The gorgeous centuries old medieval city of Amersfoort is my hometown. Thus, of course, I want to write about it. Here are 12 things to do in Amersfoort for a great day out.
Even if I were not a resident, Amersfoort would be among the top cities I’d suggest exploring if you’re looking for a day trip from Amsterdam. This charming city remains largely undiscovered by tourists, which is an excellent advantage for those in the know. There are plenty of compelling reasons to visit this picturesque destination.
Amersfoort has a perfectly preserved old city center. It makes you feel you’re almost literally inside a postcard all the time. And Amersfoort is only 30 minutes by train from Amsterdam. It’s also genuinely local and off the beaten track.
So why not come and visit? Trains run every 30 minutes. The city 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 sightseeing tour of the old town, and explore the city’s many unique stores and countless restaurants and cafes.
12 Best Things To Do In Amersfoort:
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Onze Lieve Vrouwe tower (Lange Jan) Amersfoort
The Lange Jan, as 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. A plaque in front of the entrance points this out. Try to find it.
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. Note that tours are also conducted in Dutch only, but the guide or another visitor will most likely translate parts of the tour for you.
Muurhuizen (Wall Houses) Amersfoort
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. I guarantee plenty of photo opportunities for you here!
The Mondriaan House Museum Amersfoort
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 was still painting naturalistic paintings) and temporary exhibitions by artists inspired by Mondriaan. If you’re a fan of his work, this is a must-visit.
Enjoy a Coffee and some Cake in Amersfoort
Taking a break for a coffee and some cake is the perfect way to recharge and soak in the charming atmosphere. Amersfoort offers wonderful choices of cafés and bakeries to satisfy your cravings, each boasting its own unique character and appeal.
Ready to give your feet some well-deserved rest after strolling around Amersfoort’s beautiful city center?
I’ve got you covered; Here are two excellent options that I love to patron myself (this is my hometown, after all). Treat yourself to a moment of rest and indulgence.
City Convent Mariënhof And Cake At Cafe “Buuf in de Serre”
On your way to the Mondriaan House Museum, you’ll pass the city convent Mariënhof. A former convent, that is now a congress center. It’s a beautiful building, but the main reason to visit is “Buuf in de Serre” a cafe inside a glasshouse on the side of the main building.
They’re known for their cakes that change regularly. Their “Cookie van Eigen Deeg” is a staple. If you can’t choose (and who can?), they offer a tasting platter which I can highly recommend. Or if you have some time this is a great place to book a high tea and enjoy an array of sweet and savory treats.
Homemade Apple Pie from Stadscafé Amersfoort
Right under the Onze Lieve Vrouwetoren you’ll find Stadscafé Amersfoort. This square is home to many cafes with outdoor terraces (weather allowing). But this one has a special card upon its sleeve: homemade apple pie, with freshly whipped cream.
Most cafes nowadays serve factory-made pies, but neither suggestions above do. And that makes them such great choices. The apple pie at Stadscafé Amersfoort is just so satisfying. I love it. Including the freshly whipped cream. No cans are being used here. Whether you choose to sit outside, or inside a cozy break is guaranteed at this cafe.
Shopping in Amersfoort
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 city center. This street is home to most chain stores and department stores.
It gets much more enjoyable when you venture out into the side streets. Here you’ll find actual one-of-a-kind stores. The “Krommestraat” is one of the more famous streets for its diversity of stores and cafes.
Weekly Markets in Amersfoort
An authentic 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 mornings, 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. You can buy fresh fish at the “Groenmarkt”, and at “Eemplein“ you’ll find the weekly organic market.
Saturday is the primary market day. It’s located on the largest square of the city, de Hof. Every Saturday, it fills up with dozens of market stalls selling everything you can imagine.
The surrounding outdoor terraces of the many restaurants, bars, and cafes on this square make this a perfect stop. Take a seat, enjoy a drink, and see the world passing by.
Sightseeing Boat Tour From A Different Perspective
From the Krommestraat, you can board a sightseeing boat operated by the Waterlijn Amersfoort. When friends visit, I always try to go on one of their tours together.
Volunteers run the Waterlijn, and their shippers have vast knowledge about the city, and most importantly it’s just a beautiful ride.
