A perfect day in Medieval Amersfoort

Amersfoort is our hometown. Thus, of course, we wanted to write about it. But even if we wouldn’t live here, Amersfoort would be one of the first cities we would recommend to visit outside of Amsterdam. Funny thing, in reality it's the least visited of the old cities in Holland, while it's only 30 minutes from Amsterdam and easily accessible.

It’s a city full of surprise and wonder. Its perfect old city center makes you feel you’re almost literally inside a postcard.

The Monnikendam Amersfoort medieval gateway.

The Monnikendam medieval gateway in Amersfoort - Photo: © Hidden Holland

Amersfoort is full of atmosphere and history. And because the city center is compact, it’s perfect for exploring on foot. Stroll past the “Muurhuizen” (wall houses). Or marvel at the Koppelpoort, once an entry point in the city wall. Climb the famous “Onze Lieve Vrouwe Tower,” take an open boat sighting tour of the old town, explore the city’s many unique stores, and the countless restaurants and cafes.

You most likely arrive at Amersfoort central station, which is just outside the old town. When you exit the station, you’ll see modern office high rises. However, don't worry after just a 10-minute walk, you enter a completely different world.

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Table of content:

Onze Lieve Vrouwe tower or Lange Jan (Long John tower)

Onze Lieve Vrouw Toren in Amersfoort or the Lange Jan.

Onze Lieve Vrouw Toren in Amersfoort or the Lange Jan - Photo: © Hidden Holland

The Lange Jan, as we locals call this beautiful tower, is officially called "Onze Lieve Vrouwe tower." You can see the tower from everywhere in the city.

Did you know the tower is the exact middle point of the country. Not many people know this fact. The tower was completed around the year 1500. It’s been standing tall over the city for over 500 years!

It’s possible to climb the 346 steps of the 98 meters (320ft) tall tower for truly amazing views, not only of the city but also of the beautiful surroundings. On a good day, you can see the National Park the Utrechtse Heuvelrug. And the cities of Utrecht, Hilversum, Almere, and Amsterdam.

Climbing is only possible on a guided tour. Click here for more information about times, prices, and availability. The website is in Dutch only, but if you use Google Translate in Chrome for automatic translations in English it should be possible to complete a reservation without too much trouble.

Krankeledenstraat 30, Amersfoort

Muurhuizen (wall houses)

The famous wall houses in Amersfoort.

The famous wall houses in Amersfoort - Photo: Frans Berkelaar CC BY-ND 2.0

Just like many other medieval cities, Amersfoort also had a city wall. When its function was lost, the wall was demolished, and the stones were used to build the houses now following the city wall lines. These wall houses are a magnet for many artists. We guarantee plenty of photo opportunities for you here!

City convent Mariënhof and have cake at “Buuf in de Serre”

Buuf in de Serre interior. A great place for cake in the center of Amersfoort.

Buuf in de Serre interior. A great place for cake in the center of Amersfoort - Photo: Buuf in de Serre

On your way to the Mondriaan house (see below), you’ll pass the city convent Mariënhof. A former convent, now a congress center. It’s a beautiful building to see, but the main reason to visit is “Buuf in de Serre,” a cafe inside a glasshouse.

They’re known for their cakes (Stewed Pear Custard Cake sounds delicious to us! Even better they sell a tasting platter with samples of everything.) They now also started to serve lunch (try for example the Dutch speciality Ossenworst (raw beef sausage). It’s an excellent place for a pitstop.

Kleine Haag 2, Amersfoort

Visit the Mondriaan huis

The Mondriaan House Museum in Amersfoort.

The Mondriaan House Museum in Amersfoort - Photo: Ellywa CC BY-SA 3.0

From the Mariënhof, it’s only a short walk to the Mondriaan House, the birthplace of the world-famous abstract painter Piet Mondriaan. On display are some of his early works (when he still painted also naturalistic paintings), as well as temporary exhibitions by artists who have been inspired by Mondriaan. If you’re a fan of his work, then this is a must-visit. Visit the museum's website for more information.

Kortegracht 11,  Amersfoort

Shopping in Amersfoort

The well-known shopping street "De Krommestraat" in Amersfoort.

