By SmartWalk
By SmartWalk

7 places to visit on a trip to Zaanse Schans

Zaanse Schans is, of course, a much-visited tourist attraction. Around 2 million tourists pass through the open-air museum every year. It is part of the Zaanse heritage, so you can walk around it and see much of it for free. However, many people don't know that much of the Zaanse Schans was just placed there, and has not been there since the Middle Ages. So most of the mills, Zaanse houses and crafts were moved there later, just after World War II, in order to preserve the Zaanse heritage. Nevertheless, it is a nice representation of old Dutch culture in the Zaan region. 

Table of contents

How do you travel to the Zaanse Schans?

You can get to Zaanse Schans in a number of ways. Most people go by public transport because of limited parking space. 

From Zaanse Schans station to Zaanse Schans
Use the app 9292 or the NS app, this app shows all times of all public transport in the Netherlands. Set your departure point and set the end point to train stop Station Zaanse Schans. From here, it’s a short 15-minute walk to Zaanse schans. If you bought a day ticket, make sure you scan your ticket before boarding the train and after leaving the train station.

By car to the Zaanse schans
You can also get to the ramp by car or bike. By car, you need to buy a parking ticket for the whole day, which costs €11.00 / €15.00.

What to do at Zaanse Schans?

What the Zaanse Schans is best known for is the view of the windmills and these are certainly worth a visit to Zaanse Schans. When you think of the Netherlands, you think of this view. Of course, the typical green houses cannot be missed either. What’s special about the Zaanse Schans is that people also just live in some of the houses. You can see it from a small distance, sometimes you even see them sitting in the garden reading or BBQing. It is then also stated that these people are not to be disturbed by tourists and not to walk in their streets. Even so, it is a very funny sight to see. The Zaanse Schans is an open-air museum so everything can be visited on foot. 

clog factory Zaanse Schans

1. Visit the Clog Factory

One of the first crafts you come across is the clog factory. Not only do they sell real Dutch clogs here, but there are also clog-making workshops every day in high season. Unfortunately, modern Dutch people no longer walk on clogs as much as they used to. Nevertheless, clogs are still worn in some professions. Farmers, for example, but strangely enough also asphalt workers. They wear clogs because this conducts heat very badly and does not melt to the asphalt. If you are here in the high season, I would definitely take a look inside to see if you can follow the clog-making process!

chocolate milk Zaanse Schans

2. Get a delicious authentic chocolate milk at Blik op de Zaan

Blik op de Zaan can be found next to the windmills on the ramp. Here, they make traditional chocolate milk with cocoa from the factory across the river. This place has been processing cocoa for more than 200 years, one of the Zaan region’s most important exports, they told inside. If you also pass through some parts of Zaandijk, the neighbouring village, it sometimes smells like cocoa too! You can not only get chocolate milk here, but also make your own, how fun is that! If you are a chocolate lover I would definitely go in here.

mill young sheep

3. Look inside Mill the Young Sheep

There are lots of mills to visit on the Zaanse Schans and I would definitely recommend going inside all of them, but one of my favourites is the sawmill ‘Het Jonge Schaap’. This mill is still in operation, so you can go inside to see how it works. You do have to buy a ticket to go inside, which is around €6.00. If you look outside next to the mill you will see all the tree stumps lying around, they soak them there and then they remove the bark from the trees.

windmill Zaanse schans

Volunteers from the mill are then actually at work here, showing the process. Then, by turning the sails, the mill saws the barkless tree trunk into planks. It is incredibly interesting to see and I would definitely recommend this mill.

distillery Zaanse schans

4. Visit distillery-tasting room the Two-headed Phoenix

If you like a good drink during your visit to Zaanse Schans, I would definitely stop by the distillery tasting room the Tweekoppige Phoenix. At this tasting room, they showcase the old distilling craft. They consist of two parts, the tasting room/liquor store and the distillery. At the distillery, they make all kinds of distillates, liquorettes and liqueurs, even a Zaanse Whisky. You can enter here to have a nice tasting of three liqueurs while they tell you about the distilling process. The people who work here are super enthusiastic and happy to explain everything about the drinks you are tasting.

cheese factory Zaanse Schans

5. A taste at the Catharina Hoeve

Cheese, cheese and more cheese! Of course, the cheese farm on the ramp cannot be missed. The Catharina Hoeve is a cheese farm owned by Henri Willig. This farm is a replica of an authentic farm from Oostzaan, a village 10 minutes away from the Zaanse Schans. When you enter the farm, you are first surprised with a recreation of working and living in a cheese farm. Then you emerge into cheese heaven. Every kind you can think of from goat’s cheese to herb cheese it’s all there. And the best part, you can taste almost everything! I got a delicious piece of cumin cheese here, my favourite of course. There are also demonstrations of how they make cheese, that technique is still used on Henri Willig’s farms.

Bakery museum Zaanse Schans

6. Bakery Museum In de Gecroonde Duyvekater

I think this museum is one of my favourite because it is filled with delicacies. It is not big, but it does not need to be, as it is filled to the brim with old Dutch baked goods and sweets. Also on display at the museum is an authentic bread oven, in which they bake duivekater loaves. This is a well-known Zaans sweet bread, from which the museum’s name also comes. You can also buy this duivekater bread here. What a lovely stopover to make on your visit to Zaanse Schans!

Soap factory Zaanse Schans

7. Surprise your nose at the Soap Factory

This shop is not a museum but it does represent an old craft that was in the Zaan region. Namely, a soap-making factory. These soap makers actually make the soaps themselves and they consist of three different lines, each with a different scent: the Enjoyer, the Dreamer and the Thinker. The soaps are all made with (natural) cocoa butter as a base, so they are 100% vegan. Apart from the soaps, they also sell all kinds of natural candles, face masks and other cosmetics. I got a delicious Body Butter here made from cocoa butter and mango butter. 

Want more stories about the interesting locations, old crafts and impressive windmills? Then take a look at the SmartWalk Zaanse Schans or the SmartWalk Zaanse Schans & Zaandijk. This walking tour with your smartphone will lead you past all these fun locations and more, giving you interesting information, questions and best of all, you can explore at your own pace!