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.
Although Kinderdijk is in a rural area, getting there with public transport is possible on several ways. Buses are operated by Qbuzz. Regular OV-chipkaart is valid, also the Holland Travel Ticket. Alternatively tickets can be bought when entering the bus for around €4,50.- one way (debit/credit card only). Local RET daytickets are not valid on Qbuzz buses.
- Bus 489 operates 2 times per hour between Rotterdam Metro Station Kralingse Zoom, Rotterdam Park & Ride Beverwaard, Oostendam, Alblasserdam, Kinderdijk and Nieuw-Lekkerland.
- Bus 316 operates 2 times per hour between Dordrecht Railway Station, Alblasserdam and Kinderdijk. In the early morning and late evening you can take the limited 316 service to Alblasserdam and change there to 489 to Kinderdijk.
The bus stop is Kinderdijk, Molenkade for both routes. That is the third stop in the village Kinderdijk after IHC Smit and Kloos.
- Amsterdam & The Hague: Take the train to Dordrecht. Take the 316 bus from there.
- Rotterdam (option 1): take a tram to P+R Beverwaard. Change there to bus 489 to Kinderdijk.
- Rotterdam (option 2): from Zuidplein metro station, take bus 392 and 491 to Oostendam (up to 8 times per hour). At Oostendam, change to 489 to Kinderdijk.
- Rotterdam (option 3): from Kralingse Zoom metro station, take bus 489 to Kinderdijk.
- Utrecht: take Intercity train to Rotterdam Alexander. Change there to a metro to Kralingse Zoom. From there, take bus 489 to Kinderdijk.
Take a waterbus[dead link] from Rotterdam (Erasmusbrug[dead link]) or Dordrecht (Merwekade[dead link]).
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 from 09:35 to 15:35; 08:35 only on weekdays; 16:53 in Jul and 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.
- Mill Network at Kinderdijk-Elshout, ☏ +31 6 520-834-86. 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, and you can walk or cycle through it. For many, that might well be enough.
- Museum sites. Mid-Mar to Oct: daily 09:00-17:30; Nov to mid-Mar: 11:00-16:00. Two of the windmills can be visited inside. One is an older design to the other windmills on the site, with more that would rotate, but you are limited to the ground floor and a fire in 1997 means that much of what you see of the building is a modern reconstruction. The other allows access to all but the very top, and you can see the whole mechanism, from gears driven by the sails to the curved blades that lifted the water up a few metres. On busy days, you will have to wait to have the space to do so: there is not much, and part of the attraction is wondering how a large family - one per windmill - managed.
The first windmill has a barge outside (as of 2022) with three very short films on the system. It also has a very low roof and several low beams, so be prepared to duck when moving about.
If you have mobility issues, none of these are likely to be accessible.
At the visitor centre end, paying visitors can access the roof, which gives a slightly better view of the landscape (drones are specifically banned from the site).
There is also the pumping station Wisboomgemaal (steam from 1868; electric from 1924 to 1996) which has the two electric motors from its second incarnation, a couple of games (the best is for 1-6 players on making sure windmills point in the right direction and aren't spinning too much because of a storm or draining too much water), wall displays (some curiously high up given the age group they seem to be aimed at), and a small shop. Another building has a six screen film in Dutch, sometimes subtitled in English, on the area. Sit in the middle and be prepared to look at both of the larger screens at opposite ends of the room at once, as the other four can be ignored most of the time.
There are two short boat trip routes: one stops at the open windmills allowing you to hop on and off, the other just goes to the end of the line of them and back without stopping. Both run about every 30 minutes. A day pass to the Windmill site, the two Museum Mills and the Multiscreen film at visitor centre 'Wisboom' €16 during the week, more at weekends; tickets can be bought at the parking lot, at the Museummolen, at the Wisboomgemaal and online (with 10% discount). Whether it is worth it is perhaps questionable..
- 1 Wisboom (pumping station).
- 2 Nederwaard Molen #2.
- 3 Blokweer Molen (De Blokker).
- [dead link] 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).
- [dead link] 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 10:00, the last one departs at 17:00. €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), ☏ +31 78 691-2485. 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), ☏ +31 78 691-2425. 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.