Zaanse Schans is a popular tourist area in the Zaan region, which began to develop in the 18th and 19th centuries and its foundation dates back to the 1960s. During these years, houses were built, even houses from different regions were moved here by trailers, boats and wheeled vehicles.
- Where is Zaanse Schans? How to get there?
- From Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans by train
- From Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans by bus
- Rent a bike in Zaanse Schans and bike route
- Zaanse Schans windmills
- Zaanse Schans souvenir shops
- Is it worth buying the Zaanse Schans Card?
- Places to see in Zaanse Schans
- Zaans Museum
Windmills, warehouses were built, roads were constructed. With its museums, nature and culture, it has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Netherlands and a place where we can see the development of industry in the Netherlands.
Famous for its well-preserved historic windmill, Zaanse Schans is part of the city of Zaandam and is named after the river Zaan. Although windmills throughout the Netherlands are used to prevent flooding by discharging excess water from the land below the water level, the windmills in the town of Zaanse Schans, north of Amsterdam, are used for different purposes.
Zaanse Schans has windmills that are still active in windy weather. Some of these buildings are used as museums, some as workshops and some as houses. The windmills, which are now used to make mustard, paint, oil and lumber, numbered about 600 in their time, but only a few of them can be seen today. Some windmills have had their blades removed and are now used as warehouses. These wonderful structures make Zaanse Schans an open-air museum.
Where is Zaanse Schans? How to get there?
From Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans by train
Getting to Zaanse Schans is quite easy from Amsterdam, the distance between Zaanse Schans and Amsterdam is 18 km. You can be in Zaanse Schans in 20 minutes with your round trip train ticket from Koog Zaandijk station at the automatic ticket machines at Amsterdam Centraal train station. Depending on the situation and time, you may also need to make various transfers.
We had to transfer to the Koog Zaandijk train from Amsterdam Sloterdijk station, which is one stop after Amsterdam Centraal. When you arrive at Koog Zaandijk train station, you also have to walk 1.5km.
From Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans by bus
If you want to go by bus, the E platform at Amsterdam Centraal with buses 391 and 891 is an option, but it is not preferred because it takes about 40 minutes. If you are coming with your personal car, you can leave it in the parking lot at Schansend 7 for a fee.
What to see first time in Zaanse Schans
De Bleeke Dood
We get off the train station and start walking towards Zaanse Schans, a few minutes later, just before the bridge, we come across a windmill called De Bleeke Dood. This structure alone is enough to excite us. De Bleeke Dood is one of the oldest surviving wooden windmills in the Netherlands, built in 1656 and operating until 1931.
There is a retractable bridge for big boats. As we were heading towards the middle of the bridge, the bridge crossing was closed and the middle of the bridge started to separate. Vehicle traffic, bicycle traffic and pedestrian traffic have to stop at that time.
You can take great photos of Zaanse Schans from the bridge, it has a really beautiful view. If you miss Zaanse Schans after you leave, you can also watch the area live on the Zaanse Schans Live Stream page.
There are several ways to explore Zaanse Schans. You can take a leisurely stroll through the town and admire the views, or you can take a more active outing and rent a bike to explore the area. In the meantime, you can also visit several museums and exhibitions in Zaanse Schans.
Dutch Clock Museum
We cross the bridge and turn left, the building with a flowery garden in front of it is the Dutch Clock Museum (Museum van het Nederlandse Uurwerk). Located in a 17th century house, the museum includes all kinds of clocks such as tower clocks, wall clocks and pendulum clocks. It can be visited every day except Monday.
Rent a bike in Zaanse Schans and bike route
One of the activities you can do in Zaanse Schans is renting a bike. Each of the windmills is beautiful and it would take a lot of time to walk to all of them. Since the road passing by the windmills is also flat, we rented bicycles and had a pleasant bike ride to the end of Zaanse Schans.
We rented the bikes from Mosterdmolen de Huisman, the green painted building next to the windmills, next to the toilets (52.47361, 4.81748). Bicycles can be rented between 09:00 – 17:30.
Zaanse Schans windmills
After renting a bike, of course, we move faster to the places we want to go. We visit and photograph the windmills respectively. De Gekroonde Poelenburg, which is used for sawdust production, De Kat, which produces paint, De Zoeker, which used to produce paint but later produced oil, Het Jonge Schaap, which is used for sawing, De Os, one of the oldest windmills in the Zaan region, which used to be powered by wind but now runs on diesel, then Het Klaverblad, De Bonte Hen, which is also used for oil production.
Time passes as we keep pausing and after an hour we hand over our bikes. If you visit De Kat, you can see how the wooden wheels look like and you can memorize the magnificent view of Zaanse Schans from the terrace.
Farming is also at its best here. If you ask what to buy in Zaanse Schans, the only answer is cheese. You can find and taste a wide variety of cheeses in cheese production centers. One of these production centers is Catharina Hoeve near the shop where we rented a bicycle. Behind it you can see their farm and the animals on the farm.
Zaanse Schans souvenir shops
When it comes to shopping, Zaanse Schans is a great place to find Dutch-themed souvenirs and gifts. There are several shops in the area that sell traditional Dutch products, including wooden clogs, cheese, and windmill-shaped items.
Is it worth buying the Zaanse Schans Card?
If you want to visit all the museums in Zaanse Schans, you can get a Zaanse Schans Card. You get free admission to one paid mill of your choice and 50% discount to other mills. You can enter the Zaans Museum for free with the Zaanse Schans Card.
Zaan Time Museum entrance is also free with this card. It also gives you a discount on daily parking fees. You can get these discount cards for tourists from the Zaans Museum.
Places to see in Zaanse Schans
The Zaans Museum, opened in 1998, aims to promote the Zaan region and provide information about its history. The museum has cultural, regional and historical collections, including paintings by the painter Claude Monet, who painted the Zaan region.
Be sure to go to the viewpoint next to the museum to see the view of the Zaanse Schans, the use of the land, the windmills and the bridges from this angle.
Zaanse Schans is home to the Bakkerijmuseum, a museum dedicated to the history of baking in the Netherlands. Originally called Bakkerijmuseum In de Gecroonde Duyvekater, the Bakery Museum’s name Duivekater refers to Zaanse’s famous bread.
The museum is housed in an 18th-century windmill and visitors can learn about the milling process and see how bread is traditionally made. At the museum, you can taste Duivekater along with other famous flavors of the Netherlands. The museum also has a bakery where you can buy fresh bread and pastries.
When we go towards the back, we reach the center of wooden shoe making. Klompenmakerij, one of the most colorful shoe shops you can see, also gives you the chance to observe how the wooden shoes called clogs, which prevent slipping on wet ground due to the structure of the Netherlands, are made by wood craftsmen in the production workshops.
If you’re looking for a traditional Dutch experience, a visit to the Klompenmakerij at Zaanse Schans is a must. Here, you can watch artisans hand-craft the wooden shoes that have long been a part of Dutch culture.
Zaanse Schans is a wonderful place to visit if you’re looking for a taste of Dutch culture and history. With its windmills, cheese factories, and quaint shops, Zaanse Schans is the perfect place to spend a day or two exploring. Be sure to add it to your Netherlands travel itinerary!