Volendam is a tiny town on the map and one you might not notice or pay much attention to. Yes it’s on the coast, but so much of Holland is. And if you want towns buzzing with life, well there is Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and smaller towns too. Nothing much would make Vollendam stand out from the crowd. Which is a shame really because it is beautiful.
The joy of going to Holland with Mr B is that he knows these things having explored when he lived there back in the nineties so towns that otherwise might be missed are on the “must see” list. And that’s how on Easter Sunday we found ourselves in the car and heading north, skirting around Amsterdam, and up to the northern coast in search of Volendam.
Parking was easy and if you head down past the hotel at the boat yard you can park for free before strolling slowly back to the Harbour Master’s house and the harbour.
Essentially Volendam is a harbour, the original harbour for the nearby town of Edam where the cheese is made backwards (I will leave you for a minute to work that one out 🙂 )
In 1357, the inhabitants of Edam dug a shorter canal to the Zuiderzee with its own separate harbour. This removed the need for the original harbour, which was then dammed and used for land reclamation. Farmers and local fishermen settled there, forming the new community of Vollendam, which literally meant something like ‘Filled dam’.
The harbour front is definitely a tourist attraction and not my favourite bit of the town at all, too many loud bars and tourist shops selling souvenirs for my liking, but it is clearly popular. It is also where you can catch the ferry to the peninsular opposite, and the town of Marken which is still home to a traditional clog maker.
I was quite happy wandering the streets and around the harbour as we watched people working on their boats in the sunshine. Most of the town appears to be pedestrianised so you can wander about, have a nose in the shops, stop for a coffee and waffles or just sit on a bench and eat chips.
There is also plenty to do inside if the weather is being a bit more unkind, the Cheese Factory looked like a great tour (though we didn’t do it because we were enjoying the fresh air) or you could pose for photos in traditional Dutch costume. Many people in the town are known for wearing the costumes daily, though numbers are dwindling and it would be a real shame if this tradition died out completely.
Volendam is a lovely place to head to and I do recommend it for giving you a real sense of the proper Holland.
We have been exploring Holland whilst staying at the Duinrell site with Canvas Holidays