Zaanse Schans, the picturesque Dutch quarter near Amsterdam

When planning a trip to the Netherlands, Amsterdam, with its vast array of museums, art galleries, theaters and famous canals dotted with delightfully colorful townhouses, is usually on the itinerary.

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It’s true that Amsterdam‘s tulips are one of the most beautiful sights to behold, but if you’re looking to combine a city break in one of Europe’s most culturally rich and bustling cities with a before – taste of rural life, you should add Zaanse Schans to your bucket list.

Zaanse Schans is a serene neighborhood on the east bank of the Zaan River, characterized by its wooden houses, windmills, barns and workshops.

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Its history as a working-class community dates back to the 17th century, when there were an incredible 600 windmills powering the workshops of local traders. Today, it’s a living open-air museum, where you can step back in time and get a taste of Dutch life in days gone by.

Zaanse Schans is incredibly easy to get to from Amsterdam, with the nearest train station just 17 minutes from Amsterdam Centraal. There is also a ferry that will take you on a pleasant two-hour trip along the Zaan.

You can choose to cycle there, a trip that will take a few hours but allow you to soak up views of the idyllic Dutch countryside as you ride.

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Once you arrive, you can start exploring the neighborhood and immerse yourself in historic rural life.

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You can visit workshops to see how colorful clogs are made, and visit a cheese factory where you can watch Gouda being made (and of course, taste it afterwards), while smelling the smell of fresh bread from the Bakery Museum who tempts you. to visit.

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But the real star attraction of Zaanse Schans are its wonderful windmills. There are few more iconic landmarks of the Dutch countryside than these impressive wooden structures.

There are still a few working windmills here – in fact, this neighborhood is one of the few places in the world where you can still see working traditional windmills.

De Kat, which uses wind power to create pigments for paints, is one of the region’s working windmills and the world’s only remaining working windmill making paint. On a visit to Zaanse Schans, you can drop by here to see the miller in action.

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Zaanse Schans is no hidden gem. It is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the Netherlands, but due to its size, it never seems crowded. Even in the summer months, you can stroll at a pleasant pace, enjoying the laid-back atmosphere of this magical place without feeling rushed.

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Its peaceful, bucolic nature is a big part of its appeal, and in spring you can easily spend hours strolling outside listening to the rhythmic creaks and thuds of windmills as you pass along the banks. from the river.

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At this time of year, you will also be blessed with one of the most famous sights in the Netherlands – the flamboyant tulips bursting with color, making this already magical place even more beautiful.

But there really is no bad time to visit and the summer season, when you can soak up Holland’s great weather and happenings, is also a great time to experience Zaanse Schans.

You can visit the neighborhood on a five-day tour of the Netherlands with Country Living in August, when you can also experience the Floriade Expo once every ten years. Our flightless holiday will take you by Eurostar to Amsterdam, where you will also take a canal cruise through the capital.

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