What to do and see when you’re in Hoorn? Hoorn is a versatile historical city where you can do many different things. On this page you will find the top 10 things to do and see in Hoorn. The overview is based on my personal experience and on feedback from guests of Local Guide Hoorn. Therefore the list starts as follows:
Top 10 things to do in Hoorn, the Netherlands
1. Private guided tour Hoorn
‘Meet The Local’ is the highest rated tour by guests from abroad. I will show you the most beautiful places of Hoorn during this tour and you will get acquainted with everyday Dutch customs and our peculiarities. What is typical Dutch food? What does a Dutch House look like on the inside? Do they really pay tax in the Netherlands for keeping a dog? During this tour we will visit my house to have a coffee break and a peek inside a typical Dutch House.
2. Museum of the 20th Century
The Museum of the 20th Century in Hoorn tells about life in the last century in the Netherlands through hundreds of objects and dozens of interiors. How did our parents and grandparents live? What toys did children play with? What kind of shops were there? How was cooking done? What did people do in their spare time? What was there to see on radio or television? The Museum has changing exhibitions and is fun for young and old. It is located in an old prison on Oostereiland. The building alone is worth a visit.
3. Westfries Museum
The Westfries Museum displays the richness of the Golden Age in more than 25 furnished rooms with paintings, porcelain, glass and silverware. You step through the gates of the 17th-century monument and walk into the Dutch Golden Age (1600 -1700). This museum tells the story of the most dynamic period in Dutch history and its significance for West Friesland. A visit to the Museum can easily be combined with a city walk or a tour of the Historical Centre. The Museum is beautifully situated on the central square of the city.
4. The historic steam train
Forget the futuristic time machines and space travel, the most exciting journey through time is made in an original steam tram through the historic triangle Hoorn – Medemblik – Enkhuizen. Immerse yourself and experience history. The journey through time begins in style. See how the stoker throws the coals on the fire, step on the steam train and wait for the whistle of the steam locomotive. Fun for children, but also for adults. The steam train ride takes you through a few old villages and the vast West Frisian landscape. The Museum and starting point is located behind the train station of Hoorn Centrum.
5. Watertaxi Hoorn
Watertaxi Hoorn offers not only the possibility to move from one destination to another, but also longer trips. From an hour-long cruise through the port and the canals of the city to a longer trip offshore to the Oranje Buiten beach pavilion or to Volendam. All trips can be booked with catering and of course each trip is carried out by an experienced skipper and guide. A trip by water taxi can easily be combined with a tour in the city. Boarding can be done at different locations.
6. Bonck Museum House
House Bonck has a special history as a merchant’s house, linen weaving mill, city farm and house: for almost 400 years people have lived and worked here. Taste the unique atmosphere of this house. House Bonck has a small hanging room that is literally ‘hung’ from the attic beam, hence the name. The room feels almost like a ship, with the wooden paneling all around, a low ceiling and the view of the water. It is the only room in the house with only one clearly defined function: the office. The house is located at Binneluiendijk 3. A visit to the house is easy to combine with a city walk.
7. Hoornse straatjes (shopping)
Between the two churches, towards the Roode steen and the harbour quarter is a unique shopping area located: the ‘Hoornse straatjes’. In these streets you will find a wealth of special things from creative entrepreneurs that make the city centre of Horn unique! These are the streets: Nieuwe Noord, Kruisstraat, Lange Kerkstraat, Nieuwstraat, Kerkplein, Kerkstraat and Wisselstraat. These streets have special and traditional businesses. No large shops, but precisely those small self-employed people with an understanding of business and passion for their profession with excellent service.
8. Hoorn – Enkhuizen – Hoorn
If you are in Hoorn a bit longer, a trip to Enkhuizen is worthwhile. By train you can travel in exactly 26 minutes from the centre of Hoorn to the centre of Enkhuizen. In Enkhuizen you can take a nice walk and there are several nice restaurants for lunch. Enkhuizen is a city that is less extensive than Hoorn, but just like Hoorn it has a beautiful centre and beautiful monumental buildings. Look for more information: Enkhuizen info.
9. Country side bike tour
Especially for foreign guests I developed a nice bike tour. This bike tour takes us through Hoorn and a few beautiful villages in the immediate vicinity. We pass a classic Dutch windmill and in spring we pass extensive tulip fields. We drive over a historic Dutch dike that was build in the middle of the 13th century. And we don’t have to worry about headwinds. If desired, we can use electric bikes. You will discover why our country is called the Netherlands.
