One of the things the Netherlands is known worldwide for is its windmills. These iconic structures have stood in place for centuries, attracting millions of tourists to the Netherlands annually. But what exactly are the most famous windmills in the Netherlands?
The 5 most famous windmills in the Netherlands:
Now that you know what Holland's most famous windmills are, I'm going to give you some more information about these beautiful structures. That way, you know where to find them and what they are known for.
You may not believe it, but there are more than 1100 windmills in the Netherlands! Of course, not all of these windmills are equally well known, and furthermore, they may date from different eras.
(Click here to find out why the Netherlands has so many windmills)
Also, not all windmills are in the same good condition, and there are even some that look more like a ruin than a windmill.
You can therefore imagine that not every windmill in the Netherlands attracts the same amount of attention and thus is not equally well known.
Since in this article you are looking for the most famous windmills in the Netherlands, I have put them in a top 5 for you below.
Although not an individual windmill, Kinderdijk is the best-known and most popular place to view windmills in the Netherlands.
UNESCO World Heritage Site Kinderdijk has as many as 19 beautiful windmills. The first windmills were built here as early as the late 15th century, but the current windmills almost all date from 1738 and 1740.
The mills of Kinderdijk were all built to pump up water from the lower polder. By using a wheel under the windmill, the water is raised 1.4 meters in most cases. By doing so, water levels in the polders have been maintained at the desired level for centuries.
By applying this world-famous technique, the Netherlands was able to gain huge tracts of land, which could eventually be used for things like agriculture.
In this unique place, you can see 19 centuries-old windmills standing in the Dutch landscape. The unique thing about this is that they are still in use. So not only do they provide beautiful pictures, but they are also functional.
Kinderdijk can only be admired on foot, by bicycle, or by boat. It is, of course, possible to come by car; however, it must be parked, after which you can proceed in one of these three ways.
In addition, keep in mind that during peak season, you won't be the only one. So keep this in mind while planning your day.
Overall, Kinderdijk is one of the best places in the Netherlands to see windmills.
The town of Kinderdijk is located in the province of Zuid-Holland. The nearest major city is Rotterdam. From here, you can drive to Kinderdijk by car in about 50 minutes. From Amsterdam, it takes about an hour and 45 minutes by car.
Zaanse Schans, like Kinderdijk, is a place where several windmills can be seen. There are a total of 12 windmills at Zaanse Schans. The Zaanse Schans is located in the so-called "Zaan region." Named after the river Zaan, it is located just above Amsterdam.
This region is one of the oldest industrial areas in Europe. At its peak, the Zaan region was home to more than 600 mills. The various mills were used to saw wood, make oil and grind grain, among other things.
The Zaanse Schans is a place where mills, warehouses, and old houses moved to in the 1950s and 1960s. This is now an open-air museum where you go back in time, imagining yourself in the 17th and 18th centuries.
The Zaanse Schans is hugely popular with foreign tourists, who all want to experience what it looked like centuries ago. For example, as many as 2.5 million people visited Zaanse Schans in 2019.
Zaanse Schans is one of the best places in the Netherlands to see windmills. You can see 12 beautiful mills standing along the river. All different windmills, and used for different purposes. For example, here, you will find the only working paint mill in the world.
Because Zaanse Schans is an open-air museum, you can also go inside all the mills to see how they work and what they are used for. This way, you can perfectly see the ancient techniques used to make paint, oil, or flour, for example.
The uniqueness of the Zaanse Schans is that there is much more to do besides seeing the mills. For example, you can visit a museum or visit an old bakery to see how bread used to be made.
This makes the Zaanse Schans one of the best places in the Netherlands to view windmills and experience what life was like in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Zaanse Schans is located in the province of Noord-Holland and is located just above Amsterdam. This makes it easily accessible from Amsterdam, so it is definitely worth a visit.
By car, it is a 20-minute drive from Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans. If you want to take the train from Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans, it takes 30 to 45 minutes.
If you are coming from Rotterdam, it takes an hour and 5 minutes to get to Zaanse Schans by car.
De Gooyer is a windmill located in Amsterdam. Although De Gooyer may not be the most beautiful and interesting windmill in the Netherlands, it is visited by many tourists every year.
Because of its location in the capital, the mill is among the most famous windmills in the Netherlands. Most tourists who are in Amsterdam, and want to see a mill, visit De Gooyer.
