For my 30th birthday, my boyfriend offered me the perfect gift: a trip to Amsterdam and tickets to a U2 concert! And since it was our second time in the city, we figured we would spend the time exploring other places outside the Dutch capital, such as a day trip to Zaanse Schans the Windmills Village.
I have to admit that before this trip, I had no idea about what else could be seen and visited in The Netherlands apart from well Amsterdam, windmills, the tulip fields in April and of course, The Hague.
Read all about planning the best tulip field visit!
After doing a little bit of research (you know, the usual ask a friend, ask a colleague, search on Pinterest kind of thing), I ended up with a plan. A very good plan.
My boyfriend was terrified and mortified he will have to walk the 20 – 30 km per day I usually do on city breaks, but he went along with it. After all, it was my birthday, right?
The only thing complaining every now and then, was his walking app, alerting him that he has broken yet another record!
With that in mind, we set out for a day trip to Zaanse Schans on a lovely Summer morning.
Zaanse Schans day trip – getting from Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans
Getting from Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans by train
Getting from Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans could not be easier and it takes only 4 train stops and less than 20 minutes, making it the perfect way of spending half of the day outside of Amsterdam.
You just need to go to Amsterdam Centraal and take the first train passing through Zaandijk – Zaanse Schans, where you will need to exit the train. More about the timetable and route for the train from Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans here.
Make sure to buy a ticket from the train station in Amsterdam (or online from the above link), it will cost you 4,2 EUR one – way (or 3.3 EUR online, worth buying it online for the cheaper version), and don’t forget to validate it before getting on the train.
Getting from Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans by bus
Of course, you always have the option of taking the bus and seeing different scenery.
Your option would be to take the 391 bus, also called the Industrial Heritage line. Apart from getting you from Amsterdam to Zaansche Schans, your final destination, the bus will also give the chance to visit NDSM Wharf and Zaandam Centre (you have surely seen the colorful one of a kind buildings that Zaandam is famous for).
For more information on the 391 bus timetable, prices and route, check out this pdf.
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What to do in a Zaanse Schans day trip, make the best out of the Windmill Village
Ok, so you took the train, got off at the right station, asked the nice guy in the coffee shop how to find the windmills at Zaanse Schans and you are on your way to …well…this small Paradise.
The first thing that stroke me since I step foot on the main street leading to the windmills of Zaanse Schans was the smell. Yes, you read it right, the smell!
Oh, what a wonderful smell that was!
This is one of the few times when I wished cameras could record also the smell of a place.
In this little fairy tale city, the air was filled with chocolate dust!
I felt like opening my mouth wide and take all the air in, without risking of gaining any weight!
And I really did it, forgot I was actually turning 30 not 13, even encouraging my boyfriend to do the same!
Visit CacaoLab at Zaans Gedaan
And now to answer the question you are asking yourself: where did the smell come from?
Well, as you might know, The Netherlands used to be a great (the greatest for a period) colonial power in the world, thus bringing large amounts of spices on water from different distant places such as Indonesia. You’ve guessed it, in Zaanse Schans you will find a chocolate and cocoa factory and a chocolate museum.
Unfortunately, when we got there, the museum was closed but still got to see the demonstrations people make in all the small shops in the windmill village, but maybe you will be luckier than us and get to see the real deal 🙂
But if you are lucky, you can book a tour at CocoaLab which is located on the Zaan, between the mills. Here is where cocoa beans have been grounded and chocolate has been made for centuries.
Sit down and sip a cup of hot chocolate!
I have to admit I almost missed this, choosing to drink a glass of prosecco instead, but luckily someone else was smarter and made me try the cocoa. And boy I’m happy I did it!
Never have I tasted something similar, so silky, so dense, with such an intense taste! Make sure to try it!
Drink your chocolate and walk around on the small streets between the waters, admire the view, the flowers in bloom so beautifully colored, the old windmills (you can even visit some of them, free of charge, get to see how people used to live in the 18th century and what the windmills were used for).
Visit an old windmill on the inside
How many times would one get the chance to visit an old windmill? Well, in the Netherlands, and especially in Zaanse Schans this is a must and why most of the people come here.
In the small windmill village, you will find the last paint mill in the world, and you could visit it on the inside, and let yourself immersed in Dutch history.
Dutch cheese and clog museum
Make sure not to miss the cheese museum, having a chance to taste all sort of cheese variety, the clog workshop where you will have a tough job choosing between hundreds of types and colors of clogs, the bakery museum, and the fisherman’s cottage.
Zaanse Schans Opening Hours
Before planning a day in Zaanse Schans, the windmill village, you might want to check out the timetables for all the museums, cafes and restaurants, and you can do that by accessing this link.
What stroke me the most about windmills village?
Apart from the beauty of the houses? Yes, they are just stunning, straight out of a story.
I must admit that after this trip into the countryside of the Netherlands, I fell in love with hydrangeas and wish Romania has a chillier climate so I could have some of my own.
I guess you got my point 😀
But the thing that stroke me the most was the moving bridge. I had never before seen something similar! How traffic stopped for the bridge to open like a gate and the ship to pass through it. Amazing!
So here it is, my perfect Amsterdam day trip at Zaanse Schans, the Windmill village with Chocolate flavor.
What have I missed? What should I have done more? Hit comment below and let me know!