The ultimate guide to Zaanse Schans: visiting the windmills of Holland

Thinking of a day trip to Zaanse Schans? There’s plenty to do here!

In Zaanse Schans, you can experience what life was like back in the 18th and 19th centuries — full of life, windmills, and shops. We all know you’ve come for the windmills though. 😉

When you go to Zaanse Schans, you’ll be greeted by 11 different windmills, and people’s beautiful little Dutch houses (yup, people still live there).

You’ll also find lots of little shops, a bakery, cafes, a cheese factory, souvenir shops, and a clog warehouse.

As a result, tourists flock to the area (so, be aware — it gets busy).

photo-of-windmills-at-zaanse-schans
Traditional dutch windmills in the quaint village of Zaanse Schans, the Netherlands. Image: PhillipMinnis/Depositphotos

What can I do in Zaanse Schans?

We’ve briefly spoken about what you’ll find in Zaanse Schans, but I’ll go into more detail now. Or you could just go straight there and get yourself a tour.

The windmills at Zaanse Schans

There are 11 different windmills that you can explore in Zaanse Schans. Here’s a brief outline of what they all are:

  • De Huisman: A spice warehouse where you can taste different spices
  • De Gekroonde Poelenburg: A centuries-old wood saw mill
  • De Kat: A paint mill where you can watch demonstrations
  • De Zoeker: An oil, paint and cocoa mill
  • Het Jonge Schaap: A wood sawmill replica
  • De Bonte Hen: An oil mill, which has been running since 1693!
  • De Os: A windmill that was later transformed into a diesel-powered mill
  • Het Klaverblad: A small workshop mill
  • De Bleeke Dood: The oldest smock mill in the Netherlands. It was used to mill flour
  • De Ooievaar: An old oil mill that was moved to the Zaan area
  • Mini-mills on the Schans: Miniature windmills that were used to pump water from the polder

Your Instagram is going to love you!

photo-of-windmills-at-zaanse-schans-village
Take a walk around the windmills in Zaanse Schans village. Image: MountainSeal/Depositphotos

The museums at Zaanse Schans

Zaans Museum

When you first arrive in Zaanse Schans you’ll notice a large museum. This is the Zaans Museum, which outlines the history of the area, the windmills and trade.

It’s a very interactive and modern museum, helping you to truly enjoy learning about the area — and then you can go out and see it for yourself.

You can even operate the chocolate machine in the museum. (Now we’re talking!)

The Zaanse Time Museum 

This museum houses many different Dutch timepieces, such as the clocks you’ll be able to hear chiming on the hour every hour.

Here you’ll learn about Dutch clockwork history from the 16th century. There are plenty of different things to see, as well as learning about their scientific and design history.

The Albert Heijn Museum Shop

It’s hard to believe (we know), but Albert Heijn started out as a single, small shop. Albert Heijn took over the shop from his parents in 1887, when he was just 21 years old. It was nothing like it is today.

In this museum, you can see the original shop, and stock that was around at the time for yourself. It’s really interesting to see how supermarkets have evolved from that time.

Jisper House

This old fisherman’s cottage in the village of Jisp is as it would have been back in the 1850s. Here you can explore the cute little cottage and even dress up in traditional local costume and have your photo taken — selfies at the ready!

Bakery Museum de Gecroonde Duyvekater

This original bakery has been around since 1658 (yep, wow!) It’s still in use today, and you can buy traditional Dutch baked goods.

You can taste Duivekater, a famous sweet bread from Zaanse and other originals, as well as more modern baked goods.

If you want an excuse to chow down on some even more delicious Dutch snacks, then here’s your chance. 😉

photo-of-boat-on-water-and-houses-in-zaanse-schans
Admire the landscape by boat. Image: MountainSeal/Depositphotos

Here are a few ways you can see Zaanse Schans

Cycling at Zaanse Schans

Cycling at Zaanse Schans is possible (we’re in the Netherlands after all), so it’s good news if you’re wanting to take your omafiets for a spin. No bike? No worries! You can rent bicycles at Zaanse Schans if you’re bike-less.

There are bike tours and different cycling routes you can take throughout the area, so it’s the perfect place to go on a sunny day.

In the height of summer, it gets really busy along these routes though, so beware of grandmas zooming down the paths on their e-bikes.

Going for a walk at Zaanse Schans

Just looking for somewhere nice to go for a walk? Well, this is the perfect place!

At Zaanse Schans there are plenty of walking routes. Strolling around and exploring most of the windmill area is completely free — ideal for getting those all-important Insta-worthy shots.

There are also theatrical walks if you’re looking for something a bit different. A guide in Zaan costume will show you around her area, where you will learn all about the history, food, and culture.

They may even let you in on some of the 1850s gossip. And thankfully, these tours are also available in English if your Dutch isn’t up to scratch.

Other things to do at Zaanse Schans

There are more things to do!? Yup.

There are plenty of typical Dutch shops and handicrafts, gift shops, Dutch delicacies and you can even take a boat trip from there.

Have you ever been to Zaanse Schans? Tell us in the comments below! 

Feature Image: DmitryRukhlenko/Depositphotos
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in February 2019, and was fully updated in December 2021 for your reading pleasure.

Emma Brown
A familiar face at DutchRevew. Emma arrived in Holland in 2016 for a few weeks, fell in love with the place and never left. Here she rekindled her love of writing and travelling. Now you'll find her eating stroopwafels in the DutchReview office since 2017.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Thank you for sharing! Zaanse Schans sounds so lovely. I was wondering which windmills you would recommend for someone who is looking to visit only one or two? I’m eyeing De Bleeke Dood and De Huisman.

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