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Amstel, more than just a beer


Amsterdam is world renowned for its stunning canals that circle around the city centre, but very few are aware of the breath-taking Amstel river that runs through the city. This river is integral to Amsterdam as without it, the city would not have the name it has today.

The city’s name is derived from ‘Amsterdam’, but it’s not the only thing that carries the river’s name. There is also a street, a square (Amstelveld), a train station, and even a beer branded after the Amstel!

The river itself cuts through the city and has several prominent bridges located along the way. There are the well-known Magere Brug and Blauwbrug bridges in the city center, and the river features many banks along the way that is the perfect area to enjoy a sandwich on a sunny day.

The Magere Brug, aptly named ‘Skinny Bridge’ after its petite frame, lights up the Amstel river at night and is wonderful to walk over day or night. Located along the Amstel are many attractions, from restaurants to theaters.

There’s the Stopera city hall close to Waterlooplein as well as the Royal Carre Theatre. The Carre’s building with its illuminated huge red sign is really hard to miss. Here lovers of performing arts can enjoy a range of opera, drama, musical and cabaret performances.

They also show a number of classic musicals such as Cats, Les Miserables and Grease. It is advised to check before booking to make sure performances are indeed in English to avoid disappointment.

As the principal river of Amsterdam, it is not surprising that there are many events held along this stretch of water. There is the yearly concert that is shown on Dutch television known as ‘Bevrijdingsdag’ to commemorate Liberation Day, as well as rowing races, but the most memorable and popular event is the annual Gay Pride Canal Parade, which sees a huge convoy of boats float down the canal route, intersecting with the Amstel close to Waterlooplein.

The Amstel is a wonderful place to go for a walk and there are a few walking tours available in the city for the more active tourist. It is also recommended to do as the locals do and rent a bicycle to pedal your way along the river to get a real sense of the city. There are several places where you can rent a bicycle in the city, including from Amsterdam Central Station and Amstel Station.

If you prefer to explore in a more relaxed fashion, then hop on a canal/river cruise and experience Amsterdam in all its glory from its splendid waters. You can even rent a private boat (sloep) and have a real Dutch nautical adventure with your friends!

There are several companies offering small boats for rent from pedal boats to motor-driven. Nothing quite compares to cruising down the canals in your private boat with friends or family on a sunny day with a few beers.

Lining the Amstel are many apartments and hotels offering splendid views of the water. The range is diverse from budget to luxury to suit every need. Take a look at a list of available accommodation in the area to find the right place for you to rest your head on your visit to Amsterdam.

Getting around Amsterdam is very easy. Trams and busses are positioned outside Amsterdam’s Central Station ready to transport you through the city. Although few of them stop on the Amstel, the route stops very close and is at most only a few minutes’ walk away.

You can also take a train from Amsterdam Central Station or a Metro (subway) to Amstel Station. Bicycles may also be rented from Central Station as well as Amstel Station, but don’t forget to bring a map!

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