Last Updated on August 30, 2023 by Lauren Allen
Amsterdam has been a tourist hotspot for many years. However, there are so many beautiful places to see beyond the Dutch capital! In this post, I’m going to share the very best things to do in Zaanse Schans and why I think this place is a must-see on your next trip to The Netherlands.
Although most people only ever visit Amsterdam, getting out of the city to experience traditional Dutch culture allows you to discover the country more in-depth.
The moment I arrived in Zaanse Schans, I was in awe of the authentic vibe, picturesque views and unique windmills. I loved delving deep into the rich history of the area and learning more about the country as a whole.
Disclaimer: I was gifted an IAmsterdam City Card and an Amsterdam & Region travel ticket whilst visiting the city. However, all opinions are my own.
Table of Contents
Things to do in Zaanse Schans, The Netherlands
1 | Wander around the Zaans Museum
Deciding what to do in Zaanse Schans? The Zaans Museum is a fantastic place to start. Here you can learn about the Zaan region through its many exhibits. The museum showcases local art and unique information about the village. You’ll also gain a strong insight into how the village was built into what it is today.
If you’re an art lover like me, the art exhibition will be your favourite part of the museum. I loved how they showcased art that was created by locals and highlights the significant beauty of Zaanse Schans.
2 | Check out the Verkade Experience
While exploring the museum, don’t forget to visit the Verkade Experience. It offers travellers an immersive journey into the world of Verkade, a renowned Dutch brand known for its delicious chocolates, biscuits and other sweet treats.
As you check out the Verkade Experience, you’ll delve deep into the history and heritage of the company. You’ll learn about the brand’s origins, dating back to 1886, and its evolution over the years.
You’ll also see various exhibits that showcase Verkade’s vintage packaging, advertising campaigns, and memorabilia. The displays offer a glimpse into the past, illustrating the brand’s rich cultural significance across the country. As a creative myself, seeing the historical graphic designs on the packaging was really intriguing!
Lastly, you can have a hands-on experience by testing out some of the machinery for yourself. If you’re travelling with kids, they’re sure to enjoy this interactive fun!
3 | See the working Zaanse Schans windmills
Windmills are iconic symbols of The Netherlands and the main reason people travel to the area. Due to this, they’re one of the top things to see in Zaanse Schans!
These traditional Dutch windmills offer a glimpse into the country’s rich industrial heritage. Back in the day, over six hundred windmills were scattered across the region. Nowadays, there are way less.
Travellers can explore the remaining windmills during their day trip to Zaanse Schans. Each one has its own story and unique use. For example, some windmills that you can check out during your time in the area are:
- De Huisman: If you love the smell of spices like me, you won’t want to miss De Huisman. This windmill will captivate your senses through smell and taste as you sample the delicious flavours for yourself.
- De Zoeker: One thing you’ll notice about Zaanse Schans is that all homes are made from wood. That makes having a sawmill super important.
- De Bonte Hen: De Bonte Hen has a varied history as it’s produced paint, oil and cocoa through the years. Dating back to 1610, it’s now solely an oil mill.
- De Kat: One for the art lovers – De Kat is one of the most intriguing windmills on this list. To this day, it still manufactures a range of art supplies including vibrant pigments, paints, oils and chalk. These supplies are then shipped to artists and creatives worldwide. How impressive is that?
This list is not exhaustive, there are several more windmills worth exploring during your time in the village. If you do just one thing in Zaanse Schans, make it this!
4 | Visit the bakery museum
Travel back to 1658 by visiting the historic bakery museum. During your trip, you can marvel at the marble floor and see the original bread oven.
Best of all, you also have the chance to try some traditional Dutch baked goods including Duivekater amongst others.
5 | Learn how Dutch cheese is made
Cheese is kind of a big deal in The Netherlands. This means you simply can’t miss a visit to the Catharina Hoeve Cheese Farm in Zaanase Schans. Here you will hear all about the production of different cheeses by workers dressed in traditional Dutch outfits.
