Best Things to Do in Zaanse Schans (Not Just Windmills)

things to do in zaanse schans

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Amazingly, there are so many magnificent things to do in Zaanse Schans. After you come here, it’s so easy to understand why the windmill village is one of Amsterdam’s most popular day trips.

Personally, I was smitten with Zaanse Schans. Smitten! This scenic spot actually exceeded all my expectations, and I ended up staying in Zaanse Schans for hours on end, longer than the average visitor.

Why did I feel alllll the love for Zaanse Schans?

Well, to tell you the truth, Zaanse Schans the type of destination where time stands perfectly still and the stresses of the outside world fall off your shoulders. Honestly, if I lived in the Netherlands, I’d bring an easel and some paint, and try to capture my surroundings using vibrant greens and blues. Or maybe I’d pack my notebook and write poetry. 

Without a doubt, Zaanse Schans has such a peaceful atmosphere, and nostalgia is hitting me hard just writing this blog post. Argh.

enjoying a zaanse schans day trip
The top things to do in Zaanse Schans include enjoying a drink!

However, believe it or not, I’ve heard some travelers swearing off Zaanse Schans, because it’s too much of a touristic destination.

Um. Don’t do that. Huge mistake, guys! This trend of skipping great places because they’re “too touristic” needs to stop at once. Certain towns are popular for a reason. 

Personally, I loved Zaanse Schans even though it was a little crowded with cameras and backpacks. I think it was one of my favorite day trips to take from Amsterdam. I’d highly recommend a visit to anyone going to the Netherlands in the near future. 

So let’s discuss practicalities first before branching into cool things to do in Zaanse Schans. 

zaanse schans what to do see windmills

How to Visit Zaanse Schans

Not sure how to visit Zaanse Schans? Are you hopeless at planning day trips? Haha. No problem! 

Despite its rural location, Zaanse Schans is very easy to reach, all thanks to the fantastic public transportation options available in the Netherlands.

As a traveler, you’ve two main options for going to Zaanse Schans: either on your own strictly using public transportation or taking a guided tour. 

Just a quick disclaimer. I won’t speak on renting a car since personally I don’t think it’s a necessary expense for travelers coming to the Netherlands. It’s a small country and public transit is awesome. You honestly don’t need your own vehicle to experience the beauty of Zaanse Schans. 

Read More: 7 Best Day Trips from Amsterdam

zaanse schans attractions: don't miss simply strolling through the village

1. Go Solo to Zaanse Schans from Amsterdam

Does the thought of any independent travel make you nervous? Shake off those nerves right now! Because it’s very easy to go to Zaanse Schans from Amsterdam, I promise. 

A public bus is the easiest way to go to Zaanse Schans. Even better than train travel.

First, you’ll need to go Amsterdam Centraal and purchase a bus ticket. The machines will give you specific instructions for the Zaanse Schans bus – which is number 391. This route takes about 40 minutes total. 

Don’t worry about missing the 391 bus either. It runs on a regular schedule (every fifteen minutes!) so getting stranded is highly, highly unlikely. 

The bus will drop you within walking distance to the village and windmills. 

Read More: How to Spend 2 Days in Amsterdam

zaanse schans things to do: checking out green painted houses

2. Take an Organized Day Tour to Zaanse Schans

While it’s easy to go to Zaanse Schans on your own, if you’re an incredibly nervous traveler or want to pack a lot of attractions in one day, then it might be worth booking a spot on a guided tour of the countryside. You’ll learn a lot from your tour guide, and meet other people if you’re traveling solo to the Netherlands. 

In my opinion, I’d recommend taking a guided tour if you mostly want to see the windmills and not dedicate too much time to Zaanse Schans’s other attractions.

However, since I really loved Zaanse Schans, I still personally believe that it’s really worth spending a lot of time in this area. Zaanse Schans is gorgeous, and once you’re away from the tourist crowds, this place is downright magical. 

Now, with logistics out of the way, let’s talk about the best things to do in Zaanse Schans besides the stunning windmills. 

Ready to Book? Reserve Your Tour to Zaanse Schans

zaanse schans things to do take in all the scenery

The Best Things to Do in Zaanse Schans

While the windmills are amazing (of course) and will be referenced throughout this travel guide, you ought to know that Zaanse Schans has more to offer than its iconic windmills.

Yup, I’m dead serious.

In addition to the great mills, I highly recommend spending additional time getting to known the nearby town. You’ll find a lot of surprises!

Let’s go!

Read More: Pack Your Lonely Planet Guidebook to the Netherlands

zaanse schans things to do: drink a lot of beer
Brouwerij Hoop is among the best things to do in Zaanse Schans.

1. Go to a Local Brewery 

Craft beer is hot, hot, hot right now, and if you’re a beer connoisseur, then you’re in for a treat on your visit to Zaanse Schans.

Why? First and foremost, take the time to experience a local brewery in Zaanse Schans: Brouwerij Hoop.

In order to reach Brouwerij Hoop, you need to cross the Julianabrug Zaandijk Bridge and walk along the opposite side of the river. By crossing the river, you’ll lose most of the tourists taking day trips and as a result, have a chance to experience the “real” Zaanse Schans. 

Furthermore, you can eat lunch at Brouwerij in addition to sampling their homemade brewed beer. The adjoining restaurant is open seven days a week, and you can make a reservation online if you’re inclined to do so. 

is zaanse schans worth visiting? absolutely! see all the historical homes

2. Fall in Love with the Town’s Architecture

Oh my god, you guys you guys, the homes and shops in Zaanse Schans were adorable. In particular, I loved the green exterior walls and ruby red shutters. What can I say? I’m a sucker for vibrant colors. 

