Amersfoort is a medieval city to the east of Amsterdam and Utrecht. It is at the edge of their commuting area. The city centre (the medieval city) is full of historic buildings and streets, and there is accessible forest into the west and south. The city of Amersfoort (municipality) has about 148,000 inhabitants, the urban region about 285,000.
Amersfoort is located in the province of Utrecht in the Netherlands, bordering on the province of Gelderland.
Geography and history
Amersfoort takes its name from a ford (voorde) in the Eem river, which was once called the 'Emer' or 'Amer', at the edge of higher ground, the Utrecht ridge. The ford is on the shortest route across low marshy ground, from the ridge to the nearest higher ground on the east. As a result, Amersfoort was, and still is, on the main road from the western Netherlands to northern Germany,and the later Amsterdam - Berlin railway followed this route. The low-lying area between the Utrecht and Veluwe ridges is called the Valley of Gelderland, Gelderse Vallei, and it is now a zone of intensive farming.
The first written record of the settlement was in 1028. In the 12th century the Bishopric of Utrecht fortified it (because of its strategic location), and in 1259 granted it city rights. The first city wall of stone was built in the late 13th century.
Around 1380 a new wall was built: some of the city gates still survive. The city was a late medieval pilgrimage centre, and in 1444 began the construction of a cathedral. Most of it was destroyed in an explosion in 1787, but the tower survives, one of the highest church towers in the Netherlands. The 98 meter late-medieval eye-catcher is called Onze Lieve Vrouwentoren. Because of its visibility, it was the starting point for the accurate triangulation of the country, and it is still the true origin of the Dutch national grid (coordinates 463.000, 155.000).
Amersfoort's medieval industries were cloth and beer: in the 18th century it prospered due to the locally-grown tobacco. The railway began the modern expansion. Growth has accelerated, with suburban expansion mainly to the north. During its medieval heyday Amersfoort was a popular place of pilgrimage and an important city in the brewing industry. The oldest of Amersfoorts bars, In Den Grooten Slock, still stands today. The historic brewery, De Drie Ringen, brews excellent beers and is open to the public (from F-Su 13:00-17:00).
The central location allowed Amersfoort to become a major railway hub in the late 19th century. This also increased its strategic importance and up until 1980 it was one of the biggest garrison towns of the Netherlands. The military presence is still visible in the army bases (the Bernhardkazerne is still active and housing the Cavalry museum), nearby training grounds, and former airforce base Soesterberg.
You can cycle from Amsterdam to Amersfoort in about 4 hours. Utrecht to Amersfoort takes about 90 minutes. The long-distance cycle route LF9, from Breda in the south, to the German border at Nieuweschans, at passes through Amersfoort. (There is also a route variant which passes outside the city).
By trainAmersfoort station is a rail junction. One line comes from Amsterdam via Hilversum, another from Utrecht. Beyond Amersfoort, they split. The main line to the east goes to Apeldoorn, Deventer, and on to Enschede. The line north-east to Zwolle is the main line to the north of the country, to Leeuwarden and Groningen. Trains arrive and depart at similar times on both sides of the platform, so you need to be careful which train you board. There are two suburban stations, Schothorst and Vathorst. The main station is served:
- from Amsterdam Centraal: 2 Intercity trains per hour, in 33 minutes, and 2 slower trains
- from Amsterdam Zuid: 2 Intercity trains per hour, in 35 minutes, and 2 slower trains
- from Utrecht: 4 Intercity trains per hour, in 14 minutes, and 2 slower trains
- from Deventer: 2 or 3 Intercity trains per hour, in 36 minutes
- from Zwolle: 2 Intercity trains per hour, in 35 minutes, and 2 slower trains
- from Ede-Wageningen station, connecting with trains from Arnhem, every 30 minutes, journey takes 33 minutes.
Amersfoort is served by regional bus lines, some with limited services. The main bus lines run every 30 minutes: line 80 from Wageningen, and three with parallel rail routes: the 70 from Hilversum, the 101 from Harderwijk and the 102 from Apeldoorn.
By carAmersfoort is next to a major intersection between the A1 motorway from Amsterdam to Hengelo and onwards to Germany, and the A28 motorway from Utrecht to Groningen. Nearby at Barneveld, the A30 provides a fast connection towards Arnhem.
phone: +31 900 11 22 364 (€0.50 p/c)address: Breestraat 1The Tourist Office of Amersfoort is located in the heart of the city center, next to the Onze Lieve Vrouwetoren in the city centre. They are happy to help you with more information, maps, walking- and cycle routes and souvenirs.