You’ll also be treated to some tasty samples during your visit… Result!
6 | Discover the history of the weaver’s house
Another one of the top places to see in Zaanse Schans is the Weaver’s House. This modest house was once home to two large families and showcases the world of traditional textiles in the Zaan region. During your visit, you’ll unravel the threads (ha, see what I did there) of history and witness the intricate process from start to finish.
The weaving projects were a family affair. Each member of the family (including the kids) had a role to play. By visiting, you can see what it must have been like to both live and work in one building back in the day.
The house itself is a beautifully preserved gem, showcasing the authentic architecture and interiors of an authentic Duch home.
As you explore the Weavers House, the guide will show you around dressed in traditional clothes while also giving you some free time to explore of your own accord.
As a textile designer myself, this was my favourite thing to do in Zaanse Schans! I thoroughly enjoyed watching the weaving process and appreciated the unique interiors. of the house.
7 | See Zaanse Schans from a different perspective
If you enjoy water cruises, a cruise along the Zaan River is a must whilst in the area. Especially if you are visiting on a clear sunny day! There are several options for cruising along the Zaan including the windmill hopper, the cow boat and more.
If you are looking to get up close to the windmills and learn more about their history, this is one of the best things to do in Zaanse Schans!
8 | Admire the unique architecture
If you’re looking for free things to do in Zaanse Schans, taking a stroll around the charming windmill village is a must! Known for its authentic wooden houses, it’s one of the most relaxing things to do in the local area.
In my opinion, taking some time to be present and appreciate your surroundings is one of the best things to do in The Netherlands. This gives you the opportunity to do just that. Plus, the picture-perfect buildings also make the ideal backdrop for your Instagram photos!
9 | Relax with a picnic
Fancy a picnic with a view? If you’re visiting the area on a sunny (or at least clear) day, it’s the perfect spot for a picnic. Enjoy your lunch surrounded by historic windmills and pretty scenery.
10 | Visit the Wooden Shoe Workshop of Zaanse Schans
The Netherlands is known for its wooden clogs. If you’re interested in crafts like I am, popping by the Zaanse Schans Clog Workshop is one of the best things to do in the area. In fact, I’d say is something you can’t miss as you travel around the Netherlands.
This family-run workshop offers an enchanting glimpse into traditional Dutch craftsmanship. You’ll see the whole process behind making these popular Dutch clogs, which are each crafted using just one piece of wood.
The museum within the clog workshop houses a large collection of unique clogs from across the globe. For example, you’ll see clog roller skates, carved clogs and hand-painted clogs in a range of patterns and styles.
11 | Go food shopping at Albert Heijn Museum Shop
As the biggest supermarket chain in the country, Albert Heijn is a household name in The Netherlands. During your visit to Zaanse Schans, you can admire the original interiors of what the stores looked like back in 1887.
The 19th-century listed building has been crafted from wood which is traditional craftsmanship of the Zaans region.
12 | Join a bike tour around Zaanse Schans
If you’ve been to The Netherlands before, you’ll already know that it’s a country known for its bikes. What better way to immerse yourself in a new culture than to do as the locals do?
A unique way to discover Zaanse Schans is to hire a bike and take a self-guided tour around the bike path of the village. You can do this using a number of cycling routes.
What is Zaanse Schans?
Zaanse Schans is an incredibly charming district located near Amsterdam. What makes this area of The Netherlands so unique is that the neighbourhood was rebuilt to showcase what Dutch villages were like in the 18th and 19th centuries.
As such, visiting the area takes you back in time and offers a truly authentic experience. Despite becoming quite a touristy location, it’s an amazing place to explore.
If I had more time, I would have spent a full day (or more) in the area. I would have loved to sit down, relax and do some painting surrounded by all the beautiful scenery. However, as this was a short trip to Amsterdam, I sadly only spent half a day in Zaanse Schans. I’ll be back one day for sure!
