Situated on the banks of the Zaan River, Zaanse Schans is a bucolic Dutch village that is so well preserved that it has become an open-air museum. Dotted with working windmills and historical houses from the 17th, 18th and 19th century, Zaanse Schans is a scenic treat to Netherland’s industrial and domestic past. Once home to over 600 active windmills and factories, this idyllic town currently boasts a variety of unique activities including a bakery museum, clog museum and workshop and local cheese farm among many other places. Just a 20-minute drive away from Amsterdam, this Dutch jewel makes for an intriguing day trip that every tourist and local should take at least once.
Before embarking on trip to the Zaanse Schans Windmills,here's all you need to know.
Zaanse Schans - History Under a Minute
In its heyday, the Zaan region was an industrial superpower with hundreds of active windmills that produced a variety of products ranging from paper to linseed oil. Some of the remaining windmills are now open to the public and some of Zaanse Schans' characteristic wooden houses are converted into museums, gift shops or workshops. Giving you a glimpse into the glorious years of Netherland during the 17th and 18th centuries, these well preserved mills and houses serves as an open window into the past or shall we say serve as an open museum. In addition to the beautiful windmills and houses, you can observe the traditional art of making Dutch special cheese and clogs, taste the unique liqueurs and experience Albert Heijn’s first store, among other things during your visit here.
Why Visit The Zaanse Schans Windmills?
- Sensory Delight - From eye-appealing windmills to heart-pleasing rustic houses, from nostalgic memorabilias to delightful souvenirs, from nose-pleasing bakery smells to tongue pleasing cheese, Zaanse Schans offer all this and a lot more.
- Iconic windmills - Windmills have had been an integral part of Dutch culture and around eight windmills here are still in operation. Visitors can visit a few and observe the gears turning from wind power, understand the ingeniousness and importance of these structures as they witness its working and nuances.
- Preserved history - A major portion of the historic buildings were moved to Zaanse Schans between 1961 and 1974 in order to preserve them from urban expansions, converting the area into an open air museum.
- Approachability - Located just north of Amsterdam, a half a day or a full day trip to Zaanse Schans is perfectly feasible for both tourists and locals.
- Economical - Most attractions in Zaanse Schans, including museum tour and workshops are free of cost, giving you the freedom to stick to your budget while exploring this quaint village.
Going from Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans Windmills
At an interval of fifteen minutes, Rnet-bus 391 runs daily from Amsterdam Central Station to the Zaanse Schans. The approximate time taken is forty minutes and costs 5 EUR one-way and 10 EUR for the day ticket.
Zaandijk - Zaanse Schans is the nearest railway station, regular local trains run from the Amsterdam Central Station. The train journey takes about 17 minutes and costs around costs 3,20 EUR one-way. The subsequent walk from the station to Zaanse Schans is another 15 minutes.
If you are planning to drive, follow the A8 from Amsterdam direction Zaanstad and take the Zaanstad-Zuid exit; it’s a 20 - 30 minute drive. This address could be used for GPS location: Schansend 7 in Zaandam. Parking is usually available in Zaantheater or Rozenhof parking garage, it costs around €10.00 per day.
Another great way to visit Zaanse Schans is to opt for an organised tour. Not only your travel hassles are taken care of, a professional tour guide will aid you throughout your excursion for a better understanding of the place. The costing, timing and tour route depends on the route chosen.
Best Zaanse Schans Tours from Amsterdam
If you're looking for the best tours and tickets that will take you from Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans, here are our favourite picks! They are economical, well-planned and promise you a memorable day trip.
Your Zaanse Schans Windmills Tour Experience
First and foremost your transit from Amsterdam is bound to be a short, sweet and scenic journey. As you reach Zaanse Schans, prep yourselves to be wowed away from the places’ sheer beauty and magnificence.
Depending upon the season and day you visit, head towards the windmills to see how it is still used in grinding oil, flour and spices. After your fill of the Zaanse Schans Windmill Village, take a stroll towards the village’s characteristic green wooden houses.
