A lot of tourists coming into the Netherlands visit Amsterdam to enjoy all that the city has to offer. What most of them don’t know is that just a stone throw from the city are smaller towns with as much history and fun things to do as the capital city. Some of these small cities are Volendam, Edam and of course, the Amsterdam Beach – Zandvoort. One of these beautiful towns is Amstelveen.
Amstelveen is a town and municipality in North Holland. The town borders Amsterdam and is only a few minutes away from the Ajax Johan Cruyff Stadium and the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.
In the 13th century, the Amstelland area was divided into Ouder-Amstel (east of the Amstel river) and Nieuwer-Amstel (mostly west of the Amstel river). Nieuwer-Amstel was founded in 1278 and was therefore known under the name Aemstelle. Amsterdam received city rights in 1300 and thus separated itself from the Amstelland. In 1342 Amsterdam was given a piece of Nieuwer-Amstel for the first time, which was later expanded in 1387.
The ecclesiastical community of Nieuwer-Amstel was created when a new church (chapel) was built to the west of the Amstel river. Until 1334 the church remained subordinate to a clergyman in Ouderkerk. Amstelveen originated as a village in the peat extraction area to the west of the river.
The name Amstelveen has been used since 1964 for the part of Nieuwer-Amstel, which remained after the area was annexed by Amsterdam.
Formerly a rural community, Amstelveen formed the core of the Nieuwer-Amstel area as a small village. In 1915 Amstelveen was connected to the railway network of the Haarlemmermeer railway lines and a Station Amstelveen in the old village and a few smaller bus stops. There were railway lines in three directions: Aalsmeer, Amsterdam and Uithoorn. The station building from 1915 is still present and used as a shop.
After the Second World War, the Nieuwer-Amstel area became overcrowded and a lot of locals had to move to Amstelveen to escape the hustle and bustles of city life. Amstelveen also became a location for people working at Schiphol. New districts were quickly built and in the sixties, Amstelveen was one of the fastest growing cities in the Netherlands. However, housing quality and landscaping were not lost sight of here. From 1964 onwards, the name “Amstelveen” went from being the name of a small village in Nieuwer-Amstel to the name of the entire municipality.
In addition to homes, many offices have also been built over the last few decades; especially for the commercial, banking and insurance sectors. The town is home to beautiful museums, breathtaking architecture and head offices of national and international institutions. Many people who work at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport live in Amstelveen. Even for a short time, Amstelveen had the reputation as the “town of pilots, stewards and stewardesses”. Due to its closeness and short travel time to the airport, professionals working at Schiphol Airport preferred to live in the town.
If you travel to the Netherlands with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, there’s a big chance your pilots and stewards/stewardesses live in Amstelveen.
What to see in Amstelveen?
Amstelveen has a lot to offer when it come to sights. The town is home to varied cultural identities and a visit to these cultural institutions is always worth it. Amstelveen is one town where you can watch culture, listen to it or even take part in it! Culture plays an important role in how the Amstelveen locals welcome their visitors. Some very interesting sights to see are;
The Harmonie Orchestra Amstelveen
Harmonie Orkest Amstelveen was founded in May 1922 as Fanfarecorps Bovenkerk. The orchestra which started with only twenty musicians and borrowed instruments has grown to be quite popular in the Netherlands. Among the founders, we hear names like Botman and Blesgraaf and they still have an influence on the orchestra even today. In 1986 the name switch was made from Fanfare to Harmonie Orchestra. The orchestra consists of 45 members and rehearses every Thursday evening in the Noorddam Center in Bovenkerk. Pay a visit to one of their rehearsals or go on their website for information on how to catch one of their performances.
The Amstelveen Puppet Theater
The Amstelveen Puppet Theater is located in a former kindergarten school building and is home to a lot of creative performers in the world of puppetry. The theatre was founded in 1966 by the well-known hand puppeteer Jan Nelissen and for ten years he was the permanent and only puppeteer in theatre. The Amstelveen Puppet Theater is the only professional youth theatre with a puppet and object theatre as its main program. The theater wants to show as many sides as possible: hand puppet play, combination performances with actors and dolls, modern object play et cetera. Also music and movement theater performances, where the visual aspect is of paramount importance. Pay a visit, especially if you’re visiting with kids and you’ll definitely have a lot of fun.
The Cobra Museum of Modern Art Amstelveen is a museum for modern and contemporary art in the small Dutch town of Amstelveen. The museum contains an extensive collection of art by Dutch modern artists, especially members of the Cobra movement. The Museum has been in existence since 1995 and is home to the heritage of the founding members of the Cobra movement. Cobra was the most important international avant-garde movement in European art after the Second World War. The Cobra movement only lasted for 3 years, from 1948 to 1951 and the museum houses art from this time, and some much more newer artworks from different artists all over the Netherlands and other parts of the world.
