FMTC Affiliate Disclosure: Blond Wayfarer contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I earn a commission at no extra cost to you. This disclosure pertains to all affiliate links.
Updated: 16 January 2024
As a smaller city, Hoorn is an overlooked town (well, at least overlooked by tourists) that is not too far from Amsterdam. Although famous travel author Rick Steves briefly discusses Hoorn in his Netherlands episode, this area of the country is still wonderfully undiscovered by most tourists. And I’m super excited to talk about it!
So, welcome to my post that’s all about my favorite things to do in Hoorn! I’m so glad you stumbled upon this guide, because, as much as I loved Amsterdam, I still think you ought to spend some time exploring the cities and towns outside the country’s famous capital.
The Netherlands is a small country, but regardless of its size, the Netherlands still has so much to offer visitors from around the world. It’s crazy how so many people never leave Amsterdam. Come on now. Be a little adventurous.
Without further ado, I’m here to tell you exactly why Hoorn is one of those great cities that you need to experience on your next trip to the Netherlands.
Hoorn is packed with gorgeous streets and canals, but this city also has an extensive history. For those of you who don’t know, Hoorn was a former base for the Dutch East India Company.
Yet, despite its fame and prominence at the height of the Dutch “Golden Age,” Hoorn is still surprisingly hidden from tourists. Luckily for you, it offers respite from the crowds, especially if you’re visiting in the summer.
Anyway, this post covers not only the many great things to do in Hoorn, but I’ve also taken the time to write some practical tips for visiting this adorable Dutch city.
Hoorn Travel Tips
How to Get to Hoorn from Amsterdam
Are you ready to experience the things to do in Hoorn Holland? But you’re not sure how to get to this town? Are you nervous at the thought of using public transportation and planning your own day trips?
Never fear, friends! Hoorn is really easy to build into a trip if you’re spending 5 days in the Netherlands (or more!).
Most people in the Netherlands speak great English (although learning a few phrases of Dutch is a nice idea), and will help you if you’re feeling hopelessly lost.
In addition, part of the beauty of visiting the Netherlands is having access to the country’s extensive and affordable public transportation system.
Seriously, since the Netherlands is so small, densely populated, and well-connected, you can go anywhere without the hassle of renting a car.
I know I said it a million times already but the Dutch put NJ transit to great shame.
To keep this post simple, I’ll assume you’re staying in Amsterdam.
Reach Hoorn By Bus
Bus is the cheapest way to reach Hoorn.
You will start your day by taking the 314 Bus. Multiple buses leave from both Amsterdam Centraal and Amsterdam Sloterdijk.
Depending on the traffic, the ride takes a little more than an hour each way. Bus rides are direct, too.
Reach Hoorn By Train
Another option is taking the Intercity train from Amsterdam Centraal. Like the bus, the train rides are direct, which means no annoying stop switches at random stations. The train is more expensive, but takes less time. Train rides to Hoorn take approximately 40 minutes.
Make sure to validate all your tickets! You don’t want to pay a hefty fine.
Should I Stay Overnight in Hoorn?
Now that you know all the best things to do in Hoorn, you might be asking yourself, “Should I just spend the night in Hoorn rather than travel back to Amsterdam?”
The answer depends entirely on you and your preferences.
For travelers who want a bustling urban party atmosphere, then return to Amsterdam once you finish your day trip in Hoorn. Does Amsterdam have higher prices? Sure. But you’ll want to spend that extra cash if nightlife is important to you. As I’ve said, although I loved Hoorn, this small city feels very quiet, especially compared to the capital.
If you choose to stay, Hoorn has plenty of accommodation available to visitors. Read reviews and stay mindful of your budget.
- B&B Posthoorn: A family-run bed and breakfast with a lovely roof terrace and located close to Hoorn’s main train station. See prices on Expedia.com and Booking.com.
- Hotel de Keizerskroon Hoorn: Located inside a 19th century building and is close walk to the Westfries Museum. See prices on Expedia.com or Booking.com
- Hotel de Magneet: This adorable and highly ranked hotel is located right on the harbor, which makes for easy scenic views. See prices on Expedia.com and Booking.com
My Experience: Why I Loved Visiting Hoorn
As I planned my trip, flipping through my Netherlands guidebook, I realized even before boarding the plane that Hoorn was a very special place.
First and foremost, I was thrilled to visit Hoorn on the day of the Cheese Market. Yup, I ended up in Hoorn on a Thursday, and this coincidence was amaaaaaazing!
