I think Zaanse Schans is one of my favorite places we’ve been! We went there last year, too, and the kids were excited to go back. They wanted to show it to their American grandparents.
It is like stepping back in time – minus all the tourists! But it’s not overly crowded. It’s like visiting a village from the 18th or 19th century.
There are plenty of things to see, but we like to go to the windmill first. The one called De Kat is a paint windmill from 1664. Yes, they actually mill pigments! And they still do today! You can even buy little bottles of them to take home and make your own paints – instructions included!
You can tour the windmill to see the large gears at work. Climb the tall, steep ladder to go to the upper level and walk out on the deck of the windmill to see the sails turning up close, as well as beautiful views.
There is much more to see and do here as you walk through the picturesque old town. There is a chocolate shop, a bakery, a cheese shop, and a pewter foundry. There is also a museum of the original Albert Heijn grocery store. It looks quite different than the ones we go to today!
Near the parking lot is also the Zaans Museum and Verkade Experience, where you can learn about the history of the area and take a small tour of a chocolate factory.
Oh, and did I mention there is a Pannenkoekenhuis where you can have a delicious lunch? There is another restaurant and a cafe, if pancakes aren’t your thing. But really – what kid doesn’t like pancakes?!
Is it good for kids?
We took the boys here last year, too, at ages 6 & 3, and they had a great time. It’s nice to be outdoors, and they loved the windmill. Although Hippo had to be carried up and down the steep ladder at age 3. This year, he needed some guidance, but that was all. Then again, he’s our adventurer. Froggy needed some help getting down last year (age 6), as I recall. Last year, we did not visit the museum, as the boys had had enough. But this year they were up for it! They enjoyed the free audio tour, too.
What about the cost?
There is no entrance fee to the grounds, but you do pay for parking (€10 per car) and to go through the museum and chocolate factory. Sorry, I can’t find any info on the prices on their website!
Where is it?
GPS address: Schansend 7 in Zaandam