10. Active for children: Sam City + City playground
It’s nice a museum, but for the children it is sometimes quite boring. Then do yourself a great favour and let them rage in a controlled environment. For the little ones there is are some things to do in Hoorn: the city playground, a small paradise in the green where parents can sit quietly. Look for more information: City playground Hoorn. For older children, Sam City is total fun. This is a brand new indoor trampoline center including a fine lunch restaurant! For more information, please visit: https://www.samcity.nl/
There are many more things to do and see in Hoorn. For example, from summer 2023 Hoorn will have the largest city beach in the Netherlands. I will regularly adapt and update the list of things to do and see in Hoorn.
Top 10 places to see in Hoorn
The historic center of Hoorn has more than 350 national monuments. No other small city in the Netherlands has as many monuments as Hoorn. Here is a list of 10 places to see in Hoorn. For a more complete list of places to see, click here!
1. Main Tower
My favorite sight is without doubt the Main Tower. And it’s not only the tower itself but also the surroundings. The tower itself was built in 1532 and originally intended as a defensive tower.
2. Roode Steen
The Red Stone (Roode Steen) is the central square of Hoorn and is surrounded by a collection of monuments. On the square you’ll find the weighhouse from 1609 and the Statencollege from 1632.
Among my favourite sights Hoorn, the Oostereiland should not be missed. When I take a walk through the city myself, I almost always walk around the Oostereiland.
The Oosterpoort was built in 1578 and is the only remaining city gate of Hoorn. In 1601 a house was built on top of the Oosterpoort that is still inhabited.
5. Oude Doelenkade
From the ‘Oude Doelenkade’ you have a nice view over the inner harbour, the big sluice-gate and the Hoofdtoren. In the summer the inner harbour is full of pleasure craft, sometimes up to five rows thick! At nos. 17 and 19 there is a couple of beautifully restored 17th century mansions.
6. Bossu houses
At the Slapershaven on the corner with the Grote Oost are three beautiful houses that were built around 1612. Across their entire width, these buildings are fitted with facing bricks that together form a kind of comic strip about the battle of the Zuiderzee.
The Mariatoren (also called ‘Kruittoren’) was built in 1508 as a defensive tower and gunpowder storage. The tower still stands proudly on the old city wall and with its feet in the city canal (the Draafsingel).
8. St Jansgasthuis
The St. Jansgasthuis was built in 1563 and was part of a monastery complex. Monasteries took care of the sick at this time and set up guest houses (hospitals). The St. Jansgasthuis is a well-preserved example of the spatial layout of a medieval guesthouse.
The Oosterkerk has its origins in 1450 and was built as a Roman Catholic church for fishermen and skippers. The choir of the present stone church was built in 1519 and subsequently expanded and adapted. Since 1616 the church has had its present form.
The Baatland is the first large artificial peninsula that was built in Hoorn. The island had to shield the city from the open Zuiderzee. Between 1500 and 1700 it was busy here with houses, workshops and shipyards. Nowadays it is a beautiful green space and part of the Juliana Park.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Hoorn, the Netherlands worth a visit?
Hoorn is definitely worth a visit. In the historic center of Hoorn you will find more than 300 national monuments, many of which have their origins in the Dutch Golden Age (1600 – 1700). Hoorn is situated at the Markermeer and has several historic harbors. Hoorn is a compact city that is perfect for a city walk. When visiting consider a guided tour, fun for young and old!
What are the best activities and attractions in Hoorn?
The most enjoyable activities are:
(1) A guided city walk through the historic center.
(2) The Museum of the 20th Century.
(3) Westfries Museum
(4) A ride with the Museum Steam Tram Hoorn – Medemblik
(5) Watertaxi Hoorn
What are the main sights and monuments of Hoorn?
The center of Hoorn is full of monuments. The most important monuments you should definitely visit are:
(1) Hoofdtoren /Main Tower,
(2) Staten College,
(4) Oosterpoort and
(5) Binnenhaven / Inner Harbour.
These monuments are all located within the historic center and can be visited during a city walk.
What is the distance between Hoorn and Amsterdam?
The distance between Hoorn and Amsterdam is about 40km. By car it takes about 30 minutes and there is ample parking around the center. By train you travel from Amsterdam Central Station in 35 minutes to the center of Hoorn.