Some things about Amsterdam make it unlike anywhere else in the world – its beautiful architecture, gorgeous canals, and impressive bike traffic, just to name a few. But the city is also incredibly globalized. Its people, gastronomy, and activities are a blend of cultures from all over the world. So if you want to get a taste of traditional Dutch culture and lifestyle, you’ll have to leave the Dutch capital. Luckily, there are many stunning villages and towns near Amsterdam that you are sure to love!
That’s why we have compiled this list of the 10 most charming places to visit near Amsterdam. All of them can be reached within an hour of Amsterdam Central Station. P.S. The first four villages on this list are really close to each other. So if you’re ambitious, you could village hop from one to the next!
1. Broek In Waterland
Broek in Waterland is an old fishermen’s village located in the municipality of Waterland. As the name suggests, the area is full of quaint canals, dikes, and lakes to sail through. Near the center of the village lies a large lake called Havenrak – around which you can find amazing picnic spots in the summer! Another highlight of Broek in Waterland is the cute 17th-century wooden houses in pastel tones. To explore this picturesque Dutch village, we recommend renting a bike. The best thing about Broek in Waterland? It can be reached in less than 20 minutes by train from Amsterdam Central Station!
Monnickendam is Broek in Waterland’s bigger cousin and neighbor. Its city center is home to beautiful historical buildings such as the bell tower, the main church (Grote Kerk), and the town hall (Oude Raadhuis). History nerds will also enjoy visiting Speeltoren, Waterland’s very own museum. Plus, Monnickendam lies by the margins of the Markermeer – a large lake used as a freshwater reservoir. Perfect for a full day of sailing!
Another hidden gem in Waterland, Marken is a scenic village located on a peninsula on the Markermeer Lake. It can be reached via bus from Amsterdam or Monnickendam, or via ferry boat from Volendam. One of the most striking things about Marken is the wooden houses painted in green, brown, and white. You can even visit one of these houses at the Sijtje Boes Experience. Inside, everything has been preserved so you can see what it was like to live in Marken at the beginning of the 20th century! Other things to do in Marken include contemplating the Paard van Marken lighthouse or visiting the wooden shoe factory.
Volendam is known for being one of the most beautiful villages in the Netherlands. With around 15,000 inhabitants, it is also the largest village in Noord-Holland. And that means there’s a lot to see in Volendam! One of the city’s main attractions is its harbor by the Markermeer Lake. There, you’ll find lots of historic sailing ships, which you can tour for a day! Other fun things to do in Volendam include exploring historical areas such as De Dijk and De Doolhof or visiting the excellent Volendam museum.
5. Zaanse Schans
Attracting millions of visitors per year, Zaanse Schans is known for its iconic Dutch-style windmills. Despite its village-like atmosphere, Zaanse Schans is actually a neighborhood in the town of Zaandam. But no matter the label, Zaanse Schans is gorgeous and worth a visit. There are six windmills that you can visit here. Inside, you’ll learn about their history, see how they worked, and even climb up to enjoy beautiful views of Zaanse Schans! Buy tickets for the windmills here. In Zaanse Schans, you can also visit a traditional clog workshop, or see the first-ever Albert Heijn grocery store.
Muiden is a medieval village south of Amsterdam. Any picturesque village in the Netherlands has its fair share of water, and Muiden is no different! Muiden lies right where the scenic River Vecht meets Ijmeer Lake. Muiden’s main attraction is the magnificent Muiderslot – a castle dating back to 1280! You can tour the castle to learn about its history and admire its spectacular medieval interior. We also recommend strolling around Muiderslot’s breathtaking gardens! Buy tickets for the castle here.
We dare say that Naarden is the most unique of all Dutch towns! Why? Well, this 18,000-person town is built in a star shape. As unusual as that may seem, it is due to the city’s past as a military fortress. Back in the 17th century, star forts were built to maximize protection against cannonball impacts. Walking around Naarden’s streets is like visiting an open-air museum. But if you’d like to learn more about the town’s military past, we recommend visiting the Dutch Fortress Museum. And to get the finest views of Naarden, climb the tower of the town’s main church (Grote Kerk)!
Weesp actually became an official borough of Amsterdam in 2022. But although it is no longer considered a town, Weesp has a completely different vibe to the rest of Amsterdam. Within 20 minutes of Amsterdam Central Station, you’ll be surrounded by more greenery than in other parts of the city. Plus, the quaint buildings of Weesp are wider and shorter than those in the center of Amsterdam, adding to the town-like atmosphere of the area. Landmarks to visit here include the Ossenmarkt fortress and the two traditional windmills by the River Vecht – Molen De Vriendschap, and Molen De Eendracht. Also, make sure to enjoy a tipple at Weesp’s local brewery, Wispe!
Haarlem is the biggest town on this list – some might even call it a city. If you’re looking for a town near Amsterdam with many similarities to the capital but a less touristy vibe, a day trip to Haarlem is ideal for you. Here, you’ll find a bustling cultural scene, lots of restaurants and bars, and lovely canals to admire (or sail through).
Lisse is the Netherlands’ tulip mecca. The town is known for the world-famous Keukenhof Gardens, where 7 million flower bulbs are planted each year. It is definitely worth a visit if you’d like to see many more varieties of tulips than you ever expected to exist. If you’d prefer to escape the theme-park atmosphere, we recommend renting a bike in Lisse and exploring the nearby tulip fields. But please note: the tulip season runs from the end of March until mid-May, with April being the prime time to visit!
You are not short of options for charming villages and towns to visit near Amsterdam. Whether you choose to go village hopping in the Waterland area or to take a day trip to one of the other amazing destinations on this list, you are guaranteed to have a lovely time. Just don’t forget to tag us on Instagram (@dernederlanden) when you post pictures of your adventures!
Goede reis, and see you soon! 😉🇳🇱