One of the most popular day trips from Amsterdam is Zaanse Schans. And it’s no wonder, as it’s the easiest and fastest way to see windmills from Amsterdam. Most people intend to only visit for an hour or so, but end up staying the entire day. Because, yes the beautiful windmills on the river banks of the Zaan are stunning, but there is so much more to see and do in nearby Zaandam. So, plan yourself a proper day trip from Amsterdam and prepare for a day of proper Dutch heritage.
Zaanse Schans: how to get there
Zaanse Schans is only a stone’s throw away from Amsterdam and the best thing is: you can simply take the train from Amsterdam Central Station and within just 18 minutes, you reach station Zaandijk Zaanse Schans, from which it’s just a 10-minute walk to the famous Windmills. The train ride will set you back only a few euros. Buy your ticket at the machine at the station or simply charge the journey to your OV-Chipcard.
Getting around Zaanse Schans
From the Zaandijk Zaanse Schans station, it’s a 10-minute walk to the windmills on the banks of the river. Alternatively, you can grab a rental bike at the station and cycle around the amazing Dutch landscape for a day whilst visiting all the attractions. If you’d rather walk around, that’s okay too of course. Simply hop on a bus or train to Zaandam to visit the other sights near Zaanse Schans.
About Zaanse Schans
The Zaan region was a very important industrial area in the 18th and 19th century and dotted with hundreds of windmills producing paper, linseed oil, mustard and other goods. After the industrial revolution, many windmills lost their use, but six of them have been preserved along with many of the characteristic village houses that now function as museums, workshop and some even as private homes. If you want to visit the attractions of Zaanse Schans you don’t have to pay when you show your I Amsterdam City Card or you can get the Zaanse Schans Card.
Top things to do in Zaandam and Zaanse Schans
Zaanse Schans Windmills
Zaanse Schans is the best place to spot windmills in a typical Dutch landscape, close to Amsterdam. You can visit a couple of the windmills and learn about the trades that were once performed there. The windmill that sells pigments is lovely, as the Renaissance painters would powder these up and mix them with linseed from one of the other mills, to turn in to paint for their works. If you’d like to learn more about the history of the windmills, Dutch culture and traditional costume a visit to Zaans Museum is very interesting.
Zaanse Schans boat tour
Like in Kinderdijk (link) it’s simply amazing to watch all the windmills of Zaanse Schans from the water. Join a boat tour to find out all about the history of the windmills whilst you can take as many photos as you like of these iconic landmarks. The boat pauses at one of the still-working windmills, Het Jonge Schaap, so you can take your time and take a walk around to see the inside and how a traditional windmill works. A boat tour is an absolute must-do on a day trip from Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans.
Smells like chocolate
If you think you smell chocolate when visiting Zaanse Schans, you are right. Chocolate shop Smells like chocolate is located in one of the traditional Dutch houses in Zaanse Schans and used to belong to a Dutch paper making family. Nowadays, this is where you buy both authentic chocolate from the Zaan region as well as new chocolate and cocoa products produced right on the spot by owner Ingmar and Kinito, like cocoa cheese, cocoa butter beauty products, cocoa syrup and even cocoa beer. Whatever you end up buying, you will leave the shop smelling like chocolate.
Zaandam Inntel hotel
The Inntel Hotel in Zaandam is one of the most characteristic hotels in The Netherlands. Architect Wilfried van Winden was inspired by the traditional Dutch houses, in greens and blues, that are so typical along the Zaanriver. It’s a fun and interesting building. Since Zaandam is just a 15-minute train ride from Amsterdam central station it’s worth considering staying here when you want to visit Amsterdam, as this hotel has lovely and spacious rooms and is a lot less pricy than most hotels in the city of Amsterdam.
The mysterious Hembrug site was once the highly-secured heart of the Defense Line of Amsterdam. Time has transformed the site into a mix of beautifully restored buildings, desolate ruins and untouched nature where you will find creative entrepreneurs and restaurants. It’s the perfect place to visit if you’re into enjoying art, street art and a drink in a festival-like atmosphere.
Restaurant and food hall all into one, Lab 44 on the Hembrug site is one of the most amazing places to visit in the direct Amsterdam regio. Order a pizza or a nice sandwich with a glass of beer from local brewery HOOP and enjoy the industrial atmosphere or the lovely space outside.
Travel back in time a visit a traditional Dutch house in Zaandijk. The Honig Breethuis is the house of the 19th-century paper mill owner. You can see how rich Dutch merchants used to live in those days (no, most Dutch people didn’t have those lavish tiles and rugs) as well as watch a documentary about the Dutch paper milling trade in the Zaan region.