Best windmill site in Holland: Kinderdijk or Zaanse Schans?

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

Well, I’ve been to both (admittedly Kinderdijk a lot more, as I live close). In case you’re stuck trying to choose which one to visit, here’s a little windmill review.

Coronavirus update: Be aware that some attractions may be closed due to coronavirus. Take care to avoid crowded areas, wear a mask when you can’t, and choose less-busy times of the day to go out.

Best windmill site in Holland: Kinderdijk

Where is it?

Kinderdijk is a village that sits in the south of Holland. It’s located in 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.

Kinderdijk is located only a short bus ride from Rotterdam. Image: Emma Brown/Supplied

What’s there?

Windmills (well, duh):

Kinderdijk houses 19 18th-century windmills, all in a row along the dikes. It has three pumping stations and reservoirs that control all of the floodings in the area. What makes these windmills unique is that people still live in them! In fact, the last time I went, people were having a party outside their windmill and setting off fireworks (naughty, naughty). There are no secrets for these poor residents, as their laundry and giant pants are aired out for the world to see when tourists take a walkthrough. Luckily, the windmills are separated by water, so you can’t go knocking on people’s windmills.

Ability to walk, cycle, or drive:

There are footpaths, cycle paths, and waterways that go 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. Your bike? It’s not ideal in busy periods as you’re still dodging pedestrians who don’t know the difference between a footpath and a cycle path.

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 to park in the car park is only €5 per car (and all proceeds go to the upkeep of the area). My 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 sat nav), where it is completely free to park all weekend.

Ticketed attractions:

The museum at the entrance is also free. It’s small but tells you all you need to know about the windmill site. There is an option to pay a bit extra 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 alongside the windmills — so you can get up close and personal and shoot some amazing pictures.

Best windmill site in Holland
You can even take a boat trip! Image: Emma Brown/Supplied

Pros of visiting Kinderdijk

  • Although it can get busy, it’s not as busy as other tourist attractions and if you go early or late in the day, it’s actually pretty peaceful.
  • You can park free and easily (if you follow my tip).
  • Attractions aren’t expensive and if you don’t want to pay anything, it’s possible to still have a good time.
  • It’s very natural (not overly commercialised) and people still live there which is cool.

Cons of visiting Kinderdijk

  • It’s not easy to cycle there if it’s really busy (it’s not impossible, but it’s a pain in the ass — people don’t know what’s a cycle path and what isn’t for some reason).
  • You can’t get there by train — not ideal if that is what you’re after.
  • If you’re not wanting to stray too far from Amsterdam, then it’s not particularly close.
  • Unless you pay and do everything, you can’t really spend all day there.

Best windmill site in Holland: Zaanse Schans

Zaanse Schans
Is this the best windmill site in Holland? Image: Emma Brown/Supplied

Where is it?

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

What’s there?

Windmills (well, duh):

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. 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.

There are now seven museums in the area, meaning that not only are there windmills to see, but museums too! This means that you can actually go inside some of the windmills — some of which are still currently in use.

Best windmill site in Holland
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 and easy to get to from Amsterdam Centraal. It takes just 17 mins from Amsterdam Centraal to Zaandijk — Zaanse Schans station by train. There are also frequent buses to the area. You can easily cycle to and around (some parts) Zaanse Schans. You can even take a ferry! This is one of the main reasons why it is so popular.

You can also drive easily to Zaanse Schans. The parking in the main car park is pretty expensive though — it’s €7.50 for the day unless you stay for 30 mins or less, where it’s €1. If you’re somewhere in the middle, then you might find it pricey. Not to worry — if you arrive early you can park along the road opposite for free.

Ticketed attractions:

It’s free to walk around the area, but watch out for the cameraman on the way in! You can also check out a lot of the buildings for free. Including watching how cheese is made, and then having the opportunity to buy some in the shop. You can watch how clogs were made, and then also buy some. In this part, there is also a small museum showing you about clogs and showing a variety of clogs over the years. Some of the museums include the Albert Heijn museum, a bakery museum and there is also the main museum at the entrance.

You can also buy boat trips around the area for under €10 and for some windmills you pay a small fee.

Pros of visiting Zaanse Schans

  • You can spend most of the day there — so it’s great if you want to kill time or do something at your own pace.
  • There is plenty to do and see, such as museums, little gift shops, cafes, and of course, windmills.
  • You can park for free if you arrive early and park in the bays opposite the main car park.
  • 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 — this is to make it more of a tourist attraction for visitors.

So there you have it, our extensive guide to two of the best windmill sites in Holland.

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

Feature image: Emma Brown/Supplied.
Editor’s Note: This article was first published in May 2018 and was fully updated in March 2021 for your reading pleasure. 

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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  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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