Public transportAmersfoort does have a city bus network, with 10 lines, but services are not as frequent as you would expect, in a city this size. The city centre is small enough to walk everywhere, the station is 10 minutes walk from the centre. Outside the centre, the best way to get around is to cycle. Car access to the city centre is restricted.
CarparkingAmersfoort city centre is easily accessible and offers multiple parking facilities, including eight parking garages in and around the city centre. The Parking Route Information System (PRIS) can guide you to any of our parking garages.
Rent a bike or scooterAt the Central Train Station and various other locations in and around the city centre you can rent (electric) bicycles which you may then park for free at one of the many cycle racks in the city centre. In combination with the Eemlijn Fietsboot this can be a perfect day out. Alternatively, you can rent a scooter from the Tourist Bureau Amersfoort, where they also have information on scooter routes.
address: Kortegracht 11Situated in the house of birth of the famous artist Piet Mondriaan, this museum is completely dedicated to his work and includes a reconstruction of his 1920s Paris studio. The museum has English descriptions of objects and artefacts, English brochures and guided tours in English. Please make a reservation for a tour in English at least four days in advance.
phone: +31 33 247 1100address: Westsingel 50Housed in buildings dating back to around 1540 the Museum Flehite hosts art exhibitions and artefacts that reflect the history of Amersfoort. English summary of history of Amersfoort available. Guided tours in English possible. Please make a reservation for a tour in English at least four days by telephone.
phone: +31 33 422 5030address: Eemplein 77Organises exhibitions of (modern) art, architecture, design and contemporary culture.
phone: +31 33 465 86 86address: Muurhuizen 104The first museum in the Netherlands dedicated to Spanish, Mexican, Caribbean, Central and South American contemporary art. English and Spanish descriptions of objects and artefacts are present. Guided tours in English and Spanish possible. For a guided tour in English or Spanish for groups consisting of more than ten people please make a reservation.
phone: +31 33 466 1996address: Barchman Wuytierslaan 198Houses an exhibition relating to early and modern cavalry of the Dutch army, spanning more than 435 years.
Onze Lieve VrouwetorenWith its 98-meter height, the 'Onze Lieve Vrouwetoren' is the second highest tower in the Netherlands. There are regular tours during the summer months where you can discover everything about the history and legends surrounding the tower. You can climb the 364 steps on a guided tour, from July to mid-September. The climb on the former cathedral spire will reward you with an amazing view.
KoppelpoortProbably the best preserved city gate in the Netherlands. It is the northern city gate of the second wall and a dual water and land entrance to the city, built over the river Eem, which begins under the gate.
MonnickendamThe southern water gate of the second wall. In the gate there is a restaurant.
Amersfoortse KeiThis glacial boulder is the symbol for the city. A 17th-century nobleman and poet persuaded 400 inhabitants to drag the 7156 kg stone to Amersfoort, for beer, just to show they would do something useless. The incident made the city the butt of jokes, and it buried the stone for centuries, out of shame. In 1903 the city felt sufficiently rehabilitated to dig it up again, and it became its symbol. In fact, the city started to collect boulders, gifts from other cities: they are displayed on the inner ring road, along the line of the old city wall.
Sint JoriskerkThe largest church, on the main square, Hof, with the old Town Hall. In 2011 a complete restoration of the interior of the St Joris church was finished.
KamperbinnenpoortThe only remaining gate of the first medieval city wall.
MuurhuizenA common name for all the houses which are built on the foundation of the first medieval city wall.
Remains of the second city wallParts of the second city wall are still intact on much of the eastern side of the historic city. The Koppelpoort and the Monnickendam are also parts of these remains.
phone: +31 33 422 7100address: Barchman Wuytierslaan 224On the western edge of Amersfoort, in the wooded area Birkhoven and Bokkeduinen, is the zoo of Amersfoort located. Amersfoort Zoo is one of the nicest zoos in the Netherlands. There are around 150 species and thematic areas like the Dinosaur Forest, the Palace of king Darius, the Savannah and the Land of Giants. There are also playgrounds and a restaurant. Between the trees of the forest is the parking places.
phone: +31 33 465 46 36address: Krommestraat 5You can hire a boat or join one of the tours on the canals, waterways and rivers of Amersfoort.
- Bicycle boat
Location of boarding the bicycle boat is in the recreational harbour. See Google Maps for the exact location.
- Sailing on a launch: Take an idyllic trip through the river Eem or to the lake Eemmeer or charter a launch and explore the waterways. You will find the launch at the jetty on the Grote Koppel in front of number 5.
- 'Forestpool: This open-air swimming pool is open from May until September. Enjoy a swim in the forest along with the play islands, slides and diving board. Do not miss the spectacular Canopy Trail while you are there.
- Sk8Park: The Sk8Park Vathorst in Amersfoort is the largest skate park in Europe. You can try inline skating, skate boarding and ride a BMX bike.
Nature and parks
In 2007 an international jury proclaimed Amersfoort to be one the greenest cities of Europe. You will find many green areas in the city to enjoy.
The park has a wide diversity of trees, plants and animals, including a colony of herons.
You will also find the historic park surrounding the urban centre. Or you may like to visit one of the estates, such as Landgoed Schothorst, which is surrounded by beautiful parks landscaped in the English style.
Actors re-enact professions and people from the rich history of Amersfoort, letting you experience times gone by.
- Burgerweeshuis: The Burgerweeshuis is a former orphanage dating from the 17th century and comes to life in July and August. Address: Zuidersingel 25 (next to the Mariënhof)
- Mannenzaal: The Mannenzaal is a nursing home dating back to the 16th century. During the months of July and August actors take you back in time. Address: Westsingel 47 (opposite the Museum Flehite)
- Historic Sundays: on Sundays in June, July, August and September you can encounter living history in the city centre.
Cycling around Amersfoort
There are several signposted cycle routes around Amersfoort. Shorter circular routes are signposted in one direction, taking several hours: follow the route signs (usually hexagonal). The Eemland Route starts in Amersfoort. The Nieuwe Vuursche Route passes the western edge of the city. The much longer Eneco Veluwe Route passes the eastern edge, and the nearby village of Hoevelaken. The route is 265 km long, not counting three short-cuts and two diversions. The route website, is in Dutch, but has an interactive map. Another long route, Rondje Utrecht, a circle around the Province of Utrecht, passes the city centre.
The LF9 is a long cross-country route, signposted in both directions. It starts in Breda, near the Belgian border, and follows approximately the 0 metre contour. In principle, everything west of this line would disappear under sea water, if there were no artificial barriers. It runs through Utrecht, and after Amersfoort follows the old coastline to Zwolle, and goes through Groningen to the German border (325 km).
However, you don't need to follow a route: most of the surrounding region is suitable for cycling. The most interesting routes are east and north-east to the Veluwe forests about 20 km away, east and south to the forest at the edge of the city, north along the river Eem and toward the former coastline, and south-east along the Gelderse Vallei toward Wageningen.
There is a signposted canoe route around Amersfoort, see map and photos here. Canoes can be rented at Kanocentrum boerderij Berg, Langesteeg 2a, 3831 RZ Leusden. Tel. +31 033-4945352.
MarketsOn Saturdays there is an all-day market on the centre square De Hof. Every Friday the Lieve Vrouwekerkhof hosts the weekly flower market.
On that same square there is a second-hand fair on the first and third Saturday of every month from April until October. From October till April the second-hand fair is held on every first Saturday of every month on the Lieve Vrouwekerkhof. In December and January there is no second-hand fair.
ShoppingAmersfoort is a real shopping city. You will find a variety of shops, ranging from large chain stores to boutiques, trendy little shops, delicacies and art galleries. Whatever you may need, Amersfoort has it. There is the Sint Jorisplein, a modern shopping area in the centre of town or you may choose to visit the many characteristic shopping streets such as the Krommestraat or the Langestraat. Outside the city centre you have the shopping area Eemplein, the busy but nice Leusderweg or Emiclaer, the shopping area for northern Amersfoort.
Every Thursday the shops in the city centre are open in the evening, closing at 21:00. Stores are generally open on Monday afternoon from 13:00 till 17:30. The rest of the week on Tuesday till Friday from 10:00 closing on 17:30 and on Saturdays from 10:00 till 17:00.
address: Sint Jorisplein, Riddergang and Sint JorisstraatShopping area on the eastern side of the centre of the city with a lot of different shops, like department stores, cloth shops and many more. Under the shopping area is a big parking from where you can easily go to the shops.
EempleinShopping area on the south bank of the river Eem and just out of the medieval city. Eemplein has a cinema, a big supermarket, fast food restaurants and it host the main library and cultural centre of Amersfoort and the surrounding area.
address: EmiclaerhofShopping area in the northern part of Amersfoort.