The organisation offers different tours. For a first-time visit, I recommend the West tour, passing most of the city’s monuments (and it is boat only).
The other routes are also worthwhile (if you have more time or are a repeat visitor). But do know they include some walking along the way. If mobility is an issue, make sure to enquire about this before you buy tickets.
Museum Flehite Amersfoort
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.
The Iconic “Koppelpoort”
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 me pause to admire it when I pass by, even after calling this city home for over fifteen years.
De nieuwe stad – The New City
Just outside the old town (only a few minutes on 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 innovative and sustainable companies. It’s such a dynamic and fun place to be. Here are a few of our favorite spots to visit:
“Het lokaal” is a natural market with organic and or locally produced products (preferably both). This store and cafe offer some incredible products. They focus on no waste. What is not sold in the store is used for meals at the cafe.
I love their mustard offering, cheeses, and especially their bread and pastries! The loaves of bread, in particular, are delicious. The Grey bread is my absolute favorite.
Zandfoort aan de Eem Amersfoort
Just next to the New City, you’ll find 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 name is a 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!
Restaurant Hoog Vuur
“Hoog Vuur” is a modern industrial restaurant on the property of the new city where fire takes the central stage. You can warm yourself in front of the flames on a cold day.
Enjoy a meal here of pure and local ingredients, traditionally prepared on wood-fired ovens.
Another great restaurant I can highly recommend in this area is Dara. 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.
I highly recommend making reservations, especially during weekends and when the weather is warm (if you want to sit outside), because this restaurant is popular!
Get Old Fashion Quality Ice Cream at IJs van Vitelli
Close to Dara, on the “Kwekersweg,” you’ll find “IJs van Vitelli”. An old-fashion icecream shop that uses as many sustainably and locally sourced ingredients in their products as possible, like milk from local dairy farmers.
Its location is also unique. This ice cream shop is housed in a former gas station, which is now restored to its vintage glory.
Amersfoort Concentration Camp National Monument
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 Poland. But before that happened, prisoners were 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 is that it was not just used as a holding place like Westerbork. Here prisoners were also directly punished and killed. It was known for its terror and hunger—an exception in the Dutch camps.
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.
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 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, the prisoners dug out this path themselves, under terrible conditions. After it was finished, it served as a path to kill prisoners. Some got killed at the start, some in the middle, but most at the end. Right at the point when it looked like they had reached freedom.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions About Visiting Amersfoort
What is Amersfoort known for?
Amersfoort is known for its well-preserved medieval center, the “Muurhuizen” (wall houses), the city gate “Koppelpoort” and the “Onze Lieve Vrouwe” tower which is also the official middle point of the country.
How do I get to Amersfoort?
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.)
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.
What are the top attractions in Amersfoort?
The most popular attractions include the Koppelpoort, Onze Lieve Vrouwetoren, the Wall houses, Museum Flehite, the Mondriaan House, and the Krommestraat shopping street.
Are there guided tours available in Amersfoort?
Yes, het Gilde offers guided tours in the city center, it offer boat tours and a guided tour up the Onze Lieve Vrouwe tower. Tours are conducted in Dutch only however.
I also do private tours in Amersfoort, we can visit this beautiful city together. I can customize the tour to your needs and interests.
Is Amersfoort suitable for a day trip?
Since Amersfoort is just 30 minutes by train from Amsterdam it is a perfect destination for a day trip. The city of Amersfoort is also compact. You can quite easily see the highlights of this city in a day.
Can I rent a bike in Amersfoort?
Yes, you can rent a bicycle in several bike rental shops in Amersfoort. However, I would have to say the old medieval city center is not a place that is great for biking. Its cobbled and narrow streets make this not the best experience. It’s best for walking. You can park your bike free of charge at supervised stalls around the city center.
A bike is excellent, however, for exploring the beautiful surroundings of Amersfoort. Why not venture out to Spakenburg, a former fishing village with a museum harbor? Or go the other direction and explore the National Park “The Utrechtse Heuvelrug.”
Would you like to visit my hometown together with me? Consider booking a private tour, and we’ll explore this medieval city together.
Which Amersfoort Activity Excites 🌟 You The Most?
I’d love to hear your thoughts: Which of the highlighted things to do in Amersfoort are you most excited to visit and why? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and let’s start a conversation 💬.
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