Visit Dutch Windmills on a Zaanse Schans Day Trip from Amsterdam

Visit Dutch Windmills on a Zaanse Schans Day Trip from Amsterdam

The Zaanse Schans is just a short distance away from Amsterdam and offers one of the most beautiful windmills in the Netherlands. Last two or three years I tried to visit more places in my home country the Netherlands, such as Dordrecht and De Haar Castle. However, I’d never been to the Zaanse Schaans yet, even though it is very popular with tourists. Therefore, my boyfriend and I visited the Zaanse Schans last Friday. It’s a shame that we hadn’t visited these beautiful Dutch windmills before. I would definitely recommend a Zaanse Schans day trip if you’re looking to explore something of the Netherlands outside of Amsterdam on a (half-)day trip! In this post, I’ll provide information on how to get to the Zaanse Schans and things to do at the Zaanse Schans.

Start your Zaanse Schans day trip on the Julianabrug for a photo opportunity!

How to get to the Zaanse Schans

The Zaanse Schans is just a little over 30 minutes away from Amsterdam Central Station. You can either take the train to Zaandijk Zaanse Schans (this train has as end destination Uitgeest) or bus 391 to Zaandam Zaanse Schans. We decided to take the train. You can plan your journey with 9292. Alternatively, if you don’t want the hassle of figuring out how to get to the Zaanse Schans, you can join one of the various organised tours:

Click here for several organised tours to the Zaanse Schans.

You can download the 9292 app as well, which allows you to plan your route very easily when you’re travelling in the Netherlands.

Things to see on a Zaanse Schans day trip

Typical Dutch Windmills

The Zaanse Schans is famous for its windmills. Although it looks like these mills have stood on this place for centuries, that’s actually not the case. From 1961 to 1974, old buildings from all over the Zaanstreek (or Zaan area, an area in North Holland) were transported to this spot.

Visiting the exterior of the windmills is completely free of charge. However, there is a small admission fee to enter some of the mills. I would recommend visiting at least one of the mills on the inside to see the inner workings of the windmill. There are various Zaanse Schans windmills you can admire when visiting the Zaanse Schans:

De Huisman (The Houseman)

This mill was probably built in 1786 in Zaandam. Since 1955, it’s located on the Zaanse Schans. It functions as a mustard mill.

De Gekroonde Poelenburg (The Crowned Poelenburg)

De Gekroonde Poelenburg is a bright green windmill. Probably, this windmill is my favourite, because of its bright colour! It was built in 1869 in Koog aan de Zaan (2.5 kilometers from the Zaanse Schans). In 1963, they decided to take the mill apart and to rebuild it at the Zaanse Schans. The mill functioned as a sawmill, which is a mill where logs are cut into lumber.

Het Jonge Schaap (The Young Sheep)

The shape of Het Jonge Schaap is very special. The mill is a six-sided, over-wheeling wood sawmill. Het Jonge Schaap was the only mill in the Zaan area with this shape. It was built in 1680 in Zaandam. Although it was demolished in 1942, it has been rebuilt in 2007 at the Zaanse Schans.

Windmill 'De Kat' at the Zaanse Schans
Windmill ‘De Kat’
De Kat (The Cat)

This windmill is the only remaining working windmill in the world which makes paint. The mill was built in 1664.

De Zoeker (The Seeker)

De Zoeker is an oil windmill, built in 1672 in Zaandijk. Since 1968, it’s located at the Zaanse Schans. Its purpose is to press seeds into vegetable oil. This mill is the only oil mill still in operation.

De Bonte Hen (The Spotted Hen)

De Bonte Hen is an oil mill that was built in 1693. It was preserved in its original state until 1935. However, in 1975 an extensive restoration project took place.

De Os (The Ox)

This mill was originally an oil. This windmill dates from before 1663. Until 1916 this mill worked on wind power. However, since then, the cap, sails, and stand have been removed from the mill. Luckily, the inner workings are still intact. From 1916 to 1931 De Os was powered by a diesel engine.

Windmills and the river 'Zaan'
Windmills and the river ‘Zaan’
Het Klaverblad (The Cloverleaf)

Het Klaverblad is a small wooden sawmill on top of another building. Although this mill may look old, it was only finished in 2005.

De Bleeke Dood (The Pale Death)

This mill is the oldest smock mill that still exists in the Netherlands. A smock mill is a mill that is built on a gallery or similar construction. It functioned as a flour mill. De Bleeke Dood was built in 1656.

De Ooievaar (The Stork)

De Ooievaar is the only mill that isn’t from the Zaan area. It was transported from Assendelft (10 kilometers from the Zaanse Schans). It was built in 1622 and functioned as an oil mill.

You can still visit several of the windmills and discover how they work. This is absolutely one of the activities you shouldn’t skip on a day trip to the Zaanse Schans.

