Home TravelCity trip Enkhuizen: the beautiful, historic and pleasant harbor city in West Friesland (NL)

Enkhuizen: the beautiful, historic and pleasant harbor city in West Friesland (NL)

by Flitter Fever
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As a child I came to Enkhuizen quite regularly. Then we went to visit my grandpa and grandmoa, who lived at the Davidstraat. To eat a freshly baked fish at home or eat out at the Chinese at the Westerstraat. Unfortunately my grandfather and grandmother are both gone. Years later I visit Enkhuizen again, together with a friend from Twente. Act like a tourist in our own country. And to enjoy all the beauty that Enkhuizen has to offer, such as the Zuiderzeemuseum.

Nice part of the outdoor museum of the Zuiderzeemuseum Enkhuizen
Nice part of the outdoor museum of the Zuiderzeemuseum
Table Of Contents

The funny thing is that Enkhuizen feels a bit like coming home. Back to my roots. Well, you were born and raised a West Frisian or not, right? But even if you are not from here, the atmosphere of this charming city will undoubtedly embrace you.

From the present to the past

At the beginning of the 17th century, the Dutch East Indies Company (VOC), at the time the largest trading company in the world, held office in Enkhuizen, Hoorn, Amsterdam, Delft, Rotterdam and Middelburg. Enkhuizen was one of the most important port cities in the Netherlands at that time. The beautiful, historic buildings that have been preserved clearly remind us of this heyday. Did you know that Enkhuizen had more inhabitants in the Golden Age than it has now (approx. 18,600)?

Although it may feel more like a large village, Enkhuizen received city rights in 1355, more than a century after Alkmaar. Because Enkhuizer fishing vessels from the former Zuiderzee caught a lot of herring, the city was nicknamed Haringstad (Hering city). Nowadays you often hear the nickname Dutch Seed Valley. This is due to the plant and seed technology companies operating in Enkhuizen and the surrounding area, such as Enza Zaden, Syngenta and Monsanto. And for those who did not know yet: Enkhuizen is located in the region of West Friesland in North Holland.

Old-fashioned underwear hangs to dry in the outdoor museum Zuiderzeemuseum
Old-fashioned underwear hangs to dry in the outdoor museum
Old little shop at the Companiehaven port of Enkhuizen
Old little shop at the Companiehaven port

Worth a visit

This rich history is certainly one of the reasons why Enkhuizen is such a nice place to be nowadays. This bustling port city is definitely worth a visit! As a day trip or long weekend away, for example, possibly in combination with Hoorn and Medemblik, which together form the Historical Triangle (more about that later).

You can easily spend more than half a day to visit the Zuiderzeemuseum alone. The location on the IJsselmeer also makes Enkhuizen unabated popular among water sports emthusiasts, who sometimes stick around for weeks or months.

Terrace on the Havenweg, seen from the Landje van Top Enkhuizen
Terrace on the Havenweg, seen from the Landje van Top
Experience a fishing village in the 19th century
Experience a fishing village in the 19th century (Zuiderzeemuseum)

Culture lovers, families with children and bon vivants can also indulge themselves in Enkhuizen. The cozy old city center is ideal for a afternoon of strolling along the cozy little boutiques and beautiful monumental buildings. Enkhuizen has many restaurants and bars with terraces that invite you to have a drink or eat something, often with harbor view.

Although there is plenty to do and see, Enkhuizen has not been overrun by hordes of tourists (yet). Although it certainly has potential for that, in terms of appearance. Fortunately, we can still wander around quietly along the sixteenth-century ramparts, even during the summer holidays. The Zuiderzeemuseum seems to be busy from time to time, but that didn’t bother us at all.

The Zuiderzeemuseum is located directly on the IJsselmeer
The Zuiderzeemuseum is located directly on the IJsselmeer
Nostalgic Enkhuizen
Nostalgic Enkhuizen

Pretty Enkhuizen

The prosperity of the past has ensured that Enkhuizen is bursting with beautiful town houses, canals, churches, city walls and a large harbor filled with historic sailing ships, right next to the city center. The city has a number of nice sights to offer, which you can fill a few days with if you want to see and experience them all. Below I will explain the most important of these in more detail. For locations see the mobile map of Enkhuizen at the bottom of this article.

