But I for one never saw it as a particularly romantic destination.
However, a recent springtime visit (arriving on Valentine’s Day no less) put paid to that…
Set against a backdrop of stunning, unbroken sunshine and clear, crisp, velvet black nights, I found myself struck by Cupid’s Arrow.
With the weather just so, the Netherlands capital – all winding canals and cobbled streets, illuminated by the the soft, golden glow of street lamps – is the perfect place to get lost in love.
The city, founded by fisherman along the River Amstel in 13th century, has a population of almost 800,000, lending it a sense of accessibility and intimacy: the popularity of cycling means there’s little road traffic.
There’s space to breath – and with our seven foolproof date ideas, for crushes to prosper…
Read this and get lucky!
1 Explore the city on a tandem bicycle
Two become one on a gorgeous, scenic bike ride – what could be lovelier?! Head to MacBike for decent rental rates (from â‚¬15 for three hours).
2 Cuddle up on a canal cruise
Absolutely essential. For a free canal cruise, plus many more city-wide offers and discounts, pick up the I amsterdam City Card; available for 24, 48 or 72 hours, it also includes unlimited use of the public transport system and a detailed city map. From â‚¬49.
3 Admire nature in Vondelpark
Gorgeous flowers are synonymous with the Netherlands, and the 120 acre Vondelpark, opened in 1865, boasts an array of colourful tulips and sumptuous roses (depending on the season of your visit). Air out that picnic blanket and chill the pink Champagne…
4 Impress your beau with your cultural expertise at the Rijksmuseum
You’ll find plenty of intense emotions on display at the Rijksmuseum, the city’s premier arts and history hub, founded in 1800. Take in masterpieces by Rembrandt and Johannes Vermeer; check out Portrait of a Young Couple by Frans Hals and The Love Letter by Johannes Vermeer; or, if your love affair goes awry, A Mother Delousing Her Child’s Hair by Pieter de Hooch – that should send them packing.
5 Catch a movie at Tuschinski
Treat your better half like a film star with a visit to the stunning Tuschinski theatre, which reminded us of the iconic Castro Theatre in San Francisco. An Art Deco masterpiece designed by Hijman Louis de Jong in 1921, it’s a winning mix of European unconventionality and Old Hollywood glamour.
Photo: view from the Staalmeestersbrug Love Lock Bridge, and the Zuiderkerk by Jos van Straalen, www.jvsphoto.nl
6 Steal a kiss on the Staalmeestersbrug Love Lock Bridge
The Staalmeestersbrug is a charming wooden structure decorated with specially engraved padlocks, forever symbolizing couples’ commitment to each other (or at least until a local authority removes them!). The bridge also offers lovebirds a fantastic photo op: the Groenburgwal canal [above] and the Zuiderkerk, a charming 17th-century church are in the background. An essential stop off on your Amsterdam love-in.
7 Dinner at De Kas
Far and away the coolest restaurant in Amsterdam, almost all the ingredients used by De Kas are grown on-site in gardens and greenhouses, thus all of its dishes taste impossibly fresh. Nestling the corner of the lovely Park Frankendael, head to this giant conservatory-style eatery at sunset to dine with your lover through orange, dappled sunlight. To read our full review of the restaurant, click here.
Where to stay
Located a hop and a skip from the grand Amsterdam Centraal railway station, the art’otel is as luxurious and unique a stopover as they come. The rooms are sleek, stylish and spacious, and if the floating sperm sculptures hanging outside (yes, really) don’t get you in the mood for love, nothing will.
Prins Hendrikkade 33,
1012 TM Amsterdam,
+31 20 719 7200
This decidedly hipster stopover caters for the fast and fashionable: a laid-back but ultra-modern tram depot conversion with 55 rooms over two levels. There was no snooty service to report however, and we were especially impressed with the bright, breezy, helpful manner of the reception staff.
Our room was modestly-sized but cosy, featuring clean, minimalist decor in shades of pale cream and slate grey. The extensive breakfast buffet was of sublime quality and had us deliberating between an evening meal at the hotel’s restaurant and Foodhallen – a bustling indoor world food market, which is part of the same building (we opted for the latter in the end).
The super cool De Hallen complex also features a cinema, a library and boutiquey shops.
1053 AT Amsterdam,
+31 20 515 045
The 39-room Hotel JL no 76 impresses with its comparitve affordability and enviable location, situated a stone’s throw from the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum and Vondelpark.There’s also a direct bus to the aiport from right around the corner; useful for those with early flights to think about.
Our again modestly-sized room boasted a funky design, superior quality cotton sheets and a huge flatscreen TV. The raindance shower was excellent
The service, meanwhile, was friendly and informal, and extends to an honour system in the lobby, where guests can help themselves to snacks and a well-stocked fridge.
Jan Luijkenstraat 76,
1071 CT Amsterdam,
+31 20 515 0453
With thanks to I Amsterdam/Amsterdam Marketing