A pleasant half-day trip from Amsterdam is a visit to the picturesque Dutch village park at Zaanse Schans, approximately 15km north of the city. You will find iconic views of the 6 windmills set on the river Zaan, traditional houses, shops and museums.
Zaanse Schans has an open-air museum feel and has become a very popular tourist attraction given that entrance into the area is free.
The Zaans Museum (Schansend 7, open daily 1000-1700) gives a historical overview of the people and industry of the area. It has a varied collection of paintings, costumes, furniture as well as multimedia exhibits.
The museum also houses the Verkade Experience which is a history of the chocolate and biscuit maker including the old manufacturing machines.
The Zaans Museum also includes 3 ‘living history’ museums at Zaanse Schans:
The Weaver’s House (Zeilenmakerspad 8) shows how sails were traditionally made using looms.
The Tiemstra Cooperage (De Kwakels 2) will show you the craft of making wooden barrels which were vital for transporting goods.
Jisper House (Kraaienpad 4, open Apr-Sep) is a fisherman’s cottage from the village of Jisp dating to around 1850. You can try on a traditional local costume.
Admission to Zaans Museum costs €12.50, children 4-17 €6.50. Iamsterdam City Card and Museumkaart holders get free entry. If you just wish to visit the Weaver’s House and Cooperage, then admission to either costs €2.50 for adults, €1 for children 4-17.
Other museums/attractions at Zaanse Schans
The Albert Heijn Museum Shop (Kalverringdijk 5) is a reconstruction of the first ever Albert Heijn store from Oostzaan dating back to the late 19th century. Today Albert Heijn is the biggest supermarket in Amsterdam and the rest of the Netherlands. Entrance is free, open 1000-1630 weekends only.
The Zaanse Time Museum (Kalverringdijk 3, daily 1100-1600) shows the history of Dutch timepieces with a collection of clocks that chime together on the hour. Standard entrance is €11 for adults, €5.50 for children 4-17. Free entrance for Iamsterdam City Card and Museumkaart.
The Bakery Museum de Gecroonde Duyvekater (Zeilenmakerspad 4, daily 0900-1700) where you can sample the Duivekater, a famous Zaanse sweet bread. Free entrance.
Honig Breethuis (Lagedijk 80, high season: Thu-Sun 1200-1600, off-season Fri-Sun 1300-1600) is a 19th century merchant family house. Entrance is €7.50 for adults.
The Catharina Hoeve Cheese Farm (Zeilenmakerspad 5) is a replica of an old farm from Oostzaan. Cheese makers wear traditional costumes and offer daily demonstrations.
Ever wondered how the ubiquitous Dutch clogs are made? The Clog Workshop (Kraaienest 4) gives you the chance to see a clog maker in action. Entrance is free and the onsite museum houses an impressive collection of wooden shoes.
World of Windmills at Zaanse Schans
Zaanse Schans is famous for its wooden windmills. The old industrial area of the Zaanstreek once featured more than 1,000 windmills.
The World of Windmills opened in 2020 and includes the Mill Museum and the chance to visit a number of working windmills.
The Mill Museum (Kalverringdijk 30) houses an interactive exhibition about various aspects of mill life, culture and trade. The highlight is perhaps an 11 metre wide panoramic painting of the windmills in Zaandam around the year 1800.
Admission to the Mill Museum costs €10 for adults, €5 for children 4-17. Individual entry to a mill costs €5 for adults, €2.50 for children 4-17. Combi World of Windmill tickets (Mill Museum + windmill) cost €15 (1 windmill) or €18 (2 windmills). Buy a World of Windmills ticket here
You have the choice to visit the following windmills:
De Kat (The Cat) – paint and dye mill (1664)
Het Jonge Schaap (The Young Sheep) – sawmill (2007)
These other windmills at Zaanse Schans may have restricted opening hours or may be closed:
De Bonte Hen (The Brightly Coloured Hen) – oil mill (1693)
De Zoeker (The Seeker) – oil mill (1672)
De Huisman (The Houseman) – spice mill (1786)
Het Pink (The Yearling) – oil mill (1620)
Het Prinsenhof (The Prince’s Court) – hulling mill (1722)
De Koker (The Pipe) – flour mill (1866)
De Schoolmeister (The Schoolmaster) – paper mill (1692)
De Gekroonde Poelenburg (The Crowned Poelenburg) – sawmill (1867)
De Bleeke Dood (The Pale Death) – flour mill (1656)
De Jonge Dirk (The Young Dirk) – paper mill (1908)
De Ooievaar (The Stork) – oil mill (1622)
There is a Zaanse Schans card available for purchase (€23.50, children 4-17 €16) which offers entry into the Zaans Museum, Zaanse Time Museum, the Weaver’s House and Cooperage. You can also visit the Mill Museum, paint mill De Kat and saw mill ‘t Jonge Schaap. The card saves about €18 when taking account of all entrance fees. Buy the Zaanse Schans card here
Alternatively you can buy the Iamsterdam City Card here. This will include free entry into the Zaans Museum (including Cooperage and Weaver’s House), Zaanse Time Museum, Mill Museum and entrance to windmills. It also includes entrance to Amsterdam attractions and GVB public transport.
[Read our full Iamsterdam City Card review here and learn how to maximise the card.]
Windmill Cruises Zaanse Schans (Kalverringdijk 21A) are available with departures every 30 minutes between 1130 and 1500. A cruise in a glass-topped boat takes 25 minutes and costs €9.95 (children 4-12 €5).
It is well worth getting out of Amsterdam to have a look around Zaanse Schans, a picture postcard version of a traditional Dutch village in a water and country setting.
Getting to Zaanse Schans from Amsterdam
Tours: It is possible to do a half-day coach tour of Zaanse Schans, with meeting point at This is Holland on the north bank of the IJ, close to Central Station.
There are 2 choices if taking public transport to Zaanse Schans.
Train: Take one of the NS Sprinter stopping trains from Amsterdam Central (direction Uitgeest, up to 4x hourly) to station Zaandijk Zaanse Schans. A day return (2022) costs €7.00 and the trip takes just under 20 mins. There is a €1 surcharge for disposable tickets.
From there it’s about 10-15 minutes walk to Zaanse Schans – just follow the signs. Walk up the road then turn left towards the windmill and then right to cross over the bridge.
Bus: Connexxion’s Industrial Heritage bus line (391) runs from the bus station (IJ-side) at Amsterdam Central to Zaandam and the Zaanse Schans windmills. It runs up to 4x hourly and the trip takes about 40 minutes. A 90 minute “Bus Tram Metro” ticket costs €6.50.
Slightly better value, the Zaanstreek Bus Day Ticket costs €11.50 and is valid on all Connexxion services in the Zaandam/Zaanstreek area including the 391 trip to/from Amsterdam. You can buy the Zaanstreek day ticket in advance here – print out or download to mobile.
The 1-3 day Amsterdam & Region Travel Ticket is also valid on the bus and train between Amsterdam and Zaanse Schans. Book Amsterdam & Region Travel Tickets online here
This article was originally published in 2011. Last updated 31 January 2022.