Beautiful old house on a dike in Enkhuizen
Beautiful old house on a dike in Enkhuizen
Terraces at the Old Harbor in Enkhuizen
Terraces at the Old Harbor

Zuiderzeemuseum

The Zuiderzeemuseum is quite well known in The Netherlands and rightly so. It consists of two parts; an indoor and an outdoor museum. The indoor museum is normally open all year round, the outdoor museum from mid-February till October. Both are currently closed due to the Corona measures*. Last summer it was open for a while and you only had to wear a face mask on the boat from the parking lot.

The Zuiderzeemuseum’s outdoor museum is one of the largest open-air museums in The Netherlands. There are about 140 buildings from the 19th century. Think of fishermen’s houses, workshops, shops, a school, church, pharmacy, mill, etc. These buildings originally stood in the villages around the Zuiderzee and have been moved to Enkhuizen. In this way they have been preserved and visitors can (re)experience the history and culture of the region.

Pandemic or not, the laundry continues
Pandemic or not, the laundry continues
Cute old fisherman’s house at the Zuiderzeemuseum

What an operation it must have been to put all this here from the villages around the IJsselmeer (formerly Zuiderzee). Even the church was moved!

The houses are located directly at the dyke of the IJsselmeer, which gives a good impression of how people lived at the time (then at the Zuiderzee). Every little house has a sign on it with who has lived in it. The outdoor museum was a lot bigger than I remembered. When we were here last summer, staff members in the outdoor museum played as if tuberculosis (TB) had broken out in the village. Nice improvisation to current events!

Old pharmacy at the Zuiderzeemuseum Enkhuizen
Old pharmacy at the Zuiderzeemuseum Enkhuizen
The Wieringer Chapel at the Zuiderzeemuseum
The Wieringer Chapel was moved to the Zuiderzeemuseum

A sea of stories

The indoor museum of the Zuiderzeemuseum was set up just after the 2nd World War . Here everything revolves around maritime and you will find the largest collection of wooden ships in The Netherlands – indoors that is! In the meantime, old sailor stories can be heard from the speakers.

In addition, there are exhibitions about clothing, jewelry, toys, etc. The bridal clogs I found to be the showpiece of the museum. There are also a number of beautiful paintings. From Enkhuizen Station it is a 15-minute walk to the indoor museum of the Zuiderzeemuseum.

Wealthy family on a painting in the Zuiderzeemuseum
Wealthy family on a painting in the Zuiderzeemuseum
Bridal clogs in the Zuiderzeemuseum Enkhuizen
Bridal clogs in the Zuiderzeemuseum

Do not forget to view the indoor museum from the Wierdijk outside. This former warehouse from the VOC era (anno 1625) is called The Pepper House and is really a picture to see.

Visit the Zuiderzeemuseum

  • Admission adult EUR 17
  • Admission children 4-12 years and CJP / students EUR 11
  • Children 0-3 years free entrance
  • Open daily 10 am-5pm * (last entry 4:30 pm, last boat 5:30 pm)
  • Parking: Sluisweg 1 (entrance pavilion, EUR 3.60) or Stationsplein 1 (free)
  • Dogs not permitted

The Dommedaris

A monumental building that you should definitely see, and will undoubtedly notice when you walk around the old city center of Enkhuizen, is The Drommedaris. This is one of the oldest buildings in the city. This beautiful city gate dates from 1540, at the time part of the city wall, which was later demolished when Enkhuizen expanded. The Drommedaris, also known as Chain Gate, or by locals shortened to the Drom, was raised after the 80-years War (1568–1648). The carillon consists of 44 bells.

In the meantime, The Drommedaris has been used as a guard barrack, prison, excise tower, spinning mill, weaving mill and telegraph office. Both The Drommedaris itself, and the white drawbridge in front of it, are a national monument. In the turbulent 1960s, a group of hippies lived in the attic for a while. Since that period, the building has been used as a cultural center. Music, theater and film performances, both indoors and outdoors.

The Drommedaris and the white drawbridge towards the historical center of Enkhuizen
The Drommedaris and the white drawbridge towards the historical center of Enkhuizen

The Drommedaris contains one of Enkhuizen’s best kept secrets; a beautiful bar called – whatelse – the Drombar. Between the centuries-old thick walls you imagine yourself in another world. Crawl in a nook and enjoy the atmosphere while sipping a cocktail or glass of wine. Cheers!

