Escape the bustle of the city and discover a forgotten world at this picturesque village, renowned for its traditional Dutch architecture, authentic atmosphere and of course, its iconic series of working windmills.
Easily accessible from your Amsterdam apartment through a fifteen minute, scenic train journey from Central Station, this popular tourist destination has continued to attract scores of visitors for generations, welcoming almost one million guests per year. Located on the east bank of the Zaan River, this well preserved community grants a fascinating glimpse into life throughout the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, representing a true essence of Dutch history and culture. Having lived in Amsterdam for over four years, I am ashamed to admit I had never heard of the Zaanse Schans until a friend offered advice on how to keep my parents entertained during a recent visit. That’s one of the things I secretly adore about receiving guests; the chance to unabashedly indulge in blatant tourist activities. And indeed, this pictorial setting is undoubtedly touristic. With its swarming coach loads, particularly prevalent in the summer months, customary “welcome” photograph, and extortionate souvenir prices, the neighbourhood is far removed from an undiscovered local treasure. Despite such drawbacks, the Zaanse Schans ensures an afternoon of enlightenment and enjoyment, and provides ample opportunity to travel back in time to Holland’s industrial golden age. A sequence of towering windmills overlook the water, open to the public for a small fee, which showcase varying productions such as mustard, oil and paper, and grant wonderful views from their elevated levels. One of the monuments, De Kat, dates back to 1646 and is the only remaining working windmill in the world that manufactures paint.
Aside from such captivating venues, the village is also home to several private houses dripping in authenticity and character, which have been relocated from across the country. A historic shipyard, a cheese and dairy farm, a clog workshop and a replica of the oldest Albert Heijn store enhance the experience, with a quintessential pancake restaurant concluding a typically pleasant Dutch encounter. Highly recommended for all ages and especially popular with children, I for one will be heading back with my next array of visitors for a refreshing alternative to Amsterdam’s more familiar attractions. The area is free to enter, although charges are applied to the museums and windmills, and steep parking fees are implemented for visitors arriving by car. Guests of our Amsterdam apartments are encouraged to utilise the efficient public transport links that allow swift admission through the charming Dutch countryside. You can plan your journey with ease at the superb website, which offers detailed advice in English.
Further information regarding Zaanse Schans and its facilities can be found here.