Things to do in Amsterdam

Top 12 things to do at Zaanse Schans

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Zaanse Schans is a picturesque windmill village that transports you back in time to the 18th and 19th centuries. Spanning 0.8 square kilometers, this open-air museum is home to a collection of well-preserved windmills, traditional Dutch houses, and craft workshops. As you stroll through the village, you'll encounter the rhythmic turning of the windmills and the scent of freshly baked goods wafting from the bakery. The village offers a glimpse into the daily life and industries of a bygone era, with demonstrations of traditional crafts such as clog-making, cheese-making, and pewter casting.

Why is Zaanse Schans worth visiting?

Zaanse Schans windmills

Step back in time

  • Immerse yourself in the authentic atmosphere of a Dutch village from the 18th and 19th centuries.
  • Witness the mesmerizing sight of historic windmills gracefully turning against the backdrop of the Dutch countryside.

Traditional craftsmanship

  • Learn the art of traditional Dutch crafts, such as clog-making, cheese-making, and pewter casting.
  • Watch skilled artisans demonstrate their techniques and learn about the rich history behind these crafts.

Picturesque architecture

  • Admire the charming, green-painted houses that line the village streets, each with its own unique character. Explore the meticulously restored interiors of the houses, offering a glimpse into the daily lives of past generations.
  • Capture Instagram-worthy shots of the iconic Dutch architecture, with its distinct gables and vibrant colors.

Delightful culinary experiences

  • Try out freshly baked bread and pastries from the village bakery.
  • Sample authentic Dutch cheeses and learn about the time-honored traditions of cheese-making in the Netherlands.

Serene natural surroundings

  • Take a stroll along the paths that wind through the village, surrounded by lush greenery and waterways.
  • Enjoy a peaceful moment by the river, watching the boats glide by and the ducks paddling along.

Recommended tickets to Zaanse Schans

You’ll have various ticket options available for visiting Zaanse Schans, including guided tours and combo packages. Consider purchasing tickets in advance to avoid higher prices on the spot and booked out attractions.

Highlights of Zaanse Schans

1. Windmills at Zaanse Schans

Zaanse Schans

Zaanse Schans is home to iconic windmills, each with a unique history and purpose. You can climb inside to explore the intricate machinery and learn about their vital role in the region's industrial past. Witness a working windmill in action as the sails catch the wind and the gears turn. The museums at Zaanse Schans showcase artifacts that explain the windmills' mechanics and significance. Scale models of oil, paper, peeling, and wood saw mills demonstrate their ingenious mechanisms.

2. The humble beginnings of Albert Heijn

Albert Heinj

Albert Heijn, the largest supermarket chain in the Netherlands, traces its roots back to Zaanse Schans. In 1887, Albert Heijn Sr. opened a small grocery store in the village, laying the foundation for what would become a retail empire. Illustrating how the grocery shopping was like centuries ago, there's a museum that exhibits the original design, furnishings, tools and inventory. From things like white and black candy, peppermint sticks, suikerbrood, licorice and rennet used for cheese among other items to old farm tools in the likes of stable brooms, spantouw, pitchforks, clogs, Koptouw and yokes.

3. A whiff of sweet bread at In De Gecroonde Duijvekater

De Gecroonde Duijvekater

Image Courtesy : Zaanse Schans

In De Gecroonde Duijvekater, an iconic bakery museum in Zaanse Schans, offers a delightful sensory experience. Dating back to 1658, the building features a 19th-century inspired interior and a centuries-old authentic oven. Named after a famous Zaan region sweet bread, the museum showcases the art of traditional Dutch baking. Step inside and be greeted by the inviting aroma of freshly baked bread. Watch skilled bakers knead, shape, and bake using time-honored recipes passed down through generations. Treat yourself to warm, crusty loaves straight from the oven or indulge in sweet pastries filled with luscious cream or juicy fruit.

4. Sip of liqueur at De Tweekoppige Phoenix

De Tweekoppige Phoenix

Image Courtesy : Zaanse Schans

Prepared from recipes that have been passed over for three generations, Tweekoppige Phoenix distillery offers some unique flavored liqueurs, ranging from sweet to peppery. While, the employees zealously share trivia about the processes involved, you can also witness the ancient craft of distillery through a glass distillation flask and the traditional copper kettle. Notably, the drinks are produced from scratch, which enables the distillery to incorporate some of its famous unique flavours into them. You can also taste some of these drinks at the tasting room and buy the ones you liked from the liquor store or on their webshop.

