Amersfoort is a beautiful city in the Utrecht province of the Netherlands. Located in central Holland, Amersfoort lies in-between Amsterdam, Utrecht and Arnhem. As a municipality, the city has seen much development in recent decades and has a current population of around 151,000. With a history dating back to the Mesolithic period, Amersfoort has seen some form of settlement from 1000 BC, but was not granted city rights until 1259. During this period, the city defences were constructed around the canal network, the most famous of which is the Koppelpoort fortification.
The old town centre of Amersfoort has been greatly preserved since the middle ages and the city features a range of fantastic historical buildings. Due to its sheer beauty and the aforementioned architecture, Amersfoort is a popular tourist destination.
Lets explore the best things to do in Amersfoort:
Perhaps the finest example of a combined water and road gate in the Netherlands, the Koppelpoort is a beautiful structure.
Created in the 1300’s, the gate was part of the outer city wall but wasn’t completed until 1427. With a central structure that spans the canal and a large archway that small boats could pass through, the Koppelpoort is quite impressive and was rightly never breached.
Two towers stand guard over the road that leads into Amersfoort and are connected to the main structure.
Admire the wonderful brick design and the various emblems and icons of this stunning structure.
2. Amersfoort Zoo
One of the finest Zoo’s in the Netherlands, you would not believe that this establishment has developed from a small complex that had only a handful of animals.
Boasting over 150 animals, you are sure to find something you like, who could not love the Tigers, or Snakes, or Baboons and Lions? Also inside are Flamingos, Cheetahs, Goats, Elephants Rani and Indra and more, all inside wonderfully maintained enclosures.
Children under 2 enter free, and adult tickets are reasonable too.
Furthermore there is 9 eateries to find a snack at including the Hyena bar and the EspreZoo which serves espresso coffee.
3. Onze-Lieve Vrouwetoren
Also known as the Church of Our Lady, the Onze-Lieve Vrouwetoren is an immense church tower designed in a Late Gothic style.
Towering over the whole of Amersfoort, this gigantic tower stands at 98m and is the third highest in the Netherlands.
Originally constructed in the 14th century, the tower had a connecting church, however this was destroyed during a gunpowder explosion in the 1900’s.
Around the exterior of the tower are 12 statues that represent different historical figures including Saint George and David of Burgundy.
Special tickets are required to climb the tower, but the ground floor is open daily to the public.
As far as town squares go, the Hof is a truly monumental one.
Located right in the centre of the old town, the Hof covers a large area next to Sint Joriskerk.
Here you will find many shops, cafes and restaurants and outdoor seating areas where you can simply relax and watch the world go by.
Furthermore, on many days there is an immense market held in the Hof – The square comes alive with a multitude of different stalls selling local produce and crafts.
To really soak up the atmosphere of Amersfoort, sample some local produce, and admire the historical architecture, the Hof is the place to be.
5. Dutch Cavalry Museum
Located on the outskirts of Amersfoort on the western fringe, the Dutch Cavalry museum is hosted in two old army barrack buildings and is not far from the Belgenmonument.
Covering over 450 years of military history, this museum is simply wonderful and has an extensive collection relating to the exploits of the Royal Dutch Army.
Inside you can find armoured cars and tanks such as the Landsverk L180, together with individual objects like scale models, paintings, weapons and uniforms.
Outside in the courtyard is a brilliant selection of WW2 tanks including the Sherman and armoured Humber.
6. Oude Haven
You will be hard pushed to find a more beautiful waterway in Amersfoort than the Oude Haven which translates as old harbour.
You can find this charming stretch of canal on the Havik street which is located only several minutes walk from the Hof and Sint Joriskerk.
Here you will find a gorgeous canal that is lined with trees and plant life and quaint architecture.
Everything from the small brick arched bridges, to the green iron railings and the many bicycles that line the street paint a perfect picture.
7. Sint Joriskerk
Taking pride of place in the centre of Amersfoort on the Hof market square, Sint Joriskerk is perhaps one of the strangest church designs you will see in Europe.
Constructed in the 1200’s when Amersfoort gained city rights, the church has been re-designed and renovated numerous times over the years.
With three arched galleries, the central aisle is the most beautiful with high decorated ceilings, a huge gilded organ and an old pulpit and choir screen.
The interior also features many carvings and sculptures and also dedications to its patron saint; George.
One of the fascinating fortification remnants from the middle ages, the Monnikendam displays the power and wealth that made Amersfoort one of the major cities in the Netherlands.
Located on the southern section of the central circular canal, the fortification forms an archway over the water and a barrier to anyone wanting to approach via the canals.
A footpath passes over the fortification and you can admire the surrounding parkland and water ways from in-between the mighty towers.
Don’t forget to cross over to the road and take some picture perfect photos, and maybe have a meal at the restaurant that resides within the Monnikendam’s walls.
Throughout the Netherlands there are many memorials dedicated to the great wars and the millions of people who gave their lives.
Approximately 10 minutes to the west of Amersfoort town centre is the Belgenmonument.
The memorial was constructed specifically to commemorate the thousands of Belgians who fled into the Netherlands during WW1 to escape the horrors of the battlefield.
Surrounded by beautiful gardens and parkland, this impressive monument serves as a grave reminder of what happened during this time period.
10. Walk the length of the Muurhuizen
In the old town centre, there are several streets that follow the circular line of the outer canal and provide a great walking opportunity to see the sights of Amersfoort.
One such street is the Muurhuizen; this street winds from the southern section of the old town, right around to the northern section at the crossroads at Nieuweweg, Breestraat and Langegracht.
At some points this street becomes exceedingly narrow and the houses close in on you while at other times it opens up onto the canals and wide landscaped areas.
Pass by quaint houses, interesting shops and charming architecture on this fantastic street.
11. Amersfoort Canals
Amersfoort has a well developed network of canals that surround the old town centre and connect to the Emmeer by the Eem river.
In the old town centre, the canals are simply beautiful to walk along and the scenery and historical buildings that you pass offer great sight-seeing opportunities.
Starting at the Koppelpoort fortification, make your way down Kleine Spui street and either head straight on down Langegracht and onto pas the Hof square, or make your way around the outer canal on the Westsingel street.
Aside from the buildings, the canals are also lined with many pleasant public parks and open spaces which in summer burst into colour.
12. City gates
As mentioned peviously, Amersfoort was once a powerful city with a dual ring of city walls and gates.
Today there are several parts of the wall and city gates that still stand in perfect condition.
Included in these sections are the Koppelpoort and Monnikendam.
Walk through the old town centre of Amersfoort and search for the various city walls and gates that stand as a reminder of this cities important past.
Part of what makes Amersfoort such a fantastic place to visit are these historical remnants and no trip to the city would be complete without admiring these landmarks.
13. Museum Flehite
Located only a few minutes from the Koppelpoort fort, the Flehite museum is a great way to spend a few hours in-between walking through the delightful town of Amersfoort.
Centring mainly on the history of Amersfoort and how the city and region have developed over the years, this museum really does give a fascinating insight.
Also inside are several art exhibitions from such artists as Rik Wouters.
In 1872, the celebrated artists Piet Mondriaan was born, and his house stands today as a museum that celebrates his life and work.
Mondriaan was famous for his grid based paintings that combine many different rectangular shapes filled with the primary colours red, blue and yellow.
Inside the museum you can find an extensive collection of the artists famous works including his different tablet compositions and early watercolour paintings.
The museum also hosts various temporary exhibitions from different international artists.
15. Winkelcentrum St. Jorisplein
The area surrounding Sint Joriskerk and the Hof square is a fantastic place for shopping.
However the Winkelcentrum is a dedicated shopping centre that beats this hands down.
Located only a 10 minute walk from the old town centre across the outer circular canal lies this delightful place.
Shops inside include H&M, Leonidas, CoolCat and C&A plus many more well known brands.
Aside from the shopping, you can also enjoy a meal or drink in the various cafes and restaurants that are here, some of which have outdoor seating.