During our visit to Amsterdam, we had the chance to visit one of the most beautiful towns located in the Zaan region. Zaanse Schans is famous for its windmills, the beauty of this constructions embellishes the landscape and invites you to admire the place that was once a very important industrial area for the Dutch.
But apart from the beautiful windmill, there are some lovely Dutch houses and historic buildings. Each of them has a story to tell, and the expositions that show how Dutch people lived and let you explore the cultural and historical heritage of Zaanse Schans.
History of Zaanse Schans
The Zaan district used to be a very important industrial area, it is actually the oldest industrial area of the world!
During the years before the utilization of coal, diesel and other combustibles for labor, the wind power dominated the region making 1000 windmills work day and night to produce wheat, wood, paint, and other important materials for the country.
It was in 1961 when the Zaanse Schans foundation was created and during the following decade, a lot of historical buildings and houses from a lot of regions of the Netherlands were brought here with tractors or piece by piece to be rebuilt again.
The last construction was made in 2014 and nowadays Zaanse Schans is an open air ethnographic museum. Here you will be able to learn about the history of the Dutch people, their early and endured industry and some of the most beautiful classic Dutch landscapes.
Zaanse Schans full access with the I amsterdam City Card
We visited Zaanse Schans because we read about it in our information brochure of our I amsterdam City Card. It’s very convenient to visit Zaanse Schans if you have the I amsterdam City Card, because the price of the ferry that goes to Zaanse Schans, and the entry to many of the paid attractions is included in the cost of the City Card.
How much time do you need to spend in Zaanse Schans?
As you will read in our article, Zaanse Schans has a lot of things to offer, so we recommend you arrive early with the first ferry and go back with the last one. You can spend in Zaanse Schans minimum 2-3 hours. The time spent depends on the things you are interested in visiting.
How do you get from Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans windmills?
You can arrive to Zaanse Schans easily by two options:
You can take the Sprinter train in direction of Uitgeest and get off at Zaanse Schans. This is the fourth stop of the road. This is the fastest option and you will also enjoy a great view of the windmills once that you will be approaching the station. The only bad thing is that you will need to walk approximately 15 minutes from the station to the town. This train is not included in the I amsterdam city card.
You can take a bus from the Central Station of Amsterdam directly to the Zaanse Schans district. The bus that you need to take is the 391 and it departs every 15 minutes from the platform L.
It costs 6.50 euro per person one way and you will arrive in 40 minutes. These regional buses are not included in the I amsterdam City Card neither.
Even if this option takes as much time as the bus, it’s for sure the most beautiful and enjoyable of them all. The company Zaanferry is the one that can take you from the city to Zaanse Schans and it is included in the I amsterdam City Card!
All the ferries from Zaanferry depart just from Thursday to Sunday from the last port to the left at the Central Station. The first departure is at 10 am. Just be aware that on Sunday the ferries arrive just to the Zaandam port, from there you will need to take a bus to the Zaans area.
The departure times to return to Amsterdam also change depending on the day the season. You can click here to see the whole timetable.
Our trip to Zaanse Schans windmills
When we visited the Zaanse Schans region, we planned a program based on the attractions that looked more interesting for us. We will tell you about them but remember that there are other museums and attractions that are included in the I amsterdam Card as well.
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· The Zaans Museum
This is the first Museum that we visited. Here you can find a lot of antique objects and other elements that tell the story of the Zaanse Schans. You can also see some of the artwork of Claude Monet and Van Gogh, who were very inspired by the beautiful landscape and the Zaanse Schans windmills. The admission cost without the card is 10 euros.
· The Albert Heijn Museum & Shop
If you visit Amsterdam, it is pretty sure that you will buy something in one of the Albert Heijn shops around the whole city. This is one of the oldest supermarket companies in the Netherlands, and the first one was opened here in the Zaans region.
You can visit this museum and see a great reconstruction of the original store of 1887.
If you have the I amsterdam City Card, you can also visit the following museums for free.
· Bakery Museum de Gecroonde Duyvekater
Visit this old museum that has been here since 1658 and try the famous Duyvekater bread 😉
· The Zaanse Time Museum
This museum is full of antique clocks that still measure the time. There are several antique objects that illustrate the old life in Zaanse Schans.
· Jisper House
Take a look in this recreation of a fisherman house of 1840. You can even take a photo with traditional clothes of those times.
