- Zaanse Schans is an open air museum that dips your toes firmly into Dutch culture of centuries gone by. Amble around a village that features historic houses, small museums and craft shops
- Explore the inside of working, historic windmills and see the level of ingenuity and hard work that went into harnessing the wind hundreds of years ago
- Enjoy the beautiful landscape as you explore the series of six windmills (and other mini ones) that sit on the banks of the Zaan River
The Dutch have always been a resourceful lot and from the late 1500s onwards they set about harnessing the power of the wind that sweeps across this low-lying country by building windmills. Eventually almost 10,000 of them would dot the countryside but today only a fraction remains, and you can see a series of them at Zaanse Schans.
The village is just 20 minutes from Amsterdam and features six historic windmills clustered together. These are all working windmills and have various uses. De Huisman is a mustard mill and you can explore it for free. The other windmills generally cost just €4 to enter and the highlight of them is probably Het Jonge Schaap (The Young Sheep), which is one of the sawmills that helped the Dutch gain mastery of the high seas in the 1600s.
Step inside and see the large, toothy saw blades hovering perpendicular to the floor and the timber being fed in. One of the friendly volunteers will be more than happy to give you an account of how the Dutch reduced the length of time it took to build a ship from three months to three weeks with this nifty innovation!
There is more to Zaanse Schans, however, than just windmills and it is often described as an open-air museum. There are about 35 historic houses, a couple of small museums and old-timey craft shops – one which sells traditional candy and another which features a clog making demonstration every ten minutes.
The tour lasts three hours and there will be a guide on board the bus to give you the lay of the land and a rundown on local history. After that you’ll be able to explore Zaanse Schans at your own speed!
Prins Hendrikkade 36
- Show the ticket on your smartphone at the meeting point
- Wear comfortable shoes, a little walking is involved with this tour
- The meeting point is at Prins Hendrikkade 36, 1012 TM, Amsterdam. In front of The Victoria Hotel just across Amsterdam Central Station.
- Any trams, busses and trains that go to the Central Station, take a five minute walk from there to the Hotel across the street.