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Netherlands

Zaanse Schans & More Dutch Villages

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.

As with most of my posts, some links may be affiliate links. This means at no additional cost to you, I may make a small commission on anything you buy.

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.

Zaanse Schans

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.

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Edam

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.

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Volendam

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.

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Monnickendam

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.

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See the Countryside with a Bike Tour of Amsterdam

Cycling through the city and countryside on a bike tour of Amsterdam was one of the highlights of my trip to the Netherlands. As we cycled along canals and windmills I simply absorbed all the things to see in Amsterdam.

As with most of my posts, some links may be affiliate links. This means at no additional cost to you, I may make a small commission on anything you buy.

Taking recommendations from a few friends who had taken bike tours in Amsterdam, I decided to go with Mike’s Bike Tours. And I did not regret this decision! They had several different tour options for you to consider while you are in Amsterdam. As there are so many bikes in Amsterdam, biking is not for the faint of heart. So, I went with the Countryside tour because I just wasn’t sure I was ready to brave the chaos. The staff was incredibly helpful and our guide was excellent.

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Bike Tour of Amsterdam: The Tour

The tour begins at Mike’s Bike Tour shop, which is quite centrally located in Amsterdam. After a quick briefing on how to bike as a group we set off on our tour. There are important etiquette guidelines to follow as you bike so be sure to pay attention to the briefing. The first part of the tour is in the city but we fairly quickly reached more open paths.

Heading out to the countryside along the Amstel River provided excellent scenery as we biked! We saw people fishing, other bicyclists, and even a few windmills along the way. Our turnaround point was a cheese farm/clog factory where we stopped for a short tour. We were treated to a demonstration of how clogs (wooden shoes) are made, some tasty Gouda cheese samples and the opportunity to do some shopping. As a bonus, you’ll get to meet these guys! Then you’ll begin the return trip back to the city.

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Bike Tour of Amsterdam: The Details

Since the tour is about 40 km, or 25 miles, a decent level of fitness is recommended. I would also highly recommend bringing snacks and water along for your bike ride. I didn’t bring enough water and was a bit thirsty! While usually I like to book tours like this ahead of time, because of the weather in Amsterdam I would suggest booking once you can see a weather forecast. I had a gorgeous sunny day for my tour, but that is not always the case! As you are shopping remember that if you are traveling back to the United States you are permitted to bring back a wheel of cheese, provided it has not been opened!

If you’re looking for bike tours in other cities on your European adventure, I’d highly recommend this one in Salzburg. You’ll sing along as you discover the hills are alive with the sound of music.

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