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Don’t leave the Netherlands without a glimpse of windmills! And that’s what we did, we researched to find a tour and squeeze it in to our 2 day Amsterdam Itinerary. And we are so glad we did it. We highly recommend a Zaanse Schans tour to the windmills village Amsterdam. In this post we are sharing all the things to do in Zaanse Schans day trip. 

Zaanse Schans Windmills village is located in the Zaandam area of the Netherlands. Distance is 16.5 kilometres one way.  You can reach Zaanse Schans in less than 30 minutes (drive).

And that’s why Zaanse Schans makes for an easy half day or full day tour from Amsterdam.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Visit Windmills Village Amsterdam in a Zaanse Schans Tour

Let’s take you to the Zaanse Schans before we talk tours. So,

The windmills village of Zaanse Schans is a beautiful tourist attraction in the Netherlands, not far away from the capital city. It is set up like an open air museum. 

The wind mills that you see in our pictures (and the ones you will eventually see on your day trip) are a Dutch cultural heritage symbol. They are vintage and historical, and completely functional to this day.

In our day tour, we also participated in a presentation that walked us through how the windmills operated, the oil seeds it used and the actual functioning.

We got to walk a steep staircase leading to the top deck of the windmills, isn’t it cool? The views from up there were amazing, you can capture the entire village from there.

Beautiful Zaanse Schans

The green wooden houses in the Zaanse Schans Village were also brought here to create a feel of a typical Dutch countryside.

Other then the windmills you will find museums, souvenir stores, clog factory and a Gouda cheese making workshop inside the village. There are enough attractions to keep you busy for half a day. (More on the attractions below)

Why we recommend tours?

We decided to book a Zaanse Schans tour, because it was a convenient and easy way to go. No parking fees (which is 10 euros), gas or direction hassle.

If you are only visiting the windmill village in Amsterdam or just visiting Amsterdam for a day or two, why bother renting a car. Most of the attractions in Amsterdam can be done via hop on and hop off tours or walking if you are staying at the city centre.

Tour operators provide half day and full day tours.

Here are three tours that we recommend.

The half day Zaanse Schans tour worked for us and that’s what we booked. This allowed us to spend time 3 hours at the Zaanse Schans Village and then back to Amsterdam to continue our exploration in the city (total 3.50 hours tour). 

We were picked up from a meeting point near the Amsterdam Central Station (A’DAM lookout to be exact) and then transported to Zaandam.

We also visited a Dutch cheese farm on our way to Zaanse Schans. The farm also had a shop that sold local dairy products including cheese. At the Zaanse Schans, our guide and host informed us of the different attractions and museums that we should check out and were provide with our return timing.

We enjoyed this flexibility and information (and also learnt about the Dutch history). We explored the cheese factory and clog making workshop and then we were on our way making pit stops and taking pictures where we wanted.

Our highlight of the Zaanse Schans Tour was speaking to a windmills operator, who lived in them and he showed us around how they operate, the amount of oil consumed to keep them running and so on. Here is a half day tour to Zaanse Schans from Amsterdam

This full day tour to the windmills village includes Zaanse Schans, Volendam and Marken, along with an hour’s sightseeing canal cruise. Reviews of this tour are excellent as well.

You can see the historic windmills of Zaanse Schans on a coach tour from Amsterdam and learn about cheese making, wooden shoes or clog making, see the interior of a working windmill and more.

Time duration at the windmills village is 5.50 to 8 hours. Canal cruise takes place in Amsterdam and you can choose a date for the cruise separately. 

Book this full day sightseeing tour of Windmills in Amsterdam plus a canal cruise 

For travelers who want more flexibility in exploring the windmill villages without driving themselves, this hop on and hop off tour bus is perfect. This tour bus will pick up and drop off at the windmills village locations close to Amsterdam. This route includes Zaanse Schans, Edam, Volendam, and Marken.

Buses hop on and off every 45 minutes. If you do not hop off, the total route takes a total of 2 hours. There are total of 6 stops and includes audio guides and free guided tour at the Jacobs Hoeve cheese farm. 

Zaanse Schans Tour Windmills Village Amsterdam

The bus tour starts at THIS IS HOLLAND – the building is opposite Amsterdam Centraal Station on the banks of the IJ River. You can take the free ferry from Central Station to the opposite side to reach THIS IS HOLLAND and redeem your voucher at the check-in desk located on the ground floor.

