So, you’re in Amsterdam but you didn’t see any iconic Dutch windmills yet? Take a trip to the Zaanse Schans, the perfect day trip from Amsterdam where you can take a step back in time to see picturesque windmill after windmill in the Disneyland like charming Zaanse Schans. 

Located only 30-40 minutes outside of Amsterdam, the Zaanse Schans is an open air museum of preserved historic windmills on the River Zaan, in the city of Zaandam. Sure it is a bit touristy, but its an unmissable part of Holland which is the perfect addition to your time in Amsterdam. Visiting is free, your only charge will be if you choose to tour a windmill. 

Zaanse Schans
So charming, right?

Explore the windmills

You can explore about 10 of the windmills along the River Zaan, six of which are still in operation, each one creaking in the wind with ever turn of the sails. Windmills served an important role in Holland, with most of them used for pumping water behind dikes so the land could be used for farming. Didn’t you know, the west of the Netherlands is almost entirely land reclaimed from the sea? The mills at the Zaanse Schans were used from everything from paint production to grinding spices. 

 

Zaanse Schans
Beautiful even on a cloudy day
zaanse schans
Wander past people’s yards… yes people still live here, for real!

dutch door

Visit an original Albert Heijn

Any super market historians out there? No? K, I don’t think such a thing exists, but if you visit the Zaanse Schans you’ve got to see the original Albert Heijn. If you’ve spent any time in the Netherlands, chances are you’ve walked past one of the thousands of Albert Heijn grocery store chains, owned by the corporate Ahold. During your visit to the Zaanse Schans you can step inside the original Albert Heijn – and no, they won’t ask for your bonus kaart. Its cute, and it’ll make you appreciate Albert Heijn just a little bit more. 

Read more: What to do in Amsterdam

Do a little shopping

If you’re looking for the best place to pick up your touristy souvenirs, this is the place to do it. But, if I can make one humble recommendation.. BUY MUSTARD. Yes, it may sound extreme. But this will be the best mustard you will ever eat. I promise. And it is made in De Huisman windmill at the Zaanse Schans. You’ll thank me later 😉

clogs
Your chance to do some clog shopping

How to get to the Zaanse Schans

Zaanse Schans

You could do an organized day trip with a tour operator, but if you’re anything like me, you probably want to take public transport so you have as much flexibility as possible to stroll around, tour windmills and snap pictures of the area. 

From Amsterdam Central you have two options:

By Bus:

Take the Rnet-bus 391 from Central Station which departs every 15 minutes and takes approximately 40 minutes to reach the Zaanse Schans.

By Train:

Alternatively, take the train from Amsterdam Central Station to Zaandijk – Zaanse Schans (17 minutes), then walk an additional 15 minutes to reach the Zaanse Schans. Check www.ns.nl for times and prices. 

Pro tip

During the summer months, the Zaanse Schans can be flooded with tourists, so set out early in the day to miss the rush. 

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Zaanse schans

 

Have you visited the Zaanse Schans? Let me know what you thought in the comments below!

48 Comments

  1. Great post, wonderful pictures and so informative! My grandparents came to New Zealand from the Netherlands so I’m itching to see where my roots lie. I’ll add this to my list as well! Thanks for sharing

  2. I laughed when I read the first line. After looking at the nice picture of the classic windmill I realised, as many times as I have been to the Netherlands I have never seen them. Now I know where they are . 🙂

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      haha I know, they can be easy to miss! definitely come visit again and be sure to see them this time!

  3. I may need to add this place to my list. I’ve never even heard of it! Your pics capture the character of the area perfectly. I especially like the windmill and clogs pics. Thanks for sharing.

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      yeah, definitely add it to your list! its very cute!

  4. Great article! I have been to Amsterdam a few times but never consider the Zaanse Schans, something for next time;)

  5. Haha I should have done this! I was in Amsterdam and nope, didn’t see any windmills LOL. I secretly want to go just to try the mustard, I don’t like mustard but maybe I’ll love this one!

