Best windmill site in the Netherlands: Kinderdijk or Zaanse Schans?

It’s not just all about Kinderdijk or Zaanse Schans, but these are the places everyone flocks to in the Netherlands. So the question may be keeping you awake at night — which one of these two is the best windmill site in the Netherlands?

Well, we’ve been to both. In case you’re stuck trying to choose which one to visit, here’s a little windmill review.

Best windmill site in the Netherlands: Kinderdijk

Up first, we have the beautiful Kinderdijk in South Holland!

📍Where is it?

Kinderdijk is a village that sits between Rotterdam and Dordrecht. Due to its location, it’s not possible to take the train there, so the best way to go is by bus from the Rotterdam region.

🌬️What’s the windmill situation like?

Kinderdijk houses a unique collection of 18th to 19th-century windmills that are neatly aligned along the Dijk. It has three pumping stations and reservoirs that control all the flooding in the area.

READ MORE | 7 great windmills to visit in the Netherlands

What makes these windmills unique is that people still live in them! There is no privacy for these poor residents, as their laundry airs out for the world to see. Luckily, the windmills are separated by water, so you can’t just go knocking on people’s doors.

🚶‍♀️Ability to walk, cycle, or drive

There are footpaths, cycle paths, and waterways running along the windmills. It’s a beautiful walk, and if you take it at a steady pace, it will take you a while to get to the end and back.

Thinking of cycling through Kinderdijk? It’s very possible, but it’s just not ideal in busy periods as you will be dodging pedestrians who don’t know the difference between a footpath and a cycle path.

Photo-of-windmills-at-kinderdijk-with-boat-driving-past-on-the-river
You can even take a boat trip at Kinderdijk to see the windmills! Image: Emma Brown/Supplied

When you first arrive at Kinderdijk, you are met with a car park, toilets (so no worries on that front), a visitors centre, and a museum. The price for parking in the car park is only €7.50 per car (and all proceeds go to the upkeep of the area).

Our top tip: If you’re feeling particularly stingy, there is a car park a 10-minute walk away in an industrial estate (IHC Holland B.V – on your GPS), where it is completely free to park all weekend.

🎟️Ticketed attractions

The museum at the entrance is free. It’s small but tells you all you need to know about the windmill site.

For those willing to spend a little extra, there is a cool option to pay a bit more and see a special Kinderdijk film in the museum.

It’s also possible to pay to go inside two of the windmills at Kinderdijk to see how the windmills work!

You can also buy a boat trip ticket that will drive you past the windmills — so you can get up close and personal, and shoot some amazing pictures.

✅Pros of visiting Kinderdijk

  • Although it can get busy, it’s not as busy as other tourist attractions (if you go early or late in the day, it’s actually pretty peaceful)
  • You can park free and easily (if you follow our tip from above)
  • Attractions aren’t expensive (and it’s totally possible not to spend any money too)
  • It’s very natural (not overly commercialised)

🤷‍♀️Cons of visiting Kinderdijk

  • It’s difficult to cycle there when it gets really busy
  • You can’t get there by train — not ideal if that’s what you’re after.
  • If you’re not wanting to stray too far from Amsterdam, then it’s not particularly close.
  • It’s not big enough to fill an entire day unless you’re looking to visit every single museum and attraction

Best windmill site in the Netherlands: Zaanse Schans

And another contender for the best windmill site: Zaanse Schans!

The-ultimate-guide-to-Zaanse-Schans-where-you-will-find-11-well-preserved-historic-windmills-and-loads-of-other-things-to-see
Is this the Zaanse Schans the best windmill site in Holland? Image: Depositphotos

📍Where is it?

Zaanse Schans is in a Dutch neighbourhood in Zaandam, located just north of Amsterdam and only 30 minutes away by car. It’s easy to get to via almost all forms of transport.

🌬️What’s the windmill situation looking like?

Zaanse Schans is the most popular windmill site, but is it the best windmill site in Holland? Well, there is lots to do and see there. It showcases a range of historic windmills.

READ MORE | The ultimate guide to Zaanse Schans: visiting the windmills of Holland

These were transported here by lowboy trailers and were used to preserve the old buildings from Zaanstreek. A museum was also placed there in 1994.

Today, there are now seven museums in the area! This means that you can actually go inside some of the windmills — some of which are still currently in use.

Photo-of-green-wooden-houses-at-the-idyllic-zaanse-schans
The best windmill site in Holland? The area is pretty cute too. Image: Emma Brown/Supplied

🚶‍♀️Ability to walk, cycle, train, or drive

Zaanse Schans is great for tourists, as it is quick to get to and from Amsterdam Centraal. It takes just 17 mins from Amsterdam Centraal to Zaandijk — Zaanse Schans station by train.

READ MORE | 19 best day trips from Amsterdam: the ultimate travel guide

There are also frequent buses to the area. You can easily cycle to and around (some parts) of Zaanse Schans. You can even take a ferry! This is one of the main reasons why it’s so popular.

You can also drive easily to the Zaanse Schans. The parking in the main car park is pretty expensive though — it’s between €11 and €15 for the day depending on the season.

🎟️Ticketed attractions

It’s free to walk around the area, and you can check out a lot of the buildings for free.

You can watch a traditional cheesemaker prepare cheese and also watch how clogs are made. In this part, there is also a small museum showing a variety of clogs over the years. Both locally-made products are also on sale, meaning you can bring them home!

READ MORE | The museum town of the Netherlands: 14 great museums to visit in Leiden

Some of the museums include the Albert Heijn Museum, a bakery museum, and a main museum at the entrance.

You can also buy boat trips around the area for around €10 and information about windmills.

✅Pros of visiting Zaanse Schans

  • You can spend most of the day there
  • There’s plenty to do and see (such as museums, little gift shops, cafés, and of course, windmills)
  • It’s so easy to get to and great if you’re near Amsterdam
  • You can walk around the windmills and other places and not have to pay a single penny (if you don’t want to)

🤷‍♀️Cons of visiting Zaanse Schans

  • It gets incredibly busy, to the point where you can’t move.
  • It’s a bit of a tourist trap, and so it’s easy to part with your money as it’s quite commercialised.
  • The landscape is a little less natural than other windmill sites

So there you have it, our review of the best windmill sites in the Netherlands.

Which one of these two is your favourite? Let us know in the comments below!

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in May 2018 and was fully updated in July 2023 for your reading pleasure. 

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Emma Brown
Emma Brown
A familiar face at DutchRevew. Emma arrived in Holland in 2016 for a few weeks, fell in love with the place and never left. Here she rekindled her love of writing and travelling. Now you'll find her eating stroopwafels in the DutchReview office since 2017.

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What do you think?

  1. Thanks for this interesting review of both windmill sites.

    I would like to mention that it is possible to travel from Rotterdam to Kinderdijk in 30 minutes, using the Waterbus. With several stops in Rotterdam, the line 202 offers an easy access from May 1 to October 31, and during week-ends in April.

    I would add a CON to Zaanse Schans. Someone using public transportation, who would like to visit other picturesque villages in the area, such as Edam, Volendam and Marken, on a same day, will find himself pressed for time as there is no direct connection between Zaanse Schans and any of those villages. One must go back through Amsterdam Centraal first to travel to those villages.

  2. I found your post interesting to read. I cant wait to see your post soon. Good Luck with the upcoming update. This article is really very interesting and effective on Home Cities Daytrips Best windmill site in Holland: Kinderdijk or Zaanse Schans?

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