One of the things that I love most about living in the Netherlands is how easy it is to travel around the Netherlands. Amersfoort is a charming city just thirty minutes from Amsterdam (and only 15 minutes from Utrecht) with a stunning medieval center. Although I’ve been to Amersfoort briefly before, this past weekend gave me the chance to explore this beautiful Dutch city. Keep reading for your perfect weekend itinerary for Amersfoort, the Netherlands!
This post was written in collaboration with Visit Utrecht Region who invited us to visit Amersfoort.
Why visit Amersfoort
What strikes one about Amersfoort is the easy charm along its many streets where couples stroll arm in arm. It’s not a city of students, but rather of professionals who have readily embraced the slowness and beauty of this medieval city.
Even as you exit one of the stunning medieval gates of the city, numerous boutiques and cafes are filled with locals. Unlike other similar historic cities, Amersfoort doesn’t bend to the wishes of the touristic crowds; it’s remained pristine as the city has reinvented itself for the best. (The city walls have been repurposed into beautiful Dutch canal houses known as the muurhuizen.)
Yet, Amersfoort still holds some surprises. Amidst the medieval architecture, hipster cafes advocate the slow food movement and the cute boutiques sell Dutch-designed household goods. Similarly, innovative art is showcased at the Kunsthal KAdE Amersfoort –and it’s hard to ignore the significance of Mondrian’s home located here.
Lovers of De Stijl: We were able to combine our visit with seeing the Rietveld Schröderhuis in Utrecht by using the Utrecht Region pass, which includes access to the OVfiets (a bike sharing program), trains, and buses in the region.
A weekend in Amersfoort
I’ve been to Amersfoort once before on a rainy afternoon. Although many cities of its size can be well covered in the span of a few hours, I felt like I had missed out on Amersfoort after taking a shelter from the pouring rain within one of the cozy cafes.
This time, we had two days in Amersfoort, which still felt rushed. A day in Amersfoort is enough to say that you saw it. Feel free to adapt this itinerary accordingly as I’ve tried to slow things down. I’ve focused the first itinerary on the historic highlights of the city and the second part on its modern edge and art.
One day in Amersfoort: History and culture
Breakfast at the Blueberry or just coffee at Corazon Coffee
Amersfoort is full of cozy cafes, perfect for a lazy morning. I was particularly taken by three cute cafes that I stopped into: The Blueberry, Livingstone Coffee, and Corazon Coffee. (For travel lovers, you need to step into the travel-inspired Livingstone Cafe.) Literary lovers will be in heaven as they pick up a new book for free along with their coffee while sitting in at Corazon Coffee, which serves up a nice coffee.
For brunch, I’d recommend stopping by The Blueberry, an American-inspired brunch cafe with all day breakfast. I can’t resist a good brunch and it’s been nice to see the growth of cafes serving up comfort food (for me).
Every Saturday is market day in Amersfoort. Come to the Hof to shop for flowers, food, clothes, or even to get lunch. (If you enjoy cheese, this is a great place to shop for fresh cheese.) For a different kind of market, head to the Lieve Vrouwekerkhof flea market, which is every first and third Saturday in summer. We stopped at Jackie Brown, which sits in Markt, for lunch.
Climb Onze Lieve Vrouwetoren
Onze Lieve Vrouwetoren is one of the highlights of Amersfoort. This beautiful tower that was part of a church is now used for special events, tours, and concerts. From the top of this tower (the third highest in the Netherlands), which pioneered an early GPS system that is still used today, you can see across Amersfoort!
If you get as lucky as us, you’ll hear the carilion master playing the beautiful carilion at the top of the tower. Be sure to reserve your tickets in advance online or at the tourist office.
The Muurhuizen were a highlight of Amersfoort for me. Amersfoort is one of the most beautiful medieval cities in the Netherlands and it was fully fortified for many years. However, it was disassembled at some point to create beautiful houses that line the Stadskern canal around the medieval city center.
You’ll pass by the house of Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, one of the most important figures in Dutch history. He created the V.O.C., the Dutch East Indies Company, whose legacy has shaped Dutch history. He advocated for Dutch independence although he was arrested prior to being executed for his role in the government.
Even if you’re not a history geek, it’s lovely walking along these quiet streets. You can easily follow the signs although it’s just as lovely walking along the water from outside the ring. Cars are allowed here, however it’s perfect for strolling. You can feel the history here!
Be sure to look for the part where the bricks stop along the walls. It will give you an idea of how high the city walls once were! (You can also see where men used to patrol on top of the wall.)
Although there used to be more towers lining the medieval walls of Amersfoort, but there’s only one remaining today. The Thieves Tower is the last remaining tower of Amersfoort and it was used to imprison criminals. You can walk under the gates prior to walking outside of the city center.
Books, Beans & Leafs
Coffee and interior design lovers need to step into Books, Beans, and Leafs! This cozy cafe encourages people to take a moment to stop and enjoy the little things. Within the charming interior, you can stop for a nice cup of coffee or loose leaf tea while browsing one of the many books around the shop.
The Kamperbinnepoort is a medieval city gate that was part of the first medieval city wall of Amersfoort. It was built in the 13th century although it’s been renovated throughout the years. Within the towers, you’ll find a jeweler, so be sure to climb the stairs to peer inside the towers if the jeweler open!
Browse the boutiques along Kamp
Along Kamp and Grote Sint Jansstraat, you’ll find many charming boutiques in Amersfoort. Amersfoort has many gorgeous boutiques and I’d definitely say that Kamp was one of my favorite streets that we saw in Amersfoort. I loved the festive cakes at Theefeestje as well as the lovely gifts at Bananas kdo & dsign. (There are a number of antique stores in this area if you prefer to shop vintage!)
De Armen de Poth
De Armen de Poth is a historic courtyard (hofje) dating back to the 14th century that is one of the largest courtyards in the Netherlands. It was run by monks who cared for plague sufferers by baking them bread and other goods. You can still see the iconic chimney today, which has been fully restored.
A number of the houses were used for housing plague sufferers and you can see a statue dedicated to one of the saints inside the chapel. (Only possible with a city tour with Amersfoort Gidsen.) Eventually, the courtyard was used to house elderly people with limited income, which is how it used today.
The courtyard has been beautiful kept up by its residents, so be sure to walk through here on a nice day. This year, the famous chimney will be used to bake bread for those in need once again.
One of the most charming streets of Amersfoort is Krommestraat. This street full of boutique shops is definitely worth a browse. You’ll also find a number of great restaurants and cafes, including Corazon Coffee.
I particularly loved browsing The Little Shop of Colours and Las Lunas, two lovely clothing stores along the street. Those with children should step into Speelboek for handmade children’s toys. There are several antique stores on the street and it’s not a surprise that Krommestraat was named the best shopping street in the Netherlands a few years ago!
Although Dille and Kamille is not an independent boutique, you should step inside to view one of the original beams left over from its time as one of the most well-known breweries in Amersfoort.
Supper at De Steenfabriek
De Steenfabriek is a lovely mid-range restaurant with a focus on quality ingredients. Those looking for a romantic dinner in Amersfoort should reserve ahead for their dinner special (with three courses), which was easily adapted to my lactose-free diet. (If you’re vegetarian, they can easily adapt the menu, which is available in English. ) We both really enjoyed the creative use on the ingredients and the interesting mix of flavors/texture.
Have a beer from the local breweries
A drink of beer in Amersfoort is a taste of its history. As times have changed, so has the city. Beer may be no longer its main legacy, but with no less than seven craft breweries, it’s clear that this Dutch city has embraced its medieval history.
