Kinderdijk and its Windmills: A Day Trip from Rotterdam

Kinderdijk, Netherlands
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You can’t go to the Netherlands without seeing windmills. Or canals. Kinderdijk, an easy day trip from Rotterdam, is a classic Dutch landscape of water and windmills. It is also a place to learn about the long struggle between the people, their land, and the sea.

Kinderdijk, Netherlands
One of the 19 windmills of Kinderdijk

Kinderdijk, a World Heritage Site

The whole story of this part of The Netherlands is based around attempts to reclaim the land from the sea. Kinderdijk is a part of that story, with a canal and 19 windmills. These were once part of a complex system of water management.

Over the years more modern methods of managing the land and the water have developed, and windmills have gradually disappeared from the landscape. However the Kinderdijk windmills have been retained so that visitors can learn the history of the area. Kinderdijk became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.

Windmills at Kinderdijk
A classic Dutch landscape of water and windmills

Reclaiming the Land

Two of Kinderdijk’s windmills are now open as museums, explaining why land reclamation was necessary and how it was managed. Because the land is fertile, this area has been inhabited for thousands of years. However the land is also flat, and the inhabitants had to find a way of stopping the sea from flooding their fields and their homes. They built canals and dikes to drain the water, but needed to control the water level in the canals and rivers. The result was a system of pumps, reservoirs and locks, all powered by windmills.

Windmills of Kinderdijk
Pinnable image of the windmills of Kinderdijk

The windmills remained in use until the 20th century. At Kinderdijk the show windmills give you an idea of how a miller and his family would have lived in the 1950s. It seems to have been a self sufficient existence, with each family having a small plot of land to grow food and keep chickens.

A Walk Along the Canal

Kinderdijk isn’t just about history: it is also a place for a peaceful country walk. Admittedly it can be crowded at the start of the path (a cruise ship had just turned up when we arrived), but it gets much quieter as you walk further on. Once we got past the second windmill-museum it was just us and some cyclists. Bicycles are popular here, and we even saw a man on a penny-farthing!

The path along the canal goes through fertile peatland. The grass is full of wild flowers and there are bog irises and waterlilies. We saw nesting birds, dragonflies, and the shells of fresh water pearl mussels.

Coot
Look out for birds and plants in the water

Visiting Kinderdijk

The easiest way to get to Kinderdijk from Rotterdam is to take a boat from the Erasmus Bridge (payment on board by cash). Some boats go directly to Kinderdijk; alternatively you can take the waterbus to Ridderkerk, and then go on the local ferry across the water to Kinderdijk.

You can take your bike on the boat, or rent a bike from the souvenir shop at Kinderdijk. If you don’t want to walk or cycle, boat trips along the canal are available. There is no charge to enter the site, but you need a ticket to go in the windmill-museums.

Cyclists at Kinderdijk
Bikes are popular, and we even saw a penny-farthing…

Refreshment facilities at Kinderdijk are limited, although you can buy drinks in cans or bottles. If you want something to eat I recommend you do as we did, and take the ferry across to Ridderkerk, where you can enjoy a leisurely snack or meal at the Paviljoen. Here you can watch the river traffic going by until it is time to catch the waterbus back to Rotterdam.

 

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8 thoughts on “Kinderdijk and its Windmills: A Day Trip from Rotterdam”

  1. How lovely Karen. The wind mills make it special. The bike paths are nothing to sneeze at either. This will be one of my fave aspects of visiting Holland; being able to bike effortlessly around much of the country, enjoying some sweet views and fine cardio too.

  2. I am so doing this when we get to the Netherlands next spring. You make it look absolutely gorgeous! I had no idea what a penny-farthing was until now, but that would make the scene really feel as if you had stepped into the past!

  3. I was just in Kinderdijk in May — it was a stop on our Rhine river cruise. Loved the history and the beauty of those old windmills. I would really like to do a bike tour there sometime — that would be so much fun (especially with all that flat land).

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About Karen

WorldWideWriter is owned and managed by Karen Warren. I have been writing and travelling for many years (almost 60 countries at the last count). I’ve visited every continent except Antarctica (I still hope to get there one day…), and my current favourite destinations are Italy, Spain and North America. This website is my attempt to inform and inspire other travellers, and to share some of the things I’ve discovered along the way.

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