Monday, October 24, 2016

A Day Trip From Amsterdam: Zaanse Schans

For generations, Zaanse Schans has been a tourist mecca, welcoming tons of visitors from all over the world. It is said to be the jewel of Dutch cultural heritage. Since we have one more day in Amsterdam, we decided to follow the crowd and tick this “Netherlands’ most popular attraction” off the list.  
Zaanse Schans

How We Got There

From Amsterdam Centraal Station, we took a train to Koog-Zaandijk. The journey only lasted 17 minutes, it was so fast we nearly missed the stop. From the station, you’ll have to walk 10 minutes through the village of Zaandijk to reach the windmills. There is a huge direction board in front of the station and if you are unsure, just follow the crowd! It is just a straight path anyway, easy! 
Is there any alternative mode of transportation? 
Yes, you can also reach Zaanse Schans from Amsterdam Centraal by bus (391) or by boat. However, taking travel time into account, I highly recommend taking the train. 

Our Experience

Once we got down from the train walking towards the Village, we caught sight of a cocoa factory and immediately the heavenly smell of chocolate embraced us! Such a great way to start our day. 

day trip from Amsterdam
We walked through the bridge to the east bank of Zaan’s River. Showcasing the traditional architecture of the area, Zaanse Schans is definitely not running short of typical green wooden houses. This open air museum is free to wander around with 5 historical wooden windmills still operating in their full glory, providing a great insight of what life must have been back in the 17-18th century. There is a farm opposite the windmills, we were thrilled to see cows pasturing freely in the area. We especially love the boat service that crosses the Zaan River. With only 1 Euro, we were able to admire the windmills from the water. 

Like I’ve said before, Zaanse Schans is one of the most popular tourist attraction in Netherlands, but the good news is, we did not feel like we were trapped in a sardine can. It didn’t feel too crowded probably due to the large size of the place and the fact that we visited Zaanse Schans in the early morning. Zaanse Schans is easily navigated on foot. We watched a live demonstration of modern machine-operated clog making and happily sampled a huge variety of cheeses at the cheese factory.
Wooden Clog

Zaanse Schans

Zaanse Schans

Gouda Cheese

Zaanse Schans

Things To Do In Zaanse Schans

Although small entrance fees are required to visit the windmills, We skipped all these paid attractions because I have been to Kinderjidk and frankly speaking, I think that the windmills there are more interesting with rich historical value and authentic if compared to those in Zaanse Schans, which were relocated to the area for tourism purpose. However, if you want to visit one or two Windmills while you are there, go ahead! In fact, if you are interested in visiting all of them, I highly recommend you to purchase a Zaanse Schans card for €10 . 

Amsterdam Windmill

Mills worth visiting (in my opinion)
The striking green De Gekroonde Poelenburg (sawmill 1869) and De Kat (paint mill) which is the only windmill remained in its original position out of 5 in Zaanse Schans.     

There are also plenty of free attractions to visit in Zaanse Schans

  • Grocery Museum Albert Heijn
  • Bakery Museum In De Gecroonde Duijvekater      
  • Distillery Museum De Tweekoppige Phoenix
  • Catharina Hoeve (cheese farm)
  • Klompenmakerij De Zaanse Schans (wooden shoe workshop), 
  • Tinnegieterij De Tinkoepel (pewter foundry)
  • Craft Centre De Sense Lelie

What else can you do in Zaanse Schans
If you feel like cycling, take your bike to Zaandam station and follow the Zaanse Schans Cycle Route. Not only that you’ll ride past the quaint town of De Rijp, you’ll get a feeling what life must have been like if you are born into a Traditional Dutch Family. Bicycle hire is available in the village as well for 5€ per hour

Recommended Things to Buy

I am not sorry to say that I couldn’t recommend anything to bring back from Zaanse Schans. Since it is a popular tourist hotspot, I honestly think that everything is kinda overpriced, correct me if I am wrong. So the best thing to bring back home? Pretty photos and beautiful memories
Netherlands Souvenirs

Enhance Your Experience by Downloading the “Zaanse Schans” App

After downloading the app, your smartphone serves as your digital tour guide, offering interactive tours of the Zaanse Schans, as well as selling us some secrets (hidden gem) of the area. 

Final Words

Despite its picturesque settings, with plenty of windmills to photograph, I was disappointed due to the lack of authenticity. The attraction is merely a recreation of a Dutch Village from the late 19th century, with most of it windmills relocated from other sites. The highly touristy aspect of the village is also one of the reasons that let me down. Although I appreciate the effort put into the reconstruction of the mills, I would recommend another really authentic site if you are there for the windmills— Kinderjidjk near Rotterdam.  

All in all, the trip was an educational one and a great detour from city life. I’d recommend visitors to check out Zaanse Schans if one have an extra day to kill in Amsterdam. Great photo opportunities! 
Zaanse Schans

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Thank You for Reading! 
This post is based solely on my honest opinion or personal experience. 
 Feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below!

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