How to get to Zaanse Schans from Amsterdam Central
Situated around 17km from the city, it’s pretty easy to get to Zaanse Schans from Amsterdam. There are several ways to get there including:
Travelling by train is one of the most cost-efficient ways of getting to the village. From Amsterdam Central Station, trains run every 10 – 15 minutes (depending on the season).
Typically, they only take around 20 minutes or less to get to Zaandijk Zaanse Schans Station. From there, it’s a short 15-minute walk to get to the open-air museum.
How much is the train from Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans?
Train tickets cost less than €5 or €7.30 if you fancy being fancy in first class (although, I wouldn’t say it’s worth it).
It’s also possible to travel to Zaanse Schans by bus. However, this takes a little longer (around 50 minutes on average).
If you are travelling from Central Station in Amsterdam, you can get the 391 bus and get off just a few minutes walk away from the museum. Due to this, the bus is the most convenient option if you want to get dropped off closer to the attractions.
How much is the bus from Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans?
Tickets for the bus cost €3 – €5.
Driving to Zaanse Schans takes just 20 minutes from the centre of Amsterdam.
Where to park in Zaanse Schans
There is a car park located next to the Zaans Museum. The cost of parking is €12 per day.
If you’d prefer to travel by Uber, expect to pay €25 or more. However, this depends on where you are travelling from and the type of Uber you select.
It’s worth noting that if you are travelling as a pair or in a group, this is cheaper than driving. It may not seem like it, but you won’t have to pay €12 to park the car. You also won’t need to spend additional money on petrol.
Fancy doing as the locals do? Then consider hiring a bike and using that to travel to Zaanse Schans. From Amsterdam city centre, this will take an hour or less. Plus, you’ll get some great exercise! What’s not to love?
Top tip: If you have an IAmsterdam city card, you can rent a bike for the day free of charge using your pass. There are several bike rental shops scattered across the city, just do a bit of research and decide which one to choose.
Read more: How to get around in the Amsterdam region
Should I buy an Amsterdam & Region travel ticket?
If you’re going to be exploring several places outside of central Amsterdam during your visit, you may want to consider if it’s worth purchasing an Amsterdam & Region travel ticket.
These tickets give you unlimited journeys on trains, buses, trams and ferries across the region. This includes transportation to some of the most popular spots nearby including Zaanse Schans, Amsterdam Beach, Haarlem and Amsterdam Castle Muiderslot. It also includes transport within the city centre.
The travel ticket prices are as follows:
- 1 day: €21
- 2 days: €31.50
- 3 days: €40.50
Can I use the IAmsterdam card in Zaanse Schans?
You can indeed! There are several attractions in the area that are included in the IAmsterdam card including:
- The Weaver’s House
- Zaans Museum & Verkade Experience
- Zaan Time Museum
- Windmill de Kat
- Zaan Windmill Society
Is the Zaanse Schans card worth it?
However, if you haven’t, you may want to consider the Zaanse Schans card. For one price of €29.50 the card will give you the following:
- Free entry into all museums in the area (including the Zaans Museum, the Weaver’s House and many more)
- Discount at Restaurant De Kraai
- Discount on parking
If you think you may not have time to visit lots of museums in the time you’ll spend in the area, you may want to give it a miss and buy everything separately instead. Alternatively, buy an IAmsterdam city card for access to the museums in Zaanse Schans and beyond.
Day tours from Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans
If you’d prefer to have your day planned out for you, there are several day trips you may want to consider joining:
- Zaanse Schans, Volendam and Marken day trip
- Day trip to Volendam, Edam, & Zaanse Schans
- Zaanse Schans (plus cheese tasting and a visit to the clog factory)
- Bus tour around the charming Dutch destinations Zaanse Schans, Volendam, Edam and Marken
Where to eat in Zaanse Schans
If you haven’t pre-planned and taken food with you, don’t fret! There are several places to eat in Zaanse Schans that cater to different budgets. Options include:
Slager aan de Schans
Known for its cosy atmosphere, Slager aan de Schans is located just across the bridge from the historic village of Zaanse Schans. This place is highly rated for its delicious food, great beer and incredible service.
