A short history of the windmills of kinderdijk
Dutch windmills are famous around the world because they are so important to the Netherlands’ history and culture. Our Dutch ancestors reclaimed the Netherlands lowlands from the sea using windmills to pump water into rivers held back by dikes.
Quick Fact: Around 25% of the Netherlands is actually at or below sea level!
Wait, did the Dutch invent windmills? Uhmmm… That’s hard to say. The first windmills in the Netherlands appeared around 1200AD and were used to grind corn and to pump water. But there is evidence of windmill-like structures in China as far back as around 25AD and in Greece and Persia before they appeared in the Netherlands.
There are around 1000 windmills in the Netherlands. Every year, our country hosts National Mill Day when around 600 windmills open their doors, most of which don’t usually open to the public. This celebration is always held on the second Saturday in May and is the best time to see windmills in the Netherlands. Visitors come from all over the world to see authentic, historic windmills, pumping water as they did hundreds of years ago.
The best place to see windmills in the Netherlands is Kinderdijk! At 19, Kinderdijk has the largest collection of functioning historic Dutch windmills in the Netherlands. Zaanse Schans is another popular choice. Located in the town of Zaandam, Zaanse Schans is close to Amsterdam and has a more family-friendly, touristy vibe than Kinderdijk. Find out more about this place in our post “The best day trips from Amsterdam by train“.
You’ve been to the Netherlands? Show us your Dutch windmill photos to prove it! Or… have a look at this post to prepare yourself for an incredible and typical Dutch day trip to the Kinderdijk where you can take those iconic Dutch windmill photos!
The windmills at Kinderdijk are so important to Dutch history that the entire region is a UNESCO world heritage site. But Kinderdijk is no museum. A fun destination where you can cycle, hike, and kayak, Kinderdijk has working windmills and some that are even family homes.
In this guide, we explore day-tripping to Kinderdijk and reveal the best way to get around once you’re there. Spoiler: It’s in a kayak!
How many windmills are there in Kinderdijk?
Kinderdijk is a group of 19 monumental windmills located in the Alblasserwaard polder, in the province of South Holland. Dates back to 1738 – 1740 with the function of keeping the water out of the polder.
Can I visit Kinderdijk without ticket?
Yes, you can visit Kinderdijk all year around without paying an entrance fee. During high season (March – October) Kinderdijk is open from 9am till 5.30pm and in winter time from 10am to 4pm.
Video: Kinderdijk Day Trip Inspiration
Best time to visit Kinderdijk
While each season in the Netherlands nature offers something unique, autumn (September-November) is our favorite time of year. The trees transform into a kaleidoscope of autumn colors, and it’s a spectacular sight to witness. Moorlands reach full bloom to create purple landscapes, and the leaves dazzle with shades of orange, red, and yellow.
And the weather provides the perfect temperature to unwind without being drenched in sweat or clutching heavy winter gear. Autumn is a magical time to go hiking in Utrecht due to the breathtaking spectacle produced by Mother Nature. Check out my Best Time To Visit The Netherlands Guide for more detailed weather information.
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Is it worth taking a day trip to Kinderdijk?
Kinderdijk is definitely worth visiting. The landscape at Kinderdijk is so unique that you won’t see anything like it anywhere else in the world. Once completely submerged in water, this area is now a network of reservoirs and canals kept in check by 19 historic windmills. You can walk or cycle straight over the seabed in places or throw down a blanket and enjoy a picnic.
Kinderdijk is surrounded by charming Dutch villages and historic sites so there are lots of options to fill a day or more. The regions surrounding Kinderdijk in South Holland also have some of the best hiking trails in the country. We should know – we both grew up in South Holland!
How do you get to Kinderdijk windmills?
Kinderdijk is well-connected to other parts of the Netherlands. Many visitors day trip to Kinderdijk from Amsterdam via Rotterdam or Utrecht. You can also reach Kinderdijk from Dordrecht.
The best way to get to Kinderdijk is by public transport. As we’ve already covered in our post on how to get around in the Netherlands, the Dutch public transport system makes travel quick, fun, and affordable. We’ve also created a post on the best day trips from Amsterdam by train for more travel inspiration.
Kinderdijk also offers a FREE mobile app, with audio guides and interactive maps available to get the most out of your trip. Click here to download the Kinderdijk app.
Here’s how to get to Kinderdijk:
- Waterbus – Take a 30-minute waterbus from Rotterdam or Dordrecht and arrive in Kinderdijk with your sea legs ready to go! (Only available between April to October). Click here for tickets and timetable information.
- Bus – Take the bus from Rotterdam (pick up at Rotterdam Zuidplein or Rotterdam Kralingse Zoom), Dordrecht central train station, or Utrecht central station. (See the Kinderdijk official tourism page for details.)
