There were once scores of windmills in Rotterdam, used to grind grain for the distilleries of Delfshaven. Of the seven still standing, De Ster and De Leliesave on Plaszoom are normally open to the public, although some others open their doors on occasion. Most of the mills date back to the 16th and 17th centuries, but De Distilleerketel, in the historic enclave of Delfshaven, was rebuilt in the 1980s to replace the original that was destroyed by Luftwaffe bombing in May 1940.
One of the most popular day trips from Rotterdam is to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kinderdijk, home of the Netherlands’ largest collection of 18th-century windmills. Nineteen of them stand in two rows on the flat South Holland landscape, although 150 of them once stood here to drain water from the surrounding polders before being replcaed with electric pumping stations.
Easily accessible and only nine miles (15 kilometers) east of the city, a visit to the Kinderdijk windmills may include an electric boat ride along the canal or a guided tour of the only mill open to the public, which now serves as a small museum. There, visitors can see the cramped living quarters of a mill, along with the pumping equipment that once drove the paddles around. A series of walking and cycling routes wend around the mills; bikes can be rented from the Alblasserdam–Zuiderstek car park.
Spring is the perfect time to visit Kinderdijk, as the surrounding fields are a blazing carpet of tulips. In the summer months, the best way to get there is by waterbus from Boompjeskade in Rotterdam. It should be noted that the museum mill is only open on the weekends in winter.