Amstel River Walk

Amstel River in Amsterdam

Amstel River walk

(6.3 miles/ 10 km)

Heading south along the Amstel River has a special feel to it. You leave the city behind and even though you look back at familiar landmarks, the widening river beckons.

At 10 km (6.3 miles), this is a satisfying walk and takes you outside the built-up urban area; it's fantastic to be able to escape the city so easily, just on foot.  It's suitable for all seasons too, each season having its distinct appeal.

Amstel River Walk (follow link to see in Google maps)

Most of the time you'll be beside the Amstel River, either directly on the riverbank or nearby. All along the Weesperzijde there are wonderful pavement gardens and many of the adjoining streets are worth a bit of a snoop too. Depending on the season, you'll see roses climbing up to balconies, ceonotis, laburnum, Hawthorne, wisteria and lots more. Some of the house-boats have dinky gardens, just at your feet so to speak. Autumn colour is gorgeous on the river and the silhouettes of bare trees are equally gorgeous in winter.

The Amstel is already a bit wider once you emerge from under the Toronto Bridge (centre), and you'll get glimpses of the beautiful, low-slung Nieuwe Amstelbrug (bridge) ahead. Then a lovely footpath lined with tall elms, unfolds in front of you. If you're feeling peckish, or just lacking in self-control when it comes to idyllic waterside cafés, there's a gem here on this stretch called the ‘Ysbreeker’ (the ice-breaker).

The buildings along the river here on the Weesperzijde are elegant, often with magnificent balconies, bay windows, oriel windows, and turrets. The scene will have you imagining times when houses were built for beauty as well as function and gain.

Many would claim that the Amstel River is at its most alluring south of the city; free of constraints, it becomes more of a rural river. Within the confines of the city, the banks are usually occupied by houseboats. As you move further south, there is space for reed beds and grass; ducks and coots are boss here.

On and on you go southwards, keeping the river on your right. At some point, enjoying ‘Rest & Refreshments’ (either picnic variety or riverside café), you may gaze out over the enchanting expanse of the Amstel and feel at peace with the world.

Weesperzijde along the Amstel near the Ysbreeker in AmsterdamRed boats rowing on the Amstel in Amsterdam

The source of the Amstel is about 30 km south-west of the city; there the Amstel was named where two other rivers came together. It flows northwards through the city to the IJ harbour. Presumably everybody has heard that Amsterdam owes its name to the river Amstel, and the dam on such. If you look at its course, it actually comes to a dead stop at the Rokin in the centre of the city (near the Equestrian statue of Queen Wilhelmina). Be that as it may, the water reaches the IJ harbour via various canals and waterways.

If you go the full route, the Amstel Park is well worth a visit but it closes at sunset (there's a café, and there are public loos if it's still open). The Amstel Park is a bit linear and formal but has fabulous trees, the atmosphere is peaceful, it's spacious, and there are lots of birds; it is stunning in spring when the cherry blossom is at its best.

This really is a circular walk because you'll return on the opposite (i.e. west) side of the Amstel and walk back to the city in a northerly direction. From the Amstel Park to the Berlagebrug (bridge) is mostly fantastic; a thoroughly beautiful walk, quiet and interesting. From the Berlagebrug onwards, I normally opt to continue by going back to the east side of the Amstel River. The east side is much quieter and nicer for walking as there's a good footpath, not so on the west side.

You get fantastic views from bridges like the Toronto Bridge by the way. So if you have the energy and your feet aren't killing you, go have a look and take a few photos. Around here is great at sunset too.

Skinny Bridge over the Amstel river in centre of AmsterdamOld water tower and bridge for bicycles and pedestrians along the Amstel in Amsterdam Southalong the Amstel river near Amstel Park in Amsterdam South

More directions:

The entire walk is easy to follow in that you just continue on the riverbank, keeping the river to your right all the way.

At one point, after the tall Delta Lloyd buildings (a few km south), you need to turn right on to the Korte Ouderkerkerdijk, but this too is pretty obvious as you just keep to the river. The city has made a small park here, with a waterside boardwalk, a marina, and various other attractions including a children's play area and permanent sun-chairs. This green area has a few gorgeous birch trees and is simply grassy, spacey, and easy-going. A job well done.

Later you cross a really nice bike / pedestrian bridge which brings you near to the Nieuwe Utrechtseweg Bridge. If by any chance you've had enough now, you can cross the Amstel here to return to the city.

Otherwise, you continue on even though the road (you're on a road now, with grassy sides), veers away from the river. This is because the road needs to get around a few rowing clubs (Poseidon, Skoll and Willem II). This stretch goes on for about 10-15 minutes and is not particularly appealing and you need to watch out for cars! However, there are some magnificent poplars here and you'll pass lovely city allotments (on your left) called ‘Amstelglorie’. That is a lovely, leafy, place full of trees, plants and flowers, birds and bees. You carry on till the next bridge where you may see metro trains shooting by. You proceed under this double-bridge (see map), then go around to your left and up the steps on the south side. There above you'll find yourself on a fine bridge, just for bikes and walkers. Here you cross the Amstel River.

Once on your return, from Amstel Park back to the city on the west side, just follow the river again, keeping it to your right. There's a little path beside the river, the views are fabulous. Enjoy the tranquillity, because you'll be yanked back to reality by the traffic and noise as you near the city.

Note the option of crossing Berlagebrug (bridge) back to eastside on your way back.

This walk is well worth it if you have the time.

good time for this walk spring summer autumn winter
area of walk north  
west centre east

Rest & Refreshments: