Zaanse Schans is one of the Netherlands most popular tourist destinations. The site consists of a large windmill park which has some of the Netherlands’ best windmills. Besides, the area is unique for its charming green wooden houses and old barns where you can learn a lot about Dutch culture and history.
Here’s all you can see and do in Zaanse Schans, how to get around, tickets, opening hours and much more.
What is Zaanse Schans?
Zaanse Schans is a large windmill park in the Dutch province of North Holland. It’s known for having the best windmills in Holland and its charming wooden houses.
Zaanse Schans is not only great to see windmills, it’s also the perfect place to learn about how the Dutch lived in the 18th and 19th centuries.
During that time, the Zaan region was thriving. It was a successful industrial area that had about 600 (!) windmills producing various spices, linseed oil, chalk, paint, paper, and other items. However, with the advent of modern technology, the need for the windmills became less and less and so the area became less of an economic zone.
Today, it’s a popular tourist destination with plenty of sights and activities to choose from.
What to See and Do in Zaanse Schans
Zaanse Schans is a neighborhood in Zaandam. Located about 20 kilometers north of Amsterdam, it makes a wonderful day trip if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the Dutch capital city.
Below are the best things to see and do in Zaanse Schans.
The best thing about Zaanse Schans are of course the windmills! There are 13 historic windmills in Zaanse Schans. The windmills themselves are original. They date back to the 16th and 17th centuries, with the oldest windmill constructed in 1597. What’s interesting is that the windmills were moved from their original locations across the area to the windmill park at Zaanse Schans.
Eight windmills in Zaanse Schans are classified as industrial. They are the following:
- De Huisman (The Homeowner), a mustard seed windmill.
- De Gekroonde Poelenburg (The Crowned Poelen Castle), saw wood windmill.
- De Kat (The Cat), a painted windmill.
- De Zoeker (The Seeker), an oil-pressing windmill.
- De Bonte Hen (The Speckled Hen), an oil-pressing windmill.
- Het Jonge Schaap (The Young Sheep), another wood-sawing windmill.
There is a walking path leading around the windmill park so you can see all the windmills from closeby and afar. More on this later.
2. Museum Hopping
For a small village, the place is dotted with interesting museums! They’re all close to each other so just go in one, explore, and move on to the next! These are the three best museums to visit:
- The Mill Museum is an interactive museum. As you go from floor to floor, virtual and audio guides inform you about three centuries’ worth of windmill history.
- The Zaan Museum, as the name suggests, is all about the history of the Zaan region. Inside, you’ll see paintings by Monet and other artists, utensils, and even clothing from Zaan’s economic heyday. And if you’ve been in Holland for a while, then you probably have heard of the Verkade brand of chocolates and biscuits. Right inside the Zaan Museum is the Verkade Experience, where visitors can learn about the company’s history – and buy some chocolates.
- The Albert Heijn Museum. Did you know that the very first Albert Heijn (famous Dutch supermarket) was in Zaandam? The original store was erected in 1887, and in the 1930s Albert Heijn’s management thought it would be a great idea to preserve the original store by recreating it in Zaanse Schans. As you can imagine, the ‘museum’ is not big at all but it’s still great to step inside and imagine how young Albert Heijn started. The entry is free of charge.
Our Tip: Get the World of Windmills ticket to get access to the Mill Museum and free entrance to seven windmills owned by De Zaansche Molen (Society of Zaan Windmills).
If you have more time, further beautiful museums to visit while in Zaanse Schans are the Bakery Museum de Gecroonde Duyvekater (17th century bakery), the Zaanse Time Museum (Dutch timepiece museum), and Honig Breethuis (19th century home of a paper businessman).
3. Souvenir Shopping
Would you like to take home an original and unique souvenir and support the locals? There are multiple options near Zaanse Schans for souvenir shopping.
If you’re interested in local, handcrafted soap, go to Zeepziederij Zaanse Schans (Zaanse Schans Soap Factory) where soap is infused with Zaanse cocoa butter. If you want something typically Dutch to bring home, go to Orse ket aan ‘t Glop. But if you’re after Dutch clogs, go to the De Vreede clog warehouse. For anything cheese-related, you cannot go wrong with a visit to the Catharina Hoeve Cheese Farm.
Tickets & Admission
Visiting Zaanse Schans and walking through its quaint village is free of charge.
Admission tickets, however, are required to enter and enter the windmills, as well as to participate in any of the workshops held inside. Ticket prices are around €4.50 per person, per windmill. See more on tickets below.
Note that it’s quite touristic at Zaanse Schans and you really don’t want to queue for a ticket at every attraction. That’s why we suggest you purchase the Zaanse Schans Card online. It gives you access to most of the windmills and museums in the area.
Our tip: Do you already have an I amsterdam City Card? If so, some Zaanse Schans windmills and museums are already included in that card, so find out which ones to avoid paying extra!
Most attractions at Zaanse Schans open daily from 9 a.m to 5 p.m., some of them open a little later (at 10 a.m.). The parking lot remains open until 7 p.m., which means that you have plenty of time to walk around the site even when the museums are closed.
If you’d like to visit a specific museum at Zaanse Schans, we recommend that you check the current availability on the official website.
How much time do you need at Zaanse Schans?
As previously mentioned, most people visit Zaanse Schans on a day trip. If you’re just after the windmills and some of the attractions, then about 3-4 hours is enough. However, if you’re after the scenery as well, then there’s enough to see and do for a full day’s worth of adventure.
How to Get to Zaanse Schans
If you’re coming from Amsterdam, you can take the Bus 391 which runs from Amsterdam Central Station to Zaandam every 15 minutes. During summer months (July and August), you can easily extend your trips from Zaanse Schans to Volendam (bus 817 runs between Zaanse Schans and Volendam).
If you don’t mind a little walking, you can also take the train. The nearest station is Zaandijk Zaanse Schans which is about 15 minutes walk from the windmills.
Coming from Amsterdam? You can also purchase a bundle which includes transportation and a tour at Zaanse Schans.
Car & Parking
Traveling by car is undoubtedly the most convenient way of traveling. There are plenty of parking spaces available at the site. You can simply type Zaanse Schans into Google Maps to find your way there, or use the address Schansend 7 in Zaandam for your GPS. Parking is €12.00 for a full day.
How to Get Around Zaanse Schans
Zaanse Schans is best explored by foot. This way, you can go in and out of any windmill or any of the historic buildings along its streets. You can download the Zaanse Schans App that will take you on a guided tour of the village’s most interesting spots.
If you want to cover more ground faster, there are two biking routes you can take: the Hotspot Wormerveer route (8 kilometers) and the Around de Noord route (30 kilometers). There’s an English PDF map of the biking routes available.
Since the Zaanse Schans windmills are on the edge of the Zaan River, one excellent way to tour this village is by boat. There are various guided tours you can avail of in the village but for a different experience, why not try the Cow Boat tour? It’s a 45-minute sail along the Zaanse Schans via a former cattle boat.
Questions or Feedback?
Have you already been to Zaanse Schans or planning to visit soon? We’d love to hear from you! Share your experience or any questions you might have in the comment section down the page.