Zaanse Schans Windmills, Amsterdam

Located 15 km north of Amsterdam in a picturesque setting you will discover a wonderful historic village on the banks of the River Zaan.  The area is delightful with its row of windmills, craft workshops and excellent museums.

Zaanse Schans near Amsterdam
Traditional Dutch wooden houses at Zaanse Schans

The site is free to visit, however most of the museums charge an individual entrance fee so it is cost effective to purchase one of the following cards.  If you are also spending time in Amsterdam I suggest buying the IAmsterdam Card which offers excellent value.  It is available from 1-5 days and covers most museums and attractions in Amsterdam and the surrounding area including unlimited journeys on the GVB  transport network.  Alternatively, you may prefer to purchase the Zaanse Schans Card (€23.50) which includes all museums, windmills and attractions in the conservation area itself.

Zaanse Schans windmills
Zaanse Schans windmills

Zaanse Schans is famous for its wooden windmills and at its peak this former industrial area of Zaanstreek was once home to over 600 of them producing products such as ground spices, paper, flour, oil and paint.  Original buildings from around the region have been transported and re-assembled here whilst other buildings were constructed in the typical style of the 18th and 19th centuries.  The ‘village’ was painstakingly developed over a period of 15 years, beginning in 1961 and is one of the few places in Europe where you can still find groups of functioning traditional windmills.  Many of these windmills are open to the public and operate just as they would have done centuries ago with the aid of wind power.

Zaanse Schans windmills
Two of the windmills at Zaanse Schaans

Here’s my guide to making the most of your time there.  I would allow 2-3 hours for a visit:

Getting there: Take a Sprinter train from Amsterdam Central to Zaandijk Zaanse Schans station (direction Uitgeest).  There are up to four services an hour, standard adult ticket €7 or (€6 if purchasing an on-line paperless ticket). The journey time 20 minutes and it is then a 10-15 minute walk to Zaanse Schans with the route signposted from the station.  Just continue along the road, turning left towards the windmills and then right to cross the bridge and you will soon arrive at the entrance.

Windmill gears, Zaanse Schans
Grinding wheels and gears inside one of the windmills

Windmills – there are 13 windmills with around half of them fully functioning.  Visitors are able to go inside them and in certain ones, climb wooden ladders inside to observe the giant grinding wheels and gears.  We loved being able to go out onto their upper level balconies and to watch the giant sails turn.  Until you are up close, it’s difficult to comprehend how large they are.

Zaanse Schans windmills
Zaanse Schans windmills

The Flour Mill – This was the village mill of Zaandijk and is the oldest wooden flour mill still existing in the Netherlands.  Until the middle of the 19th century the mill ground the flour for local bakers who were obliged to have their wheat milled into flour for bread making but when the rules changed the mill fell into disrepair.  In 1954 the mill underwent a full restoration and was saved.  Visitors can watch the flour being ground and buy some to take home from the small shop attached.

Flour mill, Zaanse Schans
Milling Stones in the Flour Mill

The Het Jonge Schaap Saw Mill – the original wind powered sawmill was built in 1680 and was demolished in 1942.  In 2005 a project was undertaken to re-build it based on the original plans.  The sawmill at Zaanse Schans is now once again a commercial business that saws bespoke sizes of wood.  Visitors are welcome to look inside and it is fascinating to watch the reciprocating saws, cutting planks of wood powered by the wind.

Inside the working sawmill at Zaanse Schans
Inside the working sawmill

Zaanse Time Museum – showcases the history of Dutch clocks and watches and contains an impressive collection of timepieces over its two floors.  The clocks are typical of the Zaan region with Dutch tower clocks from the 16th century and longcase clocks from the 19th and 20th centuries.  The collection also includes a large collection of Dutch pocket watches.

Zaanse Time Museum
Zaanse Time Museum

Albert Heijn Museum Shop – this is a reproduction of the first ever Albert Heijn food store from Oostzaan and dates back to the late 19th century.  Today, Albert Heijn is the largest chain of supermarkets in the Netherlands.  Entrance free and take away coffee only €1.

