So the first thing you probably want to know about Zaanse Schans is whether you are pronouncing it right or not.
The official Dutch pronunciation is: zaːnsə sxɑns, but in English it roughly sounds like Z*-aa-ns S-kh-a-ns.* For a more detailed explanation of this, please visit this Wikipedia page.
Now, there are two ways to enjoy the attractions at this place. The first and recommended option is to buy a Zaanse Schans Card and the second is to pay for the attractions individually. And if you have been trying to figure out whether you should purchase this card (which costs around 30 Euros) or not, you have come to the right place. I had the same question when I was planning the trip and I could not find clear information about this.
Should you take a Zaanse Schans Card?
I am sure, after reading all about a trip to Zaanse Schans, you are wondering about the Zaanse Schans. Is it worth spending 30 Euros?
Well, the short answer is – yes, but you have to make sure that you reach by 10:00 AM.
How does it work?
If you have booked your card online on the official website of Zaanse Schans or Tiqets, you will get a ticket with a QR code. Once you reach Zaanse Schans, head over to the reception or the billing desk of Zaanse Schans Museum. They will check your ticket and hand over a card to you that looks like the image below.
Additionally, they will give you a small booklet with a map which is quite useful. They will also give you a receipt with a barcode printed on it that you could use for using restrooms in the building for free. I think you can use it multiple times, but I am not sure about it.
What do I get for spending 30 bucks?
Access to every museum and windmills at no extra cost. They have these barcodes on one side of the big card and for all the museums and windmills you visit, they will scan the relevant code. Interestingly, I entered one of the windmills (oil) which were not mentioned on the card and they let me in without any fee. I suggest, if you are in doubt – head over to the billing desk, show the card and they will let you know whether it’s included or not. As far as I know, everything is included.
If you want to see the inside of windmills and explore the museums, then take this card. It’s way cheaper than buying individual tickets. You can find the cost comparison at the end of this post.
One thing you should note is you should try to reach by 10 AM or even before if you are planning to visit the windmills and museums. Otherwise, you won’t have enough time as these attractions remain open from 10 to 5. But there is no timing if you just want to be there and enjoy the beauty from outside. It’s a big area and you can easily spend 3-4 hours.
The official website of Zaanse Schans has an exhaustive list of all the attractions you may find in this area. However, I felt knowing about a couple of them before going is more than enough. So, here is what you can expect.
The attractions are mainly divided into three groups
Paid Museums – These are typical museums with lots of paintings and antique collections.
Zaanse Schans Museum – if you are even a little into the history and want to make use of the time, be sure to take the audio guide.
Chocolate and Biscuit Factory – This is inside the Zaanse Schans museum, so make sure when you go inside, explore all the corners and don’t miss it. Though, there is nothing much to see except the assembly line of the biscuit and chocolate making. But it’s built-in museum style, so you’ll get to know a lot about history.
Museum of Windmills – If you are here, make sure to watch one or two 10-minute movies at the end of the first floor. Try to look into every corner. It’s worth watching a couple of videos. You can get some rest from walking and also get to know a lot of things about windmills.
Museum of Time – It’s a museum of antique clocks. The designs of the old clock with a little bit of history may fascinate you. They also have the audio guide, but I didn’t use it. But it would have been a good idea.
Free Museums – These free museums are more like shops. Go inside, see how things are done, and buy something if you like.
Albert Heijn Museum – They still have the old packaging and you can check out how things were sold back when the Albert Heijn shop was established.
Bakery Museum – skip the crowded restaurant and grab a bite and coffee here to keep you charged up.
Clog workshop – it’s more like a souvenir shop, but you could also see live clog making.
Windmills – The windmills are used (still) to produce things like paper, paint, oil, and cutting wood. When you go inside, you’ll get to see how the mechanic of the windmill works. Not all, but in some of the mills it is possible to climb upstairs some windmills. Make sure to check out the paint mill.
For me, this was the most important question. I didn’t know what to expect when I reach there. Is it a city or a village and do I have to walk in different streets? Do I need to take a bus to go from one museum to another? Or it’s just a big area with all the attractions kept in one place?
Here is what you need to know before planning your trip. Zaanse Schans is a big area, walkable from one end to the other, which contains preserved houses, windmills, and museums. No, you don’t need to take a bike or tram to go from one place to another.
If you are taking a Zaanse Schans card, then you must visit the billing desk in the museum to collect your card which you could use everywhere. Otherwise, you could go to another corner and start from there in the backward direction.
Head over to Google Maps by opening this link. In my opinion, this is the route you should follow. Also, as mentioned above, if you are interested, make sure to check all the windmills even if they are not marked on your card. The windmills are on the roadside, the path they have made to visit all the attractions, so you won’t miss them.
How to reach?
If you are travelling by public transport, then you can check out the options in Google Maps and select based on your convenience. The only thing to note is – the bus stop is right in front of the Zaans Museum, but if you take a train, you’ll have to walk for about 10-15 minutes.
If you are travelling by car, then again you can follow google maps and there is a lot of parking space. But the sooner you arrive, the better it will be.
Other Important Tips
While returning, the bus stop will be extremely crowded at 5. So try to avoid the 5-5:30 PM time slot. Instead, if possible come back early or late. The frequency of the bus is not that great, they have a bus every 15-20 minutes so there is no point in waiting at the bus stop.
On weekdays the majority of the attractions will remain closed, so if you plan to visit the inside of windmills, go on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. You can check the timings on the Zaans Schans website.
You get a discount if you go for lunch at Restaurant De Kraai with your Zaanse Schans card. If you are here for the attractions, I would suggest not spending time waiting in line at the restaurants. Instead, grab a snack and coffee from Bakery Museum/Shop. This will save you a lot of time.
There are clean public toilets, but they’ll charge you 1 euro (only cards).
I always receive a 10% discount on my next booking if I make one on Tiqets, so if you are a frequent traveller, I’d suggest you to book your tickets on Tiqets.