If you’re looking for a fun and easy day trip from Amsterdam, be sure to check out Zaanse Schans, Volendam, and Marken. Each of these charming villages has its own unique history and culture to explore. Plus, they’re all located just a short distance from each other, so you can easily visit them all in one day.
Interested in seeing Holland’s famous windmills and historic fishing villages and sampling premium Dutch cheese? Here’s a guide to help you plan out the best day trip, making sure to include these top spots all in one day’s itinerary.
Experience the best of Holland on this fun and informative day trip from Amsterdam! You'll see the famous windmills, learn about Dutch traditional crafts, and explore the picturesque countryside. The comfortable bus ride includes free WiFi, so you can stay connected as you travel.
Discover the historic windmills of Zaanse Schans on this exciting bus tour from Amsterdam. Explore the traditional 17th-century houses and a collection of beautifully preserved windmills that are a part of the Netherlands' industrial heritage. Continue on to visit Edam, and enjoy cheese tasting and an exciting clog demonstration.
The I Amsterdam City Museum Card is valid for 24, 48, 72, 96, or 120 hours from first use, and it also includes unlimited access to the city's public transportation system so you can get around easily. And to help you explore all that Amsterdam has to offer, the card comes with one free canal cruise from several different canal cruise companies at locations throughout the city.
All-Inclusive Tours of Zaanse Schans, Volendam and Marken
If you’re visiting Amsterdam, one of the best ways to see the surrounding area is with an all-inclusive tour. They’re not only the most efficient way to guarantee you see the best sites in this part of the Netherlands, but they’re also good if you don’t have your own transportation or just want some help navigating through all the available options.
If you’re interested in exploring Zaanse Schans, Volendam, and Marken by bus, then this tour package is the best. With their Classic Tour, you’ll enjoy a 5-plus hour bus tour exploring the Dutch countryside and Zaanse Schans windmills, visiting the island community of Marken, and stopping at the fishing villages and tasting the cheeses of Volendam.
If you prefer a boat trip, their All-Inclusive Tour option also includes a 30-minute boat tour between Volendam and Marken, a clog-making demonstration with an operating antique steam engine, a visit to an operating windmill, and a visit to a traditional marker house. Both tours are provided on a luxurious air-conditioned tour bus with free wi-fi.
For a bus-only tour that adds in the historic city of Edam (home of the cheese of the same name), this 8-hour tour is the best. You’ll start in Zaanse Schans, where you’ll see the wooden shoe factory and working windmills, before going on to Edam for some cheese tasting and a clog-making demonstration, and then finally to Volendam and Marken, where you’ll tour the colorful houses and fishing villages.
All of these tours start and end in Amsterdam. Let’s learn a little more about these gorgeous little towns.
See Related: Fun & Best Things to do in Volendam, Netherlands
Amsterdam One-Day Trip to Zaanse Schans, Volendam and Marken
If you’re interested in taking a day trip to Zaanse Schans, Volendam, and Marken from Amsterdam, there’s no doubt that a bus tour is a best and most efficient way to do it. With one of these tours, you’re sure to visit every historic and well-known site while in the company of an experienced Dutch tour guide.
However, if you want the freedom of doing it on your own and the excitement of getting out there on your own Dutch adventure, you can.
Whether you rent a car, hire taxis, use buses and trains, or a combination of methods, either way, seeing everything the Dutch countryside has to offer will be an adventure you’ll never forget.
So if you prefer forging ahead on your own one-day tour of the Dutch countryside, we have your itinerary below.
To follow along and for help planning different routes around the Netherlands, most travelers will benefit from this highly, recommended site, which is the platform for all Dutch public transportation options.
Our First Stop: Zaanse Schans
Visit holland’s famous windmills and more
You’ll begin your day trip at Amsterdam Central Station. To get to Zaanse Schans, you can take the train to Zaandijk – Zaanse Schans station, which runs several times per day. The direct train takes about 20 minutes. From there, it’s about a 15-minute walk to Zaanse Schans.
