Zaanse Schans: Centuries old Netherlands

Zaanse Schans: Centuries old Netherlands

Ever wonder how it is to live in the Netherlands during the 18th and 19th century? The Zaanse Schans in the Zaandam region is a living representation of the life in the Netherlands many centuries back. Zaanse Schans attracts around 1 million visitors every year. With its traditional houses, hundreds of windmills, warehouses and workshops, the village of Zaanse Schans relived the old Dutch way of living. A day out in Zaanse Schans is not only a fun and relaxing activity for family and friends, but also a good way to learn the Dutch culture and history in Holland. In this blog, I will discuss about what to see in Zaanse Schans, the costs of your visit, and what other activities to combine with visiting Zaanse Schans.

The windmills of Zaanse Schans (photo taken from the bridge).

What to see in Zaanse Schans?

1. Windmills

Zaanse Schans is full of windmills and wooden houses which have been preserved for a long time. These windmills have been the main fuel in the growing industries in the Zaan region. The windmills are used for producing dyes, lumber, and oil. Together with the windmills, various historical buildings such as warehouses, workshops, and stores support the operations in the area. The windmills are nowadays open for public and serve as a living museum to illustrate how was it living in the past centuries. Some of the windmills to see in Zaanse Schans include (1) De Kat (The Cat), a painted windmill, (2) De Huisman (The Homeowner), a mustard seed windmill, (3) Het Jonge Schaap (The Young Sheep), another wood-sawing windmill, (4) De Bonte Hen (The Speckled Hen), an oil-pressing windmill, (5) De Gekroonde Poelenburg (The Crowned Poelen Castle), saw wood windmill and (6) De Zoeker (The Seeker), an oil-pressing windmill.

Rows of windmills in Zaanse Schans village.
Typical houses and windmill along the water.
Close up photo with the windmill.

2. Various Museums

There are also several museums to visit in Zaanse Schans, in addition to the windmills. There are for instance the Albert Heijn Museum, which is from the popular Dutch supermarket Albert Heijn. This supermarket was first established in Zaandam in 1887 and was recreated during 1930s in Zaane Schans to preserved the original store. The entrance for this museum is for free. Other museums include the Mill Museum, an interactive time travel museum that tour you to four centuries of windmill history. Next is the Zaan Museum & the Verkade Experience. Zaan Museum tells about the history of the Zaan region and inside it you will find the Verkade Experience. For information of those not in Holland, Verkade is a popular brand of chocolates and biscuits in the Netherlands. Aside from learning the history of this chocolate company, visitors can also buy some chocolates. There are also museums such as the Zaanse Time Museum (Dutch timepiece museum), the Bakery Museum de Gecroonde Duyvekater (17th century bakery), and Honig Breethuis (19th century house built for a wealth merchant and his family in the Zaans region).

The village in the background.
The houses inside the Zaans village.

3. Souvenir Shops

There are also various souvenir shops to find in the Zaan area. For instance, you can find the De Vreede clog warehouse (a shop for Dutch clogs), the Zeepziederij Zaanse Schans or Zaanse Schans Soap Factory for locally made, handcrafted soap, and the Catharina Hoeve Cheese Farm for cheese related items.

Displayed clogs outside the Clogs souvenir shop.
Typical Dutch clogs being sold in the souvenir shop.

Entrance and Costs of visit

Zaanse Schans is open from Monday to Sunday from 10:00-17:00. The entrance to this village is free. Here you can walk around the village to see and feel the traditional houses, barns, windmills, and beautiful landscape of the preserved 18th and 19th century Netherlands. However, if you want to get the most out of your visits and learn more about the Dutch culture and history by visiting museums, then you should buy a Zaanse Schans card. The costs for visiting several museums in one day is 29,50 euros. Examples of the museums that you can visit include the Dutch windmill museum (+ two windmill visits for free), the Weaver’s House and the Cooperage (where barrels were made), Zaans Museum, and Verkade Chocolate and Biscuit Factory. The ticket also gives a discount to the parking fee, from 11-15 euros, you only have to pay 9 euros for parking and a 10% discount on restaurant de Kraai. Check the website of De Zaanse Schans for the museum kaart. If you think that you are only there for a short period to see the landscape of Zaanse Schans and want to save costs in the parking, then there are some free parking space such as in Zaandijk. But you need to walk for a bit to reach the Zaan village.

Tourists visiting the Zaans region.

Other activities to do in combination with the visit to Zaanse Schans

Zaanse Schans is located in North Holland and therefore are close to many attractions in the region. It is close to Amsterdam, which has direct connection and only takes 20 minutes travel time by train. If using car, it takes 25 minutes to reach Amsterdam centraal from Zaanse Schans. You can find more information about Amsterdam in my blog Amsterdam Netherlands: Fun facts and experiences. If you have a car, it is also possible to visit Keukenhof Lisse from Zaandam. It takes 40 minutes by car to reach Keukenhof Lisse or 1 hour and 40 minutes by public transport. If you want to know what to expect on Keukenhof, you can visit my blog Keukenhof: Beautiful flower garden in Netherlands. If you want to discover the other destinations in the region of North and South Holland, check my blog Holland: Experience Dutch culture and history.

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