After a couple of days spent in Amsterdam, we decided to take a day trip out of the busy city and explore the Dutch countryside. And what better way to do this, but by bike! Volendam, the city we were planning to explore, is about 20 kms north of Amsterdam, a good distance to cover by bike in a day at a leisure pace. We rented the bikes from the hotel we stayed at, as it was more convenient and then quickly headed north out of the city. There were some street signs that showed the way towards Volendam, but still, I felt the need to get help from google maps in order to find the quickest way out of Amsterdam. After a quarter of an hour or so we were out of the town, on the bike path that accompanies the driveway.
This is one of the definitions of freedom for me! We had bikes, the sun was shinning, the wind was blowing only slightly, the ducks were quacking happily in the canals, the cars were whooshing by, the tractors were busy at work in the green fields nearby … Talking about tractors, you’re so lucky the pics don’t also capture the smells! As they were just spreading natural fertilizers 😐
For the most part of it, the bike route to Volendam mainly follows the driveway and passes through a few small towns. I loved that it was very well separated from the majority of the traffic and very well marked with direction signs. Some of the paths were shared with cars, but there were barely any cars on it. And the towns we passed through on the way were sooo cute! I think I could get used to living in one of these pretty houses on the water!
After turning right from the main route into Volendam, we passed a windmill and spent some time trying to catch it perfectly in a pic.
Volendam is a small town on the shore of the Zuiderzee, which was first a harbor, then a fishermen village and later a famous retreat for artists. It’s also a popular tourist destination close to Amsterdam. So expect many tourists there around lunch time, filling the cafes, souvenirs shops and fresh fish stands. But most of them don’t seem to venture out of the harbour area, so, after tasting the local treats, make sure to set away some time for venturing into the town!
After securing the bikes close to the harbour, we set off to explore it. We started with a quick browse over the stands, cafes and souvenir shops in the harbour. After picking the right cafe, we stopped for coffee at one of them to enjoy the view of the sea and do some people watching. We then continued our trip with a taste of the local seafood (their specialty, the herring, was indeed delicious, so was the seafood salad and the eel) from one of the stands. There is a small strip of land across the harbour that has benches on it. That’s were we headed to enjoy our meal. It was a bit windy, but we had such a great view Volendam in front of us 🙂
Note to self: when using a docking post as a camera stand, make sure to check for any boats coming in that might actually need it for docking!
Next, we checked out the souvenir shops some more and strolled around town for a bit.
It was a nice walk outside of the more crowded shore area and into the cosy town.
We then headed back to the harbour for an ice-cream (the smurfs ice-cream tasted a lot less smurfy than I expected, but the oreo one was especially yummy). Looking for a place close by where we could sit and enjoy the ice-cream, we found a few benches a bit lower by the sea. We then noticed that was the waiting area for a ferry that made trips between Volendam and Marken. Our initial plan was to head back to Amsterdam on the same way. But after checking online to see how far Marken was from Amsterdam, we decided to hop on the ferry to get to the nearby peninsula of Marken and head to Amsterdam from there. The bike route was going to be a bit shorter and we would also get to see something new. Good thing we stopped for an ice-cream!
But by the time we actually decided to hop on the ferry, the one that we had been looking at for the previous minutes set off, so we still had a bit more time before the next one. So we headed back to the fish stands for more seafood (I regret nothing!). I know I have already mentioned this, but just to make sure you will bucket-list it: tasting their legendary herring is a must! We also took another salad and one of their fried fishes 🙂 Also next to the fish stand there was a stand with fries. They do go well with the fish 😉 Trust me!
After enjoying the meal on a small beach next to the harbour, we ran to get our bikes and then cycled on to the ferry.
Marken is a tiny village that boasts its characteristic wooden houses. We got there pretty late so most of the tourists were gone.
We headed out of the cute little town, found the road to Amsterdam and headed of course in the opposite direction 🙂 We had seen a lighthouse among the pics of Marken we have looked at online, so we first made our way to the lighthouse at the far end of the peninsula for some cool photos and then headed back.
The idea to take the detour to the lighthouse turned out to be a great one! Apart from the guy that was sitting on a bench next to the lighthouse and one cyclist that took a really short break and a couple of pictures, we were the only ones there. And all we could hear was the sound of the waves. It was nice to enjoy some peace and quiet with great views!
On the way back, the bike route crossed some farmland and small villages and didn’t follow the main car route.
So it was also far less crowded that the route we took in the morning. There were only some cyclists who were out training 🙂
So it was quieter and we got to enjoy the sunset 🙂
It was already dark by the time we got back to Amsterdam, but with the use of our friend google maps (again just to be sure we were on the fastest route, but the road signs would have been enough), we quickly found our way back to the city center.
Did you ever discover a new place to explore in the middle of a day trip and ended up changing your plans halfway through the trip?
- I’m not sure if this is always the case, but the route was very windy. So dress in layers and expect headwind, as it is a truth universally acknowledged than the wind never blows from your back when on a bike 😐
- the ferry ride cost 8 euros one way + 1.5 euros for the bike
- here’s the official site of the Volendam – Marken Express for more info
- we stayed at the Amstel Botel in Amsterdam – it was pretty cool to stay on a cruise ship, even though the room was kinda small. The Botel is just a 15 min ferry ride from the Central Station, you can check this site for the ferry timetable (the one you need for the Botel is the NDSM one). At the Botel they had bikes for hire and also offers for buying tickets to different attractions in and around Amsterdam.
click here to view the map of the trip in case it won’t load properly
trip date: March 2017