If your sole purpose for taking a trip to the Netherlands is to see a windmill, then chances are you will be able to achieve your goal. Windmills are dotted around the country in all forms – from the old-fashioned wooden variety that feature on picture postcards to the towering modern ones who’s white blades slice through the air at high speed.
Most visitors who come to the Netherlands on a windmill search, flock to the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as Kinderdijk, with its cluster of 19 mills. But if you would like a different experience (and one with less tourist’s heads in your photos) you might like to consider Zaanse Schans instead.
Located in the Zaan region on the riverbank opposite Zaandijk, Zaanse Schans is a historical open-air museum with Zaan houses, windmills and other buildings to explore. If that isn’t enough to convince you to check it out, here are five more reasons to visit Zaanse Schans:
1. The Crowds (or lack there of) – Zaanse Schans is not as well known as Kinderdijk meaning you have more space to yourself. That’s not to say it doesn’t get busy, especially in the summer, but if crowds are not really your thing Zaanse Schans might suit you better.
2. The Super Cool Map Machine – You can collect a free map of the outdoor museum from a machine just as you walk into the park. This involves pulling down on a large lever which causes a map to be released. There is no way to explain in words how satisfying this machine is. You just have to try it, trust me!
3. The Shopping Opportunities – Wooden shoes on your shopping list? You can get them here. What about cheese? Also available. Postcards, posters and other goods with traditional touristy Dutch designs? Check! Sure, things at Zaanse Schans are going to be a little more expensive than if you had searched for them in a non-tourist location but if you are short on time and need the whole shebang…you’re set.
4. The Albert Hein Museum – Albert Hein’s first grocery shop, dating back from 1887, is available for you to explore. Learn why a set of bellows opened the brown bags for purchased goods, where those bags were made, and just spend some time exploring the shop.
5. The Windmills – Could I really make this post and not mention the windmills? I personally could have spent several hours inside the paint mill watching the grinding stone and wheels going round and round. Not to mention, if you climb to the top, you have a perfect opportunity to snap some Dutch landscape photographs.