillon of the sixteenth century, or the Edam Museum.
What is Volendam, the port of Edam like?
Located between Edam and Marken, this little fishing village just 20 minutes from Amsterdam is one of the most beautiful and authentic of the Dutch countryside thanks to its beautiful harbor, its narrow streets, and its colorful houses.
Therefore, the best way to discover Volendam is by walking. The guide will lead you through amazing places so that you can take beautiful pictures of the tour while she explains the history of Volendam and its connection to the sea.
During the tour, you will see places like the Doolhof and the Dijk, two old quarters full of fishermen's houses in a maze of narrow, highly decorated streets and canals, which have fascinated many artists for centuries.
You will also see places like the dyke of the fishing port, its beautiful churches, its stores... and you will discover the origins of this town as the port of Edam.
But before the tour of the town we visited a traditional cheese factory where they explained to us how they make typical cheeses of the region such as Gouda or Edam and at the end, we were treated to a free tasting of traditional products that was delicious. It was one of the most enjoyable moments of the day because I love this kind of excursion.
Then we were taken to a traditional clog workshop or "klompen" as they are called in Dutch. Like tulips or windmills, these wooden shoes are another national icon of the Netherlands. During the visit, the master clog maker will show you how they are made and some of his most striking creations. I've never seen anything like it before and it's quite a laborious and curious handicraft process, to be honest. Worth seeing!
What is Marken, the idyllic island, like?
On the other side of the IJsselmeer lake, just in front of Volendam, is Marken an island that was separated from mainland Holland in the 13th century because of a storm.
One of the things that struck us the most about this locality is its wooden houses on earthen and artificial mounds called "terpen". They are unique in the world! The guide explained to us that they were built this way to avoid the damage caused by rain and floods, which are very frequent in this area.
It is amazing to see the great ingenuity of those people to coexist with the tides even though the water was gradually gaining ground to the village. For centuries, the population of Marken lived isolated and it was not until 1957 when a dike was built that ended the floods and allowed to turn it into a peninsula by connecting it to the mainland.
When you enter Marken you will realize that this place exudes charm everywhere, no wonder the film director Tim Burton was inspired by it for his film "Big Fish".
Strolling through its streets and taking a close look at the fishermen's cottages or the Protestant churches it feels like walking through a village museum that has managed to maintain its authenticity despite the passing of the years. It's like taking a trip back in time to the Dutch Golden Age!
If you like this excursion, you might be interested in...
A trip to Amsterdam is a good occasion to take a trip out of the city and see other places in one day, right?
In the article The best excursions from Amsterdam you will find some very cool plans to complete your trip to the capital of Holland. Don't miss it!