The first things that come to mind when we talk about Amsterdam are – nightlife & the red light area, tulips & the wooden windmills. Having seen plenty of first 2 in my 2 trips here, I decided to focus on the 3rd aspect – Wooden windmills and the traditional dutch lifestyle. Zansee Schans is a popular place located in the Zaandam neighbourhood and most importantly it’s only half an hour away from Amsterdam Central. So, half a day is enough to plan the perfect trip to Zansee Schans from Amsterdam.
Want to know more about Zansee Schans, checkout this wikipedia article.
How to get to Zansee Schans from Amsterdam?
Preferred if you have your own car.
Take one of the NS Sprinter trains from Amsterdam Central to Zaandijk Zaanse Schans. Ticket cost – €6.80 and it takes 20 mins. Free for Amsterdam & Region Ticket Holders.
Take Bus No 391 from the bus station at Amsterdam Central to Zaandam and the Zaanse Schans windmills. Ticket cost – €6-7. Free for Amsterdam & Region Ticket Holders.
If you don’t already have a travel pass/ticket and need one only for Zansee Schans, I would suggest buying Zaanstreek Bus Day Ticket.
For bus travel, refer the image below:
Booking a tour – Zansee Schans from Amsterdam
If you are constrained for time and want a leisure experience rather than planning your own thing. You can book a tour like this from Klook – Zansee Schans, Volendam & Edan Tour.
It’s a terrific value for money, especially if you haven’t bought any travel passes/tickets.
I chose the train and walk option. I already had a 3 day Amsterdam & Region travel ticket (€36.50). If your plan is to just be in Amsterdam and explore the city then I highly recommend getting an Amsterdam Public Transport Travel Ticket.
Things to do in Zansee Schans
There are plenty of activities here to keep you occupied for 1-5 hours depending on your interest and pace.
Wind-mills of Zansee Schans
Weren’t the windmills the reason I decided to come here? So first stop unsurprisingly would be one of the wooden wind mills. There are plenty of windmills that do different kinds of activities like grinding spices, making paint etc. Since the list is pretty long, I will talk & cover only those which I visited and think you guys might find interesting.
De Huisman – Spice Mill
De Huisman sits on top of the spice warehouse Indië’s Welvaren. In this mill you can experience how mill stones run on wind energy & grind spices. There is also a short video about the spices and aromas. You can also buy souvenirs and spices if you like.
De Kat – Paint & Dye mill
One of the oldest windmills in this compound. It was built in 1664 and even today produces paints and pigments.
Het Jonge Schaap – Saw mill
Het Jonge Schaap is a six-sided, over-wheeling wood saw mill. The sale of wood is the main source of income for the mill. Therefore, if the wind allows, it is very busy in the mill. You can also watch the movie about the rebuilding of the mill.
All the above mills have an entry fee of €5.
Museums of Zansee Schans
In case you didn’t visit any of the windmills you can still get that authentic dutch experience by visiting any of the museums available on site. All these museums are located one after another. You need to take a right from the first windmill.
Zaans Museum and Verkade Experience
The Zaans Museum and the Verkade Experience was one of my most delicious experience. The museum mainly is dedicated to the history of biscuits and chocolates. There are interactive displays as well fun games that you can play.
Entrance Ticket – €12.50 [Free for Museum pass holders]
TIP – Bring along the Museumkaart if you have purchased it and get the Zansee Card as a Supplement for €3. That will give you free entry to 5 museums including Zans Museum.
Bakery Museum de Gecroonde Duyvekater
You can sample the Duivekater, a famous Zaanse sweet bread. So make sure you visit the museum and if you like the smell of a freshly baked Duivekater, go ahead. I had it with hot chocolate and loved it!!
Albert Heijn Museum Shop
If you spend few days in Netherlands or even Amsterdam you would realise that Albert Heijn is their D-Mart/ Big Bazaar. The museum shop is actually a reconstruction of the first ever Albert Heijn store dating back to the late 19th century.
Some other museums include
Jisper House – a fisherman’s cottage and Honig Breethuis – 19th century merchant family house. I didn’t visit either of them.
Initially I just walked around aimlessly around the whole area, visiting Wind-mills and museum on my whim. However, at the Bakery Museum I met this girl, who told me about the Zansee Schans App.
Zansee Schans App
The app is an excellent way to walk around Zansee Schans. It comes with interactive maps and basically turns your phone into a free tour guide. This is a must install if you are planning to walk around Zansee Schans on your own.
Note – The app had lot of issues rendering audio back then so I decided to read the text on the app instead. I would still recommend installing the app for the duration of your visit.
No travelogue about the Dutch can be complete, without talking about cycles. Cycling is almost an inherent part of the Dutch culture and I am glad for it. In Zansee Schans, you can either go on a guided bike tour or rent a bike and explore at your own pace.
It was afternoon by the time I was done, so decided to head back to Amsterdam and visit Volendam & Marken.
After that heavy lunch, it was time to move to Volendam – A small Dutch fishing village location around 45 mins from Amsterdam. You can read about that trip here – Volendam Fishing Village.