Header Notice

Winter is here! Check out the winter wonderlands at these 5 amazing winter destinations in Montana

The Zaanse Schans Windmills: A Charming Day Trip From Amsterdam


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Rahal Goodell




If you’re looking for a charming day trip from Amsterdam, one that showcases the picturesque beauty of the Netherlands, look no further than the Zaanse Schans windmills. Located just a short distance from Amsterdam, Zaanse Schans is a living open-air museum that offers visitors a glimpse into the country’s rich history and cultural heritage. With its iconic windmills, traditional wooden houses, and charming canals, Zaanse Schans is a must-visit destination for anyone wanting to experience the quintessential Dutch countryside.


Built in the 18th and 19th centuries, the windmills of Zaanse Schans were once an integral part of the region’s industrial success. Today, they stand as a reminder of the Netherlands’ historic relationship with wind power and provide a unique opportunity for visitors to explore these impressive structures up close.


Getting to Zaanse Schans is a breeze. Trains run regularly from Amsterdam Central Station to the nearby town of Zaandijk-Zaanse Schans, and from there, it’s just a short walk to the windmill village. Alternatively, you can hop on a guided tour or even rent a bike to enjoy a leisurely ride through the scenic Dutch countryside.


Once you arrive at Zaanse Schans, you’ll be transported back in time as you wander through the narrow streets lined with beautifully preserved wooden houses. Take a moment to imagine what life was like for the mills’ previous occupants, and soak in the peaceful atmosphere of this idyllic village.


In this article, we’ll explore the history of Zaanse Schans, the various windmills you can visit, and the unique experiences this enchanting destination has to offer. So pack your camera, put on your comfortable walking shoes, and get ready for a delightful day trip to the Zaanse Schans windmills!


Getting to Zaanse Schans


Getting to Zaanse Schans from Amsterdam is a straightforward and convenient journey. There are several options available to suit your preferences and budget.


If you prefer public transportation, the most common and efficient way to reach Zaanse Schans is by train. From Amsterdam Central Station, you can catch a train to Zaandijk-Zaanse Schans station, which is the closest station to the windmill village. The train ride takes approximately 15 minutes, and trains run frequently throughout the day. Once you arrive at Zaandijk-Zaanse Schans station, it is just a short walk of around 15 minutes to reach the windmill area.


If you’re feeling more adventurous and want to soak up the scenic beauty of the Dutch countryside, renting a bike is a popular option. Amsterdam is known for its cycling culture, and there are several rental shops where you can easily rent a bike for the day. The journey from Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans by bike takes around an hour, and you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy picturesque landscapes and charming villages along the way. Plus, cycling allows you to explore Zaanse Schans at your own pace and take in the beauty of the surroundings.


If you prefer a guided tour, there are numerous tour operators in Amsterdam that offer day trips to Zaanse Schans. These tours often include transportation to and from Zaanse Schans, a knowledgeable guide who shares interesting facts and stories about the area, and sometimes even additional stops or activities. This can be a convenient option if you prefer a hassle-free experience and want to learn more about the history and significance of Zaanse Schans from a local expert.


Regardless of the mode of transportation you choose, it’s important to check the schedules and availability in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons. Zaanse Schans is a popular destination, and it can get crowded, particularly on weekends or during holidays. To make the most of your visit, consider arriving early in the day to avoid the crowds and have a more enjoyable experience exploring the windmills and attractions.


Now that you know how to get to Zaanse Schans, it’s time to embark on your journey and immerse yourself in the captivating world of windmills, history, and Dutch culture.


The History of Zaanse Schans


Zaanse Schans has a rich history that dates back to the 18th and 19th centuries when the region flourished as an industrial powerhouse. The area became known for its numerous windmills, which played a vital role in various industries such as sawmills, paint mills, and oil mills.


During this time, Zaanse Schans was home to hundreds of windmills, making it the first industrialized region in the world. These windmills harnessed the power of the wind to produce goods and fuel the local economy. The mills were instrumental in processing raw materials, such as grains, wood, and seed oils, into valuable products that were exported throughout Europe.


However, as the industrial revolution advanced, the demand for wind power diminished, and many of the windmills fell into disuse. Fortunately, in the 1960s, there was a growing awareness of the need to preserve and showcase the cultural heritage of the Netherlands, including its iconic windmills. This led to the establishment of Zaanse Schans as an open-air museum in 1961.