The lawn at De Drommedaris is called Het Landje van Top. Not to be confused with Landje van Pop, the liberation festival on Dirk Chinaplein from about 10 years ago.

Sprookjeswonderland

Sprookjeswonderland (Fairytale wonderland) is a kind of mini Efteling. There is a lot to do for the little ones. Nostalgic carousel, gnome forest, puppet show, climbing equipment, old-timer track, float boats in the shape of a ladybug, rocking ship, etc. Everything revolves around fairytales. You immerse yourself completely in a magical world.

Many friends and family of mine have been to Sprookjeswonderland with their children, everyone is equally enthusiastic. Some days have a special theme, such as Witch Day. It is also nice to visit Sprookjeswonderland in Enkhuizen around the Christmas holidays. Unfortunately the park is currently closed due to the Corona measures.

  • Admission 2 years and older online EUR 12.50 cash desk EUR 13.50 p.p. incl. parking
  • Parking: Kooizandweg 9 (follow road signs Sprookjesland)

Did you know that Enkhuizen has a beach on the IJsselmeer? It is close to Sprookjeswonderland, so on a hot summer day you know where to end … Enjoy!

De Enkhuizer Waag

In my opinion, this is one of the most beautiful buildings in Enkhuizen, and also one of the oldest (1559). It is located on the east side of the Westerstraat, on the Kaasmarkt. A beautiful early Renaissance building, complete with those cute shutters. Just like in Alkmaar, De Waag is also a building where all kinds of goods were weighed for trade. Only cheese or cattle is no longer traded here. The wooden weighing mechanism is still present on the ground floor.

In 1663, the barber-surgeon’s room was settled on the first floor. The medical practitioner from the Middle Ages showed more in common with a barber than with a university-trained surgeon. The barber-surgeons’ guild met here, gave lectures and conducted exams. Barber-surgeons and doctors who worked in Enkhuizen at the time are stained with name and coat of arms in the windows. Exam candidates were waiting for their turn in the so-called ‘sweat room’.

De Enkhuizer Waag
De Enkhuizer Waag

Every last Saturday of the month the archive of Vereniging Oud Enkhuizen , which now resides in De Enkhuizer Waag, opened. In the summer they also give interesting tours through the city, often on Wednesdays. Check out their website for meeting points and dates.

Would you prefer to explore the city under the guidance of your own professional guide? Or are you planning to go to Enkhuizen with a group (you)? Then this private tour might be a good option for you.

Town hall & City jail

Enkhuizen’s town hall dates from 1688. Designed in so-called classical style by architect Steven Vennecool. The interior of that time has largely been preserved.

Behind the town hall you will find the city jail, built in 1612. The prison cells from the 17th century are still complete. The building is quite skewed. During restoration in 1908, the eastern wall of the old city prison was reinforced to prevent further skew. There is an old cannon in front of the building.

Town hall of Enkhuizen
Town hall of Enkhuizen
Old city jail Enhuizen
Old city jail

Westerkerk or St. Gommarus church

This late Gothic hall church was built in the period 1470-1540. The east portal dates from the 17th century. There is a city library in the building. Church services are no longer held. In the summer months the church is open to the public in the afternoons (Tue-Sun) and the carillon is occasionally played. The Westerkerk is in the top 100 monuments of The Netherlands.Zuiderkerk or St. Pancras Church

The Zuiderkerk was also built in late Gothic style (1423-1524). The tower is 75 meters high. The outside may seem more beautiful at first than the inside. Until you look up or down inside. Centuries-old tombstones dot the floor. The painted Biblical scenes on the inside of the tower roof panels were only rediscovered in the 20 st century and are very special.

Westerstraat

There are many other beautiful monumental buildings in the city center of Enkhuizen. De Bocht (the Curve) is a beautiful curving street, next to the Bottle Ship Museum (Zuiderspui). You can enjoy shopping on the eastern half of the Westerstraat and surroundings. For example, I found furniture store Zusje van Tierlantijn, Het Coffy Huys, ‘t Snuffel Hoekje and Surprise Me very nice shops. Even the Hema is located in a beautiful building here!

