If you’re looking for a quick and easy getaway from city life in Amsterdam, look no further than the charming village of Marken. These are the best things to do in Marken to make the most of your visit.
When I visited the picturesque village of Marken, Netherlands, I was captivated by its unique charm and rich historical background. Nestled on a peninsula in the Markermeer Lake, this former island offers a delightful glimpse into traditional Dutch culture.
With its colorful wooden houses, winding streets, and lovely harbor, Marken is an ideal destination for a quick and easy day trip from Amsterdam. After living in Amsterdam for several months, I made it a point to start exploring the local area beyond city life.
The Netherlands is way too underrated for places to visit outside of Amsterdam. Most visitors arrive in Amsterdam only to spend a few days there before exploring the rest of Europe, which is a shame. If you want to combine your Amsterdam trip with a little bit of travel off the beaten path, you can visit this old, charming fishing village using an I Amsterdam city card, which includes transportation to and from Marken and Volendam.
Regardless, the pass is an excellent purchase, allowing access to over 70 museums, including the Rijksmuseum, boat tours, and unlimited transportation. Just choose the number of days that you’d like to have the I Amsterdam city card active and you’re set. Pass in hand, let’s discover Marken and all that this town has to offer.
Show Table of Contents
- Things to Do in Marken, Netherlands
- 1. Go on a Walking Tour
- 2. Marken Museum (Marker Museum)
- 3. Wooden Shoe Factory
- 4. Paard van Marken
- 5. Learn About the Flood on The Werf Trail
- 6. Ride the Volendam Marken Express
- 7. Kijkhuisje Sijtje Boes
- 8. Grote Kerk
- Is Marken worth visiting?
- What is Marken known for?
- Are Volendam and Marken a Good Day Trip from Amsterdam?
Things to Do in Marken, Netherlands
1. Go on a Walking Tour
I recently went on a walking tour around the charming island village of Marken, located in the Netherlands, not too far from Amsterdam. As I strolled through the village, I couldn’t help but notice the picturesque canals, quaint bridges, and well-preserved wooden houses all around. It was so peaceful and calm.
Since I live in Amsterdam, I took the bus from Amsterdam Central Station to Volendam and did my self-guided tour after taking the Volendam-Marken Express. Most people visit Marken on a full guided tour that includes Volendam and Zaanse Schans.
A guided tour from Amsterdam is always a good choice if you are pressed for time. During this tour, you learn about the history of Marken and its importance as a thriving fishing village back in the day.
I admired the traditional wooden architecture that defines Marken. Many of these buildings date back several centuries and showcase quintessential elements of Dutch design.
From the neatly arranged slats to the colorful doors and windows, I was continuously impressed by the attention to detail and level of preservation. Marken’s beauty and history are best discovered on foot.
My wife and I strolled through narrow streets, stopping at iconic sites. One of the highlights of my tour was visiting the Church of Marken.
This historic church holds significant importance in the village, as it has been a place of worship and a community meeting spot for centuries. Its modest yet charming architecture and historical significance make it a must-visit when exploring Marken.
See Related: Fun & Best Things to do in Volendam, Netherlands
2. Marken Museum (Marker Museum)
I couldn’t miss exploring the Marken Museum, or the Marker Museum in Dutch, during my visit to Marken. This small museum is a top attraction near Amsterdam, and the charming village is known for its well-preserved cultural heritage and picturesque houses.
I immediately felt transported to a different era as I entered the museum. The exhibit features a house furnished as a Marker fishing family’s home around 1920, with authentic furniture and utensils. I better understood how the locals lived and worked during that time, showcasing their traditional way of life.
The Marken Museum also displays an impressive textile collection—the unique assortment of traditional Marken clothing from the region’s past. In addition, there were beautiful paintings by renowned artists that helped paint a vivid picture of Marken’s past.
While touring this old fishing village, I appreciated how the museum is housed in a row of six old weatherboard smokehouses. Before the Zuiderzee was dammed in the 1930s, these smokehouses were once used for smoking eel, an essential part of Marken’s economy.
3. Wooden Shoe Factory
During my visit to Marken, I had the opportunity to explore the Wooden Shoe Factory. This clog factory is a must-visit for anyone interested in learning about the traditional Dutch wooden shoes, also known as “klompen.” The experience offered at this location is both educational and entertaining, making it an ideal stop for families with kids visiting Amsterdam and its surroundings.
As I entered the factory, I was greeted by friendly staff and immediately noticed a wide variety of wooden shoes on display. From the iconic yellow clogs adorned with colorful paintings to more modern designs, there was a pair for every taste. I also had the chance to witness a live demonstration of clog-making, an intricate process showcasing the artisans’ skills.
