The Netherlands is known all over the world for its numerous windmills, tulips, canals, cheese markets, wooden clogs, masterpieces of old masters. Dutch cities are beautiful, but what about the villages? They deserve some love too.
A fairy tale village in the Netherlands
Giethoorn is a fairy tale village in the Netherlands just an hour and a half drive from Amsterdam, and it is famous for all its beautiful bridges and canals. Nicknamed the “Venice of the North” because of its canals, it is one of the most beautiful villages to explore while in the Netherlands. The cottages are like something out of a story, with thatched roofs full of charming details like heart-shaped carvings on the shutters and planted flower bushes, adding a pop of color to an already picture-perfect picture. The village is small, so when you are not in a boat, you can easily move around it on foot or by bicycle. The best time to visit Giethoorn is from April to October as during the winter boating may not be an ideal activity.
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Zaanse Schans Windmill Village
Just 20 minutes from Amsterdam is the historic village of Zaanse Schans, known for its picturesque wooden windmills and cute little green houses reminiscent of an 18th century village when the Zaan region was an important industrial area dotted with hundreds of windmills producing paints, mustard, linseed oil, snuff, paper and other products. Most of the country houses of Zaanse Schans are now museums and souvenir shops.
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The small fishing village of Marken is only a 30-minute drive from Amsterdam. If you go to Marken, you can’t miss the small wooden houses. Until the seventeenth century, the inhabitants built their houses on mounds, which they themselves called ‘werfs’. In Marken, treat yourself to a Dutch meal in one of the beautiful waterfront restaurants before visiting the traditional wooden houses for which the village is famous. The village is located on a former peninsula with colorful wooden houses and drawbridges, and the island has been connected to the mainland since 1959. Marken’s lighthouse, located on the eastern tip of the peninsula, is also worth a visit. You can walk to it in 35 minutes from the village or use a bicycle. Also visit the clog factory where you can see the machines used to make wooden clogs. They will give you a demonstration that lasts ten minutes,
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Rene Cortino
Imagine old Dutch fishing boats moored in the harbour, colorful wooden houses on the shores and a fishing village buzzing with excitement during the day, where some of the women still wear the traditional Dutch costume of long dresses, clogs and high peaked hats in everyday life. If you are a lover of nature, countryside drives and good old cheese, Volendam is made for you. The cheese shop and museum in Volendam will stimulate your senses, you will have a hard time deciding which cheeses to buy, and you won’t be able to resist the cheese crackers either. If you’re tired of exploring, sit on a bench and better yet, grab a Stroopwafeli, a well-known Dutch delicacy, and while you snack, admire everyday life. You will quickly understand why famous painters such as Picasso or Renoir fell in love with this small but charming town.
Flickr photo source by joiseyshowaa
The most beautiful windmills in the world
Kinderdijk is a small town surrounded by water in the province of South Holland, about 20 kilometers southeast of Rotterdam. Tourists come to see 19 incredible windmills that have withstood the test of time, and have been UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1997. The windmills are still fully functional today, although they are mostly powered by electricity with fully automatic water pumps, and in high winds the blades still turn in the conventional manner. The two windmills have been converted into a museum, and can be seen from inside during your tour. Since they were once used as living quarters, you will still find ancient furniture and decorations.
A stroll along the canal is the perfect way to spend the day, you can also hop on a boat and take a leisurely cruise along the waterway, and finally you can rent a bike and go on an adventure through these gorgeous lowlands.
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