After spending 4 days in Central Amsterdam, my partner and I felt like a change. We’d visited enough coffee shops and drunk enough Heineken for one trip, it was time for something a bit more cultural. Something a bit more historic. Something quintessentially Dutch. After a bit of research, we found the perfect place – Zaanse Schans.
Windmills and clogs…. could this BE any more Dutch?
Zaanse Schans is a neighbourhood and working community that dates back to the 18th century. As soon as you enter, you feel like you’ve stepped into a Brothers Grimm fairytale. I nicknamed the place “Cutie Pie Town”, on account of the traditional cottages, the teeny tiny bridges and the rolling countryside surrounding the area.
The river Zaan is lined by fully functional and well preserved windmills. Cutie Pie Town also plays host to a clog workshop, a cheese shop and the Zaans Museum. It really is a fascinating place, especially if you’re a bit of a history buff and would like to know more about traditional Dutch life over the centuries.
Entrance to the area is free to walk around, but you will be expected to pay a few euros each time you’d like to see inside a windmill. The clog workshop is free though and there’s cheese tasting in the cheese gift shop. Actually, a bit too much cheese tasting. I ate so much, I almost had a Gouda overdose.
This particular windmill was called Het Jonge Schaa, which means “the young sheep. It was a sawmilll, so who knows what that has to do with cute little lambs.
It was super easy to get to Zaans Schans. We took a 15 minute train from Amsterdam Central to Koog-Zaandijk, then walked about another 15 minutes towards the windmills. It only cost €4.10, so was economical too! I’ve heard cycling in the summer months is wonderful, you’d be looking at about a 5 hour round trip, so if you’re into biking then that would certainly be the way forward. There is also a bus from Amsterdam Central Station, Connexxion bus 391 departs every 15 minutes and takes 40 minutes.
Oh my Gouda
To say Zaanse Schans is a bit touristy would be an understatement. Many of the traditional houses have been converted into souvenir shops and it’s rare to see an actual resident strolling around the neighbourhood. Having said that, if you can see past all the sightseers and want to get some photos of the Netherlands that go beyond the obligatory canal shots, Zaanse Schans is well worth the trip.
Need a little more info? Check out the official page.
What did you guys make of Zaanse Schans? Is it a tourist trap or an authentic taste of traditional Dutch life?