5. Cheese Making & tasting at Catharina Hoeve

Catharina Hoeve

An authentic replica of 17th-century cheese farm from Oostzaan, Catharina Hoeve lets you in on the traditional art cheese making. Dressed in their traditional costumes the Cheesemakers of the cheese factory will take you through the cheese making process and educate you on different types of cheese ranging from Gouda Holland cheese to herb cheese. Notably, these demonstrations happen daily in 10 different languages. The next step is most fun for cheese-lovers as they get to taste all those delicious types of cheese and to buy them in the farm shop.

6. Dutch clogs at Klompenmakerij De Zaanse Schans

Dutch Clogs

Traditionally made for farmers and workers, clog making has been an integral part of Dutch’s rich heritage. The clog museum exhibits one of the largest and most beautiful clog collections in the Netherlands, including cut out, painted, horse clogs, ice clogs with iron fittings, art clogs and some exotic clogs from other countries. See how a clog maker skilfully chisels a wooden block into a beautiful pair of wooden shoes in the clog workshop. Check out their wooden shoe inventory consisting of a plethora of colours and sizes and experience how it feels to walk in these shoes.

7. Tin casting at De Tinkoepel Tinnegieterij

Tin casting at De Tinkoepel Tinnegieterij

Image Courtesy : Zaanse Schans

Still completely done by hand, Tin casting was named as the best craft in the world during the International Exhibition for Crafts and Folk Culture in China 2014. Moved to Zaanse Schans in 1968, the De Tinkoepel Tinnegieterij occupies a beautiful, romantic building that used to be a tea house at the banks of the Zaan. One of the last tin foundries in the Netherlands, it still uses antique forms of bronze as molds, some of which dates back to 1697. You can even try your hand at creating your own tin souvenir, guided by the expert craftsmen at the workshop.

8. Souvenirs at Craft Centre De Saense Lelie

Craft Centre De Saense Lelie

Image Courtesy : Zaanse Schans

Browse the charming shops at Craft Centre De Saense Lelie for unique, handcrafted souvenirs to take home. It mainly features a Delft Blue painter, a diamond dealer, goldsmith, a Zaanse oil painter, Assendelft folk painting, a traditional stroopwafel bake and a chocolate shop with amazing homemade truffles, among other offerings. Here you can not just observe the arts but learn about various processes related to the arts, such as diamond and gold processing process and even buy some unique and specially crafted souvenirs and gifts for yourself and your loved ones back home.

9. Labourer’s cottage - Czar Peter House

Czar Peter House

Image Courtesy : Zaanhof

One of the oldest wooden houses in the Netherlands holds significant historical importance. Built in 1632 as a humble laborer's cottage using old ship wood, the Czar Peter House housed Russian Tsar Peter the Great in 1697 when he came to learn the Dutch shipwright trade. The Czar Peter House has intrigued many distinguished visitors, from Russian Tsars to Dutch monarchs, including Napoleon. Along with a collection of paintings of Peter and other Romanovs, the wooden walls of this 17th-century structure also bear the countless names of notable visitors.

10. Merchant lifetstyle at Honig Breet House

Honig Breet House

Image Courtesy : Zaanse Schans

Built in 1710 by Cornelis Jacobsz. Honig, one of the first paper fabricators and the co-founder C. & J. Honig Breet, the Honig Breet House inhabited members of the entrepreneurial Honig and Breet families. Significant because of its inhabitants and there subsequent lifestyle, the museum’s interior has been unchanged since 1830, when Jacob Cornelisz. Breet and his family lived in the house. From the hand-painted wallpaper to the Rococo style garden room, this neoclassical style quaint home serves as a perfect way to observe how a Zaanse merchant family lived in the 1800’s.

11. The Zaanse Time Museum

Zaanse Time Museum

Image Courtesy : Zaanse Schans

Set in an attractive 17th-century weaver’s building, be greeted by a multitude of ticking clocks and their chimes that strike on the hour as soon you enter this museum. Almost all the timepieces in this museum is in perfectly working condition, regardless of their age. Unveil the history of Dutch timepieces and in doing so, the history of the Zaanse industry – from the 16th century bell tower to the modern electrical devices. Major exhibits include pendulum clocks from the time of the scientist Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695).

12. Jisper House

Jisper House

Image Courtesy : A La Rox

Get a chance to step inside a fisherman’s cottage and take a selfie in traditional local costume! The village of Jisp is well known for its traditional fishing history, with herring fishery and whaling being important sources of income for its inhabitants. In this house, you can experience the clothes first-hand by having your picture taken in a traditional Zaan regional costume. The clothing you will be trying on is typical of the 1850s.