So take out your camera, aimlessly stroll, and ogle at the homes. I was also impressed at how old some of these houses are. I mean, look at that picture I took on my walk. That green building was first built in 1626! To me, that is incredible. If only homes could talk (well… that would be a little creepy, but you understand what I mean, right?). 

Just keep in mind that people reside in these houses. Be respectful of private properties. Don’t wander on the lawns or snap pictures of inside the windows, for example, haha. 

Thanks to the adorable buildings, Zaanse Schans is a place that definitely comes to mind when envisioning a trip to the Netherlands. 

the adorable ferry is one of the things to do in zaanse schans

3. See the Windmills on the Water by Ferry 

There’s nothing quite like seeing the windmills on the water.

After my trip to Zaanse Schans, it’s understandable that water and windmills were so popular with a multitude of famous painters. I seriously sat on the dock for a good ten minutes without snapping pictures, haha. I was transfixed.

Anyway, by crossing the bridge, you’ll want to take a short ferry ride over to the windmills themselves. The ferry ride is an attraction in and of itself!

Ring the bell from the dock so the small boat knows to come and pick you up. And then take some well-aimed photos of those windmills from the water. 

Last but not least: make sure to keep a spare Euro coin in your pocket to pay for the ferry trip. 

Read More: Learn Some Dutch Phrases for Your Netherlands Vacation

take a zaanse schans day trip and see the countryside

4. Rent a Bike and Get Some Exercise

Sick of walking everywhere? Want to see Zaanse Schans on wheels rather than your own two feet? Then hire a bike rental for your day trip to Zaanse Schans!

Like much of the Netherlands, Zaanse Schans is very flat and easy for riding a bike. Feel free to go to a bike rental even if you’ve never tried cycling! 

Speak with the tourist office about the cycling route you wish to take, and book ahead of time if you’re visiting Zaanse Schans at the height of the high season.

For safety purposes, stay in the designated bike lanes to avoid hitting people who would rather walk the entire time. Unfortunately, I saw more than one person ignore these rules and almost strike people, which isn’t cool at all. Be an example.

zaanse schans what to do eeeeeeat

5. Treat Yourself at a Local Bakery or Restaurant

Mmmm, after all the bike riding and walking, are you ready for food? Of course you are. 

I’d personally recommend going across the bridge, away from the main tourist core, to eat lunch or grab a snack. While the small village next to the windmills is picturesque and lovely, you’ll find higher quality food for cheaper prices outside of the central tourist area. 

When in Zaanse Schans, I noticed an abundance of bakeries and breakfast type foods. So pack your sweet tooth with you for your day trip.  

zaanse schans attractions includes eating all the cheese

6. Eat Allllllllllll the Cheese & Chocolate 

Yup, it’s time to discuss even more food. I hope you still have room inside your stomach, haha.

Now who here loves cheese and chocolate as much as I do? Then you’re in for a treat when you visit this adorable Dutch town. 

Zaanse Schans is home to a Chocolate Factory and cheese shop! Your taste buds will thank you for making the trip. So will your sense of smell. Just sitting outside the Chocolate Factory made my mouth start to water. 

Furthermore, the cheese shop has interesting exhibits explaining the history and making of cheese. Take the time to read.

Not to mention, make sure to eat as many free samples as you like, although I have to warn you that the cheese is mighty addictive. I don’t even want to know the calories that I consumed from the free samples alone. Ahem. 

how to visit zaanse schans: go inside the windmills

7. Actually Go Inside One of the Windmills

Lastly, don’t just snap photos of the Windmills. Go inside them.

The interiors of most windmills at Zaanse Schans have been transformed into fascinating little museums. They’re well worth your time and energy, trust me. 

Why did I love going inside the windmills so much? Because it’s amazing to see these wind power machines in action. Personally, I never knew how strong wind energy was until coming to Zaanse Schans. 

In Zaanse Schans, you have options for going inside the windmills too. Depending your budget and interests, purchase a multi-entry ticket (I believe it lets you into four windmills) or a single ticket for a sole mill. 

zaanse schans attractions = the windmills

8. Fall in Love with the Windmills

Of course I need to mention simply enjoying the windmills for what they are. 

Walk alongside these incredible constructions, and take allllll the pictures to show your friends and family. 

It would be a shame to come to Zaanse Schans and just ignore the windmills. After all, you can see these creaking and moving windmills in the distance, all the way at the bus stop. 

Not to mention, these windmills really do give you a taste of Dutch life in the 17th and 18th centuries. You feel as if you’re walking through the pages of a history book. Many of the original windmills were destroyed during the Industrial Revolution, so the fact that there are even any windmills left is a blessing. 

So go and experience history in real life. You won’t regret it. 

zaanse schans what to do: of course the windmills
Is Zaanse Schans worth visiting? Duh!

Is Zaanse Schans Worth Visiting?

Unsurprisingly, of course I think Zaanse Schans is worth visiting, especially if you’re coming from nearby Amsterdam.

The Netherlands is a country designed for day trips given how phenomenal and quick the public transportation is, especially in the summer when extra buses are running on a frequent basis. 

And Zaanse Schans gives you a valuable taste of Dutch country life. You see a new side of the Netherlands that’s not present in Amsterdam. I’d especially recommend coming to Zaanse Schans if you have more than two days in Amsterdam. You won’t regret it. 

zaanse schans day trip is worth it for these views

What do you think are the best things to do in Zaanse Schans? Have you ever been here to see the windmills and village? Share all your thoughts in the comments!

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