Working Windmills at Zaanse Schans, the Dutch Craft Village

Working windmills at Zaanse Schans tell part of the Dutch history. The small Dutch village is about 20 minutes of driving from Amsterdam. The village showcases a range of historic windmills at Zaanse Schans, such as a paint mill and an oil mill. Many of them are not just heritages, but still fully-operating wooden machines. Visitors can enter windmills at Zaanse Schans and see how they produce spices, sawing wood, grinding oil, and much more.

working windmills at Zaanse Schans

The Dutch craft village is small enough. What we did there are the first three things since we arrived at Zaanse Schans  after we had explored Giethoorn. If you stay in Amsterdam, you might have time to join a popular budget tour in Amsterdam.

    • Explore the mill that used to grind colour
    • Live workshop about how a timber mill process wood
    • Window shopping, buying Dutch souvenirs, and visit the Albert Heijn museum
    • Join a popular tour such as a canal cruise tour or hop-on hop-off bus tour

Explore the mill that 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 produced. 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!

A Panorama View from one of the working windmills at Zaanse Schans, the Netherland; day trip from Amsterdam

Live workshop about how a timber mill process wood

The next mill we visited is Het Jonge Schaap. The giant machine 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 adjusted to catch the most wind depending on the direction it is blowing.

We had a look during the miller’s workday 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, we watched  a 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.

Live workshop about how a timber mill process wood

Window shopping, buying Dutch souvenirs, and visit the Albert Heijn museum

These windmills and some buildings are also museums. Visitors can enter them to watch how locals make dutch cheese, and then buy some cheese products in the shop. Other things people can watch are, for example, how the Dutch make clogs. Besides, museums such as the Albert Heijn museum and a bakery museum are worth visiting.

Today’s Dutch supermarket chain Albert Heijn only started as a small shop. Albert Heijn took over the shop from his parents when he was just 21. In the 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.

Cheese shelf of a local shop at Zaanse Schans, the Netherlands, day trip from Amsterdam

Join a popular tour such as a canal cruise tour or hop-on hop-off bus tour

The locals are very much into their craftsmanship and heritage. Join a tour visitors can learn more about Dutch culture and history. The Amsterdam City Card entitles you to have a journey through the picturesque countryside of Holland, including Zaanse Schans, where you can get insights into the history and traditions of the Netherlands.

Another popular tour, Volendam, Marken & Windmills with Free 1-Hour Canal Cruise, is to explore Dutch countryside, including a half-day tour with free canal cruise included. Visitors can see the famous Zaanse Schans windmills, explore the quaint fishing villages of Volendam, and Marken and stop at a traditional Dutch cheese farm. Both tours start in Amsterdam.

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.

Where to stay

Best Western Zaan Inn is just a 3-minute walk from train station. Zaandam’s Water tower, which is a state monument, is a 10-minute walk from the hotel. The spacious rooms are fitted with a seating area, a work desk, and a flat-screen TV. They also feature a large window and wooden floors. The bathrooms feature a shower.

How to get there

By car

From Amsterdam, take the A8 motorway towards Zaanstad/Purmerend to the Purmerend A7 exit. Follow the signs to Zaanse Schans.

By train

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.

By bus

From Amsterdam Centraal station, take bus 391 (Industrial Heritage Line). Get off the bus at the Zaans Museum-Zaanse Schans bus stop.

Working windmills at Zaanse Schans present part of the Dutcch history. The small Dutch village is about 20 minutes of driving from Amsterdam. #netherland #holland #amsterdam #zaanseschans #windmill


  1. Such a relaxing and peaceful view. I have always loved the visiting villages. It is so calm and away from city. I would to sit on a bench with some calm music and have a view to those windmills

  2. I literally just returned and I’m penning my blog post on it lol. I did a half say Hop On Hop off tour ato Zaandam, Zaanse Schans and Volendam all for 21 euros. I went into the clock museum only and passed Zaandijk hotel but spent only 45mins there as we were off to Volendam.

    1. Hi Kemi,

      Hope you enjoyed the trip. Volendam is also beautiful…I went there twice! The tours are not expensive and the villages are all cute and peaceful.

  3. The mills with those barn kind houses are so good to see. everything well organised in a line. I would like to visit it for sure. The rooms are more peaceful which makes me wanna go there for relaxing. Nice tips on transport routes and details 🙂

  4. Looks so great in here, the windmills looks absolutely stunning. Perfect place for a selfie.. ? ?

  5. This place is so on my bucket list! Thank you for sharing your adventures, so we can add these activities to our “must do” as well

  6. I’ve never heard about this place before! but it seems to be worth of visiting! The windmills look awesome, great spot for the instagram picture 🙂

    1. When I was a little boy, I remember having a fixation on windmills. I do love seeing those solitary structures with giant propellers. I just realized today that I still love seeing windmills.

  7. Looks like a fun trip with lots of learning opportunities. I have never seen the inside of a windmill and I am interested to do so someday. Thank you for sharing your lovely photos!

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