Often, after travelling to Amsterdam, one falls so deep in love with this beautiful town to forget the rest of the Netherlands, and ignores how many surprises this small country offers to its visitors.
An ideal destination for a day trip, the Waterland province is not far from Amsterdam – it lies just a few kilometres from the Dutch capital – and surrounds the travellers with wide, green plains and quite hamlets where life flows slowly and peacefully and time seems to have stopped one hundred years ago. The villages I am talking about are Broek in Waterland, Monnickendam, Volendam, Edam, Marken e Zaandam.
Each one of these tiny and welcoming villages is worth a visit: among the traditional wooden buildings it feels like being really far away from the busy and chaotic daily life of Amsterdam.
Volendam – this land’s gem – surprises its visitors with quite and silent alleys, the water in the canals streaming through old wooden houses, a small harbour with a bar facing the bay, and the touristic city centre with small shops and places where you can taste good cheese or have a picture with the traditional Dutch clothes. From the harbour you can also reach Marken, a charming fishermen village, crossing Gouwzee Bay by boat.
Edam, well known for its traditional cheese market, is another beautiful tiny village. Here too the atmosphere is relaxed and the city chaos is far away. If you are interested in Dutch tradition during summer you may attend the market of the cheese artisans, which includes a historic commemoration of this important activity.
And if you still had not enough of canals and wooden houses, you could reach Zaanse Schans, home of several windmills and a fragrant chocolate factory: here too, old shops, cheese factories and wooden clogs will grant you a quite time discovering the traditional side of the Netherlands.
To reach the Waterland and its villages you can buy the Waterland Ticket (10 €) which allows to ride any bus between Amsterdam and Volendam, Edam, Monnickendam, Marken, Purmerend and all the other villages of the area. With the ticket you will get a bus map.
To reach Zaanse Schans, instead, it is preferable to take the regional train from Amsterdam.