Zaanse Schans is one of those places in the Netherlands that you feel like you have to go, as a good tourist. It’s the perfect distance from Amsterdam, it’s out of the city, and it has the requisite Dutch traditions: windmills, clogs, and cheese. One trip there and you can get your fill of all the pictures you need wearing giant clogs. Perfect.

Luckily we went pretty early in March so there were only a few buses of tourists–I can only imagine the place in summer! That said, it was a fun place, and worth a visit.

The area is a sort of open air museum with a collection of historical buildings, farms, and of course, the windmills. A few are even open to visitors (we went in the Spice Mill). Walking through the fields and by the mills lets you get a little taste of Dutch history.

And of course you have to visit the clog factory! Inside is a dazzling number of clogs, some intricately carved, some painted, and many for sale. We caught the end of an explanation of clogmaking. Pretty neat process.

The best part of the day was when I made a new friend. A goat was waiting for us behind the cheese factory (so many samples!), and he promptly jumped on the fence to say hello, even posing for a picture with me. If I look slightly nervous, it’s because I was. That goat was a little too confident…


Goats, cheese, clogs, and windmills. How much more Dutch can you get? Even better, the skies were cloudy, gray and perfectly dramatic, just like an old Dutch painting. With a bit of oil and canvas I could believe that the scene below was from the 16th century.

Avoid the crowds, but go. Even better, by bike! Perfectly Dutch.