Just a stone’s throw away from Amsterdam are two fishing villages which have kept Dutch tradition and architecture alive. If you’re not into touristy places, then at first glance, Marken and Volendam might not be for you. However, there are still lots to see here once you veer away from the usual route.
There’s a saying that goes something like – If God created the world, then the Dutch created the Netherlands. Which is pretty much true since the Dutch have a long history of reclaiming land. Thus, most parts of the country is actually man-made. Ever wondered why Amsterdam looks so symmetrical when you’re looking down at it from your plane’s window?
Islands, canals, dikes – for a country that’s actually below sea level, their relationship with water has evolved greatly in the past few centuries. To say that water is their friend is even an understatement – They are its masters as they can practically control it nowadays.
They did come a long way from being flooded all the freakin’ time and being considered as a marsh land. Marken, meanwhile, is a village that was separated from the mainland due to a storm in the 13th century. From then on, the people living on the newly made island, set their sights on fishing as their main source of livelihood
Since Marken used to be a victim of vicious flooding, most of the old (authentic) wooden houses here are built on tiny, man-made mounds. Sometimes, they also use stilts. But no need to worry about your visit. Nowadays, there’s a dike that connects the village to the mainland so Marken is flood free.
The Netherlands is a very green country. So if you’re into flowers, trees, and a whole lot of green views – then spring and summer are the best seasons for you to go. Be warned, though – you’re not the only one planning to go. There are a lot of other tourists making their way to Europe during this season so be prepared for crowds.
But, like in Zaanse Schans – tourists tend to stick to the main areas of the town or in nearby Volendam (we’ll get to this later) so Marken also has areas where you can avoid all the other people. You can do quiet walks and just immerse yourself in this Old Dutch town and appreciate all the vintage goodness in front of you.
Getting to Volendam from Marken
The best way to travel between these two places is by a ferry boat that runs from March to November and goes through the Markermeer lake.
A ferry leaves every 30 to 45 minutes and the journey runs approximately 25 minutes – just enough time for you to appreciate the view before you start to get bored.
Side note: Even though it’s summer, the wind can be particularly cold. So if you’re like me who takes quite a while to adjust to (suddenly) changing temperatures, do bring a jacket.
You can also take the 110 or the 315 bus from Marken to Volendam. But let’s face it – the ferry’s a lot more fun. Even for someone like me who will practically die if I accidentally fall into the (extremely) cold water. You can buy your tickets at the small port or you can book them here.
“Infested with tourists” was my first thought when we arrived. And who could blame me, eh? The small port where we were supposed to dock looked like this:
And the main street? Well, it was kinda like this:
The crowds are drawn by the place’s tourist appeal – History? Check. Convenience? Check. Pretty houses for pictures? Check. Shopping options? Check check check!
Remember when I told you not to buy your souvenirs in Zaanse Schans or (especially) in downtown Amsterdam?
It’s because the place to buy knick knacks – from keychains to fridge magnets to every touristy souvenir you can think of – for your officemates back home, is actually Volendam. And this is the shop where you should get yours:
Great deals and an honest owner who would suggest stuff that are not too expensive when you’re at a loss at what to buy. It’s facing the small port where your boat from Marken docks so it would be pretty hard to miss.
Side note: Most Filipinos love souvenirs. And if you’re traveling somewhere, and your officemates, neighbours, friends, family, and your friendly neighbourhood fishball vendor found out about it, you might just hear them tell you that you should bring home some pasalubong (souvenirs for them from the place you visited). It’s ingrained in our culture that every time we travel somewhere (it can be for work or leisure), we have to bring home stuff for those we left behind for a bit. We were able to buy gifts for everyone on our list here, without actually spending an arm and a leg!
There are also the usual cheese and diamond shops that are popular in the Netherlands plus a ton of places to eat along the main street. They can be quite pricey so if you want a good meal that isn’t overpriced, try walking in the residential areas, away from the shopping streets where there are smaller restaurants preferred by the locals.
There’s also a decent beach but if you’re from the tropics, don’t dare to go swimming as it can be quite cold – even in the summer.
But I guess the Volendam’s best areas remain to be its secluded, quiet corners where you can just take a breather, away from the crowd. 😉
Going Back to Amsterdam Centraal
You can either go through the ferry once more back to Marken then take the same bus we took going there or – as a better and faster alternative – take the Bus 316 from the Volendaam bus station (a short walk from the main street) to Amsterdam Centraal. 😉
Museum and Canal Cruise posts are up next so do stay tuned! Also, have you seen the latest travel video I made? It’s now up on my new Youtube channel and here on the blog. Would love it if you check it out and let me know what you think!
Till the next one, my loves! Hopefully I get to write more soon. We’re so busy here! Husband was in the hospital over the weekend and now we have parliamentarian visitors (they’re attending ASEAN-related conferences) so all hands on deck at the embassy! And that includes wives! 😉
Whew! See you soon!
*Trip is not sponsored by any country’s tourism department, company, or brand but by my side of the family living in Europe. ????