11 things to do in Monnikendam (Netherlands)

The small but photogenic town of Monnikendam was a big hit at the turn of the 17th century, with trade from across the Baltic Sea.

Since then, a cosy old street has remained, with smokehouses and shipyards on the harbour, two iconic properties in Monnikendam.

Since the Zuiderzee was dammed in the 1930s and became a group of freshwater lakes, the seafaring days of Monnikendam are long gone, but are still remembered during the summer’s Monnikendamer Wesdagan festival. Heart.

On these special days, old fish auctions are re-enacted, old life is re-enacted in the port, and the smell of smoked fish fills the air.

1. Small Town Walking Tour


Once you reach the old centre of Monnichendan, you will be captivated by the cosy cityscape of historic merchant houses and warehouses, as well as the wonderful old monuments such as the Grote Kerk, Waag (weighing room) and the former town hall.

You’ll find the city easy to navigate as most of Monnickendam’s 70+ Dutch heritage sites are concentrated in Kerkstraat, Nordeinde and Zuidende, three streets that converge at the foot of the Speeltoren bell tower.

Then head east to the harbour, home to more than 30 old smokehouses and shipyards that have stood the test of time.

2. Clock Tower

Waterlandsmuseum de Speeltoren

The bell tower of Monnickendam’s now demolished former town hall was built between the 14th and 16th centuries and contains the oldest playable carillon in the Netherlands.

The lower part of the tower is believed to belong to a lost medieval parish church.

The chime consists of 15 bells, most of which were cast in the 1590s.

A quarter of an hour strikes a melody, while a mechanical knight appears at the hour, and a phoneme blows the time (hours) on a trumpet.

3. Waterlandsmuseum de Speeltoren

Waterlandsmuseum De Speeltoren

Inside Speeltoren is a museum exploring Waterland’s history and culture, revealing topics such as cheese making, peat cutting, pottery, bell casting, the arrival of the light rail line in the late 19th century and the smoking industry in coastal towns such as Monnickendam and Marken.

Particular attention is paid to Waterland’s relationship to the sea, in industries such as fishing and shipbuilding, and the construction of the Waterlands Zeedek seawall in the Middle Ages.

The bells are also at the heart of the museum’s exhibition, where you can learn about the complex clock mechanism and how the carillon is made.

4. Grote Kirk

Grot Kirk

Monnickendam’s main church, built in the 15th century, is located in De Zarken on the western edge of the town.

Work was completed in stages, with the choir being completed in 1450, while the tower was another 100 years away.

There is a bell cast in 1641 on the spire. Those interested in historic church facilities will find much to admire.

The baptismal font, rendered from Bentheim sandstone blocks, is Gothic and may even predate the church.

Next to the baptistery is a beautiful 17th-century wooden bench for important personalities such as the mayor (this bench has a canopy). The pulpit was carved around 1695, while the altar screen that separates the choir from the nave originated in the 15th century, with panels and tracery from the mid-16th century.

5. Monnickendammer Weiss Dagan

monnikon damerweiss dagan

To be marked in the diary is Monnickendammer Visdagen, and on several dates in July and August, the town’s old fishing industry was revived.

On these days, guides will take you on a tour of the town’s more than 30 old smokehouses, as well as a boat moored in port from Volendam, loaded with herring, mackerel and smelt, ready to be auctioned the old-fashioned way.

You can also watch fish being smoked in historic houses and in portable smoke canisters on the street, and of course give it a try.

Other ancient industries are revived on the Wisdagan, such as clog making, basketry and net weaving.

There are fun activities for young members of the clan, and there is a market selling Waterland peripherals.

6. VVV Informatiepunt Monnickendam

VVV Informatiepunt Monnickendam

Nothing beats a bit of local insight in a cozy old town like Monnikendam.

The tourist information office is located in a lovely gabled house opposite the Damsluis lock, opposite the old weighing house (now a tavern) in Monnickendam.

The center is open year-round, all week except Sunday, with reduced off-season hours from October to March.

If you need maps for hiking, biking or even sailing, this is the place for you, while the friendly shopkeepers will inform you of the sights in Monnikendam and the wider Waterland region.

Children who have completed the self-guided tour around the city will be given a special medal by the Tourism Bureau to indicate that they are “honorary residents”.

7. Bierderij Waterland

Bierderij Waterland

In the summer of 2018, a craft brewery opened in a large cottage next to a marina in Galgeriet.

Bierderij Waterland has quickly become the go-to destination for both Monnickendam locals and tourists flocking to the sweltering summer of 2018. Biederij Waterland brews seven organic beers throughout the year, including a Belgian-style ternary, wheat beer, an amber ale, two pale ales, a bock and a white ale.

The smartly designed tap room is open all week and serves hungry treats such as pizza and flatbread, made with locally sourced ingredients wherever possible.

8. Take a boat tour


One of Monnickendam’s biggest attractions is the port’s range of maritime activities.

Sailing is the main activity here, whether you’re renting your own boat for someone else to drive or visiting for some training.

In summer, operator Zuiderzee will take you to Markermer and IJsselmeer for an 8-hour bot (sailing barge) tour with lunch on the water (subject to availability) and an optional stop in the picturesque former port town of Zuiderzee Like Edam, Marken or Volendam.

For seasoned sailors who want more independence, Waterland is a charter company offering yachts from 6 to 13 meters, all equipped with the latest navigation and galley equipment.

You can also book a course at Waterland, whether you are sailing for the first time or are working towards becoming a Dutch CWO certified.

9. Oder Radhus

old radhus

The Rococo former town hall of Monnickendam at Noordeinde 5 was probably built in the mid-18th century.

The property is an 1814 town hall, and the dramatic frieze with rat leaves, flowers and other botanical motifs will grab your attention.

This is below the carving of the monks, as shown on the coat of arms of Monnikendam.

The Oude Raadhuis is now preserved as a museum after being sold in the 1990s.

Due to limited opening hours, please check the Museumhuizen website.

But if you get the chance, check out the decorative stucco, gilded Rococo wood carvings, large fireplace and ornate staircase.

The lobby is particularly palatial, with stunning leather wall hangings and gold floral prints.

10. Wagg


Monnickenam’s historic weighing room is just a few doors away from Speeltoren, in front of the Damsluis lock.

The town has had a weighing house since 1382, although the current building was built in 1668 after a fire two years earlier, using materials from its predecessor.

At that time, the building was the economic center of the city, where cheese, butter and grain were weighed, and where goods were traded under porticoes supported by Doric columns.

Waag now has a bistro with a patio under the porch, and if you go in, you’ll see the original scales of Monnickendam.

11. Cycling


One of the many neat things about Monnickendam and its surroundings is that the distance between towns can be controlled by bike.

There is a system of impassable cycle paths that allow you to cycle to places like the former Marken Island, beloved for its weatherboard houses on stilts and colourful traditional dress, or the quaint fishing town of Volendam.

Famous for its eponymous mild cheese, Edam is only a 20-minute drive away and has a picture-perfect old pier and wooden drawbridge.

You can rent your own wheels from Ber Koning in Nordeinde, Monnickendam for only 55 euros per week.

From there, one of the prettiest places in the Netherlands is your oyster, and you can plan your trip to Waterland using the ‘knooppunten’ (knooppunten), the intersection of long-distance cycling routes.

Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Monnikendam, The Netherlands
Lowest Price Guarantee