Bare ruined choirs where late the sweet birds sang
Winter has its charms too. Despite, or even because of, the lack of leafiness it has its visual rewards; you'll see things in winter that you may never notice in spring, and invigorated by a cheek-reddening walk you'll enjoy that drink like never before.
The Amstel River is as much the essence of Amsterdam as the canals are, and no self-respecting tourist can return home without having had a stroll along the banks of the Amstel. This is a longer walk of 3 miles (5 km or so) but you can cut it a lot shorter by traversing one of the bridges, at Ceintuurbaan for instance.
However, if you do go the long haul, and walk as far as the Berlagebrug (bridge), you will not regret it. It takes you southwards, along the Amstel River, right on the riverside. On your way back, seeing the central city in the distance, you will get some idea of how Amsterdam appeared from afar in bygone days.
Lots to see on this short, round-trip walk, which is stunning on a beautiful morning or evening. In winter you will see views that are hidden by foliage in the summer and you are near some really nice places to stop and sup.
This walk is very short and central yet gets you away from ‘the madding crowd’. It is easy to do in the evening and because you'll encounter umpteen bridges with their lovely lights, it's great after dark too.
A lovely riverside walk in the heart of the city. Despite the short distance, it includes the essence of the city: canals, Theatre Carré, the Hermitage Museum, the upmarket Amstel Hotel, the Skinny Bridge (Magere Brug), the Stopera, and you'll cross the Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht and Herengracht on your way and may glimpse the towers of the Rijksmuseum. It's only about a mile so should take no more than 30 minutes, however, being such a picturesque walk, you may be tempted to dawdle and gaze at the nice vistas.
A wonderful walk, it's not long, only a few miles / kilometres. The many weeping willows along the water are lovely. You can do this walk morning, noon or afternoon / evening, as long as it's still good and bright. There are some mighty poplars too along the way, two separate stands.
When I think of autumn I see the Brouwersgracht. There's no objective reason for this but this walk does give autumn the pedestal it deserves. It's being able to hug the canal for such lovely long stretches and the cosy feel of the little streets that intersect with the canals. It's lovely on a golden September day but equally enjoyable on a sodden and blustery October evening.
Right in Amsterdam's city centre, this short walk of less than 1.5 miles will amaze you by its tranquillity. Although you're just a stone's throw from ‘the action’ you'll feel as if you're in a little village at times. Vary the route according to your mood and energy.
The bustling Leidseplein can be a pleasant oasis on a nice spring morning. This ‘Leidse Loop’ walk is a mixture of leafy canals and semi-pedestrian streets full of art for the interested passer-by. There's lots to see and enjoy on this walk that loops the Leidseplein.
A good route because you get to see a lot of the museums in a panorama and from a distance. The Rijksmuseum is wonderful but from Museumplein you can also see the Concertgebouw, the Stedelijk Museum and the van Gogh Museum. Nice too in winter because this walk is nice and spacious and so you get great vistas. Only about 1.5 miles so a doddle really.
Luckily the ‘Rijks’ is open again after a 10-year renovation, and I sincerely hope that all the building pre-fabs and other eyesores around the site will disappear soon.
Another lovely spring walk especially if the plane trees have come into leaf. The first part mainly plane trees but after that, from the Wetering Circuit onwards, you get a lovely sweep of weeping willow weeping away into the water. This part has a great backdrop with the Rijksmuseum behind, magnifique.
Nice about this walk is that you can shorten it or just go with the flow and complete the few miles/kilometres. The route takes you along the Amstel, past the Opera City Hall and then down to the oldest area of the city. You'll see lovely old towers, the modern Nemo Science Museum (built like a ship) in the harbour and lots of typical Amsterdam facades and lovely canals along the way.
This walk and neighbourhood is a breath of tranquility sandwiched as it is between the hectic Nieuwmarkt square and the Waterlooplein Fleamarket. You'll be surprised and relieved to discover the peace and quiet immediately on leaving the busy streets.