Guys, I honestly didn’t think I’d be able to see a Cheese Market in the Netherlands, due to my hectic and somehow restrictive travel schedule, but Hoorn managed to pleasantly surprised me.
I’ll share more details on how to visit Hoorn’s Cheese Market later in this post.
Not to mention, Hoorn truly provided a break from Amsterdam’s crowds. I loved not sharing the canals with a million other people, for example.
Whenever I travel, I make a concentrated effort to find “hidden gems” (to use a cliche term) outside the main cities, and Hoorn didn’t disappoint me!
Best Things to Do in Hoorn
A lot of the best things to do in Hoorn simply require enjoying the town’s atmosphere.
So, switch off Google Maps and explore. Hoorn is very safe (like most of the Netherlands) so you don’t need to worry about scams or pickpockets as you wander down random alleys.
Unlike Amsterdam, you don’t need to run to a million attractions with a checklist squeezed inside your hand. A lot of Hoorn’s biggest sites are easily seen in a simple day trip.
My favorite things to do in Hoorn are listed below. Happy reading!
Drink in the Gorgeous Harbor Area
Without a doubt, the harbor area is my favorite part of Hoorn. On a sunny afternoon, I could spend hours here sprawled on a bench with a book.
As you wander the harbor, you’ll discover a replica of the Dutch East India Company ship De Halve Maen. Take the time to imagine what it must have felt like to board one of these ships.
Additionally, I loved the public art in the harbor area. Particularly, I liked the statue of the cabin boys gazing out at the water.
There are plenty of cute spots to grab a drink in the harbor area of Hoorn. Buy one, take a seat, and simply relax. Traveling is exhausting, and you deserve a nice break.
Although you won’t run out of things to do in Hoorn, make sure to take the time to relax too!
Laugh and Dance at a Cheese Market
If your itinerary allows it, don’t miss the Cheese Market in Hoorn. The Hoorn Cheese Market takes place in the most important square in the town: Roode Steen.
The Cheese Market takes place every Thursday throughout the months of June, July, and August.
Not only are you able to eat cheese, you’ll see lots of wagons and dancers and merchants.
And the best part about this Cheese Market? NO TOURISTS. I was able to shop for delicious cheese and see the dancers without being jostled by a thousand camera-wearing nuisances.
Come to Hoorn on Thursdays. You won’t regret the Cheese Market. It’s so much fun. And delicious! Be sure to buy some cheese to take back to your hotel.
Learn Dutch History at the Westfries Museum
Hoorn’s most extensive museum is the Westfries Museum which covers the Dutch Golden Age.
The museum is open six days a week and is closed on Monday, so make sure to come one of the other days if the museum is a priority for you.
The inside of the museum includes two homes from the late 1700s. Without a doubt, the interiors are beautiful, and each room contains an abundance of relics from the era.
A free audio guide is included in the cost of your ticket. Having this guide makes wandering through the museum a nice experience. It’s important to know what you’re actually looking at, after all.
However, I also have a quick word of warning. As much as I loved the Westfries Museum, the audio guide is very detailed and extensive, which is great for history lovers, but might feel exhausting for the “run of the mill” traveler.
So don’t beat yourself up if you don’t see every exhibit in this museum.
Respect the rules in the Westfries Museums. Photos are not permitted. Put the cameras and phones away.
Snap Pretty Photos of Hoofdtoren
Upon seeing Hoofdtoren, I took fifty million pictures, even though photography doesn’t really do the ornate architecture a justice. I mean. Look at this tower? Isn’t it beautiful?
Although initial plans to build this tower began in the late 1500s, Hoofdtoren was finally finished in 1651. As an American, the ages of several European buildings always astound me. Oh, and don’t miss the adorable unicorn sculpture nearby.
Personally, I think Hoofdtoren is one of the highlights of the harbor. The tower is impossible to miss! It’s very pretty.
Enjoy the Atmosphere at Rode Steen
You can’t go to these adorable European cities without going to the main squares.
In Hoorn, then, don’t skip over Rode Steen even if you’re not visiting on a Thursday to see the Cheese Market.
You’ll know you’ve arrived in Rode Steen when you see the huge imposing statue of Jan Peterzoon Coen, who was the founder of the Dutch East India Company.
Although gorgeous today, Rode Steen has a very dark history. Rode Steen translates to Red Stone, which was named for the blood that trickled down from the gallows. Yikes.
I hope you enjoyed reading about the best things to do in Hoorn. Have you ever been to this Dutch city? Do you have plans to visit the Netherlands in the near future? Share all your thoughts in the comments! As always, thank you for your support.