About 3600 people live on Ameland permanently, many of them working for the tourism industry on the island. There are four main villages: Ballum, the official main settlement in terms of administration, Nes , where the ferry arrives, Hollum and Buren. Furthermore there are several small hamlets.
A ferry service runs from Holwerd, Friesland at least 6 times per day, but double as often in high season. It's operated by Wagenborg Passagiersdiensten and costs €12/14 in low/high season. The trip to Ameland takes 45 minutes and the ferry arrives in the harbour of Nes.
To get to Holwerd, you can make use of a bus service from train station Leeuwarden to the ferry dock. If you're travelling by car, you can best leave it at the parking space in Holwerd as you will not really need it at the island and the ferry ride will cost up to €95 for the car alone.
The island has three bus lines, of which one only operates in the peak season. The two lines that operate all year will take you to all four villages. The bus lines are operated by Arriva.
There are many bike rental companies in the villages, that can provide all sorts of bikes. Most of the hotels have bike rental services too.
- 1 Lighthouse, Oranjeweg 57, Hollum, ☎ . The striped, 1880 lighthouse on the west side of the island is open to the public. After climbing around 240 steps, you can look around on the balcony just below the light. Several floors in the lighthouse have exhibitions of, for example, old naval maps. Opening hours vary strongly per day and per season, but in Summer the tower is open every day and even some evenings (W-Su evening till 21:00). Check the website for details. Adults €4.50, children €3.25.
- Sorgdrager museum, Herenweg 1, Hollum. This place in the charming village of Hollum focuses on the history of Ameland (mostly cultural) and has different exhibitions. Visitors can dwell through the museum using a podcatcher as a guide.
- Abraham Fock rescue museum, Oranjeweg 18, Hollum. The rescue museum explains the history of the Koninklijke Nederlandse Redding Maatschappij (Royal Netherlands Rescue Society) on Ameland. About once a month the Abraham Fock museum launches a lifeboat using horses. This was used for real rescues until about 1988. Nowadays the KNRM has a station in the Ballummerbocht, south of Ballum.
- Juttersmuseum Swartwoude, Hoofdweg 1, Buren. A fine little museum, giving an inside in the life of Ameland's rural communities in earlier times. It focusses on the two main activities: agriculture and beachcombing. €4.25.
- Monumental buildings. The village of Hollum is a particularly good place to see some of the islands listed national monuments, mostly in the form of simple, old town houses. Other villages have examples as well though, and the countryside is dotted with historic farms.
- Natuurcentrum Ameland, Strandweg 38. This museum like activity centre has expositions on Ameland and its history, mostly discussing animal and plant life and the influence of the sea on the island. There are also a few aquariums. €6.25.
- Windmills. There are two windmills at the island, one in the village of Nes and one in Hollum. Both are well-restored and operative. Grain and mustard-mill De Verwachting in Hollum produces and sells local mustard. Although a mill stood here already long ago, the current one was rebuilt in 1988. The Phenix in Nes is an original 1880 grain mill, restored and now used to mill rye for the local bakery.
Ameland has a small airfield near Ballum. Aero Service Ameland provides tours and lessons from there. A tour of all villages on the island starts at €90.
The Strandexpress (only Dutch) takes you to the far east of the island over the beach. There is a stop and short walk about halfway where the driver explains a lot about the island, the dunes, animal and plant life and the sea. From the far east Schiermonnikoog is clearly visible.
- Seals trip (Robbentocht), Kêkelburen 3, Hollum, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A fun outing, especially with children, is a trip by boat to Robbeneiland. Robbeneiland is a sandbank off the coast near Hollum where at low tide many seals are lazing and sunbathing on the sandy beach. The trip takes 2¼ hours. Departure is from the pier at Nes. Combination trips are also possible. Popular is a trip to Robbeneiland, including a stop at the Schelpenstrand (shell beach) for a short walk. A combined trip takes 2¾ hours. Surcharge €3. See their website for the timetable. Adults €13.50, children €9.
There are plenty of shops to provide for daily needs and a good range of souvenirs. Nes, Hollum and Ballum all have a supermarket and there are several bookshops around.
All villages have many restaurants, offering all sorts of food.
On the west side of the Island in Holum there is Cantina Dolores. A Mexican restaurant/tapasbar/steakhouse; well worth a visit! Take a look at their menu.