Due to the clean water flowing from Flevoland, the breweries sat on the edge of the city, along the same canal where Piet Mondrian was raised. Amersfoort is one of four major Dutch cities where beer brought wealth to the city. Only when the taxes clamped down on the delights of drink and property, things changed. (From Onze Lieve Vrouwetoren above the city, the tax authorities measured out the sizes of properties using the rijksdriehoekscoördinaten.)
If you’re interested in bringing beers home with you, stop into Hop. This beer shop just off Markt stocks all of the local beers and we were lucky enough to meet two of the local brew masters when we stopped by. (Beer is a great souvenir from Amersfoort!)
You’ll find a row of bars right next to Onze Lieve Vrouwetoren. (For those who prefer American beer, head to Rockcafé Boothill Saloon Amersfoort for rock ‘n roll and craft beer.) Outside of the city center, Rock City has recently set up a bar at their brewery.
My husband loved De Dikke Koning, a cozy craft beer bar right outside of Markt. With a roaring fireplace, you’re likely to feel at home as you taste the best of Amersfoort! Be sure to try a Rock City beer, one of the best craft beers from the area that you can easily find at many bars. You can also try De Drie Ringen, another local beer.
Stay overnight at a cozy hotel
We stayed at the cozy De Gaaper, a cozy 3* hotel with a fantastic location for those visiting Amersfoort without a car. It was comfy, cozy, and clean. We especially loved the building, which is one of the oldest buildings in Amersfoort (although only one wall remains).
Breakfast in the morning (at an extra cost) was especially lovely as we were able to enjoy views of the Markt along with the statues from its past as a pharmacy. Rooms cost 89 euros per night.
Day 2: Art and Design with a side of history)
The Mondrian House is one of the main attractions of Amersfoort. This is the house where Piet Mondrian was born and although he didn’t live here too long, the house has been converted into a museum showcasing his early works (prior to his famous work) as well as information about his life.
De Stijl fans will enjoy the recreation of his Paris studio, which gives a glimpse into his taste in design beyond art. The museum has a number of interactive exhibitions intended for adults and children.
Lunch and boutique browsing
We were immediately struck by the street Mooierstraat. (This means more beautiful street in Dutch.) The street itself is quite modern, so Jacob had to ask whether there was a more beautiful street. (We didn’t get an answer to that question.) That said, Mooierstaat is a great spot for getting lunch and browsing the modern hotspots along the street.
You’ll have numerous options for lunch here, including Bread & sweets, the concept store/cafe Blur your life (shown above), and Lunch & Borrel Amersfoort. I ended up stepping into Blur your life to browse its cute selection of household goods and into Bread & Sweets for a coffee/snack.
One of my favorite shops along this street was the Spellenpoort, which is a board game shop and cafe. If you love board games as much as we do, you’ll need to step inside. You’ll also find a lovely antique shop nearby.
The Monnikendam is one of the other iconic sights of Amersfoort. This medieval gate served as a passage outside of the city allowing small boats in while keeping out larger ships. Today, a restaurant sits within its walls.
The Koppelport is something that you can’t miss in Amersfoort. This stunning medieval gate was completed in 1425 and can be viewed from both sides. Part of the second city wall, it was opened daily by twelve wheel-turners who would help ensure that intruders were kept out.
We ended up visiting Kunsthal KAdE. This modern art museum does not have its own collection, but rather puts on themed exhibitions. I was there for “A Balancing Act” exhibition, which featured world-renowned artists. Be sure to look up the current exhibition!
The exhibitions ranged from Alexander Calder’s beautiful designs to interactive pieces, including one where the audience could wait to see if their fifty cent coin made it to its destination while doing some acrobatics. Many art museums reserve art for adults, however I loved that many of the pieces had something for kids as well.
Have an early supper at Het Lokaal
Het Lokaal is a really cool concept. This concept store and restaurant serves local food from the area. Grocery shopping here was really great as we saw some amazing produce (some even with the photograph of the farmer), food products (including sambal), and craft beer from the region. If you’re only visiting, you can go nextdoor to the cozy restaurant for a delicious locally sourced meal in a modern environment.