Lake Markermeer
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Lake Markermeer, Netherlands

Also known as: Markermeer

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Map: Lake Markermeer, Netherlands

Lake Markermeer is a lake that was not meant to stay; however, it is now a popular vacation getaway and nature reserve. The nearly 173,000 acre lake was once known as the Zuiderzee, a saltwater inlet of the North Sea. In 1932, the Afsluitdijk (a closure dike) formed the freshwater IJsselmeer. Later in 1976, Lake IJsselmeer was split as a result of building the Houtribdijk, forming what is now known as Lake Markermeer. This dyke, also called Markerwaarddijk, runs from Enkhuizen to Lelystad. Plans where to drain the lake and reclaim the land for housing, a second airport, or even a nuclear power plant. However, today Lake Markermeer is a freshwater playground located in the north central region of the Netherlands, bordering the provinces of North Holland and Flevoland.

In 2004, Lake Markermeer became a protected nature reserve due to its bird habitat. Birds are not the only creatures that benefit from this body of water; nature lovers of all kinds flock to Lake Markemeer to partake in many recreational activities. Lake Markermeer, along with Lake IJsselmeer, offers many sailing routes for yachtsmen and sailboat enthusiasts. The unpredictability of the water will provide an adventurous challenge and offer different sailing conditions each time boaters venture out. Waves are generally short on Lake Markemeer, and there are days when the water is calm and makes a peaceful day for sailing.

With the waters of Lake Markemeer and Lake IJsselmeer cut off from the sea, fishing which was once a huge industry in many towns along the shores of the Zuiderzee, is no longer prosperous. However, the quaint old fishing towns are now tourist attractions and are great places to sightsee. Cobblestone lanes and giant windmills greet visitors as they travel through the towns. Bicycling is very popular and is a wonderful way to see rolling grasses and beautiful landscape as well as tremendous views of Lake Markermeer. A stop in Volendam will provide tourists many restaurants where they can enjoy some Danish cuisine. Afterwards, sightseers can take a ferry to Marken, an island on Lake Markermeer. The island is very quaint with lush green pastures where it is common to find sheep grazing. While on Marken visitors can enjoy the peaceful view of Lake Markermeer as they enjoy a picnic lunch.

Lake Markemeer visitors who crave city life will find what they are looking for in Amsterdam. Cafes, museums and a canal that runs throughout the city will leave tourists eager to see more. Visitors can see the house where Anne Frank hid during WWII, or take a peek at the art hanging in the Van Gogh Museum or the Rijksmuseum. Then they may dine at one of the many fine restaurants that can be found along the cannel that runs though Amsterdam.

With a city like Amsterdam, it is not hard to find the perfect vacation rental. However, for a more rustic vacation getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city, visitors will find many campgrounds around Lake Markemeer. Campers can enjoy the peaceful atmosphere with close proximity to the beautiful lake.

Cold weather should not discourage people from travelling to the Netherlands or to Lake Markemeer. The cold temperature freezes over many of the canals and rivers that run throughout the countryside, providing miles of ice skating surface. The winter months also provides opportunities for snow sledding, cross country skiing and snow shoeing.

In recent years Lake Markemeer has become a buffer against floodwaters and droughts. When drought hits, the surrounding area of Amsterdam relies on water from Lake Markermeer. There are some concerns about the quality of water in Lake Markermeer. The lake has become cloudy over the years, and plans have been made to put an opening in the dyke to allow a natural current to flow and to keep the waters from becoming stagnant.

Lake Markemeer offers so much it is no wonder the decision was made not to drain its waters, but to keep Lake Markemeer the wonderful resource that it has become. Visitors from all over the world can enjoy Lake Markemeer's beauty and all the recreational activities for year to come. Friends, families and honeymoon sweethearts can walk along cobblestone lanes or ride bicycles across the dykes. Whatever visitors enjoy they are sure to find it on the banks of Lake Markemeer.

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Lake Markermeer


  • Fishing
  • Ice Skating
  • Boating
  • Biking
  • Sailing
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Camping
  • Birding
  • Campground
  • Museum
  • Picnicking
  • Playground

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