Zaanse Schans Windmills
The Zaanse Schans is both brilliant and rubbish. The rubbish part and, in my opinion, a waste of time is the Zaanse Museum (info mainly in Dutch) and the various so-called museums that are actually shops, like the Bakery Museum, the Cheese Farm, tourist traps supreme).
What is totally worth seeing are the windmills along the river. I went the sawmill and the oil mill, €4 entry to each windmill. There is something magical about watching the mechanics of the windmill at work and strange the lack of motor sounds. The sawmill is really fantastic, if it is turning, make sure you don’t miss it. There is a person running each mill who will explain the production process to you. Go to a couple of the windmills that are actually turning and forget the ‘museums’. That way you can be to and from Amsterdam in no time at all and squeeze more out of your day.
To get there…
From Amsterdam Central Station get the train to Zaandijk Zaanse Schans (3 euros and 17 minutes each way). At Zaandijk Zaanse Schans, walk out of the station following the sign that says Zaanse Schans. About 20 meters out of the station is a big upright vending tower (see pic above), you pull a lever and it spits out a free map. You need to wait 25 seconds between pulls for the next map. Follow the route that leads you over the river, across a big modern bridge. Turn left along the river and head up to the working windmills, they are numbered 2,3,4,5 on the map. The walk from the station to the windmills takes about 10 to 15 minutes. I would aim to get there early, say 09h30 to get in before the big tour buses.