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02 of 06

Zaanse Schans (1.6 million visitors in 2015)

International Travelers Favorite Attractions in Amsterdam

© Michela Simoncini/Flickr (CC BY)

The most visited attractions for international tourists, hands-down, is Zaanse Schans – a bastion of old-world Dutch traditions just a half-hour's commute from cosmopolitan Amsterdam.

Zaanse Schans isn't technically an open-air museum, but it sure feels like one; rather, it's an enclave within the city of Zaandam (population ca. 75,000) where, from the mid-20th century on, a small town's worth of historic architecture – from houses to windmills – has been relocated for preservation purposes.

Now, much of the restored architecture doubles as museums of Dutch industry and crafts. The site's classic Dutch windmills are open to the public in tourist season. Several of the attractions are dedicated to food and drink: a cheese farm that produces the country's famous Gouda cheese; a bakery museum in a typical 17th-century house that churns out the local specialty of duivenkater, a sweet white bread; a distillery museum where visitors can sample artisanal liqueurs; and even a replica of the first location of the country's most famous supermarket, Albert Heijn. There's also a wooden shoe factory, a pewter foundry and a coopery, all traditional Dutch crafts.

How to Reach Zaanse Schans

From Amsterdam Central Station (CS), take the Alkmaar-bound Sprinter train to Koog-Zaandijk; Zaanse Schans is a 20-minute walk east of the station, on the other side of the Zaan River. Travel time is about 30 minutes. Another option is to take bus 391 from the north side (IJzijde) of Amsterdam CS directly to Zaanse Schans (no walk required); this takes 45 minutes.