One of the most iconic Dutch landscapes would be the one with a windmill on it, wouldn’t it. Indeed you need to visit the Netherlands for the ultimate windmill experience. Today, there only about 1000 windmills left in the Netherlands, but in the heyday of the windmills in the 19th century, there were about 9 000 windmills in the country.
The first windmills in the Netherlands appeared somewhere in the 12th century along the coast. They were used for grinding grain. Later on, in the 15th century appeared the first polder mills that were used to drain the water from marshlands or lakes so that land could be reclaimed. Dutch were pretty good in water management those days. Well, they are still good at it today, too. Later on, there appeared saw mills, oil production mills, paper mills, dye mills, and so on.
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- 1 Fun facts about the Dutch windmills
- 2 Where to see windmills near Amsterdam?
- 3 Where to see windmills in Amsterdam?
- 4 Best windmill tours from Amsterdam
Fun facts about the Dutch windmills
- The oldest existing windmill in the Netherlands is the Tower Mill in Zeddam. It was built somewhere around 1440.
- The tallest windmills in the world are the Windmills of Schiedam. Once, there were about 20 windmills in this Dutch city, but today there are only 6 left. The tallest non-historical windmill is De Nolet (42,5 m). It was built in 2005 in the spirit of the traditional windmills, but in fact it is a wind turbine in disguise. The tallest historical windmill is De Noord – 33,3 m.
- The biggest concentration of windmills in the Netherlands is in Kinderdijk – 19 windmills, Zaanse Schans – 15 windmills, De Schermer – 11 windmills. All three places are touristic attractions and Kinderdijk is s UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Every 2nd weekend in May the Dutch are celebrating National Windmill Day. Then a lot of windmill which otherwise are closed, are open for the public.
Where to see windmills near Amsterdam?
When you travel in the Netherlands, you will spot for sure a windmill or two, but there are two places that are famous for their windmills: Kinderdijk and Zaanse Schans. And for a reason. As I already mentioned, these two places have the biggest concentration of windmills at one location.
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The windmills of Kinderdijk
I won’t exaggerate if I say that Kinderdijk is perhaps the most popular and most visited attraction in the Netherlands after Amsterdam, of course. Contrary to what most would think, Kinderdijk is not that close to Amsterdam. It’s closer to another lovely Dutch city – Rotterdam. I know, that we are spoiled here in the Netherlands, thinking that anything that is more than a 30-minutes’ drive, is far away. Still, with an hour and 15 minutes from Amsterdam, the windmills at Kinderdijk make it a great day trip from the Dutch capital.
Kinderdijk is the place to go to admire the outstanding water-management skills of the Dutch. This is also why Kinderdijk is included on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list. The system of 19 windmills built in the beginning of the 18th century has been used to pump out water from what once was a bog.
Walking around in Kinderdijk is free of charge, but you should respect the privacy of the people living in some of the windmills. There are also two windmills that can be visited as museums. The price of the ticket is 11 EUR. If you buy it online, it’s 9 EUR.
The windmills of Zaanse Schans
Zaanse Schans is a small open-air museum village, where one can taste how life was in the 18th and 19th centuries in the Low Lands. The village was created in the 60s and the 70s, when lots of historical buildings and windmills have been transported there from other parts of the Zaan area.
In Zaanse Schans you can see windmills that actually do the job. There’s a spice mill, several oil mills, a dye mill, two saw mills, two paper mills, a flour mill, and a grain mill. All mills work and can be visited. In the windmill village, there are artisanal shops, where you can see how things like sails, clogs, or cheese are made. There are also a copper smith, a liqueur distillery, a pewter foundry.
At only 20 km from Amsterdam, Zaanse Schaans is the easiest day trip from Amsterdam to see windmills. Each museum/windmill has its own paid entry, but you can buy a Zaanse Schans Card for 15 EUR, which will give you access to most of the attractions.
De Schermer windmills
The 11 remaining polder windmills in the Schermer (De Schermer) area are part of one of the greatest projects of the Dutch to reclaim land from the water. For 3 years the Scher Lake (Schermeer) was pumped out with he help of 52 polder mills and in 1635 the lake disappeared completely.
Today, you can visit The Museum Mill in Schermerhorn, which is a part of a complex of 3 polder windmills. The polder mills could pump out up to 60 000 l of water per minute, which is absolutely amazing. You can visit the miller’s home in the mill and climb all the way up to the ridge to see from very close how the mill is actually working.
The Museum Mill is only 40 km from Amsterdam. The entrance is 4,50 EUR.
Address: Noordervaart 2, 1636 VL Schermerhorn
De Adriaan in Haarlem
This is perhaps the most famous single windmill in the Netherlands. The city scape of Haarlem is absolutely unthinkable without De Adriaan. The foundation of the mill was part of the old city defense wall, but the mill was built in 1778. It was used to produce cement from tuff stone.
In 1932 the icon of Haarlem burned down in a fire and it took 70 years to restore it in its complete glory. The windmill was open again in 2002. Today there’s a museum in the windmill and on special occasions it can be seen working. The entry to the museum costs 5 EUR (5,50 EUR online skip-the-lines ticket).
Address: Papentorenvest 1A, 2011 AV Haarlem
The windmill at Keukenhof
Where else in the Netherlands can you see two of the absolute Dutch icons together: tulips and windmills? At Keukenhof, of course. Although the windmill is not the main attraction in the biggest tulip garden in the world, it’s absolutely lovely.
From the top of the mill, there’s amazing view to the tulip fields and the park. You won’t learn much about the windmills in general but you’ll have a gorgeous view.
The windmills of Heusden
One of my favorite places to see windmills in the Netherlands, is the little town of Heusden. Located in North Brabant, close to Den Bosch, Heusden looks as if the time has stopped a few centuries ago. Completely restored, according to a map of 1649, Heusden is a perfect example of a fortified town.
There are three windmills in Heusden. Most people won’t know that, but the windmills haven’t been there all the time. Although they were put there in the 1970s, they organically blend with the landscape and today Heusden is unthinkable without its windmills.
Where to see windmills in Amsterdam?
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to leave Amsterdam in order to see windmills. There are 8 windmills in Amsterdam itself!
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This is the easiest windmill to see in Amsterdam. It’s located not very far from the city centre. The windmill was built in the beginning of the 19th century at the place of a windmill from the 16th century. It was a part of series of corn mills on Singelgracht (the waterway that encircles the centre of the city) and it’s the only one which has survived till the present day. De Gooyer windmill cannot be visited, but next to the mill is the local ‘t IJ Brewery, where you can taste some of the best craft beer in Amsterdam.
Address: Funenkade 5, Amsterdam
De Otter is a saw mill located not very far from the city centre. The saw mill was built in 1631 and was part of group of saw mills in what today is the Western part of Amsterdam is. De Otter was recently completely renovated and since 2019 is working again. Built around 1631, it’s the oldest windmill in Amsterdam, that hasn’t been moved around.
Address: Gillis van Ledenberchstraat 78 A, Amsterdam
The Mill of Sloten (Molen van Sloten)
This polder windmill is located actually just outside of Amsterdam in the village of Sloten, which is part of the Municipality of Amsterdam. The Mill of Sloten is a working one and can be visited daily. Actually the original windmill of Sloten was the one that was moved to the banks of Amstel River – the Rieker Mill (De Riekermolen). The current Mill of Sloten was placed there in 1991.
Address: Akersluis 10, 1066 EZ Amsterdam
Entry: 8,50 EUR
The Rieker Mill is just outside of the city centre, at the southern end of the Amstel Park on the Amstel River. This polder mill stood originally in the village of Sloten and was moved to its present place in the 1960s. You can see the mill working on the weekends in the summer.
Address: De Borcht 10, 1083 AC Amsterdam
D’Admiraal is the last remaining chalk mill in the Netherlands. It was built in 1793 and it’s still working. The Chalk Mill d’Admiraal is open for visits every second Saturday of the month in the summer. The entry is free of charge.
Address: Noordhollandschkanaaldijk 21, 1034 ZL Amsterdam- Buiksloot
Other windmills in Amsterdam
- De 1100 Roe (also called De Ookmeermolen), originally built in 1674, it was moved to its current place in 1965, where it’s still working as a polder mill.
- De 1200 Roe was built in 1632 and it still stands on its original place.
- De Bloem – a corn mill built 1768 and moved to its current place in 1878.
Best windmill tours from Amsterdam
If you are not travelling by car in the Netherlands, your best bet to visit the windmills will be an organized day tour from Amsterdam. However, you can easily visit Zaanse Schans and Haarlem by public transport from Amsterdam. If you are staying in Rotterdam, Kinderdijk can be even visited with the water bus.
Here is my selection of tours from Amsterdam.