- Nobel, Gerrit Kosterweg 16, Ballum, ☎ . Part of a high-end hotel, this is one of the best restaurants around. It serves French cuisine. Complex dishes, nicely presented and usually friendly staff. €40.
- Rede van Nes, Maarten Janszenstraat 2, Nes, ☎ . This restaurant in the village centre started as a fish restaurant, but has dropped that title since, as it now also serves a good range of other dishes. The starters, mains and desserts on the menu have one fixed price, and alternatively they offer a "shared tasting" of 5 five dishes for €30 p.p. €18.50 for a main.
- Nescafé, Van Heeckerenstraat 10, Nes, ☎ . This cosy place in the Nes village centre uses good quality produce to prepare simple bistro style dishes, and a range of grilled dishes from the Green Egg grill. It's open for lunch and dinner. Mains from €20.
- 1 Cafetaria De Fretpot, O.P. Lapstraat 2 Hollum, ☎ . April – October: Su–Tu 12:00–21:00, W–Sa 12:00–23:00; July–August: 11:00–23:00; different opening hours in winter.
- 4 StrAnders, Strandweg 71, Buren, ☎ . Tu-Su from 12:00. Lunch from €3.75; soups €4.75-6.50; appetizers €6.95-9.95; fish €13.95-19.50; meat €15.50-19.50; vegetarian €11.95-13.95; desserts €2.95-5.95.
A definite must is a taste of Nobeltje. This punch is sold at Cafe-Hotel-Restaurant-Liquor-Store Nobel in Ballum. Nobeltje can be served in combination with coffee (Amelander Koffie), served on ice, but is also good on top of pancakes. As Nobeltje is mainly (but not only) sold in Ameland, tourists, especially those coming to Ameland with their own boat, are known to buy large quantities of Nobeltje in order to have a stock large enough to survive until they are able to return to Ameland.
There are some other liquors which are only sold on Ameland: Torentje is sold in the C1000 in Hollum, Amelander Kruidendrank and Commandeurtje are sold in the Gall & Gall in Nes.
There are several hotels in Ameland, many in Nes. You can also rent houses or apartments from private owners, often through the tourist office. As on all the islands, prices for accommodation rise in high season, sometimes quite steeply, and are often also higher on weekends.
- Hotel Dolores, Hollum. a small-scale hotel restaurant with spacious hotel studios (34 m²) for 2 persons. It is situated on the edge of the picturesque village of Hollum on the island Ameland and lies near the sea and the forest. The studios are provided with a separate sleeping area. The bathrooms are equipped with massage shower and sun shower (solarium under the shower). In addition all studios have a comfortable sit-down and a private roof terrace. In the entire hotel you can make use of the free wireless Internet. Breakfast is served in the room as a generous breakfast basket. The golf course is 400 m away.
- Zee van Tijd, Rixt van Doniastraat 18, Nes, ☎ . Great hotel in the centre of the village, with modern suites varying in size and amenities, a good in-house restaurant and fine staff. The mini-suite is good and much like a small, standard hotel room while the royal suite is even better and over twice the size. From €75 for the mini-suite of €105 for the royal one.
- Strandhotel Buren aan Zee, Strandweg 85, Buren, ☎ . This beach hotel indeed sits right on the beach. Its rooms have great views over sea and the hotel has good wellness facilities including a sauna. The staff is very helpful and the hotel is a few minutes walk from the public indoor pool. From €69/99 for singles/doubles.
- 1 Camping De Kiekduun, Strandweg 65, Buren, ☎ . "De Kiekduun" is aimed at families. Washing machines and Wifi available. tent €5.25; Trekkers-tent €4.10; caravan €9.15; adult €4.50; children (-14) €3.70; warm water €0.50; cars €3.70; motorcycles €3.85; Tourist tax €1.10.
- 2 Tussen Wad en Strand, Smitteweg 8, Ballum, ☎ . Quiet campsite in a farm environment All-in-price (2 people) pre-/post-season €20; high season €25; children €3.50; adults €5; dog €2; small tent €5.
If you're up for more island life, you may want to hop over to one of the other West Frisian Islands, with Texel being the most popular one. Alternatively, explore the Northern Netherlands after your return to Holwerd, including nearby places like Franeker, Drachten, Leeuwarden and Groningen.