Zaanse Schans is a small working and living community in the Zaan district, located roughly a half-hour bus ride from Amsterdam Central Station. The area is most known for its green fields, historic windmills, and the traditional village vibe full of wooden houses, barns, and workshops.
Zaanse is a very touristy area so it could be challenging to navigate around. Some shops are more popular than others and are consistently packed with people fighting for cheese samples. All things considered, however, it is a lovely area to see some traditional Dutch life. There are souvenir shops, chocolate shops, various small museums, a clog factory, and tons of cheese. There are also a few places to grab a bite, my favourite is De Tweekoppige Phoenix where you can sit in a dimly lit wooden room, taste some local meats and cheeses, and have a flight of uniquely local liquids.
Visiting notes: The village is free to enter, Zaanse museum and various museums around are an additional pass, and each windmill has an individual entry fee (usually cash only). The Zaanse Schans Card includes free bus transportation between Amsterdam Central Station and the Zaanse Schans so if you do plan to attend museums it’s best to pre-purchase this.
For more weekend trip ideas from Amsterdam have a look at the “Weekend Trips From Amsterdam” article from Travel With Simina.