There’s no question that clogs, tulips, cheese and windmills are the quintessential symbols of the Netherlands. Fortunately there’s an incredible place where visitors can find all of them, and it just so happens to be less than an hour’s drive from Amsterdam, in the charming area of Zaanse Schans.
The heavenly smells of chocolate and fresh-baked waffles waft over you as you pass through the entrance to Zaanse Schans, which is like a living museum. Dozens of homes along with real working windmills have been brought to the community over the past century, luring nearly one million visitors to the area every single year.
The picturesque, spinning windmills are the biggest draw, and while most are there for show there just so happens to be one that is still used today: De Kat, which produces the pigment and dye used in paint. Another popular one is De Gekroonde Poelenburg, which is literally a standout thanks to its lime-green facade. Some of the windmills are open to visitors for a small admission charge, which includes the chance to walk up to a viewing platform to look out over the bright-blue lake.
After exploring the windmills, visitors can cross over a cute little bridge towards the bleating sheep lounging in the green grass. Chickens roam the pathways, ready to pounce on any food a child might inadvertently drop. From there, guests can weave in and out of the other historical buildings on site, which include:
– A chocolate shop, offering demonstrations about the chocolate-making process, as well as the opportunity to make hot cocoa from scratch
– A clog museum detailing the history of those famous wooden shoes—and yes, there is a gift shop where visitors can buy some to bring home.
– A bakery, and a cheese store with samples of the different blends of gouda—delicious!
Once visitors get their fill of all the culinary delights, they can walk it off with a jaunt through the trails that wind through the marsh surrounding the windmills. In true Dutch fashion, bike rentals are also available.
Visiting Zaanse Schans can take as little as a couple of hours, or can be stretched out over a couple of days depending on how much of the area is explored. There is a quaint little bed and breakfast to stay at right in the village, as well some higher-end restaurants that boast patios perfect for taking in the views. Boat rides are also available, which cross the water toward the historic homes overlooking the lake.
Overall, Zaanse Schans is a charming little place that beautifully sums up Holland’s history, and just so happens to be a convenient half-day trip from incredible Amsterdam.
Cost: Entrance is free to get into Zaanse Schans. However, there is a charge to get into some of the museums, which can be offset by buying a Zaanse Schans card at the information centre.
How to get there: It’s about a half hour drive by car from Amsterdam, or 40 minutes each way by bus from Amsterdam’s Central Station. #391 comes every 15 minutes, and costs 5€ per person each way. Tickets can be purchased from the driver. It’s also possible to bike from Amsterdam—while it may be far, at least it’s flat!
Don’t miss: There is a high viewing platform just behind the parking lot at the main entrance, which visitors can climb up for a birds-eye view of the windmills and pathways surrounding Zaanse Schans.
YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY: