There are quite a few day trips you can do from Amsterdam. If you’re staying for a few days, Zaanse Schans and Zaandam are great for quick stops. To help you plan better, use 9292.nl. They also have an app that you can download which will be very useful when planning your public transportation around Amsterdam.
How to get there: Zaanse Schans is about 17 min away from Amsterdam Central Station. The best and easiest way to get there is by train. The ferry would be fun but would take more than an hour.
What to do: Bikes are the most popular transportation in the Netherlands so renting a bike will be a fun way of exploring this small town. The windmills in Zaanse Schans are all working windmills. They have oil, paint and cocoa mills to name a few. If you are planning on visiting multiple ones, it is best to purchase the Zaanse Schans card. It is free to walk around Zaanse Schans, but there is an entrance fee on each windmill which is 4.50 euro for adults.
If you are a cheese fan, they have a cheese tasting at Cheese Farm De Catherinahoeve from 8 am – 6 pm. They also demonstrate the craft of cheese-making. If you want to take some home, they have different varieties for you to choose from. Their cheeses are inexpensive and very good.
To all my pancake fans, you can grab a bite at De Kraai Pancake Restaurant (Dutch Pancake Restaurant). They make various types of traditional Dutch pancakes. Their pancakes range from 6-12 euros depending on your toppings. They have a beautiful deck where you can enjoy the sunshine while eating their fabulous pancake.
For coffee connoisseurs, you will enjoy the historic Alber Heijn Grocery. They have a small museum dedicated to the history of Dutch coffee and walks through the modernization of the coffee grinder.
Lastly, you should never miss their clog workshop. They have live clog making demonstration which is very interesting. You can also buy clogs from their shop. I suggest to also get the souvenirs here or your trip since it is less expensive compared to central Amsterdam stores.
If you plan to add Zaandam to your itinerary, you can either bike from Zaanse Schans or take the train. Check out Czaar Peterhuisje (Czar Peter House), it is one of the oldest wooden house in Holland which was built in 1632 and this was where Czar Peter I of Russia resided during his Grand Embassy. Walking around Zaandam will make you feel like a character from a kid’s storybook.