Just outside of Amsterdam, a short trip away is Zaanse Schans, a vibrant and stunning small town that dates back to the 18th and 19th centuries and full of traditional Dutch crafts and culture.
My friends drove me there and just arriving at the place itself felt like a step back in time. The town is full of extraordinarily well preserved architecture and traditions, giving you a vivid impression of the Dutch way of life back then. We wandered around the town while I was absorbing the unique landscape..
“Try pronouncing Zaanse Schans my friends asked” Ahem.. so I tried saying it with my fake Dutch accent and they laughed. I guess the accent didn’t quite help, let’s just say it doesn’t read like how it is written! and I still can’t say it :)
Let me share some pictures from my trip, and if you scroll down you’ll see what you can do over there!
So, what is there to see and do in Zaanse Schans?
1. Visit and tour inside a working windmill
2. Visit the wooden shoe workshop and see how the iconic Dutch clogs are crafted
3. Go cheese tasting at the Cheese Farm “De Catherina Hoeve” and discover how artisanal Dutch cheese is crafted
4. Explore other traditional Dutch crafts
There are many other traditional Dutch craft shops to check out in Zaanse Schans. Find out about the ancient tradition of distilling alcohol, watch a demonstration in chocolate-making in the Cocoa Lab according to 17th and 18th century methods, visit the pewter museum or you could find out about the traditional craft of making barrels at the Coopery Tiemstra. Depending on your own personal interests, you can easily spend a leisurely day exploring.
5. Check out the first Albert Heijn grocery shop
The first ever Albert Heijn grocery shop opened for business in 1887 and today, is now a giant grocery chain. The reconstructed interior of the store reveals changes in the retail food industry over the last century.
6. Step back in time and visit the Zaans Museum and the Verkade Pavilion, the museum of Dutch clocks or a Bakery museum from 1658.
7. Take a boat trip or rent a bike
If you really want to experience everything, go on a boat trip. There are boat tours and ferry services available from April until September. You can also hire bikes and cycle around the surrounding areas.
8. Indulge in a Dutch pancake
When you’re done sightseeing, stop and indulge in a Dutch pancake.
If you are planning your visit, visit the official Zaanse Schans website for more information on opening hours, admission fees and attractions.