24 hours in Old Holland: fishing villages and polder landscapes
Spend two days in Old Holland to get to know everything the area offers. In just 24 hours, you can explore the incredible green polder landscapes of the Twiske-Waterland, rent boats, experience beautiful harbours and, of course, sample the regional delicacies of Volendam, Monnickendam and Marken.
Peddle back in time
Amsterdam Noord is the gateway to some exceptional green countryside - and, of course, the best way to explore this is on two wheels. Hop on the free ferry from Amsterdam Central Station, from which you can easily peddle into the Old Holland region crisscrossed by bike routes. This flat polder landscape throws up moments that feel lost in time as you encounter expansive polders and old-style stolpboerderijen – farmhouses with unmistakable pyramid roofs. Here’s some information on where you can rent bikes from, and check out this Waterland Cycle Route for more inspiration on where your two wheels will lead you.
Stop for lunch at a riverside tea garden
When you need to refuel, there are ample opportunities for riverside dining in the Old Holland region. Visit Bootverhuur Overleek, a charming teahouse serving homemade delicacies, to have lunch or rent an electric ‘whisper boat’ and drift silently past the wooden houses and tranquil meadows of the Waterland Nature Reserve. Alternatively, right in the middle of the beautiful Waterland landscape, Theetuin ‘t Einde in Zuiderwoude, serves tea and sweets in the garden next to the water. Choose from various traditional cakes, high tea with sandwiches, warm scones, or a homemade lunch. Check out this guide to food and drink in Old Holland for more options.
Get outdoorsy in the Twiske-Waterland region
The Het Twiske-Waterland recreational area offers various outdoorsy activities. You can rent canoes or sailboats, windsurf, stand-up paddleboard and even go diving. If that doesn’t float your boat there are plenty of designated spots to have a scenic picnic or take a brisk dip. Surrounding this are various picturesque villages connected by a variety of walking, cycling and paddling routes. Broek in Waterland resembles a traditional farming village, but in the 17th and 18th centuries, it was the home of wealthy merchants and seafarers. Make sure you visit the village’s pretty protestant church. Or, for a more relaxed experience, you can explore the area with a scooter rental courtesy of Scooter Experience in Landsmeer.
Stay overnight on the water
When you think of an overnight stay on the water, you’ll probably imagine large cruise ships or your own pleasure boat with a spacious cabin. This experience is much adventurous! Camping on a raft in Waterland involves sailing the raft through a beautiful (wetland) nature reserve and dropping the anchor wherever you want to spend your night. Check out Experience Waterland for more details on how to book a truly unique stay. Fancy a few more creature comforts? Read this guide to accommodation in Old Holland for more tips on where to rest your head.
Sample the traditional delicacies of Volendam
The following day, put yourself in the shoes of an authentic Old Hollander with a visit to the charming harbour town of Volendam - known for its traditional costumes, music and fish. The characteristic tiny houses, made incredibly picturesque by the beautiful harbour, create an atmosphere of friendliness and romance. Peek behind the scenes of 19th-century life at the Volendams Museum and don't miss Foto de Boer, the famous photographic studio where you can transform yourself into a true Volendammer in one of the many costumes. Next stop is the Smit Bokkum eel smokehouse, famous for its smoked eel and traditional Dutch pop music.
Discover how clogs are made in Marken
The VolendamMarken Express ferry takes passengers between the picturesque fishing towns of Volendam and Marken in just 30 minutes. The cost is €10 per person, including your bike. The historic harbour town of Marken, with its iconic lighthouse and characteristic green wooden houses, is so picture-perfect it’s like stepping into a 17th-century painting. It was an island in the Zuiderzee until 1957, when it was connected to the mainland by a dyke. Follow signs to reach the Marker Museum, which gives a unique insight into this fishing village’s extraordinary history. You can also discover how clogs are made, either by hand or machine, at Klompenmakerij Marken. And maybe take a pair home with you!
Enjoy fine dining in Monnickendam
Have dinner at Suitehotel Restaurant Posthoorn in the historic centre of Monnickendam, one of the Netherlands' most cherished culinary hotspots, which has retained its Michelin star since 2008. The eatery offers exceptional value fine dining, with chef Jeroen Bavelaar’s unique five- to eight-course signature menu featuring classic French cuisine using seasonal products and innovative elements. Don’t fancy leaving the region soon? Spend a luxurious final night in one of the suites here and feel the richness and opulence of the Dutch 17th century.