Having made its fortune trading in beer, wool and tobacco during the 16th century, Amersfoort has become a superb cultural detour for visitors from Utrecht and Amsterdam. The old city is a maze of Gothic architecture spread around a network of serene canals. Look around and you will find great cafés and restaurants, a range of exciting museums and one of the country’s best zoos.
Learn about the area’s history with a visit to the Museum Flehite, set at the junction of canals. Access requires crossing a bridge. Three medieval houses display 750 years of history through rare artifacts and works of art. View an intricate scale model of what the city looked like in 1671 and enjoy an exhibit that investigates the development of industry in the city.
A short walk southeast will lead you to the Mondriaanhuis. The birthplace of the artist Piet Mondrian, the building now has displays that honor his life and work. See colorful prints, intriguing reproductions and several originals.
Just minutes from the two museums stands the imposing Onze Lieve Vrouwetoren. This sinister-looking 15th-century Gothic tower is all that remains of the church that once stood here. The rest was destroyed in a gunpowder explosion in 1787. Climb the 346 stairs to the top for wonderful city views. Amersfoort has an operational church; find it right in the heart of the city. The 16th-century Gothic Sint Joriskerk features a huge organ and painting of St. George battling a dragon.
Hop on a bike and make the short cycle to Amersfoort Zoo (Dieren Park Amersfoort) on the outskirts of the city. Admire exquisitely recreated dinosaurs and explore the land of giants where you can get close to real elephants and giraffes.
Reach Amersfoort from Amsterdam or Utrecht in under an hour by either train or bus. Once you have arrived, the best way to get around this relatively small city is by bike.