From Amsterdam to the North Sea, a journey with the delicate tones of a watercolour.

To explore the thriving ports, the beautiful historical towns and the windmills of Holland. An unusual itinerary, ideal for campervan travel, between water and land, beside the polders, canals and shores of the northernmost province of the Netherlands. Fascinating places, drenched with history, that can be reached easily from nearby Amsterdam.

Towards: The North Sea

Amsterdam is the quintessential attraction and principal magnet of Holland's northern zone. However, the canals of Amsterdam are not the only pearls of history scattered across northern Holland waiting to reveal their secrets. Many less well known cities have their own fascinating charm, just a short drive from Amsterdam. All can easily be reached by campervan, and all offer excellent parking facilities.

Let's head towards the North Sea, to get to Ijsselmeer. We move through a reclaimed landscape, a polder patchwork of canals and windmills, sheltered by dunes and dykes and protecting the cultivated fields from the sea, illuminated by strange reflected plays of light: maybe it's the moistness of the air that creates the spectacle of these pearly silver skies, tenuous and undefinable... unless, of course, you possess the chromatic sensitivity and flair of a Flemish Old Master!

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Amsterdam: Camping Zeeburg –

From Zandvoort to Alkmaar

First stop Zandvoort, a seaside resort famous for its international motor racing circuit and the beauty of its endless beach, perfect for surfers and lovers of water-sports. Bloemendaal, is a more tranquil resort a little further north, offering less crowded and more exclusive pleasures. To the north and south lie two fantastic nature reserves which offer splendid bike routes along winding paths through pine-clad hills.

Back on board our campervan, we head inland and northwards to Alkmaar, whose fame is linked above all with its colourful traditional cheese market. Here, on market day, 30,000 kg of Gouda, Edam and Leiden cheeses are spectacularly displayed in the main square.
Wearing their picturesque hats in four different colours, pairs of porters can be seen loading sleigh-shaped wooden cheese carriers and carrying them to the ancient weighing scales. This centuries-old spectacle is laid on for visitors, but adds an amusing and dynamic historic interest to a visit to this fine city. Its ancient fortified walls are surrounded by canals, offering an unmissable and enchanting boat trip. These canals also offer views across the flat fields scattered with that most Dutch of symbols: the ancient windmills, monuments to the centuries of labour needed to claim these landscapes from the sea.
In the area around Alkmaar (the Schermer polder) various renovated windmills can be visited, demonstrating how for three centuries the wind was used to pump away the water.

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Zandvoort: Camping de Branding –


In the 1600s, the port of Edam – another hidden pearl of the north – was home to a large whaling fleet, and to 33 shipyards used to build the fleet of the legendary admiral de Ruyter. Criss-crossed by tranquil cobbled streets and postcard canals, Edam is the largest city in this area. Famed for the cheese of the same name, the city was founded in the 12th century and contains numerous fine historic buildings, including the Speeltoren (Tower with carillon chimes) and the Church of Saint Nicholas, a 15th century late Gothic church with 32 Renaissance-style stained glass windows, declared one of Holland's 100 finest monuments. Strolling along the canals, you can admire the magnificent houses of the rich merchant classes and, nearby, a fortress built to protect the city of Amsterdam.

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Edam: Camping Strandbad –

From Volendam to Enkhuizen

We continue our journey in our campervan along the shores of the Markermeer sea, and visit Volendam, a small picturesque city that attracts many visitors but still retains something of its authentic soul.

Many of its citizens still wear elements of traditional clothing, and the port area offers a superb view of steep roofs and bright green facades, while an inviting warren of cobbled lanes and stairways beckons visitors to explore the old city. In the mid-1800s, the fame of this area spread far and wide, when the quaint everyday life of its villages and towns, immortalised by the brushes of Hals, Vermeer and Rembrandt, became popular worldwide, and among Europe's royal families.

Depictions of local women were particularly popular, iconic in their typical costumes, strange headdresses and clogs. These elegant villagers struck a chord with painters and travellers, were reproduced around the world, and thus attracted further curiosity.
Volendam boasts two key buildings: the Civic Museum and the Hotel Spaander, containing complementary treasures. This story begins in 1881, when the Spaanders, man and wife, bought a bar in the port, and made it into a hotel that soon became an attraction for artists from various countries, who came here for inspiration. Among its guests were Renoir, Kandinsky, Signac and many others, who often paid their bills with paintings. Many of these can be seen today, both in the hotel and the Volendams Museum, built on stilts beside the hotel and well worth a visit.

Our itinerary draws to a close with Enkhuizen, one of the most suggestive towns in the area, especially rich in 16th century architecture. A final walk through history is offered by the Zuiderzee Museum, an open air area contain over 130 ancient buildings which provide a strong sensation of everyday life in the 1500s. During the visit, which can offer pleasure to the whole family, you can rent traditional costumes, take part in treasure hunts and walk on stilts.
An active and enjoyable way to appreciate places and traditions.

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