Zaanse Schans is a small town in the North of the city of Amsterdam, mostly well-known because of the amazing landscape, windmills by the waterside, amazing for photography, tours and to get to know what the real Dutch feels like.
Zaanse Schans offers the most beautiful windmill landscape in the proximities of Amsterdam to have a real Dutch experience. You can visit them as a tour, on boats, on foot and get to know the whole place. The tulips, the wooden shoes, the windmills, and the water sight are definitely worth visiting.
When visiting Amsterdam, one of the advantages of the city and, actually, of the whole country, is being able to do many day trips or morning trips to get to know many towns and cities. Everything is super close! One of the favorite options of most tourists is Zaanse Schans, the best way to see windmills and tulips in real life. If you want to know all the things you can do in Zaanse Schans and if it is worth visiting, keep reading!
Zaanse Schans: What to See
Zaanse Schans is a great city to have a few hours to visit, a whole day or even a whole weekend. The proximity to Amsterdam makes it perfect if you are visiting the city and decide to spend some time getting to know a more Dutch part of the country. Within half an hour you can be by the water staring at the many windmills in the city, what else can you ask for?
For those of you who don’t know, Zaanse Schans is a neighbourhood in Zaandam, a city in the North of Amsterdam, in the province of North Holland. This area is well-known because of the amazingly well-preserved windmills you will be able to find there and nature and countryside that surrounds them.
Back in the day, Zaanse Schans used to have over 600 windmills in total since it was the provider of all the Northern part of the Netherlands. Nowadays only 6 are available. Each of them represents a little museum with reproductions of the stores and displays of back in the day. If you decide to go there, what could you see?
- De Huisman: a small windmill that currently is used to make mustard. You can visit it on the inside and get to know more about the whole process and the function of the windmill.
- De Gekroonde Poelenburg: it is one of the biggest windmills in Zaanse Schans, only open to visitors on every second Saturday of the month from April to September, which means that you will most likely visit it form the outside.
- De Kat: it is the only one of the six windmills in Zaanse Schans that it is still being used for a real purpose and a need. This is a mill that created pigment, grinding different materials to be able to make paint. It is definitely a very interesting experience, from the outside and the inside.
- De Os: an ex-sawmill
- De Bonte Hen: an old oil-mill
- De Zoeker: another oil-mill
- Het Klaverblad: a sawmill
- Het Jonge Schaap: another sawmill
- Zaans Museum: with the whole history of the town, the construction, the usage of those windmills, etc.
- Windmill Cruise: to cross the river Zaans and take the best pictures and enjoy the best views you can have around there.
- Good typical Dutch restaurants
- Zaan Time Museum
Zaanse Schans: Alone or With a Tour?
There are many activities that you can do both walking around on your own, with a tour, by foot, by boat and so on. If you want to get to know more about it, here we go:
Zaanse Schans: by foot
If you are staying in Amsterdam, going on your own to Zaanse Schans is the easiest thing to do. You can either take the bus, close to Central Station, or the train, also in Amsterdam Central Station.
All you need to do is check the Dutch public transportation website NS.nl or check 9292.nl and you will know exactly what to take, when and where. It will cost you around 5-7 euros one way and you will be there within a maximum of 20 minutes.
What can you see on foot? Well, since I have only done it by foot on my own, I would say that you can see it all. You won’t be able to take the best pictures from the walking distance to the windmills but it is just as beautiful.
From the Train station, everything is well-explained and the whole city is ready to bring you to the local windmill museum, downtown where all the small bars and restaurants are and where you will be able to see the canals and the windmills. From there, you can either decide to go inside the museum (Zaans Museum), do a little tour walking by the windmills or get a tour from any of the shops such as here, a 4 hours tour for 20 euros and so on. You can also do a river cruise for only 10 euros and get closer to the windmills through the Zaans River.
Personally, I decided to go see it right before going to work in Amsterdam, which means I only had a couple of hours to enjoy it and I still loved doing it. Therefore, you could either do it for a couple of hours or spend the whole day there. Up to you!
Zaanse Schans: Cycling
If you are in the Netherlands you may as well enjoy all these Dutch experiences the Dutch way: cycling.
The city hall of Zaandam offers a lot of free information for those brave enough to want to go by bike: basically, you can rent the bike in the location, you can get a tour by bike, you can get a taxi bike and you can, of course, rent a bike at your hotel and get there by bike. More information here.
For those of you brave enough to come from Amsterdam by bike, you can do it in about 1 hour. There is approximately 17-18 km between Amsterdam Central Station and the Windmills of Zaanse Schans. This means that if you take it easy you can definitely do it. In the whole Netherlands, the infrastructures for bikes make it easy for anyone to go everywhere by bike, which means no need to cycle in the highway and there will always be specific and the way will be marked.
Zaanse Schans: Tours
If you are looking for a proper visit to Zaanse Schans and you want to get to know the place, understand its history and make the most out of your visit, you should definitely consider getting a tour. There is one for everybody, for those of you who want a private one, for those on a budget, for those who want to be picked up at the hotel and left there at the end of the day, etc. Some of the most popular ones are these:
- Hop on and Hop off tours: this tour is a bus that would bring you to many sightseeing spots where you will be able to stay as long as you want, keep going with the bus or enjoy the area and hop on the next bus. For 20 euros you could visit the Windmills, the Dutch countryside, Marken, Volendam and of course, Zaanse Schans. Get Tickets here.
- Zaanse Schans Sightseeing Tour: if you want to get to see the windmills, visit a clog-making factory and more, this is yours. Get Tickets here.
- From Amsterdam – Zaanse Schans Windmills Half-Day Tour: for this tour, you can start at Amsterdam Central Station and go directly to Zaanse Schans from there. Besides visiting Zaanse Schans you will also be brought to Volendam. Get Tickets here
Another advantage of getting this type of tours is that you can ask for your language: if English is not your first preference, then you will be able to ask if they have it available in Chinese, Spanish, Italian, etc. All the information I have been talking about you can find here
Zaanse Schans Card
Another option you have is getting a Zaanse Schans Card, which for around 15 euros (10 in the case of children between 4 and 17), will allow you to visit most of the monuments for free during a whole day. Like most touristic cards in Amsterdam, you will also get a lot of discounts for local shops, souvenirs, restaurants and so on, as well as the free part.
Among the things included you can get: free entrance to the Zaans Museum where all the windmills are, free entrance to the Weaver House and other small museums, free entrance to the Zaan Time Museum, discount for the cruises and so on.
If you are interested in getting them, you can either get them at any of the locations I just mentioned above or buy it online, clicking HERE.