The Zaanse Schans has become an attraction that is known world-wide, attracting thousands of visitors from the Netherlands and abroad.
The open-air museum has been established in the 1970's, when a number of windmills were moved to this location along the river Zaan, together with some other historic buildings.
Holland is traditionally associated with windmills, Delft Blue, cheese and wooden shoes (flower bulbs are however not for sale here).
At de Zaanse Schans you can have it all in one go, and can have pancakes when you're done.
Although it is extremely touristy - what de Zaanse Schans lacks in authenticity, it compensates in beauty.
To say that the Zaanse Schans is just a big, commercial tourist trap, would underestimate the historical value of the windmills and old houses collected here, plus the collections of the various museums on the premises.
Nevertheless, if you go there, prepare for bus loads of tourists, and shows about how to make wooden shoes, large souvenir shops, etc.
The windmills along the river, and the old houses around them make a pretty sight, making de Zaanse Schans definitely worth a visit.
The area is always open to the public (free of charge), museums and some other attractions may charge a fee to get in.
You can certainly enjoy the beauty of the Zaanse Schans just by walking (or cycling) by the windmills along the river.
You can get there by car (there's a large parking lot), or by train (train station Koog-Zaandijk, then a 15 min. walk).
It is a 16 km / 10 mi bicycle ride from Dam Square.
Most tour organizers have Zaanse Schans in their portfolio as well.
Windmill at Zaanse Schans
House gable in traditional Zaanse style
Old small Albert Heijn supermarket at Zaanse Schans
Zaanse style garden mosaic