Zaanse Schans tour timings

Tour options and timings:

  • The general opening hours are from 9am to 5pm.
  • Zaanse Schans, Volendam, and Marken Tour: - Available only at 8:45am
  • Zaanse Schans & Cheese Tasting Tour: - Offered at 10:30am and 2:30pm
  • Giethoorn and Zaanse Schans Windmills Day Tour: - Available only at 9:30am
  • Zaanse Schans Half-Day Tour: - Available at 10am or 10:30am
  • While there is no specific last entry rule, it is recommended to arrive 10-15 minutes before your scheduled tour time to avoid delays.
  • Tour Duration: - The duration of each tour varies based on the selected experience, ranging from approximately 3.5 hours to 9 hours.

Getting to Zaanse Schans

  • By bus: Take either bus #391 or #891. Buses depart frequently, and the trip takes approximately 1 hour. Round-trip tickets cost €8. The bus stops right outside Zaanse Schans.
  • By train: To reach Zaanse Schans from Amsterdam Centraal Station, take a direct train to Koog-Zaandijk station, which takes approximately 17 minutes. A round trip train ticket costs €7.20 and can be purchased from the ticket machines inside the station. From Koog-Zaandijk station, follow the brown direction board and walk for about 15 minutes to reach Zaanse Schans.

Public Transport Options

  • Region Travel Ticket: Consider buying a Region Travel Ticket for 1-3 days if you plan to use public transport for multiple days during your trip. This ticket allows unlimited travel on buses and trains in a certain region and is very affordable.
  • OV-chipkaart: If you plan to stay longer, it makes sense to buy a public transport chip card (OV-chipkaart) which can be used for travel on trams, buses, and metros.

Tips for visiting Zaanse Schans

  • Visit early in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid the crowds. Wear comfortable shoes as you'll be walking on cobblestone paths and uneven surfaces.
  • Bring cash, as some shops and attractions may not accept credit cards.
  • If you're interested in visiting the interior of the windmills, check the opening hours in advance as they vary depending on the season and the specific windmill.
  • Don't miss the opportunity to sample traditional Dutch treats like stroopwafel, poffertjes, and gouda cheese at the various food stalls and shops throughout Zaanse Schans.
  • Zaanse Schans has plenty to offer, so plan for a full day to explore the windmills, workshops, and historic houses.
  • During the holiday season, Zaanse Schans transforms into a festive market with stalls selling traditional Dutch treats, crafts, and souvenirs.

FAQs: Zaanse Schans Museum

Is Zaanse Schans worth visiting?

Even though the Zaanse Schans is one of the most touristic sights in the Netherlands, I still think it is a must . The domain is beautiful, the authentic windmills are impressive and it's also a very educational trip. In short, the Zaanse Schans is a pleasant trip for young and old.

How much does it cost to go to Zaanse Schans?

Admission to the Zaanse Schans is free of charge, for some of the attractions like the windmills, museums or crafts you have to pay.

How long do you spend at Zaanse Schans?

Zaanse Schans itself is worth 2-4 hours, depending on how many attractions you visit. Then again, you could do Zaanse Schans First, then the others, and travel back to your hotel in the dark.

What is Zaanse Schans windmills?

Windmills. During the 17th century, more than 600 windmills were constructed in the area around the Zaanse Schans, creating the first industrial zone. The windmills were used, among others, to grind spices, produce paint, saw wood, and make oil. A number of these windmills still exist and can still be visited today.

Are there tulips in Zaanse Schans?

There are no tulip at Zaans Schans.

Do people live in Zaanse Schans?

Instead of smoking chimneys you'll find charming wooden houses, bridges and gardens here making this maybe the most beautiful part of Holland. This is not a museum but a thriving community where real people still live in these historical houses, passionate about the past but focused on the future.

How do I get from Amsterdam central to Zaanse Schans?

The nearest railway station is Zaandijk – Zaanse Schans. This station can be reached by local train from Amsterdam Central Station in 17 minutes. Subsequently walk to the Zaanse Schans in 15 minutes.

Can you see windmills in Amsterdam?

Windmills are an iconic part of the Dutch landscape, and a visit to one is a must for visitors to the Netherlands. And with eight windmills located in and around Amsterdam, windmill spotting is a great way to see the city.

Zaanse Schans Tour