The Waterland area near Amsterdam comprises of historic fishing villages and picturesque open countryside built on polders.
It makes for a pleasant and contrasting day trip from Amsterdam and the area can easily be visited using the EBS buses which depart from Amsterdam Central.
We'll first review some of the Waterland destinations then further below there is more detailed information about getting around on the buses.
Volendam is an interesting place worthy of a visit, a traditional fishing village with working class roots. Although touristy, the heart of the action is in and around the harbour area with fine views looking out to the Ijsselmeer (former Zuider Zee). You will find bars and cafés, cheese shops, fish stalls selling herring and smoked eel, and the ubiquitous traditional costume shops where you can pay to dress up and take photos.
The Volendam Museum (located on Zeestraat 41, open daily 1000-1700 March to October) has an assorted collection of traditional dress, furniture and wooden interiors, art from 19th century artists who visited the area, fishing-themed displays plus large mosaics comprising of no less than 11 million cigar bands. Entry is €3 for adults, €1.75 for children 0-13.
Edam is a classy small town originating from the 12th century and not too far from Volendam. Settled on the Ye River, this town became prosperous through ship building and merchant trading. Exploring its quiet back streets is certainly a marked contrast to the tourist hustle of Volendam. In the centre of town is the Damplein square with its 18th century baroque-style Town Hall.
Edam of course gives its name to the world renowned cheese - local farmers would come to the town's commercial cheese market to sell their produce. Although the market was closed in 1922, you can see a re-enactment of the traditional cheese market during July and August on Wednesdays at the Jan van Nieuwenhuizen Square.
Marken is a historic small fishing village with charming green wooden houses, many of which are listed buildings. Some of the older inhabitants still wear traditional dress. Marken has a unique setting - originally an island in the Zuider Zee, it was only connected to the mainland by dyke in 1957. It is possible to rent bikes and cycle to the famous lighthouse about 2.5 km away. The Marken Museum (admission €2.50 for adults, €1.25 for children 0-12) is open April to October and has paintings and local textiles on show.
The Volendam-Marken express boat (€7.50 single, €9.95 return) runs from the harbour and has been in operation since the 1930s.
Monnickendam is a quaint harbour village which was a wealthy trading port during the Golden age. Historic buildings include the Sint Nicolaaskerk (church), de Waegh (weighing house, now a café) and the Museum De Speeltoren (Belfry Museum at Noordeinde 2-4, open Tue-Sun 1100-1700 April to October, adults €4.50) which has one of the oldest carillons in Netherlands. There are a number of shops, cafés and restaurants and like Volendam, the smoked eel is a speciality.
Other stops in the Waterland area
Broek in Waterland is a charmingly small inland village located between Amsterdam and the fishing villages. Originally inhabited by prosperous merchants it has some beautiful old houses and a 14th century church.
Purmerend is a lively market town about 20km north of Amsterdam and a short bus ride from Edam. The main square (Koemarkt) houses the Purmerend museum. For a cool view head up the striking Melkwegbrug, an arch pedestrian bridge opened in 2012.
De Beemster is an area further north containing green polders, traditional farmhouses, windmills and the old defence line of Amsterdam (Stelling van Amsterdam) made up of 42 forts. Both the Beemster polder and the defence line are UNESCO World Heritage listed.
Getting There: Waterland Buses
The best way to get around the Waterland region is by bus. Local bus company EBS runs regular services throughout the area which cover all the main towns, villages and places of interest in Waterland. There are 2 types of EBS buses - the standard yellow EBS buses and the red and grey R-NET branded buses. These modern buses have free WiFi and are wheelchair accessible.
EBS Waterland buses depart from the IJ waterside upper level bus terminal of Amsterdam Central station - to reach it walk along the main station concourse tunnel past platforms 14/15, head out of the northside exit and go up the escalators. Bus departure times are clearly marked on screens plus there is an EBS ticket & info office as well.
Waterland day tickets cost €10 for adults and €3 for children aged 4-11 - these are valid on all EBS/R-NET services until 0100. Tickets can be bought at the EBS office, EBS bus drivers or the VVV tourist information at the front side of Amsterdam central station. To validate the ticket you must check-in and check-out of your journey using the card readers on the bus.
Alternatively you can buy the Amsterdam & Region Day Ticket (€13.50) which is valid 24 hours on all regional buses (including EBS Waterland services) and all GVB Amsterdam buses, metro and trams.
EBS provides a small leaflet with maps and bus number info; or you can see their pdf map here.
Bus numbers for various Waterland destinations are Broek in Waterland (312/314/315/316), Edam (110/312/314/316), Marken and Monnickendam (315) and Volendam (316). Going further afield you can also reach Graft-De Rijp (301), Hoorn (314), Middenbeemster (306) and Purmereend (110/301/306).
At Monnickendam, note that buses going onto Volendam, Edam and Hoorn stop on the main road. The Marken bus goes into Monnickendam and stops by the church.
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