Zaanse Schans: the perfect day trip
Urban, modern, cosmopolitan. That's what comes to mind when I think of Amsterdam. A 45-minute bus ride from the city, however, will take you back in time, to the original roots of the Netherlands. Welcome to Zaanse Schans.
Seeing the iconic Dutch windmills was high on our checklist when visiting the Netherlands, so Zaanse Schans was the natural place to visit. The neighborhood houses a collection of barns, houses and fully functional windmills dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries.
Strolling through the area feels like a step back in time, especially in the late afternoon, with the majority of visitors having left, and the place so peaceful and tranquil. Picturesque barely scratches the surface here.
Besides the windmills themselves, there are clogs being made here, cheese to be tasted, and boat trips to be taken. Whilst admission to the Zaanse Schans is completely free (yay!), I can't promise you you won't be spending some hard cash on the delicious cheeses and stroopwafels for the ride back home!
If you want to visit the museum and step into the windmills, make sure you check out the opening hours beforehand here. Due to some navigation errors on my part, we arrived somewhat late, but just walking by the lake and peeking into the mills from outside was enough. It was a perfect ending to our woefully short trip to Amsterdam, and given the chance, we'd be there again in an instant.
Some practical tips:
- Getting to Zaanse Schans is easy as ABC. Take bus 391 from Amsterdam Central Station, which leaves every 15 minutes.
- Amsterdam's tourist office offers a Regional Day Ticket, which is an incredible bargain if you plan to visit the small harbour towns close to Zaanse Schans, or the Castles down south. I didn't have the time to visit everything, but they're a highly recommended trip.
- April to May is high season here, so expect crowds!
- Don't be in a rush; the pace is slower here. Go with it.