During the demonstration, I learned that wooden shoes have been a part of Dutch culture for centuries. The “klompenmakerij,” or clog-making craftsmanship, is a time-honored tradition passed down through generations. The wooden shoes are not only a symbol of Dutch heritage but also serve practical purposes, providing protection and support to the wearer’s feet.
In addition to the clog-making demonstration, the Wooden Shoe Factory also offers visitors the opportunity to explore a small museum. This space recreates a traditional Dutch kitchen, providing a glimpse into the daily life and customs of the Netherlands in the past.
See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in the Hague, Netherlands
4. Paard van Marken
One of the highlights of my trip to the picturesque island of Marken was exploring the iconic lighthouse, Paard van Marken. This historic structure was built in 1839 by J. Valk and replaced a primitive tower at the location in the early 18th century. Standing tall at 16 meters, the lighthouse has a light range of 16.7 kilometers and has been a national monument since 1970.
Interestingly, “Paard van Marken” translates to “Horse of Marken.” The lighthouse is named due to its distinctive shape, reminiscent of a horse. As I made my way to the lighthouse, I was struck by its beauty and unique location.
Positioned at the end of a long, narrow stretch of land, Paard van Marken is almost surrounded by water. This landscape not only adds an air of enchantment but also makes it one of the most photogenic spots in Marken.
As a still-functioning signal, the Paard van Marken has had an operational fog horn since 1919, which adds to the overall maritime atmosphere of the island.
5. Learn About the Flood on The Werf Trail
The Werf Trail, also known as the Flood Walk 1916, is a walking tour that takes visitors through the history of Marken and its relationship with water. The trail brings to life the story of the 1916 flood, a significant event in the area’s past, making it one of the best ways to experience Marken history.
Along the trail, visitors can discover remnants of the old days and learn how the community has adapted to its surroundings. Multiple houses in Marken were built on raised foundations, serving as a prime example of how the locals have adapted to their environment and the ever-present flood risk.
6. Ride the Volendam Marken Express
While Marken can be reached by car or bus, arriving by boat from the neighboring town of Volendam offers a more enchanting experience. The Volendam Marken Express operates a year-round ferry service, covering the distance in just 30 minutes and providing stunning views of the Markermeer.
It’s a simple and easy boat ride that runs several times daily. You can book tickets online to ride the Volendam-Marken Express or purchase them in town in Volendam or Marken.
7. Kijkhuisje Sijtje Boes
Kijkhuisje Sijtje Boes, also known as the “Original House of Marken,” is a charming Dutch house once owned by Sijtje Boes, a prominent figure in Marken’s history. Visitors can explore the interiors and experience life in the old days.
If you plan on taking the Volendam-Marken Express, you’ll see this historic house right after departing the ferry. You can’t miss it! This Dutch souvenir shop offers a peek into the past and is a great way to learn about the local culture.
See Related: Best Cities in the Netherlands to Visit
8. Grote Kerk
Grote Kerk (or “large/main church” in English) is a charming little church. Yeah, I realize that’s a bit confusing, but I promise you it’s the largest and most important in town, representing the essence of Marken’s religious and cultural history. Visitors can admire the modest architecture and serene atmosphere while appreciating the building’s role in local history.
Is Marken worth visiting?
Marken is worth visiting if you’re looking for a charming town to spend a day. This picturesque village in North Holland of the Netherlands is known for its well-preserved wooden houses, charming harbor, and stunning natural scenery.
What is Marken known for?
Marken is known as a historic fishing village with a rich cultural heritage and beautiful traditional architecture. Some highlights include historic wooden houses, the Flood Walk 1916, and the Paard van Marken lighthouse.
Are Volendam and Marken a Good Day Trip from Amsterdam?
Yes, Volendam and Marken make an excellent day trip from Amsterdam. The towns are close, allowing for easy exploration of both places.
There are multiple options for getting there, including a guided tour from Amsterdam that takes you to Volendam and Marken as part of a Windmills Tour to Zaanse Schans, Volendam, and Edam or take the bus from Amsterdam Central Station to get there in less than 30 minutes. During your day trip, you can experience the charm of the Dutch countryside, visit traditional fishing villages, and learn about the history and culture of Marken and Volendam.
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Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a seasoned traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers find their next adventure, whether it’s exploring new places or revisiting old favorites.
He’s a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wonderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). He loves listening to people’s stories from around the world as well as sharing his own experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time.