I will be traveling throughout Europe this summer with a 3-4 day stop in Amsterdam. I would like to travel a short distance out of the city (no more than an hour by public transportation/train) and see as many windmills as possible. I am looking for suggestions on which direction to head, or what area to visit to see windmills. I'm hoping there are everywhere in the country, but I don't want to assume and miss them. :) Thanks!
Zaanse Schans is the most obvious destination. It's 40 minutes on the Connexxion Bus route 391, which you can pick up at the back of Amsterdam Centraal train station. Or you can take a shorter train ride (17 minutes) to Koog-Zaandijk, and then walk 15 minutes to Zaanse Schans.
There is the tourist trap of the Zaanse Schans, where you'll meet a lot of coach parties.
For the real stuff you must go to the countryside. There is a nice complex at Schermerhorn, including one windmill which is turned into a museum (open daily from 10.00 to 17.30; www.museummolen.nl/index.php/nl/ for some pictures). This threesome is part of the whole windmill system used to drain the enormous early 17th-century land reclamation project of the Schermer.
It involves a train trip to Alkmaar (nice historical city) and a connecting bus (every 15 mins, alternatingly 123 and 129), with 59 mins total travelling time exactly within your time frame (http://9292.nl/en# for precise schedule; fill in "schermerhorn molenmuseum" for destination).
There is also a great windmill that you can tour in Haarlem. Combining that tour with a visit to the rest of the Haarlem sites makes for a very fun filled day trip from Amsterdam.
Thanks so much for the replies! I'm excited to arrive in Amsterdam at the beginning of July!
I second the day trip to Haarlem. We were there last year and fell in love with the town. The windmill is great. We also went to Zaanse Schans with a day tour group and it was fun but very rushed. Walking around Haarlem visiting the windmill, the Corrie ten Boon House, and the church is such a wonderful trip.
I also second a visit to the windmills of Schermerhorn, and see them as the most beautiful too. If Belgium is your next destination in Europe, having time you can quite easily visit the windmills of Kinderdijk too.
the windmills of Schermerhorn ... as the most beautiful
There are lot of these complexes. A nice one is near The Hague (email@example.com,4.4207249,744m/data=!3m1!1e3) and a special one near Alphen aan den Rijn (firstname.lastname@example.org,4.7225034,1546m/data=!3m1!1e3), but that at Schermerhorn is the easiest to reach and has its association with those unique reclamation projects.