Today, Zaanse Schans is a living testament to the country’s industrial past. The windmills have been carefully restored and maintained, allowing visitors to step back in time and experience the ingenuity and craftsmanship of the past. The village itself is a beautifully preserved snapshot of traditional Dutch architecture, with its iconic green wooden houses and charming canals.


Visiting Zaanse Schans offers a unique opportunity to learn about the industrial history of the Netherlands and witness firsthand the important role that windmills played in shaping the country’s economy. As you explore the windmill village, you’ll have the chance to interact with knowledgeable guides who can provide insightful information about the various mills and their functions.


Whether you’re interested in learning about the techniques used in sawmills or the production of paint and oil, the windmills of Zaanse Schans offer a captivating educational experience. You can see the mechanisms in action, hear the creaking of the wooden gears, and even witness the impressive work of the millers as they skillfully operate the machinery.


By preserving and showcasing the history of Zaanse Schans, the village has become a cherished cultural destination, attracting visitors from all over the world who are eager to delve into the fascinating past of the Netherlands and gain a deeper appreciation for its industrial heritage.


Exploring the Windmills


One of the highlights of visiting Zaanse Schans is the opportunity to explore the iconic windmills that dot the landscape. These magnificent structures not only offer a glimpse into the country’s industrial past but also provide unique experiences for visitors.


As you wander through the windmill village, you’ll come across several different types of windmills, each with its own purpose and function. Some of the most common windmills you’re likely to encounter include sawmills, paint mills, and oil mills.


The sawmills were crucial for the timber industry, where they were used to saw logs into planks and beams. Today, you can witness the power of these incredible machines as they slice through timber with precision. Many of the sawmill windmills offer guided tours where you can learn about the process of sawing and the significance of this industry in the development of the area.


The paint mills at Zaanse Schans were employed in the production of pigments and dyes. These windmills ground minerals, such as chalk, to create a fine powder that was used in the production of paint. Exploring a paint mill allows you to see the grinding mechanisms and learn about the traditional methods of paint production.


Oil mills played a vital role in extracting oil from various seeds and nuts, including linseed and rapeseed. The windmills would crush the seeds to release their oil, which was used for cooking, lubricating machinery, and producing paint. At Zaanse Schans, you can visit an oil mill to learn about the extraction process and even taste some delicious homemade oils.


Aside from admiring the exterior of the windmills, many of them offer the opportunity to explore the interiors as well. Step inside and marvel at the intricate wooden gears, smell the scent of freshly ground materials, and get a feel for the craftsmanship that went into building these impressive structures.


Furthermore, some windmills have small museums or educational exhibits that provide a deeper insight into the history and significance of the windmill industry in the Netherlands. You can learn about the techniques used, the history of milling, and the impact it had on the local economy.


Take your time to wander through the windmill village, exploring each mill at your own pace. The ambiance, coupled with the sound of creaking gears and the sight of the majestic windmills against the backdrop of blue skies, creates an unforgettable experience.


Exploring the windmills of Zaanse Schans allows you to step back in time and gain a greater appreciation for the innovation, ingenuity, and cultural heritage of the Netherlands.


Visiting the Wooden Shoe Workshop


No visit to Zaanse Schans is complete without a stop at the wooden shoe workshop, where you can learn about the traditional craft of making Dutch wooden shoes, known as “klompen.”


Wooden shoes have a long history in the Netherlands and have been worn by the locals for centuries. Originally designed for practical purposes, such as protecting feet in wet and muddy conditions, wooden shoes have now become a symbol of Dutch culture and tradition.


At the wooden shoe workshop in Zaanse Schans, you’ll have the opportunity to witness skilled craftsmen and women handcrafting these unique footwear. You can observe the intricate process of carving and shaping the wooden blocks into shoes, often using traditional techniques that have been passed down through generations.


Visiting the workshop allows you to learn about the different types of wooden shoes and their uses. From the traditional work shoes worn by farmers and fishermen to the intricately decorated souvenir versions, you’ll get to see the range of styles and designs available.


During your visit, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try on a pair of wooden shoes yourself. Walking in wooden shoes may seem odd at first, but it’s a fun and memorable experience. Listen to the satisfying sound of the wooden clogs hitting the ground as you take a few steps. Don’t forget to capture a photo to commemorate your unique footwear experience!


