This municipality originated in the village of Velsen, hemmed in between the motorway and the North Sea Canal. It was once an agricultural community located between the sand dunes and the Wijkermeer. The very first inhabitants can be traced back to the early Bronze Age where they settled in an area formed by embankments and lagoons.

Roman conquerors left their mark in the form of a harbour on the Wijkermeer. The Engelmunduskerk in Velsen was one of the five ‘mother churches’ of the County of Holland. Its Roman-style towers date back to the 12th century.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, the edge of this dune area was a sought-after retreat for Amsterdam merchants who built country estates there. The Beeckestijn, Velserbeek, Waterland and Schoonenberg estates attest to this age of wealth. These estates (the majority of which are now public parks), the stretch of sand dunes, the unique three-kilometre-long Zuipier and the expansive beach in the Spaarnwoude recreation area make Velsen an attractive municipality for tourism and outdoor recreation. The spacious (fishing and cargo) ports in IJmuiden are among the largest in the Netherlands.