Cheap public transportation by bus or train and a variety of bus tours make the historic working windmills at Zaanse Schans a popular day-trip destination from Amsterdam
Zaanse Schans is a very popular day-trip destination from Amsterdam. The main attractions here are the historic, working windmills but further historic buildings organized like a living open-air museum, several museums, restaurants, demonstration factories, and souvenir shops add to the touristic appeal. Although parts are very commercial and touristy, it is still a fun trip with no admission tickets required to visit the area and exteriors of the largest collection of windmills near Amsterdam. Access from Amsterdam is easy on fast public transportation (bus or train), as well as on numerous tour bus trips.
Public Transportation (Bus& / Train) to Zaanse Schans in Holland
The historic windmills of Zaanse Schans can be reached from Amsterdam Centraal (central train station) by bus or train within around 45 minutes. The bus is probably the easiest option but the train is also easy to use (and slightly cheaper) but requires more walking.
Many day-trip bus tours are also available from Amsterdam with many further combination options possible to other sights in Holland.
Connexxion Bus 391 from Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans
Buses are the easiest way to reach Zaanse Schans from Amsterdam. Connexxion Bus (R-Net Line 391) connects Amsterdam four times per hour in 40 minutes with Zaanse Schans the final stop. Bus 391 is also sometimes referred to as the Industrial Heritage Line and departs from platform L (and from nearby Prins Hemdrikkade) at Amsterdam Central Station. A single ticket is €6.50 but a better deal is the day ticket (Dagkaart Zaanstreek) for €11.50 — available online as a mobile phone ticket and valid all day on Connexxion buses in the Zaan region, including buses to and from Amsterdam. Tickets are available from the driver while the Amsterdam & Regional Transportation Ticket and the OV-Chipkaart are also accepted (but not the GVB City Day Ticket).
In summer, and during some vacations, the direct bus 891 connects Amsterdam station and Zaanse Schans in 20 minutes.
By Train from Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans Windmills
Trains from Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans are slightly faster but require a slightly longer walk at the destination, which is not a bad option as visitors enjoy a beautiful panoramic view of the windmills from the modern road bridge across the river.
From Amsterdam Centraal, use the sprinter train in the direction of Uitgeest and get off at “Zaanse Schans, Zaandam” (usually the fourth stop after Amsterdam Sloterdijk, Zaandam, and Koog aan de Zaan). The train takes only around 18 minutes (up to four times per hour) but it is a further ten-minute walk from the station to the windmills. The train ticket is around €5 one-way — the Amsterdam & Regional Transportation Ticket and the OV-Chipkaart are also accepted (but not the GVB City Day Ticket).
A further option that works better on the return to Amsterdam and when using the Amsterdam & Regional Transportation Ticket or an OV-Chipkaart, is to check the bus schedule in front of “De Bleeke Dood” windmill — the first windmill seen when walking from the station. Bus 67 is infrequent but if the waiting time is short, take it to Zaandam station to see the interesting Zaandam hotel and then continue by very frequent train to Amsterdam. The small Czar Peter House is also within walking distance from Zaandam station but far from Zaanse Schans.
Day-Trip Bus Tours to Zaanse Schans
Numerous tour bus excursion trips to Zaanse Schans are available from Amsterdam and as the panoramic and photogenic views are free, many further tour buses stop here too. Day-trip tours usually include admission to a windmill or workshop show such as cheese tastings or wooden shoes.
Half-day trips from Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans are usually around 3.5 hours but many tours include further sites. The classic Zaanse Schans, Volendam, and Marken combination tours are hardly more expensive while adding the cheese town Edam is also popular. Add Giethoorn for a full-day trip from Amsterdam.
Zaanse Schans Visitors Information: Opening Hours and Tickets
Zaanse Schans is laid out like a real town and although it resembles an open-air museum, the complex itself is not really a museum in itself. Like a normal town, admission to most of the site is completely free.
The museums and mills at Zaanse Schans set their own opening times and days. Admission fees range from €2 to €12 per site with the mills generally €5 each and the larger museums a pricy €12.50. The Zaanse Schans Card gives access to most of the pay sites in the area for a day.
Many sights at Zaanse Schans are closed on weekdays during winter and on Mondays throughout the year. (Much of the Netherlands is closed on Monday mornings.)
During summer, opening times are generally longer with most sites open during weekdays too especially during school holidays. The best days to see the windmills turning are Saturdays.
Restaurants at Zaanse Schans near Amsterdam, Holland
Zaanse Schans has two interesting restaurants in seventeenth-century buildings. The Restaurant De Hoop op d’Swarte Walvis (literally, hoping for the black whale) serves gourmet food in a rather elegant, formal setting.
In contrast, Restaurant De Kraai (the crow) is informal and family-friendly. De Kraai serves smaller meals and snacks in an Old Dutch setting. Always popular are the huge pancakes (pannenkoeken) – these crepes are at least 12″ (30 cm) in diameter and served with sweet or salty toppings.
Further restaurants are available in the modern part of the town (railway station side of the river). A small Spar supermarket at the road crossing on the western side of the bridge is great for picnic supplies.
Zaanse Schans is a very popular day-trip destination from Amsterdam, as is Kinderdijk with 19 working windmills near Rotterdam. This is not surprising, as historic windmills are with flower bulb fields for many foreign travelers probably the most emblematic rural Dutch scene. If traveling to Holland during spring, do visit Keukenhof, the most fantastic flower park planted annually near Lisse and a wonderful day-trip destination from Amsterdam.
See also Working Windmills at Zaanse Schans in North Holland for more information on the windmills at Zaanse Schans.