Some examples include:
address: Bloemendalsestraat 5Tasty food, great value for money. For every dish you can choose to have it as a starter or main.
address: Kamp 88A small place serving French cuisine in a nice historic house.
address: Utrechtseweg 38Widely considered to have the best sushi in town, all you can eat for under €25.
phone: +31 337505579address: Krankeledenstraat 18Home-made burgers in all shapes, sizes and tastes Also offers a selection of deep fried snacks.
phone: +31 33 7370655address: Arnhemsestraat 14Fresh sushi.
The following restaurants are recognized by the 'Lekker!' organisation as some of the finest restaurants in the Netherlands:
De Aubergerieaddress: Kamp 88, 3811AT Amersfoort
Tolliusaddress: Utrechtseweg 42, 3818EM, Amersfoort
De Saffraanaddress: Kleine Koppel 3, 3812PG AmersfoortThis unique restaurant is situated in a boat moored in Amersfoort's harbour.
Blok’saddress: Krommestraat 49, 3811CB Amersfoort
phone: +31 334557614address: Grote Koppel 16A stylish restaurant and wine bar that aims to provide culinary experiences. As the name implies, the restaurant prides itself on its 90 wines a patron can choose from.
De Pastinaeckaddress: Hof 8, 3811CJ, Amersfoort
phone: +31 33 470 2302address: Grote Koppel 5, 3813 AA AmersfoortNice Moroccan restaurant with outdoor seating.
There are plenty of bars around in the old City centre. The most important clusters of bars can be found on the two main squares (Onze Lieve Vrouwenkerkhof and Hof), Two of the better pubs there are Lobbes and Blauwe Engel, The Boothill Saloon (in Krankeledenstraat, near Onze Lieve Vrouwenkerkhof), Irish Pub Long John (also Krankenledenstraat) and 't Nonnetje (in Groenmarkt) are great places to go out.
Prices are, as in most Dutch pubs, somewhat high. In Long John a pint of Guinness might, for instance, set you back €4.50, although the other pubs are slightly cheaper.
phone: +31 33 465 65 75address: Kleine Spui 18The last microbrewery of Amersfoort.
phone: +31 33 4221200address: Stationsstraat 75Comfortable rooms and plenty of facilities, located a few minutes walk from the town centre and the train station. There is no private parking.
address: De Nieuwe Poort 20Fairly new, modernly decorated hotel next to the city centre. Breakfast is slightly overpriced but otherwise this is a fine place with ample facilities. Parking is free.
phone: +31 33 4 540 000address: Ruimtevaart 22Luxury hotel in northern Amersfoort.
phone: +31 33 434 53 45address: Philipsstraat 18Luxury hotel in the town of Leusden, directly east of Amersfoort.
phone: +31 33 422 42 22address: Utrechtseweg 225A former farmhouse on the Amersfoortse Berg in a wooded area. The city centre is a half an hour walking downwards. You can also walk or cycle in the nearby forest.
phone: +31 33 46 79 900address: Stichtse Rotonde 11Located out of town, in a forest area right outside of Amersfoort. Easily reachable and a nice base when you have a bike or car. Breakfast is somewhat expensive but rooms are nice and clean, with pleasant views.
phone: +31 33 455 87 57address: De Brand 50Located some 7 km away from the city centre, and about 1,5km from the rail station. A convenient place if you have a car, as the high way is close and parking is free.
phone: +31 33 463 7415address: Willem van Mechelenstraat 27-29Hotel-pension on a 5 minutes walk to the city centre. There are 1-, 2-, 3- and 4-person rooms.
phone: +31 33 461 88 97address: Krankeledenstraat 22In the town centre on a bustling square and on top of a bar, this cosy place is a real city hotel. It can be a bit noisy, especially when you have a room on the front side. Earplugs are provided. Some rooms in this budget friendly hotel have private toilets, others shared ones. They're not very spacious, but pleasant enough. The staff is very friendly and the breakfast is good.
You can travel on from Amersfoort in several directions, see 'Get in' for main train routes. There are many other destinations in the vicinity.
The most useful routes are bus line 101 through several villages to the town of Harderwijk, line 80 to Rhenen and Wageningen and the 102 across the forested Veluwe to Apeldoorn. It connects with line 104, the only way to reach the smaller villages in the northern Veluwe.