Zaanse Schans is the perfect destination for a day trip from Amsterdam and it is a living piece of history in the Netherlands. Check out this blog post on the top tips on what to do in Zaanse and make your day trip a success!
Hello, welcome back to my blog and welcome to Travel Wednesdays In today’s post, I am going to talk about our trip to Zaanse! I found out about this place literally weeks before our trip and made it a point to squeeze a day to the windmills.
Let’s get started!
Somethings you should know:
☆ Not all attractions are open every day. Some of the mills open at 8 am and other opens at 10 am. I highly recommend you checking out the official website and plan your trip around the opening hours to avoid disappointment.
☆ It is a very popular tourist attraction and that means there will be a lot of people. We arrived there in the afternoon and it was packed. I recommend going early in the morning!
☆ There is parking outside the attraction. Again, go early in the morning because if it is full, there is no nearby parking spot. The parking costs €10. This is a flat rate so you can stay as long as you like!
⇢ We rented an Airbnb (it was actually a boat house!) in Kampen which is an hour and a half away. It was so much fun sleeping in a boat. Yes, it was tiny and it moved a little but it was such an experience.
⇢ If you’d like to stay closer and explore the nearby village, click here for the top recommendations from the official Zaanse Schans website!
Fun facts about Zaanse:
✗ Zaanse Schans is a neighbourhood in Zaandam. The well-preserved windmills and houses is what makes it a popular tourist attraction.
✗ There was an industrial boom in the 19th century in the Zaan region. What you see in Zaanse is how a community used to live.
✗ Zaanse received more than a million visitors each year. The neighbourhood is picturesque and gives visitors a taste of traditional Dutch country life away from the craziness of Amsterdam and other major cities.
✗ Back in the day, you could find 600 working windmills here! At present, there are 10 active windmills.
✗ The Zaan region is one of the oldest industrial areas in the world.
✗ You can go to Zaanse and spend little money! There are a lot of nice spots where you can sit down and enjoy a picnic. While there are restaurants, they mostly sell snack and sweet varieties such as waffles and ice-cream. Save money by bringing your own Dutch-style picnic!
How to get to Zaanse:
✼ We drove there. Our first stop was Ghent in Belgium (linked above!) and the next day we drove from Belgium which was an easy 2 hour drive!
✼ If you’re driving from the KMC (Kaiserslautern Military Community) Area, Zaanse is only a 5 hour drive away.
✼ Zaanse is not far from Amsterdam and it is the perfect day trip destination! Luckily, public transport in the Netherlands is fantastic. All you’d need to do Amsterdam’s Central Station heading toward Zaandijk – Zaanse Schans. Once you arrive in Zaandam, Zaanse Schans is another 15-minute walk from the train station. The train from Amsterdam will cost €3.10 each way.
✼ A number of bike paths are located around Zaanse so taking a bike is another option especially if you’d like to explore the nearby village.
WHAT TO DO IN ZAANSE:
You don’t need more than a day in Zaanse unless you want to explore the region. A half day is more than enough! We stopped at Zaanse on our way to the Tulip Festival.
♡ Visit a working windmill:
We didn’t go inside a windmill when we visited but I do highly recommend doing so. Keep in mind that there is a fee of €3 for each windmill! Out of the 10 windmills in Zaanse, six of them are classified as industrial windmills:
- De Huisman (the homeowner) – a windmill used to grind mustard seeds
- De Gekroonde Poelenburg (Crowned Poelen Castle) – a windmill used to saw wood
- De Kat (the cat) – a windmill used to grind the elements used in manufacturing paint.
- De Zoeker (the seeker) – a windmill used to press oil out of seeds.
- De Bonte Hen (the speckled hen) – another oil windmill, and
- Het Jonge Schaap (the young sheep) – another wood-sawing windmill.
As mentioned above, there is an admission fee for each windmill and each windmill has it’s own opening hours so make sure to check out the official website – linked above.
♡ Check out the museums:
Apart from the historic windmills, you can find a number of museums:
- The Zaans Museum is in the modern visitors’ centre and has exhibits on local history, crafts, and industrial development of the region.
- The Noorderhuis Museum is a mid-seventeenth century building furnished as was typical for a rich merchant house from the nineteenth century.
- The Museum Shop Albert Heijn has the interior of a nineteenth-century grocery store.
- The Bakery Museum (Bakkerij) is a typical nineteenth-century bakery.
- The Dutch Clock Museum (Nederlandse Uurwerk) illustrates the development of Dutch clocks from the sixteenth to mid-nineteenth centuries.
Several traditional Dutch crafts are demonstrated in historic workshops including cheese making (kaasmakerij), pewter making (tingieterij), and the wooden shoe clog workshop (klompenmakerij).
We visited the Bakkerij (Bakery) and the shoe clog workshop!
♡ The Bakkerij (Bakery Museum):
I love everything unhealthy and was immediately drawn to this museum. You get the full history of Dutch baking and you also get the opportunity to get to know the tools and methods bakers used back in the day! It felt like stepping back in time and I loved it.
This little bakery museum dates back from 1658 and as you can see, there are a number of baking moulds as well as recipes! The name of the museum is derived from a Duivekater. Duivekater is a sweet bread found in the Zaan region which you buy fresh and warm here. There is an old fashioned sweet shop as soon as you enter where you bay some sweet treats.
click on the arrow to see the images.
♡ The wooden shoe clog workshop:
I mean that diamond clog though!
We loved walking around and getting to know about the history of the clogs. Clogs are a national symbol of Holland and it was really cool getting to know more about these wooden shoes!
click on the arrow to see the images.
You cannot miss the workshop because 1) there are clogs all around it and 2) you can find the famous giant clogs! More information here.
♡ Walk around the nearby fields:
There is nothing but greenery around the windmills and we spent a good chunk of our time walking around and taking pictures! You could also see animals and rivers! As soon as you walk in, there is a viewpoint where you can climb it and get a stunning view of Zaanse.
♡ Cheese tasting in Zaanse at the Catharina Hoeve Cheese Farm:
This is something that I didn’t know happened in Zaanse (I know, I failed big time) and I wish I did! Cheese tasting is a thing in Zaanse and every blog post I read, all recommended it to do it. You can see old machines and learn how Dutch cheese is made. Apart from tasting the cheese, you can also purchase your own to take home. How amazing is that?!
The Hoeve Cheese Farm is a replica of a traditional cheese farm and they have hundreds of different cheeses you can choose from (accompanied with mustard!) The staff wear traditional cheesemaker costumes and they explain everything.
Unless you want to buy souvenirs, food and go into the windmills, a trip to Zaanse is very cheap! If it is certainly a budget-friendly day trip.
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