Jan van der Togt Museum
The Jan van der Togt Museum in Amstelveen is a museum for modern (visual) art. The museum was founded in 1991 by Jan van der Togt (1905-1995), an industrialist (founder of the company Tomado) and collector of contemporary art. The museum’s permanent collection consists of paintings, sculptures and an important collection of modern glass art. These include masterpieces by avant-garde Czech glass artists such as Vaclav Cigler, Libensky and Ales Vasicek. In addition to exhibiting parts of the permanent collection, the museum organizes several exhibitions showcasing the works of one chosen artist per year. These are often established names such as Eugène Brands, Karel Appel, Corneille, Ans Root, Anton Heyboer, Hugo Claus, Ans Markus and Kamagurka. Sometimes, the works of young and upcoming talents are also showcased.
Amstelveen Public Library
The Amstelveen Library is a centre for knowledge, art and culture. The library has an extensive collection of books, CDs and DVDs as well as a collection of priceless art in its art gallery. In addition, lectures and computer courses are frequently organized. Well-known Dutch writers can regularly be found in the library, where they read aloud from their own works. The Amstelveen Library also works on various cultural projects aimed at attracting tourists and entertaining both the tourists and the locals.
Schouwburg Dance theatre
Schouwburg Dance Theatre Amstelveen is where you visit to enjoy different performances and films. Are you curious about what is going on behind the curtains and in the theatre’s stages? Schouwburg Amstelveen regularly organizes guided tours for groups of ten people or more. A nice idea for a day out! The Amstelveen theatre offers an extensive program for a diverse audience. Each year they have more than 250 performances of all different theater disciplines: theater, dance, youth, musical, cabaret and circus. In addition to these performances, there is also a cinema program. Here, too, there is always something for everyone, different themes and topics. The Great Hall has 683 seats, of which 510 is in the lower room and 173 on the balcony. Pay a visit to this wonderful theatre of dreams and fun and truly enjoy all that Amstelveen is all about.
What to do in Amstelveen?
There is definitely a lot to do in Amstelveen. An old town with a lot of history should never be boring for the ones who are really interested in finding out all that the town has to offer.
1. Attend the Cherry Blossom Festival
Every year in April, the town of Amstelveen celebrates the start of spring during the Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival.The Japanese Sakura (Cherry blossom festival) marks the start of spring. According to tradition, families and friends celebrate this with a picnic under the cherry trees that are in bloom. The municipality of Amstelveen organizes this festival for the Japanese community, as thanks for the donation of 400 cherry trees in 2000. Enjoy Japanese snacks & drinks and cultural customs are all on display as visitors flock the town to be part of the festivities.Note: the date of this event is subject to change.
2. Visit and take part in the Diwali Festival
Every November, Amstelveen’s city centre is the scene of a colourful Indian festival, where both young and old come to enjoy a varied show of multicultural festivities. The Diwali festival paints a colourful and beautiful image of India and all the beauty that Indian nationals have brought to the Netherlands, especially the small town of Amstelveen. The festival promises to be a party for everyone: a party where there are stalls with Indian sweets, food, clothing and jewellery. On stage, there is also non-stop entertainment by different artists of Indian origin. There are performances, where different types of Indian dance are shown; of course, not just Bollywood dances but also classical dances like the Kathak and the Bharatanatyam. Don’t miss this festival because it’s one you’re never going to forget!
3. Go figure skating in Amstelveen’s annual winter village
Here is something for those visitors who would love to visit Amstelveen during Christmas. Every December, Amstelveen’s winter village comes to life, for six weeks. Visitors can enjoy strolling through all the cosy Christmas market chalets, visit the bars and of course skate on the ice rink. During the six weeks, visitors can count on activities like curling competitions, competitive ice skating, disco skating, ice skating lessons, and much more. The outdoor ice rink is ideal for both experienced and inexperienced skaters – young and old. Besides regular skating, they also offer skating lessons for children and adults.
Winter Village Stadshart Amstelveen has a tastefully decorated pop-up restaurant, where you can go for lunch and dinner or family and company meetings. The restaurant also has an intimate terrace with its own outdoor bar, where locals and tourists can meet and interact. Don’t miss out on this, especially if you’re visiting during the Christmas period.
4. Go shopping in the city centre and also get something to drink
Amstelveen’s city centre is known for its atmospheric and elegant shops. The indoor shopping centre accommodates large, well-known names such as Bijenkorf, Zara, Massimo Dutti, G-Star Women, Van Gils, Starbucks and Superdry. But there are also several boutiques and innovative concepts such as the first Bose Experience Center in the Netherlands and a Nespresso Boutique. In addition to the many shops, there is an extensive range of catering and culture, such as P60, Schouwburg Amstelveen, Cinema Amstelveen and the Cobramuseum. You can also have a drink or lunch while shopping with friends and family. Amstelveen’s city centre has a wide and diverse range of cafés, lunchrooms and restaurants. You can enjoy the sun rays on the sunny terraces on the Stadsplein while enjoying a view of the activities on the square.
