Zaandam is a city in the Waterland and Zaan Region in the province of North-Holland in the Netherlands, just north of Amsterdam. It is just a short journey from Amsterdam. Zaandam is the largest of 7 towns in the municipality of Zaanstad. In this article you can also find information on the other towns.
Zaandam is the centre of the industrial Zaan Region, which is probably the oldest industrial area in the world. It is therefore an extremely interesting place from an historical and architectural perspective, but it probably doesn't count as a typical 'pretty' tourist destination in most guide books. Even then, a considerable number of traditional wooden houses and windmills can be found in and around Zaanstad - including the world-famous Zaanse Schans open air museum - next to more recent 19th- and 20th-century industrial heritage.
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.
Take from the northern part of the circular road of Amsterdam (Ringweg A10) the A8 to Zaanstad/Zaandam, and just follow the signs.
Connection 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.
Directly outside the Zaandam railway station is a brand new shopping esplanade. It takes a ten minute walk through this area to get to the more lively part of town where you can find most of the pubs and restaurants, on the waterfront of the Zaan river. However, Zaandam compares unfavourably to Zaandijk, where you can experience more of the traditional atmosphere of the area.
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.
If you feel tired or need a shelter from the rain, you can go to cinema. There is a Pathe couple of meters down the train station. http://www.pathe.nl/bioscoop/zaandam
Zaandam has lots of shops and you can start shopping as soon as you go out of the train station. First to see is Primark which sells affordable clothes.It has nice designs and they're generally in decent quality. There is a big electronic market called Saturn, a bit expensive when you compare with mediamarkt chain stores. Along the canal on the main street there are countless of shoe stores, V&D, Vero Moda, De Tuinen, Blokker, H&M, Etos, Hema, C&A, Dixons and many more. There is also a pet shop on the street. One shop sells novelty home and kitchen items called Nice Thingz and there are indeed nice things in the store. When the main street ends, you turn left and shops like Halfords, Xenos, Kruidvat, Bigbazaar, Dirk and so on is there.
Porto Fino is an Italian Restaurant just on the back of the main street. Close to the train station. http://www.portofinozaandam.nl/home/
There are bunch of Turkish restaurants at the end of the main street. They are all Halal and delicious.
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. The Zaanse Schans Cycle Route takes you from Zaandam train station to the Zaanse Schans.