Kinderdijk Windmills in Holland (with Viking Cruises)

Holland is renowned for its wooden shoes, tulips, and windmills. If you want to get your Dutch windmill fix in the Netherlands, then Kinderdijk is the place to be. Learn the significance of this historic site and what to expect when touring the Kinderdijk windmills in Holland with Viking River Cruises.

Kinderdijk UNESCO World Heritage Site in Holland, the Netherlands
Kinderdijk UNESCO World Heritage Site in Holland, the Netherlands (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

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Why Are There So Many Windmills in Holland

Much of the Netherlands, the region of Holland in particular, is located below sea level. Given its position along the North Sea, and with three major rivers crossing the country, about 20 percent of the Netherlands is at high risk for flooding. The solution? An intricate system of dykes and dams plus windmills to pump water away and keep the land livable.

Get a glimpse of life inside the windmills at Kinderdijk
Get a glimpse of life inside the windmills at Kinderdijk (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Dutch Windmills at Kinderdijk

The most famous grouping of windmills in the Netherlands is in the village community of Kinderdijk, which is located in the Holland region of the country. Built in the 1700s, some of the historic windmills at Kinderdijk are still inhabited and in operation today. Kinderdijk was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.

It is fascinating to see and hear the cacophonous windmill gears spinning up close during a walking tour. For safety’s sake, stay away from cordoned-off areas. Although the windmills of Kinderdijk may look romantic, they can be quite dangerous. Throughout history, the huge, heavy blades have killed the owners’ children, spouses, and millers themselves.

Kinderdijk is located at the confluence of the Lek and Noord rivers
Kinderdijk is located at the confluence of the Lek and Noord rivers (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

What to Do at Kinderdijk

A few hours is plenty of time to explore this historic collection of traditional windmills during a guided tour. That’s just what my husband and I got during our half-day visit to this low-lying village with Viking River Cruises.

Two of the 19 windmills house museums. Enter these to get a glimpse of what life was like when traditional windmills were the main source of flood protection.

Then, wander along the river’s shore and snap photos of the series of windmills. For a longer visit, rent bicycles to explore the heritage site and surrounding picturesque landscape.

Boat tours along the Lek River are also available. Be sure to stop into the onsite gift shop to pick up some traditional and affordable Dutch souvenirs.

19th Century children's items on display at Kinderdijk UNESCO World Heritage Site
18th Century children’s items on display at Kinderdijk UNESCO World Heritage Site (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Flood Management in the Netherlands

Although technological advances have made the use of these 18th-century windmills for flood management unnecessary, there are still over 900 traditional windmills in the Netherlands. Some of these were used for industry like grain grinding, rather than water displacement.

Today, reinforced locks and levees, a massive pumping station, and two giant gates taller than the Empire State Building protect the country’s populace. With worldwide rising water levels, this helps protect the low-lying Netherlands from severe flooding.

Modern-day wind power turbines are being added to the country’s landscape now as a source of energy instead of as protection from flood waters.

Wooden shoes on display at Kinderdijk World Heritage Site
Wooden shoes on display at Kinderdijk World Heritage Site (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Why Visit Windmills in Holland

There is a saying, “God created the Earth, but the Dutch created the Netherlands.” By diverting water, the Dutch have created more livable land for their countrymen.

The Dutch inventiveness and resolve are nowhere more clear than at Kinderdijk. You see firsthand how this populace handled the seemingly insurmountable task of the constant threat of floods that ruined homes, farms, and businesses and spread disease. The people of the Netherlands didn’t sit around and complain; they put on their wooden shoes and got to work creating a solution.

Before my visit, I knew that windmills were synonymous with Holland, but I really didn’t understand why. Exploring the windmills at Kinderdijk brings the history and steadfastness of the Netherlands to life.

Wearing wooden shoes at Kinderdijk
That’s me, wearing wooden shoes at Kinderdijk (Photo credit: Travel Mamas)

Learn More

Discover more Viking Cruise ports along the Rhine River on the Rhine Getaway.

Explore what to do in Amsterdam with kids.

Taste Dutch pancakes at the best pancake houses in the Netherlands.

Go bicycling with kids in the Netherlands.

Kinderdijk Mindmills in Holland, The Netherlands

Save These Kinderdijk Tips

For future trips, be sure to save these tips for exploring Kinderdijk Windmills in Holland with Viking Cruises. Simply pin the image above or below to Pinterest. I hope you’ll follow Travel Mamas on Pinterest while you’re at it!

Why Visit Windmills in Holland, the Netherlands at Kinderdijk ~ A UNESCO World Heritage Site

Is visiting Dutch windmills in Holland on your bucket list? Have you ever considered a Viking River Cruise? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

A Note from The Travel Mama: Our cruise was hosted by Viking River Cruises. All opinions are mine, as always.

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    1. Or maybe I’m just an incredible photographer! Totally kidding – Kinderdijk really is a photographer’s dream!

    1. Tamara – Yes! I wish we’d had time to add that into our Kinderdijk adventures!

  1. I love Holland and of course, I love the windmills. I knew about their purpose, but besides being extremely useful, these add to the landscape beauty and make you want to live there forever.

  2. This is really an exciting to visit windmills. I would like to see these windmill in real. They really looks very romantic. I loved this post. Thanks Colleen for sharing.

    1. Thanks, Carrol. I hope you get a chance to see the traditional windmills of the Netherlands in-person someday!

    1. It’s amazing how seeing something like a traditional Dutch windmill in-person teaches such a better lesson than simply reading about it in a book!