A hidden gem somewhere outside Amsterdam
When the Lilly Likes team first started exploring Amsterdam, we didn’t think about all those lovely sights and sounds that go on outside of the city proper. The tulip fields, for example, make a great opportunity for a day trip. Whether it be out as a couple enjoying a romantic trip on a tandem, or whether you just want to do some sight-seeing away from the hustle and bustle of all the Amsterdam districts; there is always more to see in the surrounding countryside.
One of these is the Zaanse Schans village, which can be found to the north and west of the city itself. If you were to head here, aim for the Zaandam area, which is sort of like a suburb of Amsterdam. We don’t spend much time out here in the sticks, so we are trying to get you there as safely as possible. We have it on good authority that you can catch a train out here from Centraal… and it is well worth the effort to do so. When you reach the Zandaam area you will be only a ten minute drive from the village.
What is the Zaanse Schans area of the Netherlands? It is the place where all the windmills are. Well… obviously not all the windmills. the Netherlands are fairly windmill-dense. It’s also a tourist district, designed to give you an accurate overview of old Holland. It’s an area that is strewn with museums, factories, and tourist attractions that the city simply doesn’t have space to house.
As usual, let’s sort out the traffic before we go any farther. We here at Lilly Likes Amsterdam go on all sorts of excursions, all over the city fair. We particularly like our coffeeshops, although we are no strangers to some of the best burger bars in town. We also like a good museum, the most interesting of which is probably the Rijksmuseum, although we think there is lots to be said for Red Light Secrets. What we actually do is provide you with the cheapest deals in town for all your Amsterdam outings, which you can find here.
Now that we have directed everyone to where they need to be (don’t forget to follow us on social media!) we are ready to get to the task at hand. What exactly can you do in the Zaanse Schans suburb of Amsterdam? Is it worth the trip? Let’s find out!
What Is there To Do At Zaanse Schans?
So what makes this particular area of not-quite-Amsterdam so darned special? It’s probably got something to do with the numerous activities that you can find there. It’s about a 10-15 minute drive outside of the Zaandam suburb. Technically it is a village in its own right, but it is the sort of preserved, old-world village you might expect out of a national heritage program. It is an important part of Dutch heritage but, unlike the canals of old Amsterdam, it hasn’t quite made the list of UNESCO world heritage sights, just yet… there’s still time.
The windmills at Zaanse Schans are world renowned for their beauty – but the double bonus is that they still work. You can go all the way inside some of the brightly coloured landscape markers and learn all about how old Holland would have depended on them for survival. The whole village is operated as an open air museum so you can get to grips with old world Holland. Dutch practises during the Industrial Era were all about mills… and this one of the largest working sets of industrial mills still in operation in the country. We are discounting the mills at Kinderdijk here, which are a collection of 19 windmills that sit closer to Rotterdam, and ARE a UNESCO world heritage site.
Basically, the open air museum at Zaanse Schans is the next best thing.
Activities at Zaanse Schans
What activities can you get up to when you come to Zaanse Schans for a daytrip, then? Well, the main attractions are the nine 17th and 18th century windmills they have there. The mills have been well maintained and come in a variety of colours. The majority of the antiquated buildings dotted around the village have house museums or workshops contained within. Better than that, many have been moved here to preserve their structural integrity… So lots of buildings in Zaanse Schans have come from other places! They were brought here by trailer between the 60’s and the 70’s.
Zaanse Schans is an area of the Dutch countryside which has a long history of occupation. It is a pivotal area for Dutch Industrial Heritage, and so has a place on the European Route of Industrial Heritage. An old cannonball has been found nearby, a remnant of the Eighty Years War that once riddled this area of the country. Nowadays, it is best known for being the site of a mustard mill, three sawmills, a dye mill, and three oil mills.
Some of the first buildings placed here were in the 16th century but those that remain are due to astound. There are 8 in total, but some other museum-style attractions and gift shops can be found in the town. Some of these are as follows…
The Bakery Museum at Zaanse Schans
This building takes you through how Industrial era bakers might have operated, using some of the goods from local mills.
The Zaanse Museum
This takes you back through the history of the village to learn all about how the materials were made here, using these world famous mills.
The Dutch Clock Museum
Which contains some impeccable 17th century clocks and teaches visitors about the intricacies of clockmaking.
The Museum Shop Albert Heijn
Named for the man who started it, this shop sells souvenirs and gifts – but is styled in the manner of an old world Netherlands grocery store.
The Weaver’s House
This area allows you to learn everything you can about what life was like for weavers working on industrial mills, just like the ones in town.
Where Can I Get A Guided Daytrip out to Zaanse Schans?
If we were going for a daytrip out to Zaanse Schans, we would consider making a full day of it and going to see the Keukenhof Gardens at the same time. We have a deal for that! You can also find all sorts of other fun tours courtesy of our deal pages, should you be looking to fill up an Amsterdam itinerary of your own.
Which brings us to our final say of the day.
Comedy Walks Tours – The Way To See Amsterdam Without Getting Lost
Now we here at Lilly Likes Amsterdam are huge fans of what the team over at Comedy Walks Amsterdam get up to of a weekend. They lead tourists all around the city, telling them all about the best bits of Amsterdam. They do tours with a difference, changing the boring drone of the tour operator to the lovely laughter of the delighted. Each of their tours is led by a comedian, and each is guaranteed to give you good vibes.
But the Comedy Walks crew are responsible for more than just a good old walk around town. Besides from making your sides split, they let you learn about town, too. As an added bonus, those that throw their weight in with the comedy walks tour group tend to make friends fast. So if you are in Amsterdam alone, and you want to find some new friends to chill with for your holiday, this is the ideal way to meet them. We can’t always rely on the people we are sharing a hostel room with, can we?
We have an extra special thank you to the Comedy Walks crew today, because they have managed to provide us with all of the pictures used on today’s blog post. So many thanks to their talented photographers for taking some fresh pics that you won’t find elsewhere… at least not yet anyway. As a thank you for their time and effort, we wanted to take the time to mention that yes, despite the best efforts of 2020, they still exist. They operate tours all over the city, given by licensed comedians. These tours are guaranteed to perk up even the sourest puss.
Where Can I Get A Comedy Walks Tour of Amsterdam To?
When you hire the Comedy Walk tour in Amsterdam city, one of their stand-up comedians will meet you on a Saturday or Sunday, ready to take you on a 1.5 hour city tour. You will take in several of the best known sites in the city, whether they look like giant dildos or happen to be self-respecting churches. Arguably the best part about these tours is that you learn as you go, so you come away with cheeks stretched from smiling and a new knowledge of the past life of Amsterdam. Who else can crack jokes about the Dutch East India Company and make you giggle over Rembrandt? These guys. Go check them out if you are in town.
The Lilly Likes Lowdown
Overall, both the Comedy Walks tour group and the Zaanse Schans region in the Netherlands are worth a visit. You will have an educational fun time, and both give you the chance to do something that little bit different with your holiday. Give it a try, see for yourself, and if you have them – send us the photos. They just might end up on the Lilly Likes blog!