Whether you’ve been to Amsterdam before or it’s your first time, sometimes it can be nice to venture out of the city centre. On my weekend trip to the country mostly associated with wooden clogs, windmills and tulips (among other things) I spent a morning in Zaanse Schans, Amsterdam.
Less than a 20-minute train journey from Amsterdam Central station and you’re in Zaanse Schans, a picturesque village in the town of Zaandam. In contrast to Amsterdam’s bustling city centre of trams, bikes, canals and winding back streets, Zaanse Schans is peaceful, has character… and many windmills!
Why you should visit Zaanse Schans
Zaanse Schans is a chance to see a different side of Amsterdam. If you’re not staying long in the city, it makes a perfect half or full day trip. The windmills, are the one the main draws to Zaanse Schans, are still working today milling flour and spices. You can even climb to the top to take in the views. Aside from the windmills, you’ll find shops, workshops, barns and pretty wooden homes, some of which are accessible via bridges.
There’s also a museum that’s home to model windmills and for those with a sweet tooth, you’ll also find exhibitions on chocolate making. You can also taste numerous types of chocolate in some of the shops and workshops like Zaan Gedaan CacoaLab.
You’ll be able to make your own chocolate milk and hear how chocolate is made since the Zaans region is home to cocoa processing and production. It even has a river nicknamed the ‘chocolate river’! (Sounds a little like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)!
You can also visit some of the workshops where you’ll be able to see how clogs are carved and wooden barrels made.
And if you want to see more there are boat services from the pier at Zaanse Schans which will take you along the River Zaan. You’ll get to see the windmills and homes from a different vantage. Depending on which boat tour you take, you can hear the history and secrets of the windmills.
How to get there
From Amsterdam Central take the train to Zaandijk Zaanse Schans – the station stop. Once you come out of the station, you’ll be guided by pretty floral stone designs embedded in the pavement. With a flowered path leading the way you really can’t get lost! You’ll eventually get to a cool looking bridge and the entrance to Zaanse is just over it on the left.
You can also take a ferry from Amsterdam Central to Zaanse Schans ferry stop.
Opening times 9 am – 5 pm daily.
Not all of the attractions are open every day so double check on the Zaanse Schans website for more information. www.dezaanseschans.nl.
If you’re looking for something else to do while in Amsterdam, check out A’DAM Lookout.