18km (11 miles) NE of Amsterdam; 2km (1 mile) N of Volendam
A little way inland from the IJsselmeer, Edam (pronounced ay-dam) gives its name to one of Holland's most famous cheeses. Don't expect to find it in the familiar red skin, though -- that's for export. In Holland, the skin is yellow. This pretty little town (pop. 7,000), a whaling port during Holland's 17th-century Golden Age, is centered around canals you cross by way of drawbridges that offer views of canal houses, gardens, and teahouses.
Getting There -- There is a frequent bus service by Arriva. Bus nos. 110, 112, 113, 116, and 118 depart from outside Amsterdam Centraal Station for the 35-minute ride; the round-trip fare is 7.50€. By car, go north on N247, via Monnickendam and Volendam.
Visitor Information -- VVV Edam, Stadhuis (Town Hall), Damplein 1, 1135 BK Edam (tel. 0299/315-125; fax 0299/374-236; www.vvv-edam.nl), is in the town center. The office is open mid-March to June and September to October, Monday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm; July to August, Monday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm, and Sunday from 11am to 3:30pm; and November to mid-March, Monday to Saturday from 10am to 3pm.
What to See & Do
Edam was once a port of some prominence, and a visit to the modest Edams Museum, Damplein 8 (tel. 0299/372-644; www.edamsmuseum.nl), opposite the former Town Hall, gives you a peek not only at its history but also at some of its most illustrious citizens over the centuries. Look for the portrait of Pieter Dirckz, a one-time mayor and proud possessor of what is probably the longest beard on record anywhere: It was 2.5m (8 ft.) long! An intriguing feature of this merchant's house (ca. 1530) is the cellar, which is actually a box floating on water, constructed that way so changing water levels wouldn't upset the house's foundations. The museum is open April to late October, Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 4:30pm, and Sunday from 1 to 4:30pm. Admission is 3€ for adults, 2€ for seniors, 1€ for children ages 13 to 17, and free for children 12 and under.
Take a look at the lovely wedding room in the Stadhuis (Town Hall), and if you visit during summer months, don't miss the cheese-making display at the Kaaswaag (Weigh House). The Speeltoren (Carillon Tower) from 1561 tilts a bit and was very nearly lost when the church to which it belonged was destroyed.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.