In addition to wooden shoes, some workshops also offer other wooden products, such as toys, kitchen utensils, and decorative items. You can browse through the selection and perhaps find a special souvenir to take home.


With skilled craftspeople ready to share their knowledge and expertise, visiting the wooden shoe workshop in Zaanse Schans provides a fascinating insight into an essential part of Dutch culture. It’s a chance to appreciate the craftsmanship, learn about the history of wooden shoes, and gain a deeper understanding of this iconic Dutch tradition.


So, don’t forget to include a visit to the wooden shoe workshop in your itinerary when exploring the delightful Zaanse Schans windmills!


Discovering the Cheese Farm


No trip to the Netherlands would be complete without indulging in the country’s most famous culinary delight: cheese. At Zaanse Schans, you have the opportunity to visit a traditional cheese farm and immerse yourself in the art of cheesemaking.


As you stroll through the village, you’ll notice the unmistakable aroma of cheese wafting through the air. Follow the scent, and you’ll find yourself at the cheese farm, where you can witness the entire process of cheese production, from milking the cows to aging the cheese.


The cheese farms at Zaanse Schans often have designated areas where visitors can watch demonstrations of cheesemaking. You can observe as skilled cheesemakers go through the steps of curdling the milk, cutting the curds, and pressing the cheese. They’ll explain the different types of cheese produced at the farm, such as gouda and edam, and share interesting insights about the regional variations in taste and aging techniques.


Of course, the highlight of visiting the cheese farm is the opportunity to taste a variety of delicious cheeses. You can sample different flavors and textures, from mild and creamy to aged and flavorful. Cheesemongers are available to guide you through the tasting experience, offering suggestions on pairings and providing information about each cheese’s unique characteristics.


If you’re a cheese lover, you’ll appreciate the chance to purchase some of the finest Dutch cheeses directly from the cheese farm. Take home a slice of gouda or a wheel of edam to savor the flavors long after your visit to Zaanse Schans.


Visiting a cheese farm is not only a gastronomic adventure but also an educational experience. You’ll gain a deeper understanding of the importance of dairy farming in the Netherlands and the careful craftsmanship that goes into creating high-quality cheeses.


So, don’t miss the opportunity to discover the cheese farm at Zaanse Schans and indulge in the rich and flavorful world of Dutch cheese. It’s an experience that will tantalize your taste buds and leave you with a newfound appreciation for this beloved culinary treasure.


Trying Traditional Dutch Treats


As you explore the charming village of Zaanse Schans, be sure to indulge in some traditional Dutch treats that are sure to delight your taste buds. From sweet delights to savory bites, there’s something to satisfy everyone’s cravings.


One iconic Dutch treat that you must try is stroopwafel, a deliciously sweet snack made up of two thin waffles glued together with a layer of caramel syrup. The contrast of the crispy waffle with the gooey caramel makes for an irresistible combination. You can find freshly made stroopwafels at various stalls and shops in Zaanse Schans, and watching them being made is a treat in itself.


Herring is another traditional Dutch treat that seafood lovers shouldn’t miss. You’ll find herring stands in Zaanse Schans where you can enjoy this delicacy. Typically served raw, herring is typically eaten by holding it by the tail and taking a bite. It may seem unusual to some, but it’s a quintessential part of Dutch culinary heritage and certainly worth a try if you’re feeling adventurous.


If you have a sweet tooth, make sure to sample some poffertjes, small fluffy pancakes served with butter and powdered sugar. These mini pancakes are a beloved Dutch treat, and you’ll find them at food stalls and restaurants in Zaanse Schans. Watching them being cooked on the specialized poffertjes griddles is a treat in itself.


Another traditional Dutch treat to try is bitterballen, deep-fried balls of meat ragout that are crispy on the outside and soft and flavorful on the inside. They are typically served as a bar snack, but you can find them in Zaanse Schans at certain local eateries. These bite-sized delights are best enjoyed with a cold Dutch beer.


And of course, no visit to Zaanse Schans is complete without savoring some of the world-famous Dutch cheese. Whether you try a classic gouda, an aged edam, or a unique specialty cheese, the flavors and textures of Dutch cheese are sure to impress. Many shops in the village offer cheese tastings, allowing you to sample the different varieties before purchasing your favorites.


