Zaandam is a medium-sized town just north of the Dutch capital Amsterdam. It is a short journey from Amsterdam. Zaandam is part of the municipality of Zaanstad (consisting of seven towns of which Zaandam is the biggest) in the Zaan Region.
Directly outside the train station Zaandam is a shopping esplanade (which is being completely rebuilt), bike rental, taxis and a hotel. It takes a 10-minute walk through the rather dull shopping esplanade (called Gedempte Gracht) to get to the slightly more atmospheric area where you can find the pubs and restaurants. That area, with streets like the Zuiddijk and Prins Hendrikkade, is located at the waterfront of the river Zaan.
In all honesty, the centre of Zaandam is not very special, except for a few nice pubs and a venue with live music. The centre is a big construction site, as the town council is putting a big effort in reconstructing and rebuilding the city centre under the name "project Inverdan". This project consists of the building of a complete new town hall adjacent to the railway station, a brand new hotel which looks like a pile of wooden houses from the Zaan Region, a shopping mall and apartment complex (Hermitage) and bringing the water back into the Gedempte Gracht shopping mall.
You can explore the typical Dutch landscape with completely flat meadows and windmills around the city. The Zaan Region is possibly the oldest industrial area in the world (as it was not driven by steam but by wind), and it is shown in many old buildings. Zaandam is an excellent starting point for a cycling trip through the region.
VVV Agentschap Zaandamphone: +31 20 201-8800address: Ebbehout 31This tourist information centre has cycling maps, hiking paths and advice on where to go in the region.
By planeDirect trains to Zaandam run twice every hour from Schiphol Airport.
(These trains have the destination Hoorn). In all other cases you can take any train with the destination Amsterdam Centraal that stops at Amsterdam Sloterdijk and change there for Zaandam.
Zaandam is just two stops from Amsterdam Central Station. You pass through station Amsterdam Sloterdijk. Trains leave regularly (4-8 trains per hour) until 01:00.
If you are going to visit the Zaanse Schans open air museum, take the "Sprinter" train with destination Uitgeest (runs 4 times per hour on weekdays, half-hourly on Saturdays and Sundays) and get off at Koog-Zaandijk railway station (4th stop). From here it is about 10-min walk to the Zaanse Schans.
From the northern Amsterdam ring-road (Ringweg A10), take the A8 to Zaanstad/Zaandam, and follow the signs.
Connexxion bus lines 92 and 94 run at least 4x per hour to Zaandam Centre (Peperstraat Bus Station) and Zaandam Railway Station. Bus line 91 runs from Amsterdam Central station to the Zaanse Schans open air museum.
phone: +31 75 681-0000address: Krimp 23A small house where Tsar Peter lodged in the 17th century. It is one of the oldest wooden houses of the Netherlands. It was built in 1632 as a working class house from old timber. The Russian Tsar Peter lived here in 1697, when he wanted to learn how to become a shipwright. It is owned by the Zaans Museum in Zaanse Schans.
The whole area around the river Zaan, to be explored biking, walking, driving around or boating over the Zaan River. You will see a great mix of old style industry unusual for the Netherlands, old wooden houses and windmills, together with open green pastures (grass land) in the span of just a few miles. It will be like different epochs clash. This journey has to be arranged on an individual basis, as outside the Zaanse Schans tourism is not very well developed.
Blue House (painted by Claude Monet)address: Hogendijk 87This house was painted by Claude Monet during his stay in Zaandam in 1871. The house isn't blue any more, but plans are to change it back.
Getting out of the Tsar Peter House, turn right, go up the dike and turn left. Nr 78.
Blacksmithphone: +31 6 150-719-02address: Hogendijk 46Small pub in the old workplace of a blacksmith. On the Hogedijk near the old harbour. A truly local pub with beer-tasting.
phone: +31 75 207 7000address: Lagedijk 71, 1544 BC Zaandijk
phone: +31 75 681-0171address: Provincialeweg 102Probably one of the weirdest buildings in the country. It's a new building, designed by architects Molenaar en van der Winden, that resembles about a dozen traditional Zaan houses plopped on top of each other. It looks odd, to say the least, but makes an impressive sight as you walk out of the railway station. It is a four-star hotel that has 160 rooms available. Free WiFi.
The Zaanse Schans is north of Zaandam, but still in the Zaan Region. It is an open air museum that consists of old windmills and the original wooden houses. These windmills have approximately 1 million visitors each year.