There are a few things that come to mind when I think of Amsterdam and The Netherlands…windmills, cheese, canals and tulips. The Zaanse Schans windmills are some of the most well known, so when it’s time to plan your trip you will want to be sure to include those on your tour. Add in cheese, canals and tulips and you will have a truly remarkable visit.
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Visiting the windmills at Zaanse Schans and the surrounding Dutch villages is an excellent day trip from Amsterdam. Hop On Hop Off Holland provided a great tour because they take care of the logistics so you can focus on the exploring! To buy tickets and board the bus you can take the free ferry from Amsterdam Central Station. Then it is just a short walk (about five minutes) to This Is Holland where you can first purchase tickets and the board the bus.
If you want to see windmills, this is the stop for you! You can explore the windmills and the surrounding quaint village. My recommendation is to hop on the first tour of the day so you can get to Zaanse Schans before the crowds. I would also highly recommend taking the boat tour to see unobstructed views of the windmills. The boat tour has a stop along the way which allows you to hop off and see how an active windmill operates. Be sure to leave time to stroll through the shops before heading back to the Hop On Hop Off bus. Bonus tip: The Hop On Hop Off bus stop at Zaanse Schans is right in front of a chocolate shop. Be sure to pop into Smells Like Chocolate for a delicious treat.
The next stop is Edam where you will be able to experience the famous Edam cheese. You can taste this Dutch treat and explore 18th-century cheese warehouses. During the Middle Ages these cheese markets were the heart of the city and it is worth seeing how where they brought their cheese to be weighed, sold and exported. Now there are several stores in the village where you can taste, and buy, quite a variety of cheeses including cheese in nearly all the colors of the rainbow.
Located on Lake IJsselmeer, Volendam this fishing village is the perfect place to have fresh fish and walk alongside the harbor. The Hop On Hop Off bus stop is a short walk away from the harbor but I would first recommend a stop at the Volendam Museum. Here you can explore the rich history of Volendam and learn more about the local culture. Then you can venture down to the harbor to explore this seaside town. Enjoy a snack while you stroll along the water, stop in the local shops and see the traditional costumes of Volendam.
Monnickendam is located on Lake Markermeer and if you are looking for an old Dutch city, this is a stop you will love. Granted city charter in 1355, only one building remains from this time. As it is a small village you can walk through the town and experience the history and culture.
Taking a tour on the Hop On Hop Off is an excellent way to explore Zaanse Schans and the surrounding Dutch villages. Book a tour and let them handle all the transportation so you can soak up the history and culture of the Netherlands.
If you’re looking for more ideas of what to do in Amsterdam, I’d recommend this Bike Tour of the countryside.