Ever wondered what life was like in 17th and 18th century Netherlands? The Zaanse Schans, 15km north of Amsterdam, is the kind of museum that shows rather than tells and it’s the perfect place to immerse yourself in all things traditionally Dutch. The conserved area is still inhabited, but set up like an open-air museum where visitors can wander the village, explore the preserved buildings and watch local craftsmen at work.
Green wooden houses, a historic shipyard, traditional grocery store and a pewter factory are among the village’s visitor attractions but the Zaanse Schans is most famous for its windmills, once used for everything from paint-making to paper production. 250 years ago around 600 windmills stood in the area but today, 5, including a sawmill and an oil mill, are open to visitors, who can explore the working mills and marvel at the landscape of colorful wind sails.