Amersfoort  is an originally medieval city to the east of Amsterdam and Utrecht. It is at the edge of their commuting area, and has expanded in recent years. The city centre (the medieval city) is full of historic buildings and streets, and there is accessible forest in to the west and south. The city of Amersfoort (municipality) has about 153.800 inhabitants (1-4-2016), the urban region about 285,000.
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 eyecatcher is called Onze Lieve Vrouwetoren. Because of its visibility, it was 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 beer and cloth: in the 18th century it prospered due to the locally-grown tobacco. The railway began the modern expansion. In recent years growth has accelerated, with suburban expansion mainly to the north. During its medieval heyday Amersfoort was both a popular place of pilgrimage as well as an important city in the brewing industry. One of the oldest of Amersfoorts pubs, In Den Grooten Slock, still stands today. The historic brewery, De Drie Ringen, brews excellent beers and is open to the public (from thursday til sunday from 1 til 7 pm).
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).
Amersfoort 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 about which train you board. There are two suburban stations, Schothorst and Vathorst. The main station is served by...
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.
The 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.
See www.visitamersfoort.com/tourist-office for opening hours, address and further details.
Amersfoort has a city bus network, with 10 lines. However, 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.
Amersfoort 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 scooter
At 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.
The roughly circular historic centre is the main attraction of Amersfoort. The Eem river runs diagonally through the old city, south-east to northwest, from the Monnickendam to the Koppelpoort. It is crossed at right angles by the Langestraat, part of the old highway from Utrecht to Zwolle, and still the main street. The station is on the west side, and the Town Hall is at the western edge of the old city, on the road to the station. Most of the office buildings in the centre are located on or near this road. Apart from the Langestraat, most of the shopping streets are on the west side of the centre also. Specific sights include:
Situated 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 1920’s Paris studio. The museum has English and German descriptions of objects and artefacts, brilliant audiovisual presentations, English brochures and guided tours in English. Please make a reservation for a tour in English at least four days in advance via [email protected] www.mondriaanhuis.nl
Housed 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. www.museumflehite.nl
Organises exhibitions of (modern) art, architecture, design and contemporary culture. www.kunsthalkade.nl
Houses an exhibition relating to both early and modern cavalry of the Dutch army, spanning more than 425 years. www.cavaleriemuseum.nl
See www.visitamersfoort.com/museums for more details on these museums.
Do you dare to take on the climb? With its 98 meter high tower the 'Onze Lieve Vrouwetoren' is the third highest tower in the Netherlands. There are daily tours where you can discover everything about the history and legends surrounding the tower, and climb its 364 steps. The climb on this former churchtower spire will reward you with an amazing view. Please visit www.tijdvooramersfoort.nl for opening hours.
You can join one of the tours on the canals, waterways and rivers of Amersfoort, or make a booking for a private boattour. www.amersfoort-rondvaarten.nl
Taking part in a guided tour on foot gives you the opportunity to discover more about the city's history. Guides will show you the most beautiful parts of the medieval town and share some of the best stories and fun facts. A general historical tour (in Dutch) can be joined at the Tourist Office. Groups and foreign guests can book Private Tours.
The Eemlijn Fietsboot, a boat catering for cyclists, departs from the Eem harbour to either Spakenburg or Huizen. From April to October, on 5 days each week, there is a boat service along the Eem and out into the former Southern Sea, to Huizen or Spakenburg. It is mainly intended for cyclists, who combine a river and cycle trip by getting on or off the boat, along the riverbank. The round trip takes almost 8 hours. The Fietsboot operates in conjunction with www.fietsen.123.nl where you can find additional cycle routes. www.eemlijn.nl
Location of boarding the bicycle boat is in the recreational harbour. See Google Maps for the exact location.
Amersfoort Zoo is the nicest zoo in the Netherlands. You can see the animals close-up and in some cases even touch them. In the Dinosaur Forest you will encounter real dinosaurs while in the Rijk der Reuzen (The Land of the Giants) you can stand nose to trunk with elephants. www.dierenparkamersfoort.nl
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. www.aanhetroer.nl
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. www.bosbadamersfoort.nl and www.outinaction.nl
The Sk8Park Vathorst in Amersfoort is the largest skate park in Europe. You can try inline skating, skate boarding and ride a BMX bike. Address: Valutaboulevard, opposite IKEA
See the videos of attractions and more details about them on www.visitamersfoort.com/attractions
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. Park Randenbroek 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
More details about nature and parks in the city and region Amersfoort see www.visitamersfoort.com/nature-parks
Actors reenact professions and people from the rich history of Amersfoort, letting you experience times gone by (mostly in Dutch).
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)
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)
Please visit www.levendehistorie.nl for more information
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 www.enecoveluweroute.nl, 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 at http://home.planet.nl/~vortex1/nl-leusden.htm. Canoes can be rented at Kanocentrum boerderij Berg, Langesteeg 2a, 3831 RZ Leusden. Tel. 033-4945352.
On 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 taking place on the first and third Saturday of every month from April until October. From October till April the second hand fair is being held on every first Saturday of every month on the Lieve Vrouwekerkhof. In December and January there is no secondhand fair.
Amersfoort is a real shopping city. You will find a variety of shops, ranging from large chainstores to boutiques, trendy little shops, delicasies 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 Grote Sint Jansstraat and Kleine Sint Jansstraat.
Every Thursday the shops in the city centre are open in the evening, closing at 9pm. Stores are generally open on Monday-afternoon from 1 till 5.30pm. The rest of the week on Tuesday till friday from 10am closing on 5.30pm and on Saturdays from 10 till 5pm.
Also see www.visitamersfoort.com/shopping
Mexican: Marimba. Southwest corner of Het Hof (the square) in the center of Amersfoort. Marimba Website
World kitchen: Dara. In the Eemharbour, with views over the water and an eastern-Arabian cuisine. Dara Website
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 and rockcafe Brutus (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.
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 last train back to Amsterdam is at 00.07 (2007 timetable, valid from 10 December 2006).
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.