(Click here to discover more windmills to see in Amsterdam)
De Gooyer is the last remaining mill that belonged to a group of mills that stood on the outer canals of Amsterdam. From the 17th to the late 19th century, these mills were used to grind grain. The mills were tall and located on the outskirts of the city because that way, they could catch a lot of wind.
The original mill dates back to the 16th century, only it has been moved and destroyed several times. Finally, De Gooyer was rebuilt at its current location in 1814.
If you are in Amsterdam and would like to see an old Dutch windmill, you should definitely visit De Gooyer. It is one of the last remaining wooden mills in the Netherlands, making it a unique piece of history.
Unfortunately, the mill is not open to tourists, but nevertheless, it is definitely worth a visit when you are in Amsterdam.
You can also perfectly combine your visit to De Gooyer with a visit to the adjacent beer brewery, Brewery 't IJ. Here you can try delicious local beers with a view of De Gooyer in the background.
De Gooyer is located on the outskirts of downtown Amsterdam. Therefore, it is very easy to reach, both on foot and with public transportation.
If you want to visit De Gooyer from Rotterdam, it will take you about an hour and a half to an hour and 45 minutes by car. However, keep in mind that parking in Amsterdam can be tricky. Traveling by public transportation is therefore recommended.
In Schiedam, located in the province of Zuid-Holland, you can admire the seven tallest classical windmills in the world. This makes these windmills one of the most famous in the Netherlands.
Once there were 20 windmills in the center of this city, of which six remain. In 2006, the city built a seventh classical-style windmill. This one looks like a windmill on the outside but serves as a wind turbine. At 42.5 meters high, this is the tallest windmill in the world.
The windmills in Schiedam were used for grinding roasted malt, which was then used in the jenever industry. Schiedam was, therefore, the international jenever capital in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Because of the height of the mills, they rise beautifully above the houses of this old Dutch town. This makes these mills unique and, therefore, one of the most famous windmills in the Netherlands.
Schiedam is a beautiful city with canals and old warehouses. Towering above all this are the six remaining windmills and the seventh newly built highest windmill in the world.
One of the old windmills now serves as a museum. Here you will learn more about the history of mills and how they were used in the past. The mill "De Vrijheid" is the only still working mill in Schiedam.
In addition to the history of the mills, you will also learn a lot about the jenever industry, as they were working hand in hand.
Schiedam is located west of Rotterdam. By car, you can drive from Rotterdam to Schiedam in 16 minutes. From Rotterdam, Schiedam is also very easy to reach by public transportation.
If you are coming from Amsterdam, you are one hour away by car. Schiedam is also easily accessible by public transportation from Amsterdam. Travel time for this will be about the same as by car.
The "Museummolen Schermerhorn" is one of the eleven remaining mills of the old mill system of the Schermerpolder. This mill, which today serves as a museum, was part of a group of 52 windmills.
Together they ensured that the emerging lake, the "Schermeer," could be drained to gain land and to ensure the safety of the surrounding area. Because of the innovative arrangement of the mills, the water from the lake could be drained into the North Sea.
The Museum windmill Schermerhorn is located in the province of North Holland and stands between two other mills. Together they form a beautiful picture of a typical Dutch landscape.
In spring, in addition to the windmills, you can see beautiful fields of tulips all around you. All this together makes this one of the best places in the Netherlands to see windmills.
As you can see in the photo above, you can expect a typical Dutch landscape. Not only is the Museum windmill Schermerhorn perfect for taking great photos, but you can also learn a lot about the history of this place.
Since it is a museum, you can see the mill from head to toe and learn how it was once used to pump water out of the older. This gives you a unique glimpse into Dutch history.
The Museum windmill Schermerhorn is located near the city of Alkmaar, known for its cheese. Therefore, you can perfectly combine a visit to the mill with a visit to this city.
The Museum windmill is also easily accessible from Amsterdam. By car, it will take you about 30 minutes. Public transportation from Amsterdam is also possible, in which case the trip takes a good hour. However, keep in mind that several transfers are required to arrive at the Museum windmill.
By car from Rotterdam, it takes one hour and 7 minutes. If you choose to come by public transportation from Rotterdam, you should allow for a minimum travel time of 2 hours.
I hope this article has given you a good idea of the most famous windmills in the Netherlands. You now know where these are located, what they are known for, and what makes them unique.
If you would like to see authentic Dutch windmills when you are in the Netherlands, I would definitely recommend choosing one of the above locations.
In the meantime, if you want to learn more about windmills in the Netherlands, check out my article with facts about Dutch windmills.