When we think of Holland, things that pop in mind are windmills, canals and pretty wooden houses. And I think Zaanse Schans is the best place to see all these things in one place. It is a perfect “Dutch postcard” place. Zaanse Schans, located in the Zaandam district, is around 19km from Amsterdam city centre and is a perfect and one of the most popular day trips from Amsterdam especially visiting Zaanse Schans windmills. Visiting Zaanse Schans felt like visiting a large open-air museum on the Dutch handicrafts and culture.
If you have less time in hand and want to see all the Dutch things, this place is perfect. In any case, I personally think a visit to Zaanse Schans is definitely a must on your trip to the Netherlands. We visited it during the Tulip season (Mid May) along with our day trip to Keukenhof gardens from Amsterdam.
You can go for guided day trips to Zaanse Schans if you want to see all the history behind this charming village. But going by your own is also very fine as it is a really a small village and one can be easily explored on your own. Note that, hours may vary by season so do check the opening details of Zaanse Schans village.
In this post, I am going to share all the (almost Free) things to do on a day trip to Zaanse Schans from Amsterdam. Let’s get started!
Getting to the Zaanse Schans
- We took the NS Sprinter from Amsterdam Central Station to Zaandijk, Zaanse Schans station (direction Uitgeest). The journey takes around 20 minutes and cost us €6.60 per person.
- After getting down at the station, follow the Zaanse Schans signboards which take around 15-20 minutes on foot.
- The Bus Line number 391 from Amsterdam Central can take you directly to the Zaanse Schans entrance. The journey takes around 40 minutes and costs €6.50 per person.
- If you have a car, you can drive to Zaanse Schans easily. It’s a simple ride and one can follow Google Maps easily. The parking is near the train station and it costs somewhat around €10. You will have to park the cark and will have to walk for 15-20 min to reach the village.
First view of the windmills
1. Visit a Working Windmill
A visit to Holland is incomplete if you don’t see windmills. And when you can get the opportunity to see and visit a centuries-old working windmills, don’t ever miss it. Of around 1000 windmills those were once spotted at the riverbank of Zaanse Schans, only 13 are remaining there and just 5 of those 13 windmills are still working.
These 5 working windmills are of Mustard mill, oil mill, saw mils and the dye mill. Most of these windmills are open to the public. Few are free while visiting some costs you around €3-€4.
We visited De Huisman, a small octagonal mustard mill which can be visited for free of cost.
As we were entering this windmill, we could smell the aromas of various spices. There were big grinding gears placed next to each other which makes continuous and loud “thump-thump” sound. A piece of detailed information about every grinding stone is written there which was so helpful to understand the whole windmill process in depth.
On the souvenir’s section, there are several varieties of spices to buy, Dutch chocolates and waffles of course.
The experience of visiting a working windmill was very new, unique and wonderful and definitely should not be missed if you are in Zaanse Schans.
2. Watch Clog Making
A few centuries ago, Clogs were primarily used by locals and farmers to survive The Netherland’s muddy countryside. Today, some farmers still use them.
The wooden shoe workshop shows how the iconic Clogs or klompen i.e. Dutch wooden shoes are made. You can watch a live demonstration of how clogs are made from wooden blocks. There are different and antique clogs are placed at the display that once were used during special occasions like weddings. It’s really interesting to read about its history and reasons behind every unique clogs were made.
Don’t forget to buy yourself some colourful clogs available in all sizes. You can even buy a pair of one to wear for yourself or just as a decoration for your souvenir wall.
3. Taste Dutch Cheese
I am a big cheese lover and this place turned out as a heaven for me. This place, the replica of a traditional cheese farm demonstrates the process of cheese making throughout the day.
And guess what, hundreds of various types of cheese were placed around the table for the display and tasting. There were a number of flavours like garlic, oregano to some unique flavours like the pesto, coconut and so many more. The cheese bar table was supervised by women who were dressed in traditional Dutch attire and were helping customers to know more about their favourite flavours.
All the cheese was paired with different varieties of mustard flavoured sauces. There were also varieties of desserts starting from the traditional Dutch Stroop waffles (waffles filled with syrup), amazing flavours of chocolates and honey.
4. Visit the Grocery Museum – Albert Heijn
Albert Heijn is the largest supermarket empire in the Netherlands. They opened their first-ever shop in Zaanse Schans before getting famous. The shop was reconstructed later and turned into a museum. It is a cute green-coloured wooden house from outside and inside is all wooden furnishing which illustrates the centuries-old grocery shopping. This museum will definitely take you back into the 1880s. Entry to this museum is absolutely free.
There are plenty of other museums at Zaanse Schans which will take you to all the history and culture of this charming village. Some of the interesting museums are the Zaans museum, the Windmill Museum and the Zaanse Time Museum.
5. See Local Houses
I felt Zaanse Schans as the fairy-tale town. There are so many cute and colourful houses with the pretty bridges adjacent to each house. The stream flowing around houses and swans swimming in it was a beautiful sight to watch.
We walked along with those pretty houses overlooking the charming backyards and gardens of locals.
Which one is your favourite?
6. Shop for Souvenirs
There are so many cute souvenir shops in the surrounding including exclusive Dutch gifts and souvenirs. It’s a good place to buy local Dutch cheese, spices, chocolates and various local handcrafted products that too with reasonable prices.
7. Pose for Tourist Photos
Zaanse Schans is a picture-perfect place. The windmills dotted along the riverbank, cute tiny bridges along with the colourful pretty houses and of course big yellow clogs are the perfect places to show your friends and family about your perfect Dutch holiday.
You can also wear a traditional costume inside the Jisper House. How exciting!
Tips for Visiting Zaanse Schans
–Zaanse Schans is an easy half-day trip from Amsterdam. The entry to this village is free but if you want to visit windmills or museums, you can buy Zaanse Schans card for €15 which includes entry to one of the windmills, Zaanse Schans Museum, Watch museum and the Dutch clock.
–We had time constraints, so we couldn’t visit many museums there. We ended up spending around 4 hours at Zaanse Schans. If you’re planning to visit some museums, allocate more time to your visit.
–We visited Zaanse Schans in late May. Weather was very windy and cloudy. So, I would suggest to carry layers of clothing and definitely check for the rain.
–Don’t forget to Download the “Zaanse Schans” app which offers the history of the Zaanse Schans and its surrounding region.
–If you want to avoid the crowd, plan your visit in the first half of the day. If you are visiting it during summers, even the late hours are good as long as your transportation is sorted.
–Lastly, don’t forget to buy local souvenirs.
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