During the 16th century, the Dutch port of Hoorn was the center of world trade, knitting together continents with its enormous merchant fleet. Nowadays, the medieval port is still there, along with plenty of museums, but it's been joined by superb restaurants, markets, and cultural attractions.
Shaped like a horn (strangely enough), Hoorn's port is a beautiful sight, and it's full of historical interest. See landmarks like the Hoofdtoren tower and the Oosterkerk, and wander the remarkably preserved 16th-century streets.
Superb museums in Hoorn include the artistically themed Westfries Museum, Halve Maen (a reconstructed Dutch East India Company ship), and the quirkier Museum of the 20th Century.
From the irresistible cheese market held every Thursday to exceptional restaurants like Restaurant d'Oude Waegh and Marque, Hoorn is one of the Netherlands' finest dining destinations.
Hoorn also allows you to take a journey back into the 19th century with the Historische Driehoek, which runs a few miles northwards to the almost as enchanting harbor of Medemblik.
With Amsterdam an hour to the south and other beautiful West Friesian cities like Volendam and Alkmaar to visit, Hoorn's hinterland is a wonderful place to explore.
Summer is definitely the time to visit. Not only will the sights be at their best, but Hoorn hosts lively music events like Outdoor Stereo and Live in Hoorn in July and August.
Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS) is around 40 miles south of Hoorn. From there, you can take a direct train (44 minutes, EUR12-20).
Trains run into Hoorn from Amsterdam Centraal, taking just over an hour and costing around EUR15.
From Amsterdam, take the A10 to Zaandam, then the E22 straight into Hoorn.
EBS runs regular buses from Amsterdam to Hoorn, which leave every 20 minutes from Amsterdam Centraal and cost EUR10.
Superb accommodation providers in Hoorn include the cozy Hotel Petit Nord, which has an Asian restaurant, and the Hotel de Magneet, which has exceptional harbor views.
Binnenstad - a dense network of squares and streets, Binnenstad dates back to the 14th century and contains great attractions like the Westfries Museum.
Oostereiland - a tiny islet just off the shore, Oostereiland hosts the Museum of the 20th Century, a great cinema, and some of the best views of the old town.
Kersenboogerd - slightly to the northeast of the city center, Kersenboogerd hosts some excellent restaurants, including Brasserie Marmaris, and has its own station, making it easy to reach central attractions.
Public buses run to most areas of Hoorn and cost a couple of Euros per journey. There are also a couple of train stations in outlying districts, and cycle rental places are everywhere.
Taxis in Hoorn charge EUR4.50 as a flag drop, followed by around EUR3 per mile after that.
Car rental options include Bo-Rent and Welkers, where packages start at around EUR10 per day.
The city center is the place to shop, whether you head to the Saturday market or stroll along Grote Noord, checking out stores like Costes or Hunkemöller.
Supermarkets in the city include Vogel and DEEN, where 12 eggs will cost around EUR2.50.
Good food is easy to come by in Hoorn. Standout eateries include Marque, which specializes in European haute cuisine; Fa. D. Wormsbecher en Zoon, a seafood takeaway place; and Brasserie Marmaris, an excellent Turkish restaurant. Prices range from EUR20 to EUR40 per head.