On the Westerstraat is also the former children’s home where my mother lived for years (the grandfather and grandmother mentioned in this article were her parents-in-law). And Lotus, the excellent Chinese-Indian restaurant where I dined out regularly as a child with them. My parents actually had no money for that kind of luxury outings, but with grandpa and grandma we went out for dinner once or twice a year, also at Restaurant Markerwaard and Restaurant Broekhuizen . Nostalgia and one of my best childhood memories.

Beautiful facades on the Westerstraat
Beautiful facades on the Westerstraat
The Hema at the Westerstraat in Enkhuizen
Even the Hema is in a beautiful building here

Snouck van Loosen Park

The Snouck van Loosen Park is a small romantic city park with 51 homes. The park was opened at the end of the 19th century as one of the first social housing projects in The Netherlands. Every year in mid-July a flea market is held, organized this year on July 17, 2021 from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm.

My grandfather and grandmother from Enkhuizen loved cycling so much that they regularly cycled around the IJsselmeer or Markermeer in half a day. Every year they cycled as if around the world (40,000 km).

Water town

Enkhuizen is located directly on the IJsselmeer and is a Walhalla for water sports enthusiasts and bon vivants. Enkhuizen has several harbors, such as the Krabbershaven, Buitenhaven, Oude Haven (Old Harbor), Oosterhaven, etc. The Compagnieshaven is visited annually by some 18,000 ships and has space for more than 600 yachts. On the Wierdijk, near the indoor museum of the Zuiderzeemuseum, you will find a beautiful old entrance gate.

In the city itself you have the canals where people sail with their own or rented boats along the charming monumental warehouses. On the IJsselmeer you can learn water skiing, jet skiing and Enkhuizen has a sailing school.

Are you not that sporty but do you like watching people and boats? On the east side of the Havenweg at the Visafslag, the Dijk and the Bocht you can sit with a view of the harbor. It is also a beautiful sight when one of the bridges opens to let a sailing boat in.

Tip: Join a sailing trip with the two-masted clipper De Bonte Koe from Enkhuizen to the most beautiful spots of the IJsselmeer and the Wadden Sea.

A pleasure boat sails into Enkhuizen
A pleasure boat sails into Enkhuizen
Sailboats in the marina of Enkhuizen
Sailboats in the marina of Enkhuizen

Map Enkhuizen

This mobile friendly map includes most things mentioned in this article and more! It is smartphone friendly; you can use it easily via Google Maps. Click on the top left icon to open the menu. To customize the map to your interests, simply (un)select categories. Via Google Drive you can copy it to your folder of My Google Maps.

The dike at Enkhuizen is not the Afsluitdijk but the Houtribrijk. This 30-kilometer-long dike to Lelystad is located exactly between the IJsselmeer and the Markermeer.

When to visit Enkhuizen

You can visit Enkhuizen all year round, every season has its charm. There is always something to do and experience. Summer is my favorite. Then the city is most buzzing and you can watch people and boats passing by from the terraces. The Jazz Festival Enkhuizen in June always attracts a lot people. Every year in October the Enkhuizer Klipper Race is being held.

In addition to the earlier mentioned Drombar, Brouwerij De Werf is also recommended. For more suggestions for eating and drinking in Enkhuizen, see the mobile map of Enkhuizen below.

Due to the Corona measures, the restaurants are currently only open for delivery and pick-up. Don’t feel like cooking yourself? Then have food delivered to Thuisbezorgd (home delivery). Or get a portion of freshly baked kibbeling (pieces of fried cod) from the local fish shop, yum!

Brewery De Werf
Brewery De Werf
Freshly baked kibbeling at the marina of Enkhuizen
Freshly baked kibbeling at the marina

Where to stay in Enkhuizen

Perhaps it is beginning to dawn on you; actually a day in Enkhuizen is too short. The city has so much to offer that you should stay here at least one night. Or go crazy, make it a long weekend! Stay in a historic building or directly on the harbor and enjoy everything that Enkhuizen e.o. has to offer. I would like to recommend the following accommodations.

B&B Havenzicht (B&B Harbor View) offers sea views in combination with all the comfort of an apartment and a B&B. Beautiful, attractive room with a double bed, kitchenette, table with two chairs, a sofa, private bathroom and a private entrance. And as the icing on the cake: the delicious breakfast.

