In about 15km from Amsterdam, you can find a great day trip destination that some tourists end up missing out. It’s the Zaanse Schaans, a small village full of traditional architecture and working windmills that may give you a taste of the Dutch life in the past centuries.
The village can be easily reached by bus (line 391 from Central Station), and you should spend around forty minutes to arrive. Once there, besides enjoy beautiful landscapes, you can also visit some of the small museums in the area, such as the Bakery Museum and the first Albert Heijn store. Today, Albert Heijn is the biggest supermarket chain in the Netherlands.
All the six working windmills at Zaanse Schans are open to visitors for a fee of 4€ each, but if you’re not totally into the work on a mill, visiting only one should be enough to get to know their operation. I went to the village with a couple of friends most to spend the day doing something different, we didn’t do any of the paid attractions. But just walking through the village appreciating the view was worth it.
Still on the mills’ side, it’s possible to find a Cheese Farm and not only learn about all the process of making cheese, but also taste different kinds of cheese and chocolate for free. You can buy all the great products for a fair price at the attached shop.
When you think your walking is about to finish, you discover you still have a lot to explore. On the other side of the river, you can find where the families who developed their lives around the mills used to live. To go there and know a bit more of the Zaanse Schans history, you only need to take a ferry that costs the symbolic price of 1€! The sailing crossing the Zaan river takes around five minutes and the view is just beautiful.
On the ferry, you get a paper with all the historic addresses so you won’t miss a thing. The house’ side is also the place where people actually live today, so you can find some regular stores and even a really nice pub there. Take your time to enjoy a good beer before continuing your tour through the village streets.
At the end, you realise you’re back where you started, you only need to cross the bridge. Then you can either check if you missed something on the mill’ side or just wait for the bus and make your way back to Amsterdam.
The Zaanse Schans only requires half-day to visit. So if you’re visiting Amsterdam and get some free time, what about including the village in your plans?