Visit Amsterdam windmills
So, you’re in Amsterdam but you didn’t see any iconic Dutch windmills yet? There aren’t many windmills in Amsterdam besides the famous windmill brewery. Take a trip to the Zaanse Schans, the perfect day trip from Amsterdam where you can take a step back in time to see picturesque windmill after windmill in the Disneyland-like charming Zaanse Schans, and best of all these windmills are close to Amsterdam! And best of all, these are the famous windmills in Holland – the ones you’ve been hoping to see!
I lived in the Netherlands for eight years, and trust me, I’ve seen a lot of windmills in my day (if you want to read more about what my life was like, check out this post on what it is like to be an American in the Netherlands). The Zaanse Schans windmills are by far the most picturesque and are some of the best windmills in the Netherlands. Zaanse Schans is really an open air museum more than anything. You can pay to go in and tour some of the windmills, or you can just check out the windmills from the outside.
Yes, of course they make a great photo-op.
Located only 30-40 minutes outside of Amsterdam, the Zaanse Schans windmills are historic windmills on the River Zaan, in the city of Zaandam – the famous windmill town in the Netherlands. Sure it is a bit touristy, but its an unmissable part of Holland which is the perfect addition to your time in Amsterdam. Visiting is free, your only charge will be if you choose to tour a windmill.
Before reading, if you aren’t sure of the difference between Holland and the Netherlands yet, check this post!
Looking for more great things to do in the Netherlands? Check out these posts:
- How to see tulips in Holland
- 10 Amsterdam museums not to miss
- Amsterdam microbreweries all beer lovers need to visit
- How to spend a day in the Hague, Netherlands
- One day Rotterdam itinerary
- Explore the Dutch island of Texel
- Get dirty with wadlopen in the north of Holland
- What to do in Haarlem
Explore the windmills
You can explore about 10 of the windmills along the River Zaan, six of which are still in operation, each one creaking in the wind with ever turn of the sails. Get ready – this is the best place to see windmills in the Netherlands!
Windmills served an important role in Holland, with most of them used for pumping water behind dikes so the land could be used for farming. Didn’t you know, the west of the Netherlands is almost entirely land reclaimed from the sea? The mills at the Zaanse Schans village were used from everything from paint production to grinding spices. Windmills at Zaanse Schans are a great way to take a step back into the past to get a glimpse into how the Dutch used to live and get by.
If you’re looking to get more of a taste of how Dutchies used to live, check out the nearby fishing village of Marken.
Asking yourself, how do Dutch windmills work? Check out this post for all the answers!
Visit an original Albert Heijn
Any super market historians out there? No? K, I don’t think such a thing exists, but if you visit the Zaanse Schans you’ve got to see the original Albert Heijn. If you’ve spent any time in the Netherlands, chances are you’ve walked past one of the thousands of Albert Heijn grocery store chains, owned by the corporate Ahold. During your visit to the Zaanse Schans you can step inside the original Albert Heijn – and no, they won’t ask for your bonus kaart. Its cute, and it’ll make you appreciate Albert Heijn just a little bit more.
Do a little shopping
If you’re looking for the best place to pick up your touristy souvenirs, this is the place to do it. But, if I can make one humble recommendation.. BUY MUSTARD. Yes, it may sound extreme. But this will be the best mustard you will ever eat. I promise. And it is made in De Huisman windmill at the Zaanse Schans. You’ll thank me later 😉
How to get to the Zaanse Schans
You can leave from Amsterdam on a windmill tour but if you’re anything like me, you probably want to take public transport so you have as much flexibility as possible to stroll around, tour windmills and snap pictures of the area.
How to go to Zaanse Schans from Amsterdam:
Take the Rnet-bus 391 from Central Station which departs every 15 minutes and takes approximately 40 minutes to reach the Zaanse Schans.
Alternatively, take the train from Amsterdam Central Station to Zaandijk – Zaanse Schans (17 minutes), then walk an additional 15 minutes to reach the Zaanse Schans. Check www.ns.nl for times and prices.
During the summer months, the Zaanse Schans can be flooded with tourists, so set out early in the day to miss the rush.
Where to stay in Amsterdam
There are countless great places to stay in Amsterdam. Here are a few picks for each budget:
What to pack for Amsterdam
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Have you visited the Zaanse Schans? Let me know what you thought in the comments below about your experience at the famous windmills in Amsterdam.
Gabby is a native (Northern) Californian who spent the majority of her 20’s living the expat life in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, exploring Europe and beyond. 27 countries later, she’s relocated back to her home base in California where she explores her passions for the travel and the outdoors.