Albert Heijn Museum Shop, Zaanse Schans
Inside the Albert Heijn Museum Shop

Zaans Museum gives visitors an historical overview of the people who lived and worked in the area and of how they have adapted to change over the years.  It contains a varied collection of paintings, costumes and items found in a typical Dutch house.  The museum also covers the industrial history of the area, from the rise and decline of the use of windmills to the different products produced and industries based in the Zaans region over time.

Zaanse Museum, Zaanse Schans
Zaanse Museum

The museum is also home to the Verkade Experience which is a history of the Dutch chocolate and biscuit manufacturer.  It’s extremely well laid out and a fascinating insight into the history of the company with its displays of old ovens, industrial baking equipment and related memorabilia.

Zaans Museum documenting products manufactured in the area
Zaans Museum documenting products manufactured in the area

The Weaver’s House demonstrates how sails were traditionally made using looms.  There is a small shop attached to it that sells woven cloth and related products.

Biscuit production gallery at the Verkade Experience, Zaanse Schans
Biscuit production gallery at the Verkade Experience

The Tiemstra Cooperage shows the craft of wooden barrel making which were essential for transporting beer and other goods.

The Cooperage, Zaanse Schans
The Cooperage

Catharine Hoeve Cheese Farm – is a replica of an old farm from Oostzaan.  Cheese makers wear traditional Dutch costumes with pointed white bonnets and offer daily demonstrations.  There are lots of Gouda and Edam cheese samples to taste with opportunities to buy as a souvenir of your visit.

The Cheese Farm, Zaanse Schans
Displays at the Cheese Farms

The Clog Workshop – contains a vast display of wooden clogs through the ages from historic clogs with iron fittings to basic designs worn by farm workers and elaborate clogs worn at Dutch wedding ceremonies or just kept for ‘Sunday best’.  Watch a Dutch clog maker in action and be surprised how short a time it takes for a piece of wood to be transformed into a pair of clogs.  The workshop contains a shop with a wide range of clogs on sale from traditional to contemporary designs.

Clog workshop, Zaanse Schans
Clogs on display and to buy at the Clog Workshop

The Mill Museum – is newly opened and contains an interactive exhibit about aspects of mill life, local culture and trade.

Zaanse Schans windmill
Another of the Zaanse Schans historic windmills

Visiting Zaanse Schans is a lovely way to spend half a day and though popular, the setting covers quite a large area so people soon spread out away from the entrance.  There’s a cafe inside the foyer of the Zaans Museum with other kiosks and food stalls dotted around the site along with numerous picnic tables in scenic spots to have a little rest and a bite to eat.

Zaanse Schans, The Netherlands
Zaanse Schans windmills and canals

I hope this post has inspired you to add Zaanse Schans to your Amsterdam itinerary and to take the short train journey there as it’s so lovely and a great opportunity to learn about the industrial heritage of the Netherlands.

 

If you have enjoyed reading this post you may also like:

Keukenhof & Vondelpark, Amsterdam

Zuiderzee open-air museum & Volendam, The Netherlands

 

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Zaanse Schans, Amsterdam

 

59 thoughts on “Zaanse Schans Windmills, Amsterdam

    1. Zaanse Schans is a collection of windmills and small museums that are definitely worth visiting and are located just a short train ride from the city centre. Amsterdam and the surrounding area is one of my favourite spots Anna.

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  1. Pingback: Zaanse Schans Windmills, Amsterdam – JULISPECS

  2. Claudette

    We visited there in 2018, it was a wonderful experience. All the docents are dressed in period costumes and most actually live in the village. Our guide lived in the Mayor’s house; she shared not only her living quarters and also lots of local knowledge.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I think that wind power is understated and under rated as a viable method of energy production, the cost is comparable to buying a new couch from a second hand store, and paying a fraction of the initial cost. Great article.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Taking your mum to Keukenhof sounds the best idea ever Hannah. We spent four enchanting hours there, it’s just so beautiful. Zaanse Schans is a good place to visit too. It wasn’t as touristy as ai expected which was a good thing. I think I recall you actually staying snide a windmill one weekend, that’s hopefully on my ‘to do’ lust now! Hope your weekend is going well.

