Countryside Day Trips

There are some great places to explore outside Amsterdam for the day that you can easily do on your own! Public transport is excellent in the Netherlands; websites for the Dutch National Rail system and online journey planners like 9292ov are bilingual and intuitive. Riding trains, buses, and trams are a great form of cultural immersion, and all transportation staff can help you in English. Here are a few highlights you should see that don’t require a guide (although we guides just add icing to the cake) or an expensive tour company to take you there. This list is growing, so check back for more or suggest some destinations.

Countryside Excursions

Amsterdsamsel Tours specialises in historic and cultural walking tours in Dutch cities. Day trips out of the city are always possible on a private tour basis, with our guides taking you out the way the locals do it: on public buses! Explore famous fishing villages and windmills towering above the polders. Private tours are priced at an hourly rate, plus the cost of using the buses and ferry.
But consider these friendly options, too:
1) Get out to the country by bike! http://joyridetours.nl/tours.php?ref=country
2) Commercial companies with the transport capabilities to get you there cheaper: http://www.viator.com/Amsterdam-tourism/Holland-Windmills-tours-tickets/d525-t4
3) Explore the countryside on your own using cheap public transport:

Marken

Less touristic than Volendam but also very busy, Marken has the feel of a fisherman´s town and an island, although both ceased to exist when the dike between Marken and the mainland was closed in 1957. The Afsluitdijk was finished in 1932 and the Zuiderzee became the sweet water IJsselmeer with no access to the sea, thus ending any fishery industry. Its previous isolation as an island helped form a characteristic culture, colorful dress, and unique homes built high on mounds and piles for protection from the water that are worth seeing.

Public transport: Walk through Amsterdam Centraal Station to its back side (not toward Amsterdam city center but toward the water) to find Bus 311, which takes 45 minutes direct to Marken. Pay driver directly.

Ferry: Take the Marken Express March – November from Volendam from around 11:00 – 18:00.

Volendam

The charming fishing village of Volendam is incredibly touristy these days, with shop after shop selling kitsch souvenirs and photo studios offering to dress visitors in traditional Volendam folk costume with seaside backgrounds. But in the late 19th century artists flocked to this fisherman’s village for its pristine charm, and a music legacy followed. Today go there for a bustling atmosphere, soft ice cream for sale along the harbourfront, and a chance to sample excellent herring, fried squid, and other delights from the sea at endless street side vendors.

How to see the REAL VOLENDAM? Duck behind the main drag of tourist shops by taking small staircases between them away from the water, and walk in the labyrinth–a beautiful neighbourhood of old wooden houses clustered together–known in Dutch as the Doolhof. Doolhof is the oldest part of town and it consists of a few narrow streets with gorgeous, wooden houses painted green that are typical examples of Volendam architecture. You can easily spot the houses with traditional Dutch shutters and the view along the water (Meerzijde) is particularly photogenic. Although Doolhof is the Dutch word for labyrinth, it’s next to impossible to get lost, because the neighbourhood is actually really small.

Check out the “Prat Kamer”(Chat Room) along the waterfront and peek inside for old guys sitting together, grumbling away. And take the Marken Express!

Public Transport to Volendam: From Amsterdam Centraal Station, Bus 110 and 316 get you to to Volendam in 35-45 minutes. Pay driver directly.

Zaanse Schans

The Zaanse Schans is a cute mock village on the banks of the river Zaan with preserved green wooden houses indigenous to the area in the 19th century, charming stylized gardens, small hump-backed bridges, tradesmen’s workshops, historic windmills and engaging little shops. They have relocated local houses, windmills, storehouses and barns to form a remarkable replica of a typical Zaanse village of the seventeenth and eighteenth century. Apart from the cluster of windmills, characteristic wooden houses and delightful shops to visit, there are intriguing traditional Dutch crafts such as wooden shoes, pewter and cheese making (with free samples!), several fascinating museums, restaurants and even the possibility of taking a boat trip on the river. The Zaanse Schans is open daily throughout the year.

Public Transport. By bus from Amsterdam there is an excellent bus service operating from Amsterdam Central Station direct to the Zaanse Schans. Bus 391 leaves Amsterdam Central Station twice hourly and stops at the St. Michael College next to the Zaans Museum and Zaanse Schans.  By train it’s only four stops (20 minutes) by train from Amsterdam Central Station. Take the stop train direction Alkmaar to Koog-Zaandijk. From the station simply follow the signs to the Zaanse Schans. It is ten minute walk from the station.

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