Holland is a small nation with a big history and incredible cities, towns and villages for tourists who want to experience diversity in landmarks and excursions. Whilst public transportation is relatively easy to use in Holland, I would recommend taking a day tour with a tour operator. This is so that you can see as much of Holland in one day as possible without having to focus on navigating around this unique nation.
As most of the Dutch cities, towns and villages are quite closely connected, you will be able to spend quality time in different destinations such as Zaanse Schans, Volendam, Marken, Delft and the Hague, which are unique in their own way. I would recommend booking a day tour with Lindbergh Tour and Travel from Amsterdam because it is a long-established company that offers good value for money. The tour costs 81 EUR (approximately 87 USD) per person. This cost includes a tour guide, transportation and entrance to all sites; it does not include food and drink.
I would recommend this tour to the lone traveller, couples and small groups. It may not be ideal for those with small children or those who have physical disabilities because of the amount of walking required.
The tour starts at 9.00am and finishes at 7.45pm. As the tour returns to Amsterdam in the evening, you can spend some time enjoying Amsterdam at night and ensuring that you get to enjoy another city.
1. Zaanse Schans
Zaanse Schans is a 30 minute coach journey from central Amsterdam and is a charming UNESCO listed village filled with houses, barns, windmills, little bridges and so much greenery. The village provides tourists with the opportunity to see what Dutch life was like in the 18th and 19th century. If you’re travelling with a tour operator, you may even have the opportunity to go inside a windmill, learn about its history and how it operates. Windmills are famous in Holland and the ones in Zaanse Schans are used for sawing wood and grinding oil, flowers and spices.
If you decide to go to this little village on your own, you can visit the Windmill Museum, Zaans Museum & Verkade Pavilion, Zaan Time Museum, Bakery Museum, Albert Heijn Museum Shop and Russian Tsar Peter’s House whilst you wander around and enjoy the landscape. Please note that there is an entrance fee required for some of these museums.
Volendam, a 30 minute coach journey from Zaanse Schans, is a delightful fishing town with a beautiful harbour surrounded by restaurants serving Dutch pancakes and seafood. It is also the home of a number of traditional tightly grouped green and white houses which are in abundance in this little village. If you’re travelling with a tour operator, you will be given the opportunity to walk through the harbour and visit the Cheese Factory where you will learn about and sample cheese: a tasty experience. Afterwards, if you’re still hungry after munching on all the cheese, you can enjoy a quick lunch at one of the restaurants on the harbour.
If you decide to visit this little village on your own, you may wish to check out the Volendam Museum whilst you’re roaming about. Volendam Museum includes examples of interiors of traditional Dutch homes from 1815 to 1950.
Marken can be easily reached by taking a 45 minute boat ride on the Volendam-Marken Express (a perfect way to also say goodbye to Volendam and see it from a different angle). Like Volendam, Marken is a fishing village with traditional green and white houses. As Marken was prone to flooding, you will notice that a number of the houses are built on man-made hills. However, as flooding is not so much an issue now, you will see that homeowners have actually filled the space that was once a hill with a new ground floor and created a staircase to the original main entrance of each house.
The tour will likely take you to a clog-maker at the Wooden Shoe Factory whilst in Marken. The clog-makers wear traditional Dutch clothing and show tourists how clogs are made from scratch! This is a fantastic opportunity as the Dutch are known for their popular and traditional footwear that are still worn by those working in the agricultural sector. There are also a number of souvenir shops in Marken which sell clogs in case you wish to take a pair home!
If you decide to visit this modest town on your own, you may want to walk around the area and check out Marken Museum and Marken Lighthouse. Please note that to access the Marken Museum, you will have to pay an entrance fee.
The tour then takes you from Marken to Amsterdam where you will stop for a short break before heading off to Delft. Delft is a 60 minute coach journey from central Amsterdam and, similarly to Amsterdam, Delft has a number of canals surrounding the area. However, Delft is most famously known for its pottery and you should definitely check out the “Royal Delft Experience” (whether you are with a tour operator or travelling on your own).
The Royal Delft is the last remaining Delftware factory from the 17th century and is the perfect environment in which to learn about the history of Blue Delft. Blue Delft is the name given to the famous blue and white hand-painted pottery that is made in Delft. It was so popular that there were over 30 factories in Delft which simply produced Blue Delft. Whilst you are in the Royal Delft, you will get to view hand-painted ornaments and see a master painter at work! There is also a souvenir shop where you can purchase your very own Delftware. If you decide to travel to this town on your own, the cost to access and enjoy the “Royal Delft Experience” is 12.50 EUR (approximately 13 USD).
If you’re travelling with a tour operator, you may also be taken to the historical city centre of Delft after visiting the Royal Delft. In the historical city centre, you can view the Oude Kerk (Old Church) and the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) and the statue of Hugo Grotius which stands between both churches on a beautiful square. Hugo Grotius was a Dutch statesman and scholar who contributed to laying down the foundations of international law.
5. The Hague
A 30 minute coach journey from Delft will take you to The Hague, which is the former capital of Holland. The Hague is the home of Dutch political bodies, foreign embassies and international organisations such as the International Criminal Court. The area is a stark contrast to Zaanse Schans, Volendam, Marken and Delft and is covered with prestigious and magnanimous buildings including the Binnenhof (Houses of Parliament), Noordeinde Palace (King’s working palace) and the Peace Palace. The Peace Palace houses the International Court of Justice, which is the principal judicial body of the United Nations. If you’re with a tour operator, you will most likely get to see the sites that I have mentioned above from the outside. Lindbergh Tour and Travel also offers the option of visiting Madurodam, which is a museum with miniature versions of all the major landmarks of Holland!
Amsterdam can be reached by taking a 60 minute coach journey from The Hague and it is the perfect place to spend your evening as it is known for its nightlife. There are a number of different restaurants offering various types of cuisine across Holland’s unique capital. I would recommend visiting the delectable Pancake Bakery in the Jordaan District which offers amazing savoury and sweet Dutch pancakes! However, make sure that you go to the Pancake Bakery the moment you return to Amsterdam as the restaurant closes at 9.30pm. The cost of the pancakes, which are definitely worth tasting, vary and range from approximately 6 - 15 EUR (approximately 6.5 - 16.2 USD).
Afterwards, take a short walk from the Jordaan District and head to the Red Light District where you will get to see street monuments that symbolise sexuality and prostitution, as well as the prostitutes behind their windows. I would also recommend that you visit the Red Light Secrets, which is a museum on prostitution. This museum is open until midnight and the entrance fee is 10 EUR (approximately 11 USD). It is an exceptional and unusual opportunity to learn about the history and experiences of the prostitutes who work in Amsterdam.
What a day!
Visiting 6 cities, towns and villages in a day is most certainly possible in Holland and a fantastic way for you to decide which destination you would like to spend more time in. This is important because the destinations mentioned in this article are distinctive and offer something different to travellers.
If you’re interested in beautiful open landscapes and nature, then Zaanse Schans is the place for you. If you’re interested in relaxing and enjoying seafood, then Volendam and Marken are perfect for you. For those with creative and artistic leanings, a trip to Delft will satisfy your needs. The Hague is ideal if you’re interested in law, politics and history, and take a trip to Amsterdam if you’re curious about how legalised prostitution operates.
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