The Netherlands is famous for its windmills, and the most charming place to admire the traditional Dutch landmarks is at Kinderdijk. Just outside of Rotterdam, Kinderdijk’s 19 windmills date back to the 17th century and are protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Marked walking and cycling trails lead visitors around the windmills and afford magnificent views of the canals, mills, and dykes. At the visitor center, located in the Wisboom Pumping Station, a film tells the story of Kinderdijk and its windmills, while two of the windmills are open to the public as museums, offering behind-the-scenes peeks into a working mill. Admission tickets include entrance to the visitor center exhibitions, windmill museums, and an audio guide. (It is free to view the windmills from the outside.) Boat tours around the canals are also available, offering stunning views of the windmills and the surrounding countryside.
Most visitors choose to visit on a half-day tour from Rotterdam, but day trips from Amsterdam to Rotterdam and the Hague often also include a stop at Kinderdijk.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Kinderdijk is a lovely outing for first-time visitors to the area and those looking for a bucolic respite from Rotterdam.
- The visitor center has a café, gift shop, and restrooms.
- The walking trails and boat tours around the windmills are accessible to wheelchairs, but the windmill museums are not.
How to Get There
Kinderdijk village is located around 14 miles (22 kilometers) southeast of Rotterdam, about a 30-minute drive. From Rotterdam, take the metro to Rotterdam Zuidplein, from where buses run to Kinderdijk, or catch a boat from the Boompjeskade (April to October only). From Amsterdam, it’s just over an hour’s drive.
When to Get There
The Kinderdijk museums and visitor center are open year-round, although hours vary throughout the year. You can walk along the canals and admire the windmills at any time, though a particularly magical time is during the weeklong Illumination Festival in September, when the windmills are lit up at night.
Windmills of the Netherlands
The windmills of Kinderdijk and other locations around the Netherlands are more than scenic—they help to manage the high water levels and prevent flooding throughout the notoriously low-lying country. Most of the polder mills in Kinderdijk served as pumping stations and were part of a complex water management system that included dykes, canals, and reservoirs. Although more modern systems are in place today, some of the mills still function as backups.