Here on, you can proceed towards your chosen activity; take a lesson in cheese making, taste it and buy it. See the clog museum, bakery museum, Museumwinkel Albert Heijn; witness the process of Tin casting, liquor distillation. Explore the local arts and artists, shop for souvenirs.
Don’t forget to look back and take it all in before you leave as such an amalgamation of scenic beauty and historical importance is exclusive to Zaanse Schans.
The Working Windmills of Zaanse Schans
As of 2019, only 6 windmills are open to the public. Here's a little about each windmill.
De Huisman (1756)
This mill used to be a mustard mill but now makes other spices too.
De Gekroonde Poelenburg (1869)
This is a sawmill and you can see logs being cut into lumber here.
De Kat (1664)
This is a paint mill which grinds wood and pigment to create vibrant colors and other ingredients for artists and restorers in the region.It is one of two mills (along with De Bonte Hen) that were originally built in the premises.
De Zoeker (1672)
This is an oil mill producing peanut oil.
Het Jonge Schaap ( 2007)
This saw mill was recently restored and looks much newer than the rest of the mills around. This windmill saws lumber into planks.
De Bonte Hen (1693)
This one is also an oil producing flaxseed oil. It works to lift huge beams of wood which drop repeatedly to press the oil out of the seeds.
Zaanse Schans Opening Times
While you can visit the Zaanse Schans Village any time of the day and the year and witness its rustic charm, the attractions in and around the area including the mills, bakery museum, he labourers’ cottages have different operating hours.
In the high season, i.e. April to November almost everything open daily between 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM. As for low season, i.e. December to March, days and hours of opening differs, therefore check opening hours online, so that you do not miss any attraction.
Good To Know Tips For Your Trip
- Clothing Advice : As aforementioned, Zaanse Schans is located at the banks Zaan River, due to which the weather tends to windy. Do pack some warm clothes such as a jacket, shawl or scarf to gear up against the winds.
- Check Timing and Prices in advance : While Zaanse Schans is open all day long and is free to roam around, some sites do require an entry ticket and have a certain time restrictions. Check opening hours and pricing on the official website, beforehand.
- Don't miss out on the Private Gouses and Gardens : There are still a few houses in Zaanse Schans that are used as private residences, so, do not wander around in any garden or house without checking.
- Opt for an Organised Tour : Zaanse Schans is filled with things to do and see, a professional guide could not just help you guide the space better, but will be able to provide you some interesting trivia about each site.
- Get the Zaanse Schans Card : A great way to inexpensively enjoy the Zaanse Schans, the pass gives you free access to most ticketed sites and avail attractive discounts in souvenir and museum shops, restaurants and windmill cruises.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there an entrance fee for Zaanse Schans? If yes, how much is it?
No. Admission to the Zaanse Schans is free of charge, but you are required to pay a small amount to enter the windmills and other museums.
How much time should I spend at Zaanse Schans?
A sedate trip to Zaanse Schans from Amsterdam will easily fill half a day.
When is the best time to visit Zaanse Schans?
Being a popular attraction, Zaanse Schans is almost always crowded. However, you will see thinner crowds early in the morning around 9 AM soon after it opens and post 3 PM as most people are ready to leave back to Amsterdam around this time.
Can I arrive by boat to Zaanse Schans?
Yes! You can arrive by boat to Zaanse Schans but only from May to September( Friday to Sunday only). This is a beautiful and eventful way to arrive, so don't lose a chance if you have the option!
Is photography permitted at Zaanse Schans?
Yes. While personal photography is permitted, commercial photography is not allowed without prior permission.
Unfortunately, not all of Zaanse Schans is wheelchair accessible. The Jonge Schaap is the only wheelchair-friendly windmill. However, you ca find accessible bridges and disabled toilets inside the premises. Special parking spaces are also available and you can book a wheelchair from the Zaans Museum.
Can I bicycle around Zaanse Schans?
Bicycles can be used but must be parked in the designated bicycle racks. You must use the dedicated bike path Kalverringdijk at all times and not cycle over the pedestrian roads and grass.
Yes, they are open but the opening hours are different. You can check the holiday timings here