De Vier Kroonen (The Four Crowns) is truly one of the most beautiful and special houses in the old town of Enkhuizen. You can rent this 80m2 holiday home per night. There is one bedroom with a double bed, a kitchen and a balcony with a view over the old harbor. Great!

Het Tulpenhuis (The Tulip House) is a beautiful holiday home in a 16e century building of 150m2 on the Breedstraat. It has a great authentic interior, lots of atmosphere, the ideal location in the center and a view of the IJsselmeer. There are 3 bedrooms (2 double beds and 2 single beds), 2 bathrooms, a spacious living room, dining room with table and 6 chairs, kitchen, bar, garden, etc. And yes, a bath and Netflix. Perfect for a large family or group of friends. You don’t want to leave here!

De Vier Kronen Enkhuizen
De Vier Kronen Enkhuizen (photo credits booking.com)
Tulpenhuis Enkhuizen
Tulpenhuis Enkhuizen (photo credits booking.com)

Would you rather stay in a hotel or are the above accommodation in Enkhuizen already fully booked? Then Hotel de Koepoort a must. Next to the actual gate from 1654!

How to continue traveling to and from Enkhuizen

As with Rome, there are many roads that lead to Enkhuizen. Or actually connections, because you can reach Enkhuizen in all kinds of ways. Of course by car, bicycle or train, but also over the water. The nearest international airport for Enkhuizen is Amsterdam-Schiphol (2 hours by public transport or 50 minutes by car via the A7-A8-A10-A4).

Enkhuizen station is located in a beautiful majestic, historical building on the marina. From Amsterdam Central Station you can travel to Enkhuizen within an hour. Or in 70 min by train from Alkmaar (change in Hoorn or Amsterdam Sloterdijk).

You can cross the IJsselmeer by ferry from Enkhuizen:

The journey between Stavoren and Enkhuizen across the IJsselmeer has been carried out since 1886, nowadays by saloon ship Bep Glasius. In addition to a single journey (‘enkeltje’) and a day return (‘dagretour’), combination tickets for the boat trip plus Zuiderzeemuseum or Sprookjeswonderland. All ferries (to Urk, Stavoren and Medemblik) leave near the station, just follow the signs.

On the ferry to Enkhuizen
On the ferry to Enkhuizen
Delft Blue street art in a building at the Zuiderzeemuseum
Delft Blue on Harderwijk by Hugo Kaagman – with bicycle!

Historical Triangle

Enkhuizen, Hoorn and Medemblik together form the so-called Historical Triangle.

  • Between Hoorn and Medemblik there is a historic steam tram from 1887, which stops at a number of intermediate, former stations such as Wognum, Twisk and Opperdoes.
  • The museum ship Friesland sails between Enkhuizen and Medemblik.

Make a fun day trip out of it. For example: departure by boat from Enkhuizen at 10:40 am, arrival Medemblik at 11:55 am. Stroll around the center of Medemblik. Departure at 13:20 pm with the steam tram from Medemblik to Hoorn, arrival in Hoorn at 2:40 pm. Visit the museum and center of Hoorn and take the regular NS train back to Enkhuizen.

Tip: plan and book your Historical Triangle trip on time, even out of season it is easily sold out a week in advance!

Steam tram Medemblik - Hoorn Historical Triangle
Steam tram Medemblik – Hoorn Historical Triangle (photo credits Wouter Kloos)

Bicycle rental Enkhuizen

The surroundings of Enkhuizen are also beautiful. Travel sustainably and healthily, rent a bike! Inquire at:

Need a taxi in Ekhuizen? Call Den Taxi +31 228-23444. There is no Uber in Enkhuizen.

This visit to Enkhuizen was a trip down to memory lane for me. I hope this article will inspire you to visit Enkhuizen (again). And that you will enjoy it as much as I do. If you have a question, a compliment or additional tip about Enkhuizen, the Zuiderzeemuseum, or something similar, please let us know by leaving a comment below. Have fun in Enkhuizen!

Thanks to my dear friend Marion for joining me this wonderful day and taking lots of pictures of me!

Residential area in Enkhuizen
Residential area in Enkhuizen with boats and trees
Pretty monumental houses at the Zuider Havendijk Enkhuizen
Monumental houses at the Zuider Havendijk

Read more articles about The Netherlands in the Netherlands Blog Archives.


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Last Updated on 04/06/2021 by Flitter Fever

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