If you’re looking for quick day trips from Amsterdam, the Zaanse Schans area is a great choice. Zaanse Schans is a small neighborhood located in the city of Zaandam, about a 17-minute train ride away from Amsterdam’s Central Station. This area is a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city. You’ll feel like you stepped into a quintessential Dutch town.
More Day Trip Ideas: Day Trip to Haarlem, Netherlands
Day Trips from Amsterdam
Zaanse Schans is small enough that you only need a few hours, but it offers plenty to keep all types of travelers totally charmed. What drew me in were those gorgeous green cottages! We spent several hours walking around the area taking photos of whatever inspired us. You’ll also find windmills, shops, and restaurants among a lot of greenery and some animals. It’s really like an open-air museum, but people actually live there.
How to Get to the Zaanse Schans Zaandam
Public transportation is fantastic in the Netherlands, you really don’t need to rent a car. You can quickly get from city to city by bus or train. We took the train route.
To get to Zaanse Schans in Zaandam you’ll take the train from Amsterdam’s Central Station heading toward Zaandijk – Zaanse Schans. As mentioned, Zaandam is only a 17-minute ride away. Once you arrive in Zaandam, Zaanse Schans is another 15-minute walk from the train station.
If you’d rather take the bus from Central Station, you can book those tickets here. You’d be buying an all-day pass so you can enjoy the Zaanse at your leisure. You can also hop on/hop off in different destinations between both cities. The buses run every 15 minutes in both directions.
If you’d like to make a stop on the way to the Zaanse Schans or on the way back to Amsterdam, you can see the coolest hotel in Zaandam called Inntel Hotels Amsterdam-Zaandam. If anything it makes for a unique photo opportunity!
We were actually going to book a room there one year but weren’t able to make it happen. We also didn’t have the chance to stop, but it’s still on my list to visit this crazy-looking hotel. If you’re interested in staying (it has great reviews), check availability here.
Photo by Teodor Savin from Pexels
Things to Do in the Zaanse Schans
You don’t need more than a half-day in the Zaanse Schans, and if you’re not planning on doing any of the tours, then a few hours should suffice. I think we spent 3 hours tops and were able to explore the whole area at our pace.
VISIT THE HISTORIC WINDMILLS | You’ll find multiple working windmills in the Zaanse Schans where they make anything from oil to spices. There used to be many more along the river, but now most of the ones that remain are alive and well and open to visitors. Some have turned into shops, others have decks that can be climbed up to see the city from above.
LEARN HOW THINGS ARE MADE | You can visit the clog workshop to see how they make the traditional Dutch shoes and learn more about their history. Admission is free. You can also buy some clogs as souvenirs or just sit in one as I did.
Other things you can learn and do:
- See the cheesemakers at the cheese farm. Of course, you can sample!
- See how chocolate is made the traditional Dutch way in the CacaoLab.
- Visit a liquor distillery and learn all about the tradition of distilling alcohol.
- Plus, so much more.
DO SOME SHOPPING | They have plenty of shops to choose from in the Zaanse Schans. Many of them offering handcrafted goodies. Besides the clog store, some of the windmills have unique shops. There’s also an antique store, a craft center, a soap factory, souvenirs, and several food options.
TAKE ALL THE PHOTOS | My favorite thing to do!! As I mentioned, we spent hours just walking around, taking it all in, and photographing whatever stood out to us. It was a nice escape from the busy canals of Amsterdam.
Tours Worth Checking Out
Sightseeing tour | If you’re looking for something a little more structured, consider a guided walking tour. The guide will pick you up from the train station while giving you the history of the Zaanse. You’ll visit some of the stops mentioned above with an expert. Check availability here.
Holland by electric scooter | Enjoy the Dutch countryside by scooter! Visit the Zaanse Schans and make stops along the way. You’ll be given a road map with 5 different routes and top places to visit. A different way to explore. Click here for the latest prices.
Amsterdam to Zaanse tour | If you’d rather have transport from Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans, this tour offers just that plus a guided tour of the area. One of the most popular options and only 3.5 hours long. Buy tickets here.
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