Amsterdam Region: Amstelveens

South of Amsterdam is the municipality of Amstelveen. Its location on the banks of the River Amstel had an impact on its growth since it was crucial in connecting Amsterdam to the rest of the Netherlands.

Now with a population of 90,000, it is a vibrant city with plenty of entertainment and leisure activities for visitors – whether they are based there or wish to enjoy a day-trip outside of Amsterdam. It is within easy reach of the country’s capital, both by public transport and by car.

A Day in the Amsterdamse Bos (Amsterdam Forest)

Despite its name and being administered by the city of Amsterdam, Amsterdam Forest is predominantly situated in Amstelveen. This is the reason why this city is the second greenest in the entire country.

Some visitors to the forest enjoy the opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and get in touch with nature. A stroll through its environs stopping off for a picnic is the ideal way to relax. Apart from meadows left in their natural state, it also boasts other attractions including a botanical garden, combined goat farm/petting zoo and an outdoor theatre.

Other more energetic visitors to the Amsterdam Bos can enjoy a wide range of sporting and leisure activities such as running, cycling and jogging. Apart from bicycle rental, kayaks, canoes and pedal boats can also be hired for a trip along its waterways.

Dutch agricultural traditions

There are a number of attractions in Amstelveen for visitors who wish to experience the agricultural heritage of the Netherlands.

The Clara Maria cheese farm and clog factory is situated in the idyllic Dutch rural landscape. The original barn of this 160-year-old farm has been converted into a dairy where visitors can see at first hand the cheese-making process and afterwards sample some of its home-made Gouda cheese.

The site also operates as a clog factory. Visitors can learn how these traditional wooden shoes have evolved over their 800 years of history and watch them being made on antique machines. With a gift shop attached to the farm, it is the ideal chance to pick up some unique handcrafted Dutch souvenirs.

The Speelboerderij Elsenhove is a play farm located on the outskirts of Amstelveen. Apart from learning why Amstelveen peat is so special, visitors can also see a variety of farmyard animals including rare domestic breeds like North Holland blue hens, Dutch belted cows and Dutch spotted goats.

For something completely different, visitors to Amstelveen can also pay a visit to the Amsteltuin vineyard. This working vineyard has over 3,000 vines on its 1.5-hectare site and organises workshops and wine-tasting. Its terrace, set in a peaceful location, is the perfect place to sample a glass of their wine.

Cultural highlights of Amstelveen

Located in the modern indoor Stadshart Shopping Centre, the Cobra Museum of Modern Art plays tribute to the avant-garde Cobra Movement of the 1940s. This global movement emphasised how art could transcend cultural borders by drawing on a universal language of symbols which could be understood by everyone.

Opened in 1995 and designed by the Dutch architect, Wim Quist, the Cobra Museum has been created to make use of natural light to be the ideal showcase for works of arts by painters like Jan Sierhuis and Karel Appel. As well as its permanent exhibits, the museum also hosts a number of temporary exhibitions of contemporary and modern art throughout the year. In the courtyard of the museum is a Japanese Zen garden created by Shinkichi Tajiri.

Also located in Amstelveen is the Jan van der Togt Museum which features modern visual arts including paintings, sculptures and glass-works by both Dutch and international artists. The original collection and the funding of the building were made possible by the generosity of the Dutch industrialist, Jan van der Togt, who wanted his own private collection to be made available to the general public. Since it opened its doors in 1991, the museum’s curators have added to his original collection and also organise temporary displays of contemporary art by world-renowned artists.

For lovers of live performances, Griffioen is VU University of Amsterdam’s cultural centre. With a wide range of performances from theatre to comedy, it also screens films. Its lobby hosts a small art exhibition too.

Despite its relatively small population, Amstelveen has the amenities and facilities which many larger cities would envy. A visit there would appeal to everyone – from nature lovers to fans of contemporary art.

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