The well-known shopping street "De Krommestraat" in Amersfoort - Photo: Zairon CC BY-SA 4.0

The old town of Amersfoort is blessed with a large shopping area in a beautiful backdrop. The “Langestraat” is the main shopping street running through the whole city center. The Langestraat is home to most chain stores and department stores. It gets much more interesting when you venture out into the side streets. Here you'll find the real one of a kind stores. The “Krommestraat” is one of the more famous streets for its diversity in stores.

Weekly Markets in Amersfoort

A real tradition in Dutch cities and villages is the outdoor weekly fresh market - A place where to buy produce, cheese, flowers, fresh fish, and more from one of the many market stalls. Amersfoort has not one, but two market days. Both are distinct in their own way.

On Friday, you can find three smaller specialty markets around the city center. At the foot of the “Onze Lieve Vrouwe tower” you will find a fresh flower market, at the “Groenmarkt” you can buy fresh fish, and at “Eemplein (just outside the city center, about a 5-minute mark from the Koppelpoort) you'll find the weekly organic market. Market hours for all three markets on Friday are from 8 am till 1 pm.

Saturday is the primary market day. It's located that day on the largest square of the city, de Hof. Every Saturday, the square fills up with dozens of market stall selling everything you can imagine.

The surrounding outdoor terraces belonging to the many restaurants, bars, and cafes on this square make this a perfect stop. Take a seat, enjoy a drink, and see the world pass by.

Since Amersfoort is almost entirely of the tourist map, you can get a real peek in local Dutch life.

The Blueberry is one of the places on the Hof that we can highly recommend. The owner is a friend of ours and opened this cute tiny American inspired breakfast and lunch restaurant on the Hof in 2016. It’s so cozy! It's wonderful for a hot drink and cake, lunch, or breakfast.

Fun fact: Lisette (the owner) won a prize for the best sandwich in Holland with their Sloppy Joe Sandwich. It's my favorite sandwich, together with the Avocado Smash.

Hof 21, Amersfoort

The Blueberry restaurant in Amersfoort at the Hof.

Photo: Nander de Wijk

Sightseeing Boat tour

Take a boat tour with the Waterlijn on the canals of Amersfoort.

Take a boat tour with the Waterlijn on the canals of Amersfoort - Photo: © Hidden Holland

From the Krommestraat, you can board a sightseeing boat operated by the Waterlijn Amersfoort. When friends visit, we always try to go on one of their tours together.

The Waterlijn is run by volunteers, and their shippers have vast knowledge about the city, and it’s just a beautiful ride.

The Organisation offers different tours. For a first time visit, we recommend the East-West tour, passing most of the cities monuments. The “2e muur (2nd wall) route” is also beautiful alternative tour to take. On the way, you'll pass parts of the wall that remain, like the Monnikendam gate, and the iconic “Koppelpoort” (see below).

The English website is very limited in its information, but it has clear information about the different routes, departure times and shop hours. You can visit the website here.

Krommestraat 5, Amersfoort

Museum Flehite

Entrance to the Flehite Amersfoort.

Entrance to the Flehite Amersfoort - Photo: Torsade de Pointes CC 0

Another great museum is the Flehite museum, housed in three medieval wall houses since 1890! It’s a perfect place to learn more about the history of this beautiful city.

Besides fixed collections on display, the Flehite also always has exciting temporary exhibitions. You can easily reach the Flehite museum from the Krommestraat. Just continue walking along the water for a few more minutes.

Westsingel 50, Amersfoort

The iconic "Koppelpoort"

The iconic Koppelpoort in Amersfoort.

The iconic Koppelpoort in Amersfoort - Photo: Frank Magdelyns

When you continue along the water from the Flehite Museum, you’ll quickly see the “Koppelpoort.” If the Dutch think about Amersfoort, they instantly conjure up the Koppelpoort in their mind.

This monument is unique in the country because it’s a medieval gateway to the city with both a water and a land entry point in one building. It’s a gorgeous structure. It still makes us pause for a second to admire it, even after calling this city home for over ten years.

De nieuwe stad - The New City

Just outside the old town (only a few minutes by foot from the Koppelpoort) is a unique area called the “Nieuwe Stad,” which means the new city. It's a former toothpaste factory turned into a buzzing center of creativity.

The city council repurposed the buildings and the grounds with all kinds of innovative and sustainable companies. It’s such a dynamic and fun place to be.

A few of our favorite spots to visit:

Het lokaal

Het Lokaal Amersfoort local and organic food market.

Local and organic food market Het Lokaal Amersfoort - Photo: Wim Lagendijk CC BY-SA 3.0

“Het lokaal” is a natural market with organic and or locally produced products (preferably both). This store and cafe offer some incredible products. We love their mustard offering, advocaat, cheeses, and especially their bread! The loaves of bread, in particular, are delicious. "Het Lokaal" also has a cafe with homemade specialties. It's always a pleasure for us to visit this place.

Oliemolenhof 90, Amersfoort

Zandfoort aan de Eem

Outside terrace at restaurant Zandfoort aan de Eem in Amersfoort.

Outside terrace at restaurant Zandfoort aan de Eem in Amersfoort - Photo: Zandfoort aan de Eem

For the Dutch "Zandvoort" is a synonym for the Beach. (Zandvoort is one of the main beach resorts on the Dutch coast.) The naam is fun reference to Zandvoort and Amersfoort. This bar brings an artificial outdoor beach to Amersfoort. A perfect spot for a warm summer day to enjoy a drink!

Eemlaan 100, Amersfoort

Restaurant Hoog Vuur

Interior Restaurant Hoog Vuur in the New City in Amersfoort.

Interior Restaurant Hoog Vuur in the New City in Amersfoort - Photo: Hoog Vuur

“Hoog Vuur” is a modern industrial restaurant where fire takes the central stage. You can warm yourself in front of the flames on a cold day. And enjoy a meal of pure and local ingredients, traditionally prepared on wood-fired ovens.

Oude Fabriekstraat 26, Amersfoort

Restaurant Dara

Another great restaurant we can highly recommend is Dara. It’s located on the corner of “Eemplein” right next to the “Nieuwe Stad.” This airy restaurant is a local's favorite.

When you enter, it feels like you arrived in the story of 1001 nights. The menu is Middle-Eastern based. And the concept is sharing portions. Perfect to taste your way around the continent and share with everyone in your party. All at very reasonable prices.

We highly recommend making reservations, especially during weekends and when the weather is warm (if you want to sit outside.)

Grote Koppel 5, Amersfoort

Get old fashion quality Ice Cream at IJs VanVitelli

Close to Dara, on the "Kwekersweg," you'll find "IJS VanVitelli" (Ice Cream). IJs VanVitelli uses as much as possible sustainably and locally sourced ingredients in their products, like milk from local dairy farmers. You will not find anything artificial here. Its location is also unique, housed in a former gas station, now restored to its vintage glory.

Kwekersweg 7, Amersfoort

Amersfoort concentration camp National Monument

The entrance sign to the Amersfoort concentration camp.

The entrance sign to the Amersfoort concentration camp - Photo: Peter de Wit CC BY 2.0

A much more serious topic, but very much worth a visit, is the concentration camp Amersfoort. One of the three best-known remembrance centers in the Netherlands.

We all know about the concentration camps in Germany and especially Poland. But before that happened, prisoners where put in local holding camps. The Netherlands had five of these, including camp Amersfoort which was used mainly for political prisoners.

What sets camp Amersfoort apart was that is was not just used as a holding place like Westerbork. Here prisoners where also directly punished and killed. It was known for its terror and hunger—an exception in the Dutch camps.

Thirty-five thousand people were imprisoned at camp Amersfoort, and 300 of them were executed, while many more died of exhaustion. Very quickly after the war, people have torn the camp down. They wanted to forget as soon as possible.

Today what’s left are the foundations, remembrance artworks, and an excellent visitor center/museum. Even with the absence of the barracks, it still feels oppressive here. It’s a place for reflection and learning.

Must see places of remembrance here are:

The Bunker cells

All prisoners to be executed the next day were placed in these cells. All they had was a bed of steel, a straw bag, and a bucket to be used as a toilet.

Kopinsky’s Stone

Kopinsky's Stone is a piece of art made by a former prisoner named Kopinsky. The curve in the path symbolizes the fact that many prisoners were psychologically broken, during their time in this camp.

The shooting range

At first sight, a beautiful lane in the forest. However, this path was dug out by the prisoners themselves. After it was finished, it served as a path to kill prisoners. Some got killed at the beginning, some in the middle, but most at the end. Right at the point when it looked like they had reached freedom. It makes you sick just reading this. It has an even more significant impact when you're walking here in person.

The Stone Man

The monument "The Stone Man" is made by the sculptor Fritz Sieger (a prisoner of war himself). It’s a memorial to all victims who died here. The man is facing where the firing squad would have stood.

