Zaanse Schans is a small Dutch village. It takes about 20 minutes to drive there from Amsterdam. The village showcases a range of historic windmills, such as paint mill and oil mills. Many of them are not just heritage, but still fully-operating wooden machines. Visitors can enter windmills and see how they produce spices, sawing wood, grinding oil and much more.
Mill used to grind colour
It is free to stroll around. But one needs to pay a small entrance fee to enter a mill to examine how those windmills work. The first one we entered is the mill to grind color. All moving parts on the lower floor of the buildings make up an imposing scene in which pigments are milled. Climbing up to the deck of the mill via the narrow stairs, we enjoyed a beautiful panorama view of the home industry in the area. It’s quite impressive!
The timber mill
The next mill we visited is Het Jonge Schaap. This is a very special timber mill at Zaanse Schans, a six-sided wood sawmill. This shape was unique among the hundreds of sawmills that stood in the area. The mill was built and active in 1680 in the Westzijderveld in Zaandam. In 1942 it was demolished. In 2007 the rebuilding process took place at Zaanse Schans. From then on Het Jonge Schaap was back in use as a sawmill. The sale of wood is the main source of income for the mill. It could be very busy in the mill if the wind allows. The windmill can be turned to catch the most wind depending on the direction it is blowing.
We had a look during the miller’s work day and experienced how a wood sawmill operates. Some French wood mill fans were busy filming the process. According to the conversation, they would like to build a similar one in their home town.
Next to the entrance on the ground floor there is a small room where you can watch the movie about the rebuilding of the mill. The whole visit took us more than an hour, but it is interesting to learn that the traditional industry used to be so powerful during the pre-industrial world.
These windmills and some buildings are also museums. Visitors can enter them to watch how locals make dutch cheese, and then having the opportunity to buy some in the shop. Other things people can watch is for example, how clogs are made. Besides, museums such as the Albert Heijn museum and a bakery museum are worth to visit.
Today’s dutch supermarket chain Albert Heijn only started out as a small shop. Albert Heijn took over the shops from his parents when he was just 21. In Albert Heijn museum, visitors can see the original shop and stock that was around at the early time. It’s really interesting to see how supermarket shops have evolved from that time.
The entrance tickets prices of museums are available here.
The locals are very much into their craftsmanship and heritage. Join their tours visitors can learn more about Dutch culture and history. The hop-on-hop-off bus tour is a journey through the picturesque countryside of Holland. It includes 8 stops including Zaanse Schans to get insights into the history and traditions of the Netherlands. Visitors benefit from an audio guide walking tour at various stops. You can find its detail here.
Another popular tour is a journey from Amsterdam on an informative tour of the Dutch fishing villages including a free 1-Hour Canal Cruise and the visit to Zaanse Schans. Both tours start in Amsterdam. Take a look at its description at getyourguide.com.
In fact, there are many small and pretty villages in the Netherlands, for example, Giethoorn, a place without roads but water canals. If one looks for day trip destinations from Amsterdam, there are plenty of such places. Just check at getyourguide.com or viator.com to find the best which tailors for you.
Where to stay
How to get there
From Amsterdam take the A8 motorway towards Zaanstad/Purmerend to the Purmerend A7 exit. Follow the signs to Zaanse Schans.
Get off the train at Zaandijk-Zaanse Schans station. Follow the signs to Zaanse Schans. Cross the bridge, then follow the footpath along the Zaanse Schans until you see the Zaans Museum on your left. It is an approximately fifteen-minute walk. Further information about traveling by train please check here.
From Amsterdam Centraal station take bus 391 (Industrial Heritage Line). Get off the bus at the Zaans Museum-Zaanse Schans bus stop.