Zaanse Schans: A Windmill Village

Our favorite stop in the Netherlands was our day trip out to Zaanse Schans. Just a quick train and bus ride away from Amsterdam is this beautiful windmill village.  A trip to the Netherlands would not be complete without seeing a working windmill. It would be like going to London and not seeing Big Ben.

Getting there was super easy. I will leave directions from Schiphol Airport and from Amsterdam Centraal Station at the end. Do not pay for a tour. In my opinion the tours are a waste a money, as this was one of the easiest day trips we have ever taken while in Europe. Zaanse Schans is located in the Zaan region of Northern Holland. At one point, over 600 windmills were in this area. Now, only a handful remain. Zaanse Schans was preserved to be just like a village you would have seen in 18th or 19th century Holland. So it is pretty touristy, honestly, but definitely worth it.

Tons of green homes line the water. When we got off our bus we walked over a long pedestrian bridge to get to Zaanse Schans. We arrived fairly early in the morning, around 9 am. If you plan to go I would definitely plan to get there first thing in the morning. Around 11-12 big tour buses showed up and it got very crowded. But since we had arrived so early we were getting ready to leave by that time. We were among only a handful of people there early in the morning, which I think made our trip more special.

There is a lot to do in Zaanse Schans. You can visit the Zaans Museum, wooden shoe workshop, cheese making demonstrations, and you can go inside several of the windmills. Some things do cost money, but some things are free. We enjoyed walking through the little houses since the scenery was very beautiful.

Right outside of the cheese store and museum you can feed and pet some baby goats. My 27 year old child husband thoroughly enjoyed this.

Inside of the cheese workshop you can watch how cheese is made and sample tons of different types of fresh cheese. We sampled everything and it was all delicious. The cheese here was reasonably priced compared to the cheese in other stores in Amsterdam, but if you really want some Dutch cheese, I recommend just going to any supermarket and buying it for about 25% of what these places charge.

We also stopped at the wooden clog factory and watched how the clogs are made. The factory has hundreds of different kinds of clogs to try on, way more than any store we saw in Amsterdam. Some of them (the cheaper ones) are mass produced and made in China, so I would stay clear of those.  If you want authentic, made in Holland clogs you will pay a premium for them. The ones in  my size (size 7 US) were around €100 euro for authentic ones. That’s too rich for my blood, so I settled on some toddler sized ones for around €40, since I will be displaying them on my bookcase and the small size worked much better than the larger sizes anyway. The kind I purchased are similar to the hand painted ones above. The only difference is that the clogs are green.

Outside of the factory there are all kinds of big clogs to take pictures with. We had a lot of fun playing around with them. This is an activity in Zaanse Schans that I highly recommend being the early bird for. Around 11 the lines to take pictures with the various clogs were around 30 people deep!

We ended our day with a walk along the windmills while eating ice cream. It was a very relaxing morning for us. We agreed that if we ever returned to the Netherlands that we would come back here again. Maybe even stay in one of the cute little houses on the water.

To get to Zaanse Schans:

From Schiphol Airport: Purchase a ticket to Zaandam from the ticket machine. At the platform, get on the train to Hoorn Kersenboogerd via Zaandam. Once you arrive at Zaandam, walk to the bus station (follow signs) and get on bus 69 going in the direction of Assendelft via Wormerveer.  Get off at bus stop Koog Zaandijk, Koog aan de Zaan and walk across the bridge. Zaanse Schans will be on the left right after the bridge.

 

From Amsterdam Centraal Station: Purchase ticket to Koog-Zaandijk from the ticket machine. At the platform, get on the train to Uitgeest via Koog-Zaandijk.  Once you arrive at Koog-Zaandijk, follow the signs to Zaanse Schans.

Alternatively, you can take the bus from Centraal Station. Take bus 391 from Centraal Station to Zaanse Schans. The bus ride takes 40 minutes and will drop you right at the entrance.

 

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