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  4. Oh, I love to see windmills … and the Zaanse Schans windmills are no exception! And the fact that some of them are still operating, is amazing. The Time Museum must be interesting – my grandfather had a Dutch pocket watch and we (his grandchildren) always wanted to touch it. Oh, and the Cheese farm – that would be a treat! Lovely picture of the wooden clogs (they are so colourful). Thank you for a lovely tour Marion … it was great to walk around with you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Visiting Zaanse Schans is so interesting with its working windmills, cheese farm and museum of clocks. I loved being able to go inside several of the windmills and being able to watch the huge sails turn from the little balconies near the top. Thanks so much for contributing as your thoughts are always welcome.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What a wonderful place to visit and to extend one’s knowledge and understanding of the Netherlands! My sons have given me a Eurostar ticket for my birthday, assuming that I would probably return to Paris, but I’m seriously considering a return to Amsterdam. Your interesting and detailed posts have really wetted my appetite for a return to this fabulous city (and beyond!)

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  6. What a unique part of the Netherlands to explore and photograph, Marion. I had a chance to visit Zaanse Schans many years ago and was in awe of all the wooden houses, mills, barns and workshops surrounded by water. We only did the museums that were free to enter and were still able to fill a long morning with activities. If you like to walk, and we do, you could do so for HOURS! We also enjoyed the local cheeses and candy. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

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    1. I’m so pleased to learn that you have also had the pleasure of visiting Zaanse Schans Aiva as it’s so interesting to view the windmills up close and observe them using wind power to cut wood etc. Thank you for taking the time to comment,it’s so nice to hear from you. Marion xx

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Such a quaint little village with so much fascinating culture on offer. I’ve never been inside a windmill, what an interesting experience. These places are so often crowded and overly touristy, but Zaanse Schans looks tranquil and authentic.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. What an iconic sight! The windmills are spectacular. Very different from any we’ve ever seen. If we ever get to the Netherlands, Zaanse Schans will definitely be on our “to do” list. Chocolate and gouda, yes please! Thank you for sharing your wonderful experience.

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    1. There’s something romantic about windmills isn’t there! Zaanse Schans is a great place to spend a few hours and is overly touristy. I’m certain it won’t be too long until you are planning a visit to the Netherlands. Thanks for commenting and have a good week. Marion

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Those windmills are just lovely! I really enjoyed reading all the different things to see and do in this area- your guide was well laid out and thoughtful. I think I could happily spend all day here just admiring the beauty of it all. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Great post of a great visit Marion. We did this trip in 2017 and really enjoyed it, especially waffelstroop and stroopwaffel, croquetten and beer. We also rented bikes and cycled through Zaandijk and back. Our disappointment came in the museum when there were no chocolate or biscuit samples. Thanks for the memories. Allan

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I agree that it would have been a bonus to have been offered some biscuit and chocolate samples in the museum but even so it was still very interesting. Thanks for your interest and glad to read that you have also visited there not too long ago.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. There is something so picturesque about a windmill, I’ve never been inside one though. Seems like a very cute village to visit and spend time. A world away from busy Amsterdam but so close

    Liked by 5 people

    1. It does feel to be a world away from the city centre but so quick to get there by train. Windmills, along with tulips and clogs are iconic symbols of the Netherlands and so lovely to see. Thanks for commenting and hope your week progresses well.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. Ah, I didn’t have the opportunity to visit the windmills of Zaanse Schans while in Amsterdam: given the limited time I had, I ended up choosing to do a day trip to Keukenhof instead. Such a shame, because the windmills are iconic of the Dutch countryside. Looks like you had a wonderful time, and I’m glad you had the chance to check them out!

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    1. Visiting the windmills was so very interesting and an along with tulips and clogs, an iconic feature of the Netherlands. I feel sure you will get further opportunities to visit Zaanse Schans Rebecca. Thank you for commenting, it’s much appreciated.

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