Museums at the Zaanse Schans

You can find several museums at the Zaanse Schans as well. The Zaans Museum is the largest of the museums, just behind the parking. A Zaanse Schans day trip is not complete without visiting some of the museums. Several of these museums are free of charge or are free with the I amsterdam City Card.

Zaans Museum and Verkade Experience

The Zaans Museum provides information about Dutch windmills and about factories in this area of the Netherlands. In the Museum, you can also admire a painting Monet made when he visited the Zaan area. The Verkade Experience will take you back to the chocolate and biscuit factory of the early 20th century. Admission is 10 euros for an adult.

Admission to the Zaans Museum and Verkade Experience is free with the I amsterdam City Card.
The windmills from the hiking trail
The windmills you’ll encounter on a Zaanse Schans day trip
Albert Heijn Museum Shop

In Amsterdam, you’ll probably come across the Albert Heijn, a supermarket chain in the Netherlands. This museum is a reconstruction of an old Albert Heijn store with various old products. Entrance is free of charge.

Bakery Museum de Gecroonde Duyvekater

This museum consists of a baker’s shop with a 19th century interior in a house dating from 1658 called de Gecroonde Duyvekater. Admission is 1 euro for an adult.

The Zaanse Time Museum

In the Windmill Museum, you can discover a multitude of ticking clocks. You can also visit an exhibit that includes clocks from the time of famous Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens who lived in the 17th century. The museum is located in a weaver’s building that dates from the 17th century.

Jisper House

The Jisper House is a fisherman’s home. The house looks as it would have been in the mid 19th century. Moreover, you can get a photo of yourself in traditional Zaan costume!

Honig Breethuis

This museum is located on the other bank of the Zaan in the village Zaanse Schans. The house dates from the early 18th century and was the home of a merchant family from the Zaan district who lived here around 1830. In this museum, you can learn about the lives of the families who lived in this house.

The windmills from the 'watchtower' next to the parking
The windmills from the ‘watchtower’ next to the parking

Exploring the Zaanse Schans by boat, bike or foot

It’s probably the combination of the fields, the river Zaan and the windmills that make the Zaanse Schans as charming as it is. You’ll probably want to take loads of pictures during a Zaanse Schans day trip. Therefore, take your time, and wait until the masses of tourists have passed. In the meantime, have your camera ready!

There are several ways to explore the Zaanse Schans. For instance, you can go on a 45 minute/1 hour cruise. Going on a boat tour allows you to see the windmills from a completely different perspective: the river Zaan. Since the boat leaves from the Zaanse Schans village, you can visit the village after or prior to the boat tour.

It’s possible to rent a bike as well. This is a good idea if you don’t dare to brave busy Amsterdam with a bike, but would like to try this Dutch experience. You can find a cycle route map of the Zaanse Schans here.

Of course, you can also explore the Zaanse Schans by foot. Most tourists opt for this option. You can walk alongside the windmills on a path at your own pace. On our Zaanse Schans day trip, we decided to explore the Zaanse Schans windmills by foot as well.

Tip: just behind the parking there is a watchtower from where you have some nice views of the windmills. At the watchtower you can find a hiking trail that takes you through the fields. There were almost no tourists on this trail. The hike is not very long and ends at the windmills.
Colourful and typical houses of the Zaanse Schans
Colourful and historic houses of the Zaanse Schans

Zaanse Schans village

However, it’s not only windmills that you can discover on your Zaanse Schans day trip. The houses alongside the Zaan are colourful and historic. Therefore, if you have some time left, make sure to visit the village on the other bank of the Zaan. You’ll find some lovely houses there. In addition, you can also find the Honig Breethuis here.

How long do you need for the Zaanse Schans

For a Zaanse Schans day trip from Amsterdam, you don’t necessarily need a full day  (unless you plan to combine it with other parts of the countryside). Rather, the Zaanse Schans is perfect for a half-day trip. You need at least 2 hours (excluding getting to the Zaanse Schans and returning to Amsterdam) to explore the windmills and perhaps one or two of the museums. We stayed for roughly 2.5 hours.

Windmills of the Zaanse Schans
Windmills of the Zaanse Schans
Food tip: try Dutch pancakes at ‘pannenkoekenhuis De Kraai’. You won’t regret it!

Other day trips from Amsterdam

When you’ve visited the Zaanse Schans Windmills, you can discover more of North Holland (as this province is called). For example, you can visit Volendam, a very lovely town. Moreover, the city of Alkmaar is certainly worth a visit.

Another part of the Netherlands that you should visit if you’re looking for day trips is Utrecht. Visit the city, climb the Dom Tower and admire its canals. Also, visit De Haar Castle, a magnificent castle near Utrecht, and the city Amersfoort.

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