If you have a rental car, you can skip the trains and other public transportation options altogether and drive yourself on this entire day trip. Once in Zaanse Schans, it’s best to start by visiting the windmills and tulip fields since they’re right near the town center. You’ll know you’re getting close when you begin seeing the collection of windmill sails slowly turning in the distance.
Many of these historic windmills are still functional today. One of the most famous windmills in Zaanse Schans is De Kat, or “The Cat,” which was built in 1646 and has been restored to its original state. It is the only current working windmill in the world that makes paint powder.
While walking around De Kat and other nearby windmills, you can also get a glimpse at how Dutch cheese was made back when many of these mills were still active.
At Catharina Hoeve, a 17th Century cheese farm, the cheesemakers will tell you all about the different types of cheese. Guests can attend an up-close cheese demonstration taught in 10 languages while sampling dozens of different cheeses!
This cheese shop tends to get a bit busy, as admission is free, and most normal people love cheese. If you’re looking for a famous windmill and a cheesy (chortle) day trip from Amsterdam, you’ll need to make Zaanse Schans the first stop on your itinerary.
See Related: Best Day Trips from Amsterdam, Netherlands
Our Second Stop: Volendam
For THE traditional dutch experience
Now, when leaving Zaanse Schans, you have a few options. If you have a rental car or don’t mind the expense of hiring a taxi, it will be about a 20-minute ride to Volendam. If either of these applies to you, head on over to Volendam and skip the next paragraph.
If you took the train to Zaanse Schans, or are interested in a more affordable option, then this next bit is for you. There are no direct public transportation routes from Zaanse Schans to Volendam. The most affordable and easiest option is to take the train (or bus) back to Amsterdam, then take the line 316 bus for a €5, 25-minute ride to Volendam.
There are other ways of getting to Volendam from Zaanse Schans without having to go back to Amsterdam, but they include combining bus stops and train stations starting from the Zaandam and Kogerveld station, heading to the town of Purmerend, and then going on to Volendam.
But the totality of these expenses exceeds the amount (and time) had you just taken a direct taxi from Zaanse Schans to Volendam in the first place. Nevertheless, check out the best Dutch public transportation travel platform for additional help.
So now everyone’s in Volendam? Great. Good news! There are a number of fun things to do here! You can again step into the world of Dutch cheese in the city center at the highly-rated Cheese Factory Volendam. This all-in-one museum and cheese shop offers up-close demonstrations and cheese tastings. In their museum, you’ll explore the discovery of cheese from 6,000 years ago, complete with historical cheese-related artifacts and photos.
In their factory, a cheese expert will walk you through the steps by which tonnes of milk are processed into various types of cheese. After the lesson, guests will be able to identify between different scents, flavors, and structures of cheese.
Nearby, you can also explore Volendam’s fishing village. If you love to eat seafood, Volendam is the best spot to eat kibbeling (traditional battered and fried fish nuggets), eel, and herring. Top spots include Lotje Wine & Dine, Restaurant Cafe de Dijk, Vishandel Lekkers Fish Stand, Fishmongers and Caterer, and the brilliantly named Restaurant de Lunch.
Once done, you can travel towards Doolhof, the oldest part of the town. Dutch for labyrinth, Doolhof’s beauty is that it was built randomly, without any street structures, truly feeling like a maze. It’s worth wandering around here for a bit and seeing the photo-worthy green wooden houses typical of Volendam architecture.
To understand and learn the history of this fishing village, you can visit the Volendam’s Museum, which teaches its visitors about the town’s rich history and folklore. Next to the museum’s main building is the Cigar Band House, a collection of mosaics made entirely from cigar bands.
Starting in 1947, Nico Molenaar, a local artist, painstakingly created amazingly vibrant scenes of people in traditional dress, sailors, and fish in the harbor using cigar bands. The total number used in his creation is estimated to be around 11.5 million. It’s unlikely he smoked them all himself!
Entrance fees to the museum are just €5 for an adult, €4 for Seniors (65+) and students, and €3 for youth (13-17). You can also take the guided tour for an additional €25, which also includes a photograph.