De Hoop op d’Swarte Walvis
Fancy eating along the river? Then head to De Hoop op d’Swarte Walvis. This is perhaps the best place to eat in Zaanse Schans if you are visiting on a sunny day as you can enjoy the fab weather as you dine al fresco.
They serve a variety of dishes including soups, sandwiches, wraps, burgers and much more.
Top tip: Travellers with the IAmsterdam card receive a 25% discount on lunch at this restaurant.
Restaurant De Kraai
Restaurant De Kraai is the perfect stop if you fancy treating yourself to some Dutch pancakes. A firm favourite in the area since 1976, you can choose from a wide selection of pancake toppings at this well-loved restaurant.
Top tip: If you have the Zaanse Schans card, you will receive a discount of 10% at Restaurant De Kraai (upon spending more than €10).
Hotels in Zaanse Schans
Would you prefer to stay in Zaanse Schans instead of central Amsterdam? I can see why! Luckily there are several highly-rated hotels in the local area such as:
Located near the train station and just a short 15-minute walk from Zaanse Schans, Boutique Hotel 43 is one of the most beautiful hotels in the area. Each room is decorated to a high standard with some even having private balconies to enjoy for the duration of your stay.
Situated around 20 minutes from Zaanse Schans in Zaandam, Manzo’s Suites is a four-star hotel that boasts stunning rooms and interiors. Guests love this hotel for its cleanliness, comfort and luxurious feel. Plus, its location in Zaandam is ideal for exploring the city before or after visiting Zaanse Schans.
Is Zaanse Schans worth visiting?
Spending some time in Zaanse Schans is 100% worth it in my opinion. Especially if you like to delve deep into local cultures when you travel.
By visiting the area, you’ll get a deeper understanding of what life was like for the Dutch many years ago and learn more about the country’s history. I’d say it’s a must-do for sure!
Travel tips for visiting Zaanse Schans
Are there tulips in Zaanse Schans?
Yes! Between the months of March and May, Zaanse Schans brightens up with colourful tulips. This is one of the best (and most iconic) times to visit the local area. As such, you should plan ahead. Especially if you’d like to stay at a hotel nearby.
It’s also worth noting that the village will be a lot busier at this time of year as opposed to visiting in autumn or winter.
What is Zaanse Schans like for solo female travellers?
The village is 100% safe for women travelling alone. In fact, I felt completely comfortable during my time in the area. I also saw several other solo female travellers during my visit.
What NEEDS to be included in a Zaanse Schans itinerary?
If you only have a few hours in Zaanse Schans, you should visit the clog-making workshop, the weavers’ house and the Zaans Museum. These are all things that I personally enjoyed during my afternoon in Zaanse Schans so I’d highly recommend adding them to your list!
Are there any other places worth visiting nearby?
Yes! Situated just a five-minute train ride from Zaanse Schans, Zaandam is a picturesque city that has become more and more popular in recent years.
The city is an ideal place to go shopping, eat at great restaurants, admire the architecture and much more. In fact, adding a stop in Zaandam before or after visiting Zaanse Schans is the perfect day trip from Amsterdam!
FAQ about visiting Zaanse Schans
Between the months of April and September.
The shops and attractions in Zaanse Schans have different opening hours depending on the season.
Each attraction is priced differently, but there are many affordable and free things to do in Zaanse Schans.
This depends on what you would like to see but ultimately, you need at least half a day. However, you could easily spend a full day visiting the local areas if you fancy escaping the hustle and bustle of central Amsterdam.
Absolutely! Travelling to the area is super easy by public transport which means it’s totally doable to visit without a tour. Furthermore, visiting alone gives you the opportunity to explore at your own pace without feeling the need to rush your sightseeing.
Has this post inspired you to check out all the things to do in Zaanse Schans? Let me know in the comments section below.
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