5. Go out with friends and enjoy the P60 events centre
P60 has been the pop venue of Amstelveen since 2001. Around 45,000 visitors annually visit about 200 concerts, club nights, workshops and other events that take place there. P60 also boasts of a (food) café which is regularly used as an exhibition space and also has freely accessible programs. The events centre is definitely worth a try if you want to see what Amstelveen’s social life looks like. Make sure to check it out and enjoy all the talent that is nurtured there.
How to get to there
Amstelveen is easily accessible by bus and (fast) tram. Connexxion provides bus transport and GVB the (fast) tram (lines 5 and 51). The city centre is where you can find the large, modern bus station where all bus lines with the exception of bus 199 stop to pick up passengers. The town is quite small so the best way to find your way around is by bicycle.
Buses/Trams to Amstelveen (from Amsterdam)
There is a regular bus connection from Amsterdam Central Station to Amstelveen. The buses depart every 15 minutes and it takes approximately 40 minutes to get to Amstelveen. Some buses do not go directly from Amsterdam Central Station to Amstelveen so travel time may be more than 20 minutes.
Bus line 347: Uithoorn-Amstelveen-Amsterdam Elandsgracht;
Bus line 348: Uithoorn-Amstelveen station Amsterdam Zuid;
Bus line 357: Aalsmeer-Amstelveen-Amsterdam Elandsgracht;
Line 358: Kudelstaart-Amstelveen station Amsterdam Zuid.
The night lines from/to Aalsmeer / Uithoorn from/to Amsterdam Central Station.
Note: Tram Line 5 will no longer go to Amsterdam Central Station but will veer west at Leidseplein to the terminus Amsterdam Westerpark / Van Hallstraat.
Buses 300 and 356 depart Haarlem Central every 6 minutes on their way to Amsterdam Bijlmer Arena. They both stop at Amstelveen. Bus 300 goes to Amsterdam Bijlmer Arena via Amsterdam Schiphol Airport and then also makes a quick stop at Amstelveen. Bus 356 goes from Haarlem to Amstelveen and then to Amsterdam Bijlmer Arena.
From Amsterdam Schiphol Airport
Bus line 300 departs every 10 minutes from Amsterdam Schiphol Aiport to Amstelveen. Travel time is about 20 minutes.
Bus line 186 (Schiphol Plaza – Schiphol Noord – Amstelveen Bus Station), stops at Dorpsstraat (5 minutes walk to the city centre).
From Amsterdam Bijlmer Arena to Amstelveen
Bus line 356 departs the Amsterdam Bijlmer Arena station every 10 minutes and it takes approximately 15 minutes to get to Amstelveen.
Note: in November and December it may be busier due to maintenance work around the city. Please take this into account
For real-time travel information from wherever you are to Volendam, please check out this link;
Parking in Amstelveen
You can park for free in many parts of Amstelveen. However, there are also blue zones and areas where paid parking applies.
Pay parking applies in a number of areas in Amstelveen. The rates and maximum parking duration vary per area. Around the city centre of Amstelveen, a high parking fee applies in a number of areas. Parking fees may go for as much as € 16.00 for 4 hours of parking. There are also “short paid parking” areas where you can only park for a short period of time.
Amstelveen’s city centre is home to 3 parking garages:
Stadsplein (€ 0.50 per 13 minutes)
Schouwburg Theatre (€ 0.50 per 15 minutes)
Handelsplein (€ 0.50 per 15 minutes)
Parking for the disabled
You will find disabled parking spaces around all shopping centres in Amstelveen. If you have a valid disabled parking card, you can use these places free of charge. You must always place the card in a visible place in your car.
A maximum parking duration applies to some disabled parking spaces. This is indicated on the sign at the parking lot.
Charging poles for electric driving
In Amstelveen, there are about 100 charging stations for electric cars.
The town has placed fast loading piles at 4 locations:
- Shops Amsterdamseweg / Patrimoniumlaan 2 (next to Patisserie Elzo Prenger)
- Shopping center Kostverlorenhof, Eleanor Rooseveltlaan 82 (parking spaces in front of a flat)
- Westwijk shopping centre, Asserring 188 (in front of the main entrance)
- Winkel Stadshart, Handelsweg 37 (next to the former V&D)
Note: If you are charging your vehicle at the designated charging spot in an area where paid parking applies, you do not have to pay a parking fee. You are allowed to park for free as long as you are charging your vehicle.