The Windmills of Kinderdijk

Most people visit Amsterdam's acclaimed museums to gaze at Dutch and Flemish works of art depicting frozen canals, stretched-out meadows and pastel skies... But what if I told you you could actually step into one of those typical Golden Age paintings and experience Dutch eighteenth-century rural culture yourself?

Two girls swimming in the canal ©Maaike
The windmills of Kinderdijk, a small village 15 kilometers east of Rotterdam, are so quintessentially Dutch, they even make me wonder whether they are truly antique or if I'm looking at a postcard. No need to worry, though: the 19 windmills that make up the mill network of Kinderdijk date back to 1740 and are as real as they can possibly be. 

Although they look insanely photogenic, the mills were not built for aesthetic pleasure, but served to grind wheat and – most important – pump away water from low-lying areas to keep the land dry. (As I wrote earlier in this article, most of the Netherlands lies below sea level!)

7 of the 19 mills of Kinderdijk
Dipping our toes into the canal ©Maaike
Two girls swimming to the other side ©Maaike
So what can you actually do in Kinderdijk — a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site — apart from the usual oohing and aahing? Well, you could:

- visit a windmill to get a good idea of the functioning of these historical beasts;
- take a short canal tour;
- walk around the old village;
- rent a bike and cycle over the dyke that curves into the distance;
- jump into the canal (highly recommended!);
- go ice-skating in winter.

Summer in the Netherlands ©Maaike
Can it get any more Dutch than this? ©Maaike

There are several ways to get to Kinderdijk, the most fun one being the Waterbus. This modern river taxi docks at the Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam and from there it takes 45 minutes to reach Kinderdijk (change once at Ridderkerk). It costs around €6,- return — whilst the bus is a tad cheaper, I really advise you to travel over water to get a good view over Rotterdam, its port and its skyline, as well as rural Holland. Kinderdijk itself is free, although they might ask you for a small donation for the preservation of the windmills.

Now where are my clogs and basket of tulips?!


  1. Ben daar een paar jaar geleden geweest en ik vond het echt verschrikkelijk. Arme mensen die nog in die molens wonen, nooit rust!

    1. Jammer! Waarom eigenlijk? Je kunt er heerlijk langs het water zitten, en je hoeft niet eens toeristen om je heen te hebben. Zeker als je het bekende pad een beetje afgaat. Het is ook heel goed fietsen in de omgeving, erg rustig en op z'n Nederlands mooi. :)

  2. Jaaaaa ik was er vorig jaar met een Koreaans vriendinnetje en zowel zij als ik vonden het echt fantastisch! Ik vond het vooral leuk dat er serieus ook Nederlanders waren en niet alleen toeristen, en dat je kon steltlopen - ik denk dat ik nooit zo vaak op de foto ben gezet als toen ;) - en naar de klompenmakerij en trekdrop eten en de Nijntje winkel en en en. Zeker een goede tip dus!


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