My trip to Holland was slowly nearing its end and so I made one last stop before spending the rest of the afternoon and evening in Amsterdam. I had another dear friend who had also visited Holland before my trip and she had recommended this really cute windmill village called Zaanse Schans. This quaint neighborhood has a collection of well-preserved historic windmills and houses and each of the windmills even have names!
Amsterdam Centraal to Zaanse Schans
(1 transfer at Amsterdam Sloterdijk)
Travel Time: 28 minutes
Once you get off the train, you still have to walk about 15 minutes and cross over the bridge that brings you to the windmill village. The village itself is quite small so I think it’s fine to just do a half-day trip. I like how there are a vast variety of windmills – they’re surprisingly well-preserved and in authentic condition and functioning! Even though they’re from the 17th and 18th century! The majority of the windmills are oilmills and sawmills but they have a dyemill and mustardmill hidden amongst them. I also love that they all have names because it just gives them so much character.
You can also see a reproduction of Albert Hejn’s first grocery store. It’s a small museum called Museumwinkel Albert Heijn and it’s a rebuilt demonstration of what the first grocery store looked like and the history of the largest Dutch supermarket chain.
I had a great time walking around; you can see original façades of streets, bridges, original renovated wooden houses with antique frontages and shops. You can also pay €4 to go up a windmill.
There’s a cheese farm called Catherina Hoeve where you can get a cheese tasting and also view the age-old craft of cheese-making. Cheese-making is an old Dutch guild and they have a cheese-making demonstration where the staff are dressed in traditional Dutch costumes and teach you about Gouda and goat and herb cheeses. And don’t worry, it’s free admission. They also have a cheese store where you can taste some of the cheeses before purchasing.
I also recommend getting some local apple pie – there’s a small shop by the windmill that sells a slice for €4. It’s no Winkel 43 but it’s still pretty good.
All in all, it really is a nice detour from the city center so if you have a few hours to kill, it’s a great place to unwind and take a walk. It’s fairly touristy now but it’s never so crowded that you feel frustrated from the congestion of people (like Keukenhof) so it’s a relaxing way to enjoy the morning/afternoon.