Schagen, NL is a small town in North Holland that got its humble beginnings in the 900’s. It hosts many events throughout the year including a special historical market held just 10 times in the summer between the end of June and the beginning of September.
A small town surrounded by farmland, it is very easy to locate the beautiful town market with it’s two large churches. Stemming off from the market place, you’ll find a couple nice shopping streets with good restaurants and enticing boutiques. (You’ll find a lot of great clothing stores for all ages and one of my favorite shops there for great girly things is KKip!)
Food: With Indian-Chinese, local pubs, a Tex-Mex restaurant called Chica Chica,
an upscale restaurant called TOV, Gewoon Eten, and others, your choices are fairly endless.
We ate at Piet Pann right across the street from the church on our first day there. In the evening it becomes a late-night hot spot, but for dinner, it was quick and reasonable. We all ordered the special of the day – Kip Cordon Bleu (chicken cordon bleu) and it was delicious. The kids all loved it too. The price for the special was quite good. The children’s menu was ok, but the chicken sate came absolutely drowned in peanut sauce – not always the favorite for small taste buds. The portions were good though.
The next day there we ate at The Grand Cafe 1741 which from the outside looks like it might be pricey, but the menu was simple and also quite affordable. The tostis (grilled sandwiches) were perfect for the children and the salads and desserts walking by looked delicious. This place is also right on the market square by the big church.
Ice cream is quite available. One is on the right hand side while walking away from the big church towards the other church on Gedempte Gracht street. The other is right across from the Albert Hein which, by the way, is an excellent grocery store to visit if you’re staying locally there and want to save money by eating in. It’s worth going into just to gawk at their cheese department. Wow!
The West-Frisian Market, held on Thursdays between the end of June and the beginning of September each year not only includes an interesting market with cheese, wooden shoes, horse supplies, fruits, and garden supplies, but it also has a beautiful period parade beginning at 1045. Standing by the ice cream store across from the Albert Hein will give you a great view. The real beauty of this parade isn’t only the parade itself, but that the participants in their authentic 1900’s attire don’t scurry home to change. For hours after the parade, you can watch theses locals sit at the local eateries with friends, shop at the market, or walk through the streets. The children in cute hats and wooden shoes play just like any other day. It’s Christmas for anyone who enjoys taking pictures. Photo-ops abound. Besides the shopping and the parade, each week there is a theme with extra events planned. On the day that I went, they had a theater theme, so for hours in the afternoon, street performers entertained the crowds.
The Church: Among churches in Europe, few stand out. This one is beautiful – like many others. It is a good marker to find your way around. It’s nice, but with so many others, it isn’t a tourist draw. Still, it’s a nice church and the bell tower is open. When I visited Schagen, we ran into the church to escape the rain and ended up enjoying a very nice organ concert. Afterwards, we did hike the narrow, ladder-like stairs to the top of the bell tower (and my legs felt it for days afterwards). The view is nice, but don’t expect to see the beach. The dunes block any possible view.
The Ark: At the moment (and unfortunately temporarily), a full-scale replica of Noah’s Ark can be seen and toured in Schagen. Impossible to miss in the canal off the main road heading north through the town, the ark entrance fees are only 3 Euro for children and 5 Euro for adults.
Near: Schagen is only 15 minutes from a very nice beach in Callantsoog, 15 minutes from the cheese market in Alkmaar, 40 minutes from Amsterdam and Haarlem, 25 minutes from Zaanse Schans, 10 minutes from the Kaan Koffie coffee roaster, and 15 minutes from Anna Paulowna with a really nice tulip festival in the spring.
Lodging: Here’s a B&B that’s tried and true — The Bed and Breakfast Tjallewal