Zaandam is a medium-sized town just north of the Dutch capital Amsterdam. It is just 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 (currently being completely rebuilt), bike rental, taxis and a hotel. It takes a ten minutes 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 currently 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 adjecent to the railway station, a brand new hotel which looks like a pile of wooden houses from the Zaan Region, a shopping mall/apartment complex (Hermitage) and bringing the water back in 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 Zaandam, Ebbehout 31 (near the railway station), ☎ +31 20 201-8800. 24 hours. This tourist information centre has cycling maps, hiking paths and advice on where to go in the region.
Direct trains to Zaandam run twice every hour from Schiphol Airport. (These trains have destination Hoorn). In all other cases you can take any train with 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 1 am.
If you are on to visit the Zaanse Schans open air museum, take the "Sprinter" train with destination Uitgeest (runs 4x 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.
Take from the northern part of the circular road of Amsterdam (Ringweg A10) the A8 to Zaanstad/Zaandam, and just 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.
- Tsar Peter House, Krimp 23 (at walk distance from railway station Zaandam), ☎ +31 75 681-0000. Tu-Su 10:00-17:00. The is the small house where Tsar Peter has 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. Officially, it is owned by the Zaans Museum that is located in Zaanse Schans. €2, children €1.
The whole area around the river Zaan, to be explored biking, walking, driving around or even 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), Hogendijk 87. This house was painted by Claude Monet during his stay in Zaandam in 1871. The house ain'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.
- Lef, Dam 32, ☎ +31 75 612-2555. 12:00-22:00 daily. International restaurant at the Dam in Zaandam. There is lots of choice, whether you like seafood, meat or vegetarian meals. It has a lot of style, but unfortunately a DJ kicks in when the eaters leave and the place loses much of its sophistication. Making a reservation is recommended. €25-30.
- Blacksmith, Hogendijk 46, ☎ +31 6 150-719-02. Small pub in the old workplace of a blacksmith. On the Hogedijk near the old harbour. A truly local pub with beer-tasting.
- Fishline, Zuiddijk 39, ☎ +31 75 615-86-12. W-Th 19:00-01:00, F-Sa 19:00-03:00, Su 12:30-01:00. Blues/rock pub at the waterfront, often with live music and jam sessions. They also have outdoor seating available.
- Inntel Hotel, Provincialeweg 102 (close to Zaandam railway station), ☎ +31 75 681-0171. Probably 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. €85-151.
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.
|Routes through Zaandam|
|Amsterdam ←||S N||→ Purmerend → Groningen|