- Train – To get to Rotterdam or Utrecht, take an NS train from Amsterdam Central or Schiphol Airport.
- Car – Drive to Kinderdijk from Amsterdam via Rotterdam or Utrecht. For both routes, leave the A15 at exit 22.
Must Read: Things to do Amsterdam
Things to do in kinderdijk
There are tons of things to see and do in Kinderdijk besides kayaking. Keep your feet dry and take a boat tour, join a guided tour of a historic windmill, or cycle the canal paths!
Boat tour Kinderdijk
The Kinderdijk visitor center offers tours of the Kinderdijk. You can choose to take the Cruiser or Hopper. Tours are guided, take around 30 minutes, and are available from April to October. Boats are wheelchair accessible and are a good opportunity for those who cannot walk or cycle the canal paths to see Kinderdijk.
The main difference between the Cruiser and Hopper is that the Hopper allows passengers to “hop-on and hop-off” at various places along the canal.
Tickets for boat tours are sold online at the official Kinderdijk website here.
Walk or cycle Kinderdijk
- Duration: 3 – 4 hours
If you’d like to walk or cycle around Kinderdijk it’s a good idea to pick up a map. Kinderdijk’s official website offers downloadable maps of bicycle and walking routes. Alternatively, you can pick one up at the visitor’s center. Kinderdijk also offers an FREE mobile app with audioguides and interactive maps so you can get the most out of your trip, download the app here.
Click here to book your Bike Tour Kinderdijk ticket.
Visit an authentic Dutch windmill
All of the windmills in Kinderdijk can be viewed from the land or water for free. But to truly step back in time, visit one of the two windmills that have been turned into museums. Blokweer Museum Mill and Nederwaard Museum Mill are open to the public. For a small fee, you can enter these windmills and see what life was like for the real families who lived here hundreds of years ago.
Usually, these museums are open from April until late October but check full opening times on the Kinderdijk website before you visit.
Visiting Kinderdijk with a tour group
To keep your day trip to Kinderdijk as simple as possible, join a tour group. There are many group tours available ranging from large tours lasting a few hours to private tours lasting a whole day.
- Make your own way to Kinderdijk using public transport, then join a World Tourism Kinderdijk Windmills Tours. Leave your guide book at home and let a dedicated tour guide teach you all about the important history of this region.
- Alternatively, join a small group for a one day tour of Kinderdijk and The Hague. This tour is focused on art and heritage and includes a visit to see Vermeer’s famous Girl with a Pearl Earring (1665).
- Or, take two trips in one and visit both Rotterdam and Kinderdijk in one day. This tour begins and ends in Amsterdam and is a great choice for any visitors who are short on time. Note that this is a private guided tour and has a price tag to match!
Below there are some more incredible tours to do in Kinderdijk. Simply click on one to find out more about it!
Kayaking Kinderdijk is an adventurous way to enjoy the stunning landscape and explore the history of this area. And you know we love adventure!
The waterways at Kinderdijk are shallow and calm. Even beginner kayakers can take to the water with confidence.
Bringing your own kayak to Kinderdijk
The waterways at Kinderdijk are open to kayakers all year round – providing they’re not frozen – but we recommend the period between late spring and early fall for the best experience. Especially as most of our favorite activities in the Netherlands are outdoors. Make sure you have the right travel insurance, check here the guide Best Travel Insurance for Adventure and Extreme Sports Guide to get all information you need.
There is no boat launch at the Kinderdijk visitor center or anywhere nearby. It’s best to find somewhere to park and launch your kayak a few kilometers away on the Albas river. Plan a route before you hit the water and factor in stops to rest and to get out and stretch your legs. Remember, this is a round trip and you have to paddle all the way back to your car at the end of the day!
Renting a kayak at Kinderdijk
There are no kayak rental facilities at the Kinderdijk visitor center. To rent a kayak, find a rental company operating somewhere nearby. Here are a few options:
On average, kayak rental for one day (approx. 6 hours) costs between €15 and €20.
Exploring the area around Kinderdijk
As the Netherlands is a small country with a great public transport system, it’s easy to get to Kinderdijk. It’s also easy to use Kinderdijk as your starting point for a trip exploring the surrounding area.
If you’re day-tripping to Kinderdijk from a city be sure to find time to explore Alblasserwaard, known as the Green Heart region. More peaceful than Kinderdijk, especially in the peak summer season, Alblasserwaard is a rich, green land dotted with old villages. Perfect for a long bike ride or hike. For more hiking inspiration, see our guide to the best hikes in the Netherlands.
From Kinderdijk you can also explore the cities of Rotterdam and Dordrecht, the Biesbosch marshlands, and the Betuwe orchards.
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I love to hear from you
I hope you’re inspired to take a day trip to see our wonderful Dutch windmills and even kayak through Kinderdijk. And if you take a great snap with a windmill, send it on to us, as I would love to see it!