Discovering The Best Villages in Netherlands
What comes to your mind when you hear about the Netherlands? Surely Amsterdam, the tulip fields, the canals and let’s say the countless bicycles? The Netherlands (or Holland) may be a small country, but it’s packed with a lot more famous icons. Windmills, cheese markets, wooden shoes, Delft Blue earthenware, innovative water management, and more. If you have a week at your disposal, you can certainly go around the whole of Holland. We’re telling you that in 4 days we saw some of its most beautiful parts and felt overwhelmed by these landscapes. Let’s go find the best villages in the Netherlands.
This small village is really a surprise. Wooden houses, windmills, workshops, museums and factories, you can find it all there. What we did not know, was that people still live there. It must be really exciting to wake up at that view. If you want to fully enjoy your visit there, there are a few things you must certainly do.
While arriving there, you can spot from the distance the sails of the windmills slowly turning, with endless green to be on the horizon. The image fascinates you, but the truth is that really hard work is done inside the windmills (wood is sawn, and oil, flour, and spices are milled). If you wish to enjoy a beautiful panorama and also see how the industry has been developed in the area, climb up to the deck of the mill. You can buy your tickets via The Zaansche Molen or at the entrance of the mills.
We warn you that it is really windy there.
Surely a picture is worth a thousand words, and if you read a little about the history of the place you can better understand some things, but we would suggest you visit at least one of the museums for the full experience. While strolling through the Zansee Schans you will see a lot of different artisans. The characteristic wooden clogs would never have existed without them and their imagination. They will be very happy to show you where their particular products come from. It is a great chance to also buy a souvenir. The Old Dutch handicrafts have also brought the Delft Blue decorative style but we will talk about it later.
There is no exploration if you don’t lose yourself in the landscape. You can choose one, two, and/or 3 ways to do so. On foot, by bicycle, and by boat. Every day, a variety of boats sails a number of routes along the River Zaan. Get on the cow boat (there is a logical explanation for this name) and let the captain of this old cattle boat enlighten you about the history of the windmills and the region. The boat sails right past the meadows, where the cows often come to greet you.
On foot, you see so much more. There is a wide variety of walking routes to move through the landscape. There are longer and shorter routes. It depends on the mood for walking and the time you have available.
If walking is too much for you, grab a bicycle. There are endless asphalt cycle paths inside Zaanse Schans and a variety of cycling routes in the surrounding area.
Marken and Volendam
Marken is a very small village with less than 2000 residents. Don’t expect to see any sights or do some exciting activities. What will fascinate you in this small village are the colorful wooden houses, the farm animals, the very well-kept gardens, the canals, the port, and the church of the village. There are different routes/paths you can follow. This village seemed to us to be some kind of scene for the filming of a movie.
If you are looking for a bigger place to explore with a scene very similar to that of Marken, then you should definitely visit Volendam. Most people’s first stop is Volendam and then Marken, but Marken was for us more picturesque and this is the reason we mentioned it first.
Only 21 kilometers far from Amsterdam, you will find this fishing village which has been around since at least the 14th Century and has remained pretty much unchanged through the years. It has a population of 15,000, and it is the largest village by population in North Holland.
In Volendam there are two doolhofs (a doolhof is a maze-like garden made up of paths that lead to dead ends). One is called Brothers of Love and another is called The Dwarf Garden (Het Doolhof). It is something admirable since generally some doolhofs date back to the Middle Ages.
The oldest part of Volendam and the heart of the sightseeing area is De Dijk. There you can find a large number of shops, cafes, and restaurants. In the harbor, you will see many fishing boats, a reminder of the past fishing industry.
There are also plenty of beautiful old buildings and many historic buildings, such as the Martinus Church (which dates back to 1120) and the “Boot” house built in 1646. You can visit De Dijk any time during your trip.
If you wish to see how the Dutch live with and on the water, then you should not skip Githoorn. Much of the village can only be reached by boat or foot. Of course, there are also roads and car parks. The truly beautiful landscape, however, is located where cars cannot pass. In an environment full of lakes, small wooden bridges (more than 180), reed beds, flowers, and forests lies this picturesque village. Every house that we saw was somehow unique. Thatched roofs are a very common characteristic of houses.
Most people there do certainly two things. Tour by boat and taste the gastronomic delights, since Giethoorn has a reputation regarding the second. It is the home to various excellent restaurants, with the highlight among them being the restaurant De Lindenhof (Beulakerweg 77) with 2 Michelin stars.
One of the smaller cities in the province of South Holland with a population of 70,000, Gouda is a popular destination due to its cheese heritage and variety of historical buildings.
Number one suggestion from our perspective is the Gouda cheese market which is held every
Thursday morning in the setting of Markt Square. You can sample some of the famous
cheeses and see how farmers and traders negotiate over deals and huge quantities of cheese.
Markt Square is the perfect place to start your tour. In the center of the square stands the
landmark of the city, the town hall Gouda Stadhuis. Surrounding the square is a collection of
shops, restaurants, and cafes.
In the center of Gouda, dedicated to John the Baptist, stands the church of St. John. It is the
the longest church in the Netherlands with beautiful stained glass windows.