Quiet streets, lined with green, wood-paneled houses, on a tiny mass of land at the end of a peninsula – this is the quaint fishing village of Marken, just 30 minutes drive from Amsterdam. Marken is one of those idyllic villages that you see pictures of and can’t believe are real. Home to less than 2,000 people, Amsterdam to Marken is the perfect day trip that allows you to get a glimpse of life outside of the city. Marken is a great alternative for visitors looking to visit Volendam, but who want to avoid the crowds and kitsch of Volendam – which is much more touristy than Marken.

marken

The history of Marken

Located only 17km from Amsterdam, Marken got separated from the mainland of the Netherlands when the Zuiderzee formed in the 13th century. Most of Marken’s houses are built on stilts (although they are no longer visible) because the tiny island used to flood so often. The inhabitants of Marken historically made their living fishing for eels before the island was shut off from the sea by the afsluitdijk. The afsluitdijk is a huge causeway in the Netherlands, and one of the Dutch’s best feats of water management. It shut off the Zuiderzee from the North Sea, which turned the water into a fresh water lake, now called the IJsselmeer.

In 1957, the Dutch used their water management genius to build a small causeway to the island. When you are on the way to Marken, you’ll be surrounded by water on both sides, giving the feeling that you’re seemingly at the end of the world, or at least worlds away from Amsterdam. Now that the fishing has essentially stopped, the island is famous for its charm, and it feels like you’ve truly stepped back in time to its glory days when you enter the village.

What to do in Marken

Honestly, my recommendation is just to stroll around Marken and take in the coziness of the village, but there are also several typical Dutch attractions you can visit to get a taste of what small town life used to be like in fishing villages like Marken.

See how clogs are made

marken the netherlands

Once you arrive in Marken, you’ll be dropped off or will park just a few moments walk from the Clog Factory. Sure, it’s a bit touristy, but even after living in here for 7.5 years, it was still pretty cool to see the machines that wooden clogs are made with. They’ll do a demonstration for you which takes about ten minutes, and you can buy all the souvenir clogs that your heart desires.

Pro tip: buy a wooden clog and bring it home as a planter box.

Marken Harbor and the charming green houses

Stroll around Marken’s historic harbor where the fishermen used to set out for eel fishing before the afsluitdijk  was built. Get some fresh herring, or snack on frietjes with mayo for an authentic Dutch experience.

marken the netherlands

marken the netherlands

Wander through Kerkbuurt

Believe it or not, this tiny village even has two distinct neighborhoods, the Kerkbuurt and Havenbuurt. You can easily walk through both on a visit to Marken, since its so tiny. My favorite view of the city was in the Kerkbuurt looking at the church from the back, where you can also see the miniature Maxima Bridge – the perfect place for a photo op. It’s hard to imagine that people actually live here, but once in awhile you’ll catch a glimpse of the locals in their homes, going about their day.

marken the netherlands marken the netherlands marken the netherlands marken the netherlands

Walk around the island to the Paard van Marken, the lighthouse
From bikingamsterdam.com

Marken is so small, you can walk around the entire (ex) island in only about 2 hours. This 9km walk will take you to the Paard van Marken, which is the village’s lighthouse. The day we visited was super windy and cold so unfortunately we didn’t get to make this walk, but it should be lovely on a nice day.

How to get from Amsterdam to Marken

The best way to reach Marken is by car – then it takes about 30 minutes to reach. If you don’t have a car, no worries, you can also reach it by public transport. From Amsterdam Central Station, just head to the bus terminal (behind the station, on the water side), and take Bus 315 which runs to Marken once an hour. The entire trip will take you about 40 minutes, so sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.

If you’re also interested in visiting Volendam, you can visit both in a day by hopping aboard the Volendam-Marken express for a return trip between the two attractions.

Looking for more day trips from Amsterdam? Check out these posts:

Kasteel de Haar – a gorgeous castle only 30km from Amsterdam

5 things to do in the Hague, Netherlands

18 Comments

  1. You know, I’ve never really thought about day trips out of Amsterdam but I LOVE this idea, and Marken looks utterly delightful. Lovely to learn the history too, that’s the kind of extra information I love. Thanks, bookmarking!

  2. Thank You! You have no given me another city to visit in the Netherlands. I love the idea that Marken is only 30 minutes from Amesterdam. The colorfulness of the village is just beautiful. I can’t wait to have a long layover in AMS to visit this village.

  3. I love discovering small villages like Marken when I visit Europe, they are always so charming! I would love to see how the iconic wooden clogs are made and I like the suggestion to use one as a planter.

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      thanks! I have to admit, I can’t take credit for that idea, but I steal with pride 🙂

  4. I have visited Holland many times for work, but my wife has never made it over. I think our dream trip involves a substantial amount of biking. Marken seems like a beautiful town and just about the perfect distance away from Amsterdam for a ride. We’ll have to figure out the best logistic route before we make the journey but we’ll be referring back to your site for inspiration and ideas.

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      you could definitely bike from Amsterdam to Marken, I’m sure it would be a lovely trip! Hope you enjoy it!

  5. Wow, what a beautiful village and charming houses that I did not even know existed, to my shame. I would love to explore its streets far and wide and also learn how clogs are done.

  6. I love strolling around so this would be a great destination for me. Beautiful photos as well They are so vibrant. I have been to the Netherlands many times but never knew about this gorgeous village. I have bookmarked this post for next time! Thanks for sharing.

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      I hardly knew about it either and I live here! Definitely put it on your list for next time 🙂

  7. I love that you can walk around the whole town in a day! It looks absolutely beautiful – your photos are incredible! I also love that it is so close to Amsterdam – perfect for a day or two off the beaten path!

  8. It’s really quaint but distinguishable. The historic harbour is quite charming. Since it’s this tiny, I might as well know-all my neighbours by name. Lol. It’s such a beautiful and instragrammable village. You’ve gotta a wonderful guide plus pictures too.

  9. I don’t live very far from Holland, and I always love going there! I did not hear before from Marken though, and that’s why I am going to put it on my list 🙂

  10. Followingtherivera Reply

    Marken looks so pretty! Love all your photos and everything looks so quaint and Dutch here!

  11. This little town looks so beautiful and I love the architecture and colours of the houses. I also really like the clog photograph too 🙂

  12. Marken looks so adorable! I have yet to visit the Netherlands, but it’s good to know that this town is so close to Amsterdam. It will be good to see both the crazy city life and the quiet country side. And to get clogs! lol

  13. Everything is so neat and cute in Marken. It is beaucause of nice blog posts like this that we learn and add stuff to out bucket list! Nice photos!

  14. So clorful and charming houses Under blue sky make me wish to be there right now. Especially when I am looking to snow outside.

  15. I love the Netherlands and ventured outside Amsterdam to a cheese making shop and a clog making shop to see firsthand how they do it. Completely fascinating. It would be so nice to live in a place like Marken, with greenery, flowers, and quaint little houses. Very nice!

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