When we think of the Netherlands, the quintessentially “Dutch’ things come to mind; clogs, windmills and cheese. But when you wander the streets of Amsterdam, you slowly realise that this city doesn’t showcase Dutch culture- rather, it’s a platform that caters to the diverse tastes of tourists. So where can one go if they want to get a glimpse of those Dutch elements? A visit to Zaanse Schans is the answer!
What is Zaanse Schans?
I can describe Zaanse Schans as a cultural village with a variety of museums in a pretty countryside setting. Its a great day out for families, with farm animals and quaint buildings depicting Dutch arichetcure. In addition, there are several interactive museums- each specilaising in an aspect of Dutch culture- to educate visitors.
How do I get there?
Take the bus (#391) from the bus terminal at Amsterdam Central Station, which leaves every 15-20 minutes to Zandaam/Zaanse Schans. The entire ride takes less than an hour and tickets can be purchased on the Zaanse Schans website or alternatively, you can pay for the journey with your OV Chip card.
If you have rented a car, there is ample parking available.
WILL IT COST ME MONEY?
It is free to enter Zaanse Schans. However, if you want to visit any of the museums you will need to pay extra for that.
For 23.50 euro, you can purchase the Zaanse Schans card which includes:
- Free admission to the Zaans Museum and the Verkade Chocolate and Biscuit Factory
- Free admission to the World of Windmills
- Free admission to saw mill ’t Jonge Schaap
- Free admission to paint mill De Kat
- Free admission to the Weaver’s House and Cooperage
- Free access to the Zaan Time Museum
- 10% discount at restaurant De Kraai (minimum spend €10)
- 30% discount on a parking ticket instead of €10 now €7
Please note that this is not necessarily value for money as you may not visit any or all of those attractions. You may find it better to pay per site you wish to visit.
If you want more in depth information I suggest checking out the official Zaanse Schans website.
3 reasons to visit
You get to step inside and go up a windmill!
In my experience, there are very few places in the world where you can go inside and climb up a working windmill. Zaanse Schaans offers this unique experience for around 2 euro ( or free with the Zaanse Schans card). Depending on when you go, different windmills may be open or operational but I strongly suggest visiting one and climbing the flights of stairs to the terrace for spectacular views.
2. Its the perfect spot for photos
There are really no shortage of photo opportunities in Zaanse Schans. From the serene countryside scenes to the powerful windmills serving as a backdrop alongside the river, the photo scenery is endless. My favourite spot was the giant clogs near the clog museum (don’t forget to pop in and see how clogs are made- its free for all!).
3. You get to learn about the actual history of the Netherlands
The Netherlands has a long history of producing goods and harnessing windmills to do this. In the Molen museum, you can learn about how paper was made and in the Verkade Chocolate and Biscuit Factory, you learn about how they established chocolate and biscuits in the Netherlands. One thing I noticed is that there was no mention of the historical colonialism and exploitation surrounding cocoa. It saddened me but I wasn’t surprised.
Even though I am not a cheese enthusiast, seeing the story of how cheese is made was quite interesting. You can sample a ton of cheese in the cheese store. We’ve never seen so many different types of cheese in my life. There was smoked cheese with herbs, cheese with chilies, and even a neon green cheese with pesto.
The Verkade Factory and Zaans Museum should be your first stop when visiting Zaanse Schans as it sets the scene for the other museums and the purpose of the windmills. The Verkade factory is also great for kids as there are games for them to play!
WHAT ARE THE RATINGS ON PANDA’S RATING SCALE?
I spent about 4 hours for the Zaanse Schans including the traveling time. Although not a real working village, as a recreation of a Dutch Village from the late 19th century, its still a wonderful place to visit. I was impressed by the efforts put into the reconstruction of the mill, shops, and restaurants where visitors can experience life as it was lived by Dutch people in the 18th and 19th centuries.
- Food is an issue here. There are only 2 establishments serving mains and one serving pancakes. For the amount of people visiting this place, this is a terrible underestimation of how many food outlets are needed. The food is mediocre and overpriced. In my opinion you should take your own food; there are plenty of places to picnic.
- There is a lot of walking involved but all of its is accessible for wheelchair users and those with prams.
- Zaanse Schans operates from 9am to 5pm.
- If you purchase the Zaanse Schans card, you will need to present an electronic or paper copy to the reception of the Zaans Museum to exchange it for an actual ticket that can be redeemed at participating outlets.
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Have you considered taking a day trip to Zaanse Schans from Asterdam? Or have I just put it on your list? Let me know in the comments below!