Here's a walk to acquaint you with some Amsterdam trees. There are too many interesting trees to include in one walk, but this will be a good intro. It's a substantial distance but you can cut it shorter if you've had enough.
Some more walks which are also nice on a clear wintery day
Called the ‘Western Islands’ district, this area is made up of three islands of land joined by little bridges. Some parts are very quaint, whereas other stretches face dramatic vistas of modern dockland development, mostly business and residential. All in all, this area is pleasantly secluded, being a kind of cul-de-sac, and on a nice warm day you'll feel the benefit of being surrounded by water.
With street names like Roses Street (Rozenstraat), Eglantine Street (Egelantierstraat), Flower Canal (Bloemgracht), it should be no surprise that this area is blooming. The Jordaan is an area of little canals and streets, little bridges, little houses; everything here has big ‘cute’ appeal. In the morning or evening, it has a restful atmosphere, especially during the weekend.
This curiously shaped route (see map) represents a lovely walk beside water and trees in the west of Amsterdam. It's almost totally on a traffic-free footpath which gives it its special appeal and you should find it an utterly relaxing experience. You can start somewhere central in the city and walk to the Bilderdijkpark or you can take a tram. This route is only about 10 - 15 minutes on foot from the Jordaan, so it's quite near.
Gorgeous green walk which you can start on the Amstel in the centre. Includes two small parks with great trees and the pavement gardens in this area are hard to beat.
An uplifting spring walk if ever there was. Lots of welcome spring charm, daffodils, and cherry blossom. Am beginning to sound like Dana now but this walk really is wonderful on a sunny day. From the Leidseplein, you'll roam through the Helmer district and back via the Vondelpark. It's a walk of discovery leading you along interesting residential streets and through the ‘WG terrein’ which was once the site, both grounds and buildings, of the ‘Wilhemina Gasthuis’ (Hospital).
Spring, summer and autumn are of course ‘the’ seasons for walking anywhere and not just in Amsterdam but that's not to say that you can't walk your socks off in winter too.
Winter light is fantastic, it actually enhances Amsterdam and Amsterdam winter feels that bit less grim than elsewhere. Skies can vary from crystal clear to a Venetian like haziness
Amsterdam is famous for its ‘curtainless’ homes and after dark the glow from the windows casts warmth over the city that is both cheerful and cosy as you hurry along in the cold. Also, because Amsterdam is residential right into the old centre means that these canals and streets have a nice lived-in feel to them.
in winter is unobstructed so just to shine another positive light on winter: the absence of leaves means that your views are clear and extensive because there's no foliage to hide anything.
Yes the very trees that look so magnificent in their summer foliage fascinate in winter by their starkness. You can see the wonderful shape and detail of the bare tree, its trunk, branches, tiny twigs, plus the complex colour and texture of its wooden trunk and bark.
The shapes of the bare trees are different too. Look at the plumes of these bare poplars and how they shoot up towards the sky behind those buildings.
See the variety of tree shapes in a tree skyline
Combine the light and the evening light, the ‘blue dark’ (as one dear family member described it so aptly) with the lines of hundreds of intricately defined silhouettes of trees and the spectacle may take your breath away.
Beautiful and majestic buildings that are often camouflaged by beautiful trees in the summer are visible from great distances in winter. The Rijksmuseum, the Museum of the Tropics and even Central Station are more visible over longer distances.
Every beautiful city is exquisite under a blanket of fresh, powdery snow and if you happen to I could show hundreds of photos but here are is a small selection
You've tried some walks and now you're tired, cold, hungry and very thirsty.
Great indoor places to warm up and stock up:
CTLWBD = Coffee / Tea / Lunch / Wine / Beer / Dinner
Having a public transport card (which may also get you into museums) is a good idea. If you're tired or cold or just want to explore a new area? Hop on a tram!
Trams are wonderful, they afford maximum visibility and if you go outside of rush hour, you'll even get a seat. If you make a mistake and go the wrong direction, just check out at next stop, cross to the other side and take the next tram going the other direction.
Amsterdam has a treat in store and it will brighten up the winter dreariness.