Transportation to Zaanse Schans Windmills by Train, Bus, or Day-Trip Tour from Amsterdam

Published on

by Henk Bekker

in Holland, N24, Netherlands

Getting to the working windmills at Zaanse Schans takes less than an hour by public transportation (train or bus) from Amsterdam.

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.

The classic Zaanse Schans Panorama of working windmills is seen when using train transportation 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 the exteriors of the largest collection of windmills near Amsterdam. (The Zaanse Schans Card includes admission to all museums and mills.) Access from Amsterdam is easy on fast public transportation (bus or train) or book guided tour bus trips.

Note: for most of 2024, bus 391 will depart from Noorderpark metro station and NOT Amsterdam Centraal. Furthermore, the bus service is now run by EBS and no longer Connexxion. Train tickets from Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans cost around €5 while the price of bus tickets is around €6.50 each way.

How to Get to Zaanse Schans by Public Transportation (Bus / Train) from Amsterdam

Zaanse Schans Windmills

The historic windmills of Zaanse Schans are not far from Amsterdam and can be reached from Amsterdam Centraal (central train station) by bus or train within around 45 minutes. Many options and routings are available but few would regret sticking to one of the following standard options:

  • Train from Amsterdam Centraal (or Sloterdijk) station to Zaandijk Zaanse Schans station followed by a pleasant 15-minute walk.
  • Bus 391 from Amsterdam Noorderpark Metro station to Zaanse Schans bus stop directly at the windmills. (Bus 391 is likely to depart again from Amsterdam Centraal station from late in 2024.)
  • Many day-trip bus tours are also available from Amsterdam — a Zaanse Schans-only bus tour is usually around three hours while longer tours including further sights such as Volendam, Edam, and Monnickendam (or Keukenhof in season) may add more value.

The useful 9292 travel app may list many further options but frankly, no one wants to shave three minutes off a journey by adding a further bus transfer and risk being stranded in all weather at a lonely bus stop.

Many stations and stops have similar names. The closest train station to the windmills is “Zaandijk Zaanse Schans” while the bus stop right in front of the windmills is “Zaandam Zaanse Schans”.


How to Pay and Buy Tickets for Public Transportation in Amsterdam

Amsterdam OV-Chip Card Reader

Buying tickets and paying for public transportation in Amsterdam and the Netherlands have the habit of continuously becoming easier and simultaneously more complicated for foreign visitors or occasional users. Paying cash or buying a ticket from the driver is rarely possible.

Whatever the payment or ticket type, it is always necessary to check in at the beginning of journeys (one beep) and check out at the end (two beeps). Scanners are available at station entrances or platforms and on trams or buses. Each traveler must use their own card or ticket — sharing during the same journey is not possible.

The following are the standard payment methods currently in use on public transportation:

  • OV-Pay — increasingly the payment method of choice: use a contactless credit or debit card. All fares for the day are accumulated and charged once per day. Most foreign cards issued by Maestro, V pay, Mastercard, or Visa work, as do Apple Pay or Google Wallet.
  • OV-Chipcard — buy this smart card (€7.50) that may be loaded with credit for re-use. A single-use OV-chipcard adds around €1.50 to the ticket price. The OV-chipcard will be discontinued in 2025.
  • Using a standard travel day pass or multi-day tickets. From Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans the Amsterdam & Regional Transportation Ticket is valid on trains and buses (but not the GVB City Day Ticket), which makes it easy to use the train to Zaanse Schans and return by bus if preferred.
  • Mobile phone tickets, e.g. Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans by train, are easy to buy and use but add a small surcharge.

EBS Bus R-Net Line 391 from Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans

Connexxion Bus 391 in Zaanse Schans

Buses are often the easiest way to reach Zaanse Schans from Amsterdam. EBS R-Net Line 391 connects Amsterdam four times per hour in 40 minutes with Zaanse Schans, which is the final stop and is directly in front of the windmills area.

However, for much of 2024, bus 391 will not depart as usual from the convenient stop at Amsterdam Centraal station. Until the completion of public works — probably by October 2024 — bus 391 departs from Amsterdam Noorderpark metro station (one stop north of Centraal).

The Amsterdam & Regional Transportation Ticket (but not the GVB City Day Ticket) is valid on bus 391. If not using OV-Pay or an OV-chipkaart, the BTM ticket is a good option. It is €6.50 and valid for 90 minutes on all Amsterdam metros, trams, and buses (including EBS and Connexxion). It is NOT available from the driver but is easily bought at vending machines (any metro station or larger tram stops). It is activated only on check-in so buy a ticket for the return at the same time.

A further option is the regional day ticket (Dagkaart Zaanstreek-Waterland) for €12.50, which is valid all day in EBS in the Zaan region (including Zaandam, Edam, Vollendam, Monnickendam, and Marken). It may be used on EBS buses to and from Amsterdam but not on other buses, trams, or metros in the city. This day ticket is available from the bus driver.

In summer, and during some vacations, a direct bus 891 used to operate from Amsterdam station and Zaanse Schans in 20 minutes — it is unclear if this service will run in 2024.

By Train from Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans Windmills

Many stations and stops have similar names. The closest train station to the windmills is "Zaandijk Zaanse Schans" while the bus stop right in front of the windmills is "Zaandam Zaanse Schans".

Trains from Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans are slightly faster but require a 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, Zaandijk” (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 mobile phone ticket for the ride from Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans station (or return) is also available, which cuts out the need for an OV-Chipkaart.

Return to Amsterdam via Zaandam Station

The spectacular Zaandam Hotel is very close to Zaandam train station and interesting to see. Prices are quite reasonable too with many different size rooms.

A further option, which 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

Zaanse Schans day trippers

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.

Tours are more frequent in summer while the classic combination with Keukenhof is only available for around two months each spring.


Zaanse Schans Visitors Information: Opening Hours and Tickets

Zaanse Schans Panorama view of windmills

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 €22 per site with the mills generally €5 each and the larger museums a pricy €15 to €22. The Zaanse Schans Card gives access to most of the pay sites in the area for a day and is good value at €30.

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 Windmills and Photographers

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.

Henk Bekker in armor

About the author:

Henk Bekker

Henk Bekker is a freelance travel writer with over 20 years of experience writing online. He is particularly interested in history, art, and culture. He has lived most of his adult life in Germany, Switzerland, and Denmark. In addition to, he also owns a travel website on the Lake Geneva region of Switzerland and maintains statistical websites on car sales and classic car auction prices. Henk holds an MBA from Edinburgh Business School and an MSc in Development Finance from the University of London.