You've made it to Amsterdam, and Dutch clichés abound. Tulip motifs proliferate; pedestrians clutch paper cornets of patat met (French fries with mayo); tourists find photo-ops inside an oversized wooden shoe. But in this consummately urban city, where are all those famous Dutch windmills?
Even most Amsterdammers don't know that there are still eight windmills in the capital – albeit all off the beaten path. Only the Sloten Windmill (Molen van Sloten) in Amsterdam West, however, is open to the public.
What's to See at the Sloten Windmill
Not only is the Sloten Windmill still in use – it also teems with activities for both adults and children. Volunteers are on hand to offer tours of the windmill and an introduction to the miller's trade; children six and up are treated to a specialized tour. The permanent exhibition "Amsterdam and the Water" illustrates Amsterdam's ambivalent relationship with the sea, while "Rembrandt in the Attic" profiles the artist as a miller's son. The adjacent Coopery Museum (Kuiperijmuseum) documents the fabrication of wooden barrels and is worth a peek.
The Sloten Windmill rewards visitors with the opportunity, unique in all of Amsterdam, to explore the inner life of one of these cherished Dutch landmarks.
Other Windmills Near Amsterdam
Already been to the Sloten Windmill, and keen to see others up close and personal? While there are seven other windmills in Amsterdam itself, you'll have to take a brief trip outside the city to actually explore the interiors of other Dutch windmills. It's worth the two-hour journey - there are many different types of windmills to discover. The most famous concentration of windmills is at Kinderdijk, located 15 miles east of Rotterdam; here, visitors can find 19 windmills that date back to the 17th century. While the views from land or from water are already worth the trip, it's possible to enter Windmill 2 all year round, except in inclement weather.
For an option that's closer to Amsterdam, check out Zaanse Schans (about a half-hour's journey), where there are not only five functional windmills to discover, but also the dedicated Windmill Museum. Even the small city of Leiden, a half-hour to the south of Amsterdam, boasts De Valk Windmill Museum, where visitors can climb up to the outdoor platform that encircles the windmill for panoramic views of the historic city - and to see the windmill's machinery from every level.
Visitors who are in town in May can also participate in National Mill Day when 950 windmills nationwide open their doors to the public. Most of these windmills are closed to the public the rest of the year, so the second weekend in May is a special time for mill enthusiasts, who can follow the event's bicycle routes to see as many windmills as possible.