The front desk opens at 09:00 am. To make the most of your trip, start the bus early. 

Book a hop on and hop off tour of Windmills Village Amsterdam. 

As soon as you enter the windmills village Amsterdam site, you will be welcomed by gorgeous greenery all around, including green houses and vintage windmills.

This site was once home to thousands of windmills and they were lined by the banks of the Zaan River. Zaan River (in the Zaandam neighbourhood) was a flourishing trade hub.

Today at the Zaanse Schans site, you will see 13 windmills scattered all across the complex. Of the 13 existing windmills, only 6 are in working condition.

These working windmills have unique ways of operation. Some run on mustard, oil and one is a saw mill and the oldest is a dye mill.

If you are not taking a Zaanse Schans tour, you will have to pay 3 euros for each windmill visit. As part of the tour, you either pay a discounted entry fee or none.

Zaanse Schans Village Amsterdam

In each of the working windmill, you can see the mechanics of the windmill operation, which is located at the base (and occupies the whole floor – almost). The windmill caretaker’s job is to ensure the ingredients that keep the windmill running is filled in the machine (aka its like the fuel).

You are allowed to climb atop to reach a small deck to get a good view of the Zaanse Schans site from above.

The 6 working windmills are as follows – Indie Welvren Spice Warehouse (small windmills and makes mustard), Windmill De Zoeker (Oil windmill), De Bonte Hen (another oil windmill, which was recently rebuilt), De Kat (makes paint or dye and is the only one in the world), De Gekroonde Poelenburg (wind powered saw mill), Het Jonge Schaanp (saw mill).

Working Windmills

The windmill that we took an inside tour of was the Windmill de Zoker – the one that converts linseed and rapeseed to vegetable oil.

The prettiest one (in terms of taking photos and the background scenery), just our opinion, was the Het Jonge Schaanp.

The windmills are technically open everyday and operating at all hours, but check their schedule for a visit. Entry is 3 euros for each windmill.

At the entrance of the Zaanse Schans site, there is a gift shop and a huge pair of brightly painted wooden clogs. Inside the shop, there is a clog making factory.

Clogs are wooden shoes that are used in various parts of the world, with different prints and cultural designs.

In the Netherlands, Dutch clogs are a part of their heritage. They have been wearing wooden shoes, also called “Klompen” (aka clogs) since medieval times. Farmers used them as safety shoes and are particular useful while walking on swampy land.

Included in our Zannse Schans tour was a clog making workshop at the factory. There are clog making demonstrations conducted throughout the day.

At the workshop, a clog making demonstration included a start to finish steps of what goes into creating these clogs and the time it takes.  In the past, clogs were made by hand, but today machines are used to manufacture clogs. Not all types of wood are used to make these shoes. Originally willow or poplar wood were extensively used to make clogs.

Clog Factory

The presentation was 15 minutes long and the wonderful thing of the clog factory were the colorful clogs on the walls and pillars. There are a few unique clogs that were on display, each holding a historical value.

There are souvenirs available for purchase as well. You can get a clog keychain for 1.50 euros to actual wearable clogs with designs, priced up to 200 euros. I found one with Canada LOVE!

The clog factory is open everyday from 08:30 am to 5:00 pm. Entry is free.

The cheese was delicious! LOVED it. When we see a visit to a cheese farm/factory included as part of a day tour, we take it!

The set up of the cheese farm was very antique-y. As if the time stood still. It literally take you to the 17th century, where a lady in costume provided a demonstration of traditional Dutch cheese making techniques and gave us some samples to try out.

Cheese Farm Zaanse Schans

In the store area, the Gouda cheese samples were lined up beautifully for purchase. There were other food items for purchase too, in case you were hungry.

The Farm de Catherinenoeve is open everyday from 08:00 am to 06:00 pm.

You must have seen the Albert Heijn grocery store or discount card in the Netherlands. Zaanse Schans is home to the first ever Albert Heijn Grocery Store that was opened. 

Albert Heijn is now a museum with all the original interiors. You can also purchase items from the museum. 

Zaanse Schans tour

How to get to Zaanse Schans from Amsterdam? 

There are no entry fees for Zaanse Schans and they are technically open 24 hours. But specific highlights like the working windmills or clog factory demonstration have limited hours as mentioned above. 

We highly recommend adding Zaanse Schans to your trip to Netherlands and get a glimpse of the windmills village in Amsterdam.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.