To explore Volendam, you can also use electric bikes and scooters. Available at very affordable costs, this environment-friendly option is a clean and green way to explore the historic village.
See Related: Famous Buildings in Amsterdam to Visit
Our Third and Final Stop: Marken
Wooden houses, Drawbridges, and fishing harbor
After visiting the town of Volendam, you should visit Marken. The best way to travel from Volendam to Marken is to use the Marken Express Ferry.
Available from just €9.50 for an adult and €4.75 for a child, this thirty-minute boat ride will take you across the Markameer Lake from Volendam to Marken. If you’ve rented a bike, you can ferry it from Volendam to Marken and ride it back to Volendam through the lovely town of Monnickendam in just under 90 minutes.
Now let’s talk about our third destination, Marken: the tiny village occupying its own peninsula of just 2.68 square kilometers. For years, Marken used to suffer flooding on a regular basis. To combat this, residents first built their homes on artificial earth hillocks and then, later, on wooden stilts.
As well as these funny little houses on their stumpy little “legs,” this tiny village is filled with drawbridges and picturesque corners.
Marken’s lighthouse, known as Paard van Marken, is a must-see. A spectacular view of Markameer Lake can be seen from the lighthouse. Built in 1839, the lighthouse is situated on the eastern tip of the peninsula. The lighthouse still carries out its duties as an active signal house, shining a light over the IJsselmeer Lake. You can either ride your bike or walk there. It is a 30-minute walk from the town.
Another one of the top attractions in this village is the Marker Museum, which is run by volunteers. There is a very small entry fee of just €3.
Nearby is the Wooden Shoe Factory, Marken’s clog factory, and my personal favorite stop in town. Inside, you’ll get an up-close look at how wooden clogs are made from a block of wood. It’s a genuinely fascinating process, and they make for a cool (if slightly uncomfortable) souvenir!
You can also partake in the ‘Flood Walk 1916’. Starting and finishing at the Marken Museum, this walk leads you around Marken, recalling the devastation caused by the devastating flood of January 1916 that wrecked Marken and took the lives of 16 people. If you don’t have time to walk the entire island, then this guided walk is a great thing to do. It will lead you to many photo-worthy spots on the island.
After enjoying the serene town of Marken, you can either make your way back to Volendam or back to our starting point in Amsterdam. If you’ve been following along in your own rental car, feel free to head wherever, as this next bit doesn’t apply to you.
To get back to Amsterdam, you can take the Marken Express Ferry back to Volendam and then take the line 316 bus, or you can take the line 315 bus in Marken, then transfer to the line 314 bus in Broek in Waterland, which will take you Amsterdam, Prins Hendrikkade bus stop, across from Amsterdam Central Station. As always, double-check this Dutch travel platform for specifics in planning your route!
See Related: Best Parks in Amsterdam to Visit
Giving a glimpse into traditional Dutch life, this charming day trip is an excellent way to see Holland’s well-preserved historic windmills in Zaanse Schans, the fishing villages Volendam has to offer, and the colorful houses and drawbridges of Marken.
What is Zaanse Schans known for?
Zaanse Schans is best known for its collection of windmills and wooden houses that were relocated here for preservation from the wider region north of Amsterdam. In addition to its windmills, Zaanse Schans is known for its authentic wooden houses, tinware factory, cheese and dairy factory, as well as other local crafts.
What is Volendam known for?
Volendam is well-known for its beautiful old harbor, fish trade, colorful timber houses, and traditional Dutch clothing. It is also known for the many Dutch-language musicians who come from the village.
What is Marken known for?
Marken is known for being a peninsula on the Markermeer Lake and for its authentic, colorful timber houses, many on terps or wooden stilts, and its white drawbridges and fishing harbor.
Can you visit Zaanse Schans, Volendam, and Marken all in one day?
Yes, you absolutely can! If you have your own car, it will be very easy. Relying on public transportation will be a bit of a challenge, but it’s definitely doable. And like we mentioned earlier, there are plenty of great tours that give guests the opportunity to visit the Dutch countryside and these 3 great cities all in one day trip.