What’s the number one request I get from visiting friends and family who come to Amsterdam? Hint: it starts with a letter W. You guessed it… windmills! (The other four letter W-word comes in second place.) If you’ve ever wondered where to see windmills in Holland, this post is for you.
There are a handful of windmills in Amsterdam—I happen to live near two of them—one of which is Amsterdam’s original craft beer brewery. Forty minutes from Amsterdam is tour bus favorite Zaanse Schans—cute and ticks the windmill box, but is a little too theme-park for me. One step up from the Zaanse Schans is the open-air Zuiderzeemuseum in Enkhuizen—full of interesting things to do, but only has one lone windmill.
While looking for something to do on a rainy November Sunday, I discovered what are now officially my favorite windmills in Holland: the windmills of Kinderdijk.
About an hour and 20 minutes’ drive from Amsterdam, in the province of South Holland, Kinderdijk is a waterway studded with 19 windmills dating back to the 18th century.
It’s Kinderdijk’s landscape that captured my imagination, and what sets it apart from other windmills in and around Amsterdam.
Rising above the tall waving grass, surrounded by mist, and bathed in the same soft, diffused light that inspired Dutch masters like Rembrandt and Vermeer, it’s easy to imagine what it was like when the mills were first built over 200 years ago.
The mills are beautifully preserved. One of them has been turned into the Museum Mill, where you can learn how a windmill works and how families lived in them and worked the land. The interior of the mill has been saved from the 1950s, when its last inhabitants left.
As with most Dutch places, it’s possible to explore Kinderdijk on foot, by bike, or by boat. If you are into hiking, which I’m not, there are longer hiking routes that take you through the surrounding Alblasserwaard polders. There are also two canal boats that depart every 30 minutes from the Visitors’ Center.
There were a lot of foreign visitors, but also lots of local Dutch families just enjoying a stroll, a bike ride, or taking their dogs for a walk. There’s also a cafe at one of the mills, where visitors can warm up with a coffee or tea and some apple pie. It’s a beautiful place for family photos, as you can see.
We opted for a leisurely walk, which, even in on a windy, rainy, freezing November day, was thoroughly enjoyable just because the scenery was so lovely. Tala loved it! Towards the end of our walk she stuck her arms out and whirled around pretending to be a windmill.
We decided to drive, but if you want to take public transport it’s best to start from Amsterdam Central Station and take the Intercity train to either Rotterdam or Utrecht. Either way it’s a nice day trip from Amsterdam.
From Rotterdam, take the metro to metrostation Rotterdam Zuidplein, then take bus 90 to Alblasserdam (direction Utrecht). You can also take the waterbus, which is a 30-minute boat ride.
From Utrecht Central Station, it’s bus 90 from Utrecht Central Station to Alblasserdam (direction Rotterdam Zuidplein); the bus stops right at the entrance to the waterway where all the windmills are. You could also take the waterbus from Rotterdam.
Aside from windmills in Holland, what else are you interested in seeing when you come visit?