A week ago, I was in Holland for a short trip. It was not my first time in the capital city Amsterdam but my latest trip made me realized that there are many “must see” places outside the city center. Amsterdam was too busy and crowded even in wintertime. Don’t get me wrong, I love everything about the it, the people, the places, not to mention the smell of weeds everywhere (even in hostel room) and the city has a lot to offer. Why not try authentic Dutch atmosphere? So i took a trip famous village of Zaanse Schans in Zaandam, Northern Holland.
I took a train for a short day trip to Zaanse Schans, a well preserved town feels like an open-air museum full of traditional Dutch handicrafts and culture. It’s a breath of fresh air. I just found my favorite place in Holland during my entire trip. I’ve always wanted to take a selfie with the iconic windmill, and just like that it came true.
Zaanse Schans is immortalizing Dutch culture and tradition in the next generation. This town is extra-ordinary from the grandeur windmills that are still being used, cheese factory, clog factory and authentic homes all preserved for centuries. The picturesque location reminds us of what Holland is. I can live there forever.
Feel free to walk around area while its free. I will not recommend you to buy a group tour. It feels good when you discover it on your own as I did.
How to get there:
As far as I know, you can take a train or bus to reach the Zaanse Schans if you don’t have car.
By train, find your way to Amsterdam Central Station and purchase a 2-way ticket for 7.5 euro heading to heading to Alkmaar or Uitgeest. The travel time is about 17-20 minutes then get off at Koog Zaandijk station. I won’t spoil your trip but as soon as you hop off the train you can smell chocolate. From the station, you do have to walk 15 minutes to reach Zaanse Schans. Follow the crowd. On that walk, you find a great view of the windmills from the bridge. Make sure you pause over the bridge and take some interesting postcard shots of the village.
By bus, catch Rnet-bus 391 from Amsterdam Central Station. It cost cheaper and leaves every fifteen minutes to Zaanse Schans. The trip takes 40 minutes.
I’ve heard that during the high season you can take a boat and explore the area from the water side. I went there during winter and for me it’s the best season to visit.
Top Things to do:
Don’t ever miss to visit Zaans Museum. The museum tickets also allow access to Verkade Chocolate and Biscuit factory, a real life Willy Wonka factory. I won’t talk much about what you will see inside but overall it tells the story of the manufacturing 100 years ago and how the Verkade company made biscuits and chocolates. See it for yourself.
Feed your curiosity to enter at least one working windmill and climb the steep wooden stairs to the top. The 4 euros entry is well worth seeing the components working and the history in one of many great windmills. The mesmerizing view of the lake will surprise you once on top.
Are you a cheese lover? There is a shop there where you can taste or buy different kinds of cheese. I tasted so many kinds of cheese (free) and my favorite were the ones with herbs. Until now, I’m still thinking about it.
Most of all have the chance to take a photo wearing the giant clog. See how the clogs were made centuries ago and also how they are done today by entering Kooijman Klompenmakerij. You can also buy souvenirs and pairs of clogs that come in many colors and designs.
Truly, a day in Zaanse Schans is a fun experience and informative one. Don’t miss out this magical and peaceful village. Have you been there yet? Let me know your thoughts by commenting below.