Amsterdam has been a tourist hotspot for many years. However, there are so many beautiful places to see beyond the Dutch capital! In this post, I’m going to share the very best things to do in Zaanse Schans and why I think this place is a must-see on your next trip to The Netherlands.
Although most people only ever visit Amsterdam, getting out of the city to experience traditional Dutch culture allows you to discover the country more in-depth.
The moment I arrived in Zaanse Schans, I was in awe of the authentic vibe, picturesque views and unique windmills. I loved delving deep into the rich history of the area and learning more about the country as a whole.
Disclaimer: I was gifted an IAmsterdam City Card and an Amsterdam & Region travel ticket whilst visiting the city. However, all opinions are my own.
Things To Do In Zaanse Schans, The Netherlands
1 | Wander Around The Zaans Museum
Deciding what to do in Zaanse Schans? The Zaans Museum is a fantastic place to start. Here you can learn about the Zaan region through its many exhibits. The museum showcases local art and unique information about the village. You’ll also gain a strong insight into how the village was built into what it is today.
If you’re an art lover like me, the art exhibition will be your favourite part of the museum. I loved how they showcased art that was created by locals and highlights the significant beauty of Zaanse Schans.
2 | Check Out The Verkade Experience
While exploring the museum, don’t forget to visit the Verkade Experience. It offers travellers an immersive journey into the world of Verkade, a renowned Dutch brand known for its delicious chocolates, biscuits and other sweet treats.
As you check out the Verkade Experience, you’ll delve deep into the history and heritage of the company. You’ll learn about the brand’s origins, dating back to 1886, and its evolution over the years.
You’ll also see various exhibits that showcase Verkade’s vintage packaging, advertising campaigns, and memorabilia. The displays offer a glimpse into the past, illustrating the brand’s rich cultural significance across the country. As a creative myself, seeing the historical graphic designs on the packaging was really intriguing!
Lastly, you can have a hands-on experience by testing out some of the machinery for yourself. If you’re travelling with kids, they’re sure to enjoy this interactive fun!
3 | See The Working Zaanse Schans Windmills
Windmills are iconic symbols of The Netherlands and the main reason people travel to the area. Due to this, they’re one of the top things to see in Zaanse Schans!
These traditional Dutch windmills offer a glimpse into the country’s rich industrial heritage. Back in the day, over six hundred windmills were scattered across the region. Nowadays, there are way less.
Travellers can explore the remaining windmills during their day trip to Zaanse Schans. Each one has its own story and unique use. For example, some windmills that you can check out during your time in the area are:
- De Huisman: If you love the smell of spices like me, you won’t want to miss De Huisman. This windmill will captivate your senses through smell and taste as you sample the delicious flavours for yourself.
- De Zoeker: One thing you’ll notice about Zaanse Schans is that all homes are made from wood. That makes having a sawmill super important.
- De Bonte Hen: De Bonte Hen has a varied history as it’s produced paint, oil and cocoa through the years. Dating back to 1610, it’s now solely an oil mill.
- De Kat: One for the art lovers – De Kat is one of the most intriguing windmills on this list. To this day, it still manufactures a range of art supplies including vibrant pigments, paints, oils and chalk. These supplies are then shipped to artists and creatives worldwide. How impressive is that?
This list is not exhaustive, there are several more windmills worth exploring during your time in the village. If you do just one thing in Zaanse Schans, make it this!
4 | Visit The Bakery Museum
Travel back to 1658 by visiting the historic bakery museum. During your trip, you can marvel at the marble floor and see the original bread oven.
Best of all, you also have the chance to try some traditional Dutch baked goods including Duivekater amongst others.
5 | Learn How Dutch Cheese Is Made
Cheese is kind of a big deal in The Netherlands. This means you simply can’t miss a visit to the Catharina Hoeve Cheese Farm in Zaanase Schans. Here you will hear all about the production of different cheeses by workers dressed in traditional Dutch outfits.
You’ll also be treated to some tasty samples during your visit… Result!
6 | Discover The History Of The Weaver’s House
Another one of the top places to see in Zaanse Schans is the Weaver’s House. This modest house was once home to two large families and showcases the world of traditional textiles in the Zaan region. During your visit, you’ll unravel the threads (ha, see what I did there) of history and witness the intricate process from start to finish.
The weaving projects were a family affair. Each member of the family (including the kids) had a role to play. By visiting, you can see what it must have been like to both live and work in one building back in the day.
The house itself is a beautifully preserved gem, showcasing the authentic architecture and interiors of an authentic Duch home.
As you explore the Weavers House, the guide will show you around dressed in traditional clothes while also giving you some free time to explore of your own accord.
As a textile designer myself, this was my favourite thing to do in Zaanse Schans! I thoroughly enjoyed watching the weaving process and appreciated the unique interiors. of the house.
7 | See Zaanse Schans From A Different Perspective
If you enjoy water cruises, a cruise along the Zaan River is a must whilst in the area. Especially if you are visiting on a clear sunny day! There are several options for cruising along the Zaan including the windmill hopper, the cow boat and more.
If you are looking to get up close to the windmills and learn more about their history, this is one of the best things to do in Zaanse Schans!
8 | Admire The Unique Architecture
If you’re looking for free things to do in Zaanse Schans, taking a stroll around the charming windmill village is a must! Known for its authentic wooden houses, it’s one of the most relaxing things to do in the local area.
In my opinion, taking some time to be present and appreciate your surroundings is one of the best things to do in The Netherlands. This gives you the opportunity to do just that. Plus, the picture-perfect buildings also make the ideal backdrop for your Instagram photos!
9 | Relax With A Picnic
Fancy a picnic with a view? If you’re visiting the area on a sunny (or at least clear) day, it’s the perfect spot for a picnic. Enjoy your lunch surrounded by historic windmills and pretty scenery.
10 | Visit The Wooden Shoe Workshop Of Zaanse Schans
The Netherlands is known for its wooden clogs. If you’re interested in crafts like I am, popping by the Zaanse Schans Clog Workshop is one of the best things to do in the area. In fact, I’d say is something you can’t miss as you travel around the Netherlands.
This family-run workshop offers an enchanting glimpse into traditional Dutch craftsmanship. You’ll see the whole process behind making these popular Dutch clogs, which are each crafted using just one piece of wood.
The museum within the clog workshop houses a large collection of unique clogs from across the globe. For example, you’ll see clog roller skates, carved clogs and hand-painted clogs in a range of patterns and styles.
11 | Go Food Shopping At Albert Heijn Museum Shop
As the biggest supermarket chain in the country, Albert Heijn is a household name in The Netherlands. During your visit to Zaanse Schans, you can admire the original interiors of what the stores looked like back in 1887.
The 19th-century listed building has been crafted from wood which is traditional craftsmanship of the Zaans region.
12 | Join A Bike Tour Around Zaanse Schans
If you’ve been to The Netherlands before, you’ll already know that it’s a country known for its bikes. What better way to immerse yourself in a new culture than to do as the locals do?
A unique way to discover Zaanse Schans is to hire a bike and take a self-guided tour around the bike path of the village. You can do this using a number of cycling routes.