Amstelveen is Amsterdam’s quiet and well mannered little sister. The city has about 90.000 inhabitants, about a tenth of Amsterdam. There are no canals in Amstelveen, nor does it have many monumental places to visit. The biggest attraction of Amstelveen is the Amsterdam Forest (Amsterdamse Bos), a large woodland park.
Here are the facts about Amstelveen.
1. Amstelveen is rich
Amstelveen is reputed for its well off, liberal crowd. Especially the houses in the northwest of Amstelveen, near Amsterdam, are spacious and expensive. Traditionally, the liberal party VVD wins a majority of the votes in Amstelveen, compared to the leftist PvdA and Groen Links in Amsterdam. The inhabitants of Amstelveen are older on average than Amsterdam, which attracts a younger and more progressive crowd.
2. Amstelveen is the city of Asian expats
Amstelveen is well known for its huge expat community. Due to the many Japanse companies setting base in Amstelveen, the Japanse are now the largest community of non-Dutch people in Amstelveen. Since 2008, workers for Indian and Chinese companies have moved to Amstelveen. This means there are a lot of quality Japanese and Indian shops. Colorful feasts like the Japanese Cherry Blossom at Amsterdamse Bos in spring, the Japan Festival, and Indian Diwali are held in Amstelveen in October.
3. Amstelveen loves green
Amstelveen is a green suburb and takes lovingly care of its many green zones and parks. Go to Broese Park, a classic English landscape park near windmill De Dikkert in an area with many villa’s. The beautiful Dr Jac Thijssepark is home to many indigenous flowers and plants. Next door lies De Braak, with its great pond, a greenhouse, and small bridge.
The Amsterdam Forest
The greenest attraction of Amstelveen, though officially part of Amsterdam, is the Amsterdamse Bos. This large woodland park was created in ‘crisis years’, the 1930’s. To create employment for the many job-seekers, Amsterdam decided to plant an entire forest. Over 20.000 people worked at the park! The Amsterdam Forest is three times bigger than Central Park in New York.
6. Stadshart Amstelveen
The ‘heart’ of Amstelveen (‘Stadshart’) revolves around a large shopping mall. Every Friday there’s an old school market here where you can buy socks and try Dutch specialties such as raw herring, poffertjes (small pancakes) and lots of cheese. There is a comfortable library at the Stadshart and a huge bus station that connects Amstelveen with the rest of the region.
5. The old part of Amstelveen
Het Oude Dorp is the old part of Amstelveen. The roots of Amstelveen go back to before 1200! You can feel a little bit of the history walking around the streets Kerklaan and Dorpsstraat. The old town hall still sits at the little square, next to it is the small Museum Jan van der Togt, dedicated to glass art and contemporary art. There are many restaurants and cafés here.
7. Things to do in Amstelveen
The Cobra Museum houses a large collection of artwork from the avant-garde movement CoBrA, active from 1948 to 1951. The working method was based on spontaneity and experiment. The museum is at the Stadshart Amstelveen.
READ MORE: Temporary Art Exhibitions in Amsterdam
At the Oude Dorp is another modern art museum: Museum Jan van der Togt, named after its collector.
Music, theatre and movies in Amstelveen
At the Stadshart, Schouwburg Amstelveen has a program of theatre and musicals. There is also a small cinema. A big, new cinema is planned to build in Amstelveen in 2021.
Next door to Schouwburg Amstelveen is P60, a small stage for live music and some dance night.
Griffioen is a cultural center part of university VU. They have a program of theatre, workshops, films and music.
New to Amstelveen is restaurant, bar and art gallery ANNA, located in an old church. ANNA has a large space for events. They also brew their own beer.
8. The best bars and restaurants in Amstelveen
The best places to find a good restaurant or bar in Amstelveen are at the Bovenkerkerweg and in and around the old part Oude Dorp.
The best restaurant in Amstelveen is Aan de Poel, as it is awarded with two Michelin stars. Aan de Poel has an amazing terrace on lake ‘De Poel’. Other good restaurants in Amstelveen are De jonge Dikkert, located in a 17th-century windmill. De Veranda has the perfect location for fine outside dining. Veri Sapori is recommended for Italian food (no lunch).
Restaurants in Ouderkerk
9. How to get to Amstelveen
Amsterdam is only a few kilometers from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. That sounds good, but it’s too loud! In some neighbourhoods of Amstelveen, you need to stop your conversation every time a plane flies over your head.
How to get to Amstelveen from the airport? Amstelveen is not connected by railway. It’s best to get to Amstelven by bus.
How to get to Amstelveen from Amsterdam
Amstelveen and Amsterdam have a good public transport connection. Tramline 5 runs from the center of Amsterdam to the ‘Stadshart’, the shopping center of Amstelveen.
Metroline 51, the ‘Amstelveenlijn’, is in renewal and is not running from 2019 until 2021. During this time, metro 51 will be converted to a tram. The new ‘Amstelveenlijn’ tram runs from Amsterdam South train station to the deep suburban south of Amstelveen. There are plans for the future to connect also the neighbour city of Uithoorn via the Amstelveenlijn.
From Amsterdam to Amstelveen by bike
It’s easy to get around in Amstelveen by bike. To get from Amsterdam to Amstelveen by bike is also easy. There is a beautiful bike path that starts at the old tram depot at Havenstraat, near the roundabout at Amstelveenseweg. The popular green bike path follows an old railroad track. There is a (very slow) museum tram line riding on these railroads (a great outing for kids). The bike path takes you via the Amsterdam Forest into Amstelveen in less than 20 minutes.
Most people who live in Amstelveen drive their car to work in the morning only to return in the evening. Popular things to do in Amstelveen are bridge, hockey, and tennis. Groceries are done at rather tasteless concentrations of shops.