The Rose Garden

This "rose" garden wasn’t a garden at all. It was just a nickname given by the prisoners instead. In reality, it was a patio enclosed by barbed wire. Prisoners had to stand inside it as punishment for hours, sometimes days, no matter the weather. Prisoners imagined the barbs were roses, hence the name.

Practical information camp Amersfoort:

It’s free to visit the grounds. The museum itself has a small entrance fee. This fee helps to keep the grounds in good condition and allows the organization to continue telling this critical story. Visit the website for current prices, and opening hours.

Loes van Overeemlaan 19, Leusden

How to reach camp Amersfoort:

If you come by public transport, you can best take bus 19 from Amersfoort Central Station (direction Begraafplaats Rusthof), stop “Laan 1914 de Boskamp”. From there it’s a 5-minute walk. This bus only operates on weekdays (Monday-Friday).

During the weekend, you can travel by bus 56 (direction Wijk bij Duurstede via Zeist), stop "Potgieterlaan." From here, it’s a 20-minute walk to the camp. If you want to walk from Amersfoort Central Station, it’s 40 minutes.

If you have a car, you can easily reach the camp. It’s close to the motorway A28 (use your favorite map app to plan your journey). Parking is free. If you want to rent a car, we can wholeheartedly recommend rentalcars.com

How to get to Amersfoort

Entrance Amersfoort Central Station.

Entrance Amersfoort Central Station - Photo: Marek Mahut CC BY-SA 3.0

It couldn’t be easier to travel to Amersfoort. The best way to go is by train. Amersfoort is well connected to every corner of the country since Amersfoort is the official middle point of the Netherlands.

The direct Intercity train from Amersfoort and Amsterdam takes just 30 minutes (leaving twice per hour in each direction, from early morning to late at night, seven days per week.)

From Utrecht, it’s less than 15 minutes to reach Amersfoort on a non-stop direct Intercity train. Trains depart up to 6 times per hour in each direction.

Cities like Zwolle, Deventer, Gouda, and Apeldoorn (for the famous royal palace Het Loo) are also all 30 minutes or less from Amersfoort by train.

Screenshot of NS Extra App for Apple and Android

Download the NS app on your phone. It's available in English, you can use it for planning your journey and for buying your tickets (it accepts credit cards (the machines do not) and you avoid the €1 surcharge for paper tickets.

Where to stay in Amersfoort

Learning hotel Amersfoort in a former convent.

Learning hotel Amersfoort in a former convent - Photo: © Booking.com

Using Amersfoort as your base can be a smart idea. Hotels are cheaper than in Amsterdam. Staying in Amersfoort is also perfect for day trips to nearby cities, or just to spend more time in Amersfoort itself.

Amersfoort city center hotels:

Two comfortable modern hotels between the central station and the old town are the NH Hotel Amersfoort and the Mercure Hotel Amersfoort. We can recommend both.

Amersfoort hotels outside the city center:

If you’re looking for a special place to stay, Leerhotel “Het Klooster” is a great option. It’s a former convent. Now it’s a hotel and restaurant run by young professionals studying the hotel school. It has high ratings, and customers love it.

Plus, while you’re enjoying your stay in a beautiful place, you’re also helping these driven young people with their education and gaining experience. The drawback of this hotel is that its location is less central. You need to travel to the city by bike (best option), car, or bus (bus 56 stop Zorgcentrum de Lichtenberg).

When you travel by car, we highly recommend staying at the Van der Valk Hotel Amersfoort A1. It’s a very comfortable modern hotel with a good restaurant.

It’s next to the motorway A1. (Connecting Amersfoort with Amsterdam to the west and Germany to the east). The highway shouldn’t be bothersome inside. The windows are well soundproofed.

Nearby is also a bus stop taking you to the city center in about 10 minutes, while you can park your car for free at the hotel. It’s bus number 3, running every 15 minutes during the day, and twice an hour at night.

Did this post about Amersfoort inspire you?

We hope this post inspired you to venture out of Amsterdam and the main tourist destinations, and come to a city like Amersfoort too. It’s so simple, close by, beautiful, and entirely off the tourist map.

If so, then please join the conversation and let us know in the comments at the bottom of this page. We'd love to hear what you think. Have you been to any of these suggestions? What are you planning visiting on your next trip?

Looking for more inspiration just like this post about Amersfoort?

We have written more one day itineraries for Holland. They're well worth a read.

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