· Honig Brrethuis
The Honig merchant family lived here for generations, you can take a pic in the lifestyle of the family from the 16th century.
How many windmills does Zaanse Schans have?
Everyone knows the famous dutch windmills! They are the star of the region, in general, Dutch windmills are famous worldwide. Even if there are 10 windmills in Zaanse Schans, not all of them are open all the time, but you can access all of the open ones with the I Amsterdam Card. The ones that we visited during our trip were:
· De Kat
From 1600 onwards, dyewoods were imported from all the colonies of the Netherlands. The Kat windmill was responsible to pound the big dyewoods to create color and dye products. Nowadays, you can buy your own paintings, color pencils and other dye products. This same color powders became popular around the artists of the Netherlands.
· Het Jonge Schaap
Also known as the sawmill, this place has a complex and cool mechanism that cuts wood logs with the power of the wind. How cool and sustainable is that? This windmill has a special characteristic. the head of the windmill can rotate 360 degrees to catch the air flowing in different directions. You can buy a lot of wood products made with the same wood that was cut by the powerful saws of this windmill.
· De Bonte Hen
This windmill has a very interesting history. It has survived several lightning strikes! That is why it has a very special place in the heart of the Zaans region. The windmill produces oil that is still used by the people in the region.
· De Zoeker
The Zoeker windmill was originally constructed in the year 1600, but it was relocated in 1958 after the Zaanse government acquired it and recover it. You can also visit it for free with the I Amsterdam Card and get some oil that is produced in the windmill itself.
If you don’t have the I Amsterdam card, you can pay 5 euros per entrance of each windmill.
These 4 windmills can be visited everyday from the 24 of March to the 31 of October. From the 1 of November to the 23 of March there are always at least 2 of them open.
The following windmills can be also visited during the year, but some of them are sometimes closed due to restoring or different rules in the local administration:
· De Gekroonde Poelenburg · De Os · Het Klaverblad · De Bleeke Dood · De Ooievaar
· De Huisman
This windmill is known for its delicious smell. Since 1786 some very fine species and herbs have been pounded here. You can vest the store that preserves the beautiful old fashion looking and try some of the species or buy some for taking home.
The Handicrafts houses
After visiting the windmills, we also had the chance to visit to me of the handicraft’s houses. These houses are very old buildings from different regions of the Netherlands. They were brought here piece by piece creating an incredible ethnographic open-air museum.
Each of these houses can be also visited by the inside, some of them are free. The others have an entrance fee, but if you have your I amsterdam City Card, you can visit them for free.
· The Catharina Hoeve Cheese Farm
This beautiful house illustrates the process to get and cook Dutch cheese. The cheese of the Catharina Hoeve farm is made with cow and goat milk. After watching the exposition about the process and the history of the place, you will be conducted to the store where you can try and buy a lot of variations of cheeses 😊
· The Clog workshops
In this building you will see a beautiful clock atelier. It has a free entrance, and you can see a lot of interesting and antique clocks and watches with beautiful shapes.
· The Weaver’s House
The weaver house was originally unhabituated by two families who worked with the hemp fibers to create clothes and sails for the successful naval industry of the Netherlands. Here you can see a great reproduction of the house and if you are lucky, you can witness a weaver lady working with the weaver machines. Without the I Amsterdam card, you will need to pay 5 euros for the entrance.
· Cacao Lab
This was one of the most enjoyable houses, because you can do your own hot chocolate and drink it! It is a little store with Dutch and international chocolates.
If you want to rent a bike to go through the whole Zaans region you can find a bike renting place in the middle of the windmills. There are special bike tracks in Zaanse Schans so you will be able to see all the windmills and the beautiful landscapes.
If you want to take a boat tour to go through the Zaans region, you can take one of the Windmill cruises. The departures are between 11 and 16:30 every half an hour. The tour also tells you the story of some interesting characters in the history of the Zaans region. With the I amsterdam City Card, you can take the tour for free!
Amsterdam is pretty close, so it is not really necessary to stay here. But if you want to pass a night or two in the Zaandam region, you can check our deals finder!
The Zaanse Schans is a beautiful landmark to explore in your next visit to Amsterdam. It is incredible how close and easy reachable this place is!
Give it a chance and learn more about the Dutch industrial history in a romantic way 😉