Kinderdijk is a village in the Alblasserwaard polder of the Netherlands. It's a popular, yet authentic, tourist destination for its large network of windmills. These received recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.
Kinderdijk lies in the Alblasserwaard, at the confluence of the Lek and Noord rivers. In Alblasserwaard, problems with water became more and more apparent in the 13th century. Large canals, called "weteringen", were dug to get rid of the excess water in the polders. However, the drained soil started setting, while the level of the river rose due to the river's sand deposits.
After a few centuries, an additional way to keep the polders dry was required. It was decided to build a series of windmills, with a limited capacity to bridge water level differences, but just able to pump water into a reservoir at an intermediate level between the soil in the polder and the river; the reservoir could be pumped out into the river by other windmills whenever the river level was low enough; the river level has both seasonal and tidal variations. Although some of the windmills are still used, the main water works are provided by two diesel pumping stations near one of the entrances of the windmills site.
As Kinderdijk is in a rural area, getting there with public transport can be a time-consuming process. The easiest way to get there is to first take a train to railway station Rotterdam Lombardijen. This station is easily accessible from the major cities. You will have to continue your way by bus. When leaving the railway station, cross the street and tram lines to get to the bus stop. Arriva operates two bus connections that serve bus stop Kinderdijk, Molenkade:
- Bus 90 operates hourly, 7 days a week, and has Utrecht CS as its final destination. The ride takes about 45 minutes.
- Bus 190 is a special bus that operates infrequently. It only seems to reach Kinderdijk during morning rush hours.
If you're not sure when to get off, ask the bus driver to tell you when he's there. You can plan your trip ahead from 9292.nl. As both bus lines depart from metro station Rotterdam Zuidplein, you could alternatively take the bus from there.
A day pass is available which includes coupons for a return ride on the Driehoeksveer ferry and entrances to the Museummolen and Wisboomgemaal.
- Line 202. May-Sep. A seasonal direct service which connects Kinderdijk with Rotterdam (Erasmusbrug) and Dordrecht (Merwekade). Travel time is about 1/2 hour. Departures from Rotterdam hourly starting from 9:35 to 15:35; 8:35 only on weekdays; 16:53 in Jul,Aug.
- Line 20 and Driehoeksveer. Get off at De Schans (Ridderkerk), change to a Driehoeksveer (Triangle ferry), a smaller ferry to Kinderdijk.
- waterbus and bus. Take off at Alblasserdam Kade and take a bus #90 or #190 from Alblasserdam Dam stop (direction Utrecht).
- waterbus and bike. Take off at Alblasserdam Kade and have a bike ride (approx. 5 km).
There are many ways to get to Kinderdijk by motorway. If you're coming from Rotterdam, drive south along motorway A16 in the direction to Dordrecht. At the junction, get onto the A15 that goes in eastward direction to Gorinchem. Get off at exit 22 and follow the signs to Kinderdijk.
If you're coming from Amsterdam or Utrecht, drive south along motorway A2. At the junction Everdingen, get onto motorway A27 that goes to Gorinchem in southwestern direction. At the junction Gorinchem, get onto motorway A15 that goes to Rotterdam in westwards direction. Get off at exit 22 and follow the signs to Kinderdijk. The ride is about 100 km from Amsterdam.
Kinderdijk is also within a cycling distance of the Dordrecht. Route maps are available at the VVV visitor information bureau. Just cross a river via a bridge or by a ferry (take off at Papendrecht), then take a ride for about 15km.
The best way to see the windmills is on foot or by bicycle.
The Mill Network at Kinderdijk-Elshout (☎ +31 6 520-834-86) is the largest concentration of old windmills in the Netherlands. In total, there are 19 windmills that were built in 1740 to drain the Albasserwaard. The mills are not always in operation; this depends on the weather. The Kinderdijk site, being a part of the general landscape, is free to visit.
- Museum sites. mid-Mar - Oct Mo-Su 09.00-17.30; Nov - mid-Mar 11.00-16.00. Two of the windmills can be visited inside, and a visit is usually combined with the steam-powered pumping station Wisboomgemaal. The Wisboomgemaal has a visitor's centre, a digital scale model and an introductory film. Some of the facilities here include free restrooms and soda machines. A day pass to the Windmill site, the two Museum Mills and the Multiscreen film at visitor centre 'Wisboom' €7.50; children from 4 €5.50; tickets can be bought at the parking lot, at the Museummolen, at the Wisboomgemaal and online (with 10% discount).
- Bike ride. Cycling is a popular activity in Kinderdijk. You can take a ride along the windmills, or in the wider area. It is even possible to cycle all the way to here from Rotterdam! Bike rental is available at the Partycentrum de Klok (see below) or at the town of Alblasserdam [dead link] (near the waterbus stop). By bike you can easily combine a visit to Kinderdijk with other tourist attractions, such as Schoonhoven (Silver City), the fortress town of Nieuwpoort and the Streekcentrum Ooievaarsdorp Het Liesvelt (Stork Village).
- Boat tour (departures from the parking lot). Apr-Oct. Along the canal dotted by the windmills. A tour takes about 30 minutes. The first boat leaves at 10AM, the last one departs at 5PM. €5; children €3.
Kinderdijk is not really a place to go shopping, but you can buy souvenirs from the usual gift shops.
There are a few restaurants at the entrance of the park.
- 1 Kantine De Molenhoek.
- 2 Buena Vista, Molenstraat 230 (near the entrance of the park), ☎ . W-Su 12:00-late. This restaurant is housed in a historic building at the main road close to the windmills. It has an old-Dutch luxurious interior that has a traditional appearance. On the menu are meat and fish dishes and Dutch pancakes. €20-30.
- 3 Partycentrum de Klok, Molenstraat 117.
Coffee for an affordable price right at the entrance of the park.
- Hotel Kinderdijk, West Kinderdijk 361, Alblasserdam (walk southwest along the main road from the entrance), ☎ . This is a decent hotel with rooms for mid-range prices. There's also a restaurant attached to it where you can have dinner or lunch. Mains are about €17-20. It is possible to make a reservation. €70.
You can take the Waterbus to Dordrecht, a historic town with some interesting museums.