Exploring the culinary offerings of Zaanse Schans is not only a delicious experience but also a fun way to delve into Dutch culture. Take the opportunity to try these traditional treats, immerse yourself in the flavors, and embrace the culinary heritage of the Netherlands.


So, come hungry and discover the delightful world of traditional Dutch treats in Zaanse Schans. Your taste buds will thank you!


Shopping for Souvenirs


When visiting Zaanse Schans, take some time to explore the various shops and boutiques that offer a wide range of unique souvenirs and traditional Dutch products. Whether you’re looking for a memento of your trip or searching for gifts to bring back home, Zaanse Schans has something for everyone.


One of the most popular souvenirs to purchase in Zaanse Schans is, of course, cheese. Many cheese shops in the village offer a vast selection of delicious Dutch cheeses, including gouda, edam, and flavored varieties. You can sample different types and choose your favorites to take home with you. The cheese is typically vacuum-sealed, making it easy to transport back to your own country.


In addition to cheese, Zaanse Schans is known for its beautiful wooden clogs, or “klompen.” These traditional Dutch shoes can be found in various sizes and designs, from classic plain wooden clogs to intricately painted ones. They make for a unique and authentic souvenir that represents Dutch culture and craftsmanship.


For those with a sweet tooth, consider purchasing some Dutch chocolates or traditional licorice. Dutch chocolate is often of high quality and comes in a wide range of flavors and varieties. Licorice, or “drop” as the Dutch call it, is a beloved candy in the Netherlands, and you can find an assortment of sweet and salty licorice treats in Zaanse Schans.


If you’re a fan of arts and crafts, you’ll appreciate the handcrafted items available in Zaanse Schans. From pottery and ceramics to textiles and wooden crafts, there are numerous shops offering locally made products. You can find unique pieces that showcase Dutch design and creativity, making for one-of-a-kind souvenirs.


Don’t forget to browse through the assortment of Dutch-themed trinkets and small gifts. Magnets, keychains, postcards, and mini replicas of windmills are popular choices. These items are perfect for capturing the essence of Zaanse Schans and make for great keepsakes that can be displayed or shared with friends and family.


As you explore the shops, you’ll also find a variety of food products and local specialties. From artisanal jams and spreads to Dutch biscuits and cookies, you can pick up some tasty treats to enjoy during your stay or take back as gifts.


Remember to compare prices and quality before making a purchase, as prices may vary between shops. Additionally, some shops offer tax-free shopping for tourists, so it’s worth inquiring about this option if you’re eligible.


Shopping for souvenirs in Zaanse Schans provides an opportunity to support local businesses and bring home a piece of Dutch culture. So take your time, explore the shops, and find the perfect souvenir to commemorate your visit to this charming windmill village.




Visiting the Zaanse Schans windmills is a delightful day trip from Amsterdam that offers a glimpse into the picturesque beauty and rich cultural heritage of the Netherlands. As you explore this living open-air museum, you’ll be transported back in time to a bygone era of windmills, traditional wooden houses, and charming canals.


From the moment you arrive, the history and significance of Zaanse Schans come alive. The windmills, once a cornerstone of the region’s industrial success, stand tall as enduring symbols of the Netherlands’ relationship with wind power. Exploring these impressive structures allows you to witness the ingenuity and craftsmanship of the past.


But Zaanse Schans is not just about the windmills. The village offers a plethora of experiences, from visiting the wooden shoe workshop and trying on the iconic Dutch clogs to discovering the art of cheesemaking at a traditional cheese farm. Indulging in traditional Dutch treats like stroopwafel and poffertjes adds a delicious element to your journey.


In addition to the captivating attractions, Zaanse Schans is also home to a variety of shops and boutiques where you can shop for unique souvenirs and traditional Dutch products. From cheese and wooden clogs to handcrafted items and local specialties, you’ll find something to capture the essence of your time in Zaanse Schans.


As your day trip to Zaanse Schans comes to an end, take a moment to reflect on the memories you’ve created. The picturesque windmills, the scent of freshly made cheese, the taste of Dutch treats – they all contribute to a truly unforgettable experience.


Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or a foodie, Zaanse Schans offers something for everyone. So, when planning your next trip to the Netherlands, be sure to include a visit to this charming windmill village. Experience the beauty, immerse yourself in the history, and create lasting memories in Zaanse Schans, a treasure trove of Dutch culture and tradition.