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      at least its a great reason to come back 😉

  6. Absolutely gorgeous pictures. This post has come at the perfect time, some friends of mine are planning a trip to Amsterdam and were asking me about the good day trips from there. I have shared your link. Cheers x

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      thanks so much for sharing! hope it is useful to them

  7. To be honest, Zaanse Schaans wasn’t really on my radar because I heard how touristy it was, so I was more set on seeing Kinderdijk. But after reading your post, I definitely wanna see it!

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      both are great actually! Kinderdijk is much further from Amsterdam, but is also really pretty!

  8. Great post and pictures! I want to go on a day trip. I’ve been to Kinderdijk before , I just love Dutch mills!

  9. The above pictures look totally amazing. Watching, iconic Dutch windmills is in my much-awaited bucket list. Thanks for sharing an amazing guide about the place Zaanse Schans.

  10. I lived in Rotterdam for a year and never went to Zaanse Schans… Probably should have gone haha! I did visit a windmill somewhere else, though, it’s so fascinating how they work:) Thanks for sharing!

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      ah maybe you still have to visit another time… maybe you visited Kinderdijk?

  11. I lived in Rotterdam for a year and never went to Zaanse Schans… Probably should have gone haha! I did visit a windmill somewhere else, though, it’s so fascinating how they work:) Thanks for sharing!

  12. Wow! You just bring me back to Zaanse Schans with your story. I got the chance to visit Zaanse Schans early this year. And I must say, this is a must visit town when in Netherlands. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to visit the original Albert Heijn. 😔

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      well then that’s a good reason to go back! glad you enjoyed my post 🙂

  13. This is such a great post. I love off the beaten path trips. Looks like you had a great time. I’ll have to experience myself the next time I’m in Amsterdam and have time for a little excursion

  14. This looks so lovely! I will have to check this out if I make it to Amsterdam 🙂

  15. Rahat Arora Reply

    Great post, wonderful pictures and so informative! I am definitely keeping a bookmark of this in future when I visit there.

  16. I didn’t get here on my last trip to Amsterdam but it’s definitely on my list now for my next trip. And the tip about crowds is great – it’s so much better to get up early to miss the crowds than be stuck with so many people.

  17. Oooo this looks like something that’s right up my alley – open-air museums are the best! I’d love to see those windmills too!

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      yeah it is great! definitely plan a visit!

  18. AMAZING post! Everything about Holland, in my opinion, is so lovely! This looks like a great day trip from Amsterdam. I’m planning on visiting Holland next spring and I’ll definitely be stopping here if I do. 🙂

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      it is mostly all lovely, except for the weather 😉 enjoy your trip to Amsterdam!

  19. what a great post. I went to Holland last year and took a bunch of day trips to little towns like this.. it was my favorite part of the trip.

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      that’s great, it is so worth getting out of Amsterdam and so few people do… kudos to you for exploring!

  20. This looks so charming! Your photos are gorgeous. I didn’t realize the purpose of the windmills was irrigation — I learned a lot from this post.

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      glad to read that! yep, windmills were crucial to the Dutch water management!

  21. Amsterdam is one of my favourite cities to visit and I’m always looking for new things to do around the area as I have seen the city on a number of occasions. This is right up my alley. I love windmills and the charming Dutch towns you find outside of Amsterdam.

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      ah glad you like it! hope you will visit on your next trip to Amsterdam!

  22. I wasn’t able to make this trip during my last visit to Amsterdam, but I definitely want to visit the next time I’m there. I’ve always been amazed by windmills

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      that means you must have to take a trip back 😉

  23. This place is beyond cute and I’ve never even heard of it before! I would definitely love to visit somewhere like here from Amsterdam!

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      yeah it is pretty adorable! somehow I think a lot of people miss it in Amsterdam cause it is a bit outside of the city

  24. Doing a bike tour through Dutch tulip fields and windmills is on my bucket list. It’s so gorgeous.

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      ah I hope you will make it here soon to do it! definitely come in spring around April to see the tulip fields!

  25. Pingback: 4 Amsterdam microbreweries all beer lovers need to visit · Boarding Call

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