Visiting Amsterdam is always a wonderful idea but did you know that just beyond this city lies a world of lovely country lanes, picturesque little towns, colorful tulip fields and historic old windmills? You don’t have to travel far in North Holland to find some tranquility, away from the hustle and bustle of tourist-filled streets. That Dam Guide can transport you to idyllic scenes on one of their countryside and windmill driving tours from Amsterdam.
The dam is often the first port of call for travelers to the Netherlands and it’s easy to see why. Candlelit cafes, winding canals and splendid architecture keep people enthralled for days on end. Some never want to leave – like Mark, the founder of That Dam Guide (read about his story here). Yet, for those who have seen it all and are ready to move onto something different, a windmill driving tour from Amsterdam is the next logical step.
These trips take you to gems that are not on the tourist trail at all. Monnickendam and Edam are two places to be visited on this tour, with pretty countryside views to soak in along the drive. Monnickendam is off the beaten path and full of interesting detail. Edam, on the other hand, is famous for its cheese and there are some fun things to do in the village and its surroundings – such as bicycle rides, and farm and windmill visits.
While the small group Amsterdam windmill tours are on hold for now, Mark still offers the private version of this experience. The tour runs for six hours and up to eight people can join. Couples will love this outing as they discover jewels of rural Holland and stop at “Instagrammable” spots to take photos. Families or friends will also enjoy this trip because it gives them a break from Amsterdam in the most charming setting imaginable.
Below we go into more detail about the countryside and windmill driving tours from Amsterdam and reveal some of the activities that you can choose to do. Keep in mind that it’s possible to tweak the itinerary to suit your wishes. Get in touch with Mark and he can put together a fantastic trip that everyone will take pleasure in. What better way to get introduced to North Holland than with the fabulous team at That Dam Guide!
Countryside and Windmill Driving Tours from Amsterdam – 2 Options
Option 1: Monnickendam
The main countryside and windmill driving tour visits Monnickendam. It’s a six hour exploration of the Dutch countryside – checking out small harbor towns, a family farm and of course a windmill along the way. One of the highlights is trying traditional apple pie and coffee in a lovely building in Monnickendam. What makes apple pie from the Netherlands unique from the rest? Well, you will have to come on this tour to taste the difference!
Monnickendam is a historic city located on the banks of the Markermeer. With That Dam Guide, you will be taken on a guided walk through the harbor town and pass by some of its most iconic buildings. Other features of the tour include visiting a family farm in the UNESCO-listed Beemster Polder, a guided tour of a 400 year old windmill in Schermerhorn and driving through various country lanes in between each new activity.
Option 2: Edam and Volendam
The other trip substitutes Monnickendam with Edam. This village is home to more than just cheese, and on this countryside driving tour with That Dam Guide you get to experience it all: cycling around the dike roads from Edam to Voldenham, seeing the cows and milking processes at a family farm, visiting a historic Dutch windmill well off the beaten track and there is also the option of taking a boat ride through reed lands and canals.
The bike ride that Mark has scouted is a 5 mile route. It starts in central Edam and follows a dike road to Volendam, returning back to Edam again in a loop. You don’t have to be an expert cyclist to enjoy this activity as it follows designated bicycle lanes. The ride can be as slow or as fast as you like. There is no rush when in the countryside. The scenery is gorgeous and it’s always nice to get a little exercise and fresh air while you travel.
The family farm visit sees guests learn about an automatic milking system. A robotic contraption hooks up to the cows in an ethical way while they graze on grain. It’s quite the process to witness if you are interested in how rural farmers make a living in this part of the world. Another add-on which you can opt for is visiting a second farm where cow cuddling and hugging is a thing. Yes you read that right, cuddling! How awesome is that?
Your trip to the windmill takes you to a place that is run by volunteers. Not many tourists get the chance to visit this secret windmill. The last couple of experiences on offer on the Edam tour are taking a ride in a silent electric boat through reed lands and canals (passing pristine gardens and meadows as you go), and paying a visit to the Beemster Cheese factory shop where you can buy some of the best Gouda cheese on the planet.
Countryside and Windmill Driving Tours from Amsterdam – Final Tips
If you like the sound of both tours you can couple the Monnickendam and Edam trip together for an action-packed day. Whatever journey you choose, be rest assured that the minivan or car driven by Mark and his team will transport you in safety and comfort the entire way. A vehicle of this size, as opposed to a bus, gives you the opportunity to head down smaller back roads where the real charm of Holland can be discovered.
The minivan is the vehicle of choice for four to eight people, while smaller groups can enjoy the comfort of a car. Prices change depending on the size of your group, so just budget for that before you make plans. Most costs are included on the tour – like transport and guiding – but some are not. Bring cash with you to spend on the apple pie, windmill admission and bike hire. Costs for these things are low, for example it’s only 10€ pp for a bicycle.
Both the Monnickendam and Edam trips can be altered to ensure you have the best experience. This is your tour after all and you should only do the things you enjoy. Dutch snacks are brought along for your munching needs but if after that (and several servings of apple pie) you are still hungry, you can request a proper sit-down lunch at a nice local restaurant at any point along the way. Just let Mark know and it can be arranged.
For those families traveling with infants or children under the age of 12, it’s important to advise Mark in advance so a suitable seat can be organized. Children below 12 are required to travel in child seats in Holland. However, if your child is taller than 4 feet and 5 inches (1.35 meters) then the age restriction no longer applies and they can travel without a child seat. That might seem strange to people from other countries, but the law is the law.
All in all, the countryside and windmill driving tours from Amsterdam allow travelers to escape the claustrophobia of the city, breathe in some fresh air and immerse in nature. Think of it as an initiation into rural Holland – the first step to gather inspiration for further explorations in the countryside. Sometimes to truly experience a country you have to venture off the beaten path and meet locals who have kept their traditions alive!