Planning a trip to Amsterdam in September 2019?
You will want to put these events on your bucket list
Visiting Amsterdam in September? Perfect timing. Balmy weather, fewer crowds, and plenty to see and do (and eat)—this makes early fall an ideal moment to discover Amsterdam. Of course, Dutch weather remains unpredictable—which, we like to think, is charming—, so our September to-do list includes both indoor and outdoor options.
14-15 September 10:00-17:00 | Heritage Days | Various locations
In most European countries, September means Heritage Days. It is an exceptional weekend to visit all kinds of monuments that are usually closed to public. Think royal palaces, secret bunkers, haunted mansions, and other jealously kept secrets.
In Amsterdam and the rest of the Netherlands, the Heritage Days 2019 are celebrated the 14th and the 15th of September. The theme of this year is Places of Pleasure. Theaters, museums, zoos, cafes, and many other places where Amsterdammers of all times like(d) to relax are ready to welcome you. They have been selected for their beautiful architecture and interiors, or simply because they are somehow associated with art, crafts, or trades. You can also catch various activities, like a treasure hunt or a lecture in English about Amsterdam’s colonial past at the City Archives.
It is your unique chance to discover the Dutch capital’s treasures of art and architecture… before they sink back into the canals for another year.
If you like to plan ahead, check out the programme. And if you’d rather play it by ear, pay attention to the flags as you walk around the city—they mark places open to visits during the Heritage Days.
For children-friendly recommendations, check out the Family section below.
© Wutsje / Wikimedia Commons
Until September 15 | Long Live Rembrandt | Rijksmuseum
The Rembrandt Year goes on. In 2019, the Rijksmuseum celebrates the 350th death anniversary of the greatest Dutch painter with several major exhibitions. The next one, produced in collaboration with the Prado Museum, is around the corner (Rembrandt-Velazquez: Parallel Visions, coming October 10th, 2019).
In the meantime, until mid-September, the Rijksmuseum invites you to explore the creativity of amateur artists inspired by Rembrandt. Earlier this year, more than 8000 people from around the world had submitted their original artworks to the contest. The jury selected almost 600 works paying homage to the great artist of the Golden Age. Long Live Rembrandt showcases 96 versions of The Night Watch, 253 artworks by children, and 132 self-portraits à la Rembrandt.
Among those, we loved Remy Diephuis’ Self-Portrait with Rembrandt. We tracked down Remy and asked him about the story of this painting. And since Remy is a born and raised Amsterdammer, we couldn’t resist talking to him about his personal relationship with the city as well. Check out his interview!
If you are curious about a dialog between old and contemporary art, be sure to also check out the Rijksmuseum’s mini-exhibition 12x Erwin Olaf (until September 22). Erwin Olaf Springveld is a Dutch photographer known for his daring and slightly provocative work in fashion and advertising. He recently donated to the museum a large collection of prints, videos, and other items. As he turned 60 this year, in recognition of his legacy, the Rijksmuseum currently displays several of his photographs in parallel with paintings and prints by the old Dutch masters.
And while you are the Rijksmuseum, don’t miss the research and restoration project of the year! The original painting Night Watch is being studied with new imaging techniques. Then it will be restored in situ. You can follow the ‘Operation Night Watch’ online, and learn all the secrets of this exceptional painting on a private tour of the Rijksmuseum.
Can’t get enough of Rembrandt?
- The Rembrandt House museum offers a scientific insight into Rembrandt’s work with an interactive exhibition Rembrandt Laboratory: Rembrandt’s Technique Unravelled. Embrace your inner nerd… or your art history geek! And if you are travelling with children, don’t hesitate to bring them along: the exhibition offers a special approach for kids. From September 21, 2019 to February 16, 2020.
- Check out Rembrandt’s masterpiece Peter in Prison (St. Peter Kneeling) at the Jewish Historical Museum. It belongs to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem and comes to the Netherlands for the first time in over a century. From September 12 to November 10, 2019.
20-22 September | Unseen Photo Fair | Westergasterrein
Explore the latest trends of the contemporary photography at Unseen—a photo-festival-meets-an-art-fair. This large event, organized by a non-profit foundation, is a great place to discover emerging talents. It also features the work of well-established artists.
Stroll through over 50 galleries from around the world and enjoy a creative take on various modern questions—from migration to feminism to virtual reality. Oh, and if anything catches your eye… The fair features over 130 artists, and the majority present their works for the first time. A chance to snatch away a yet-undiscovered masterpiece?
The programme also includes exciting debates and conferences that bring together photographers, industry professionals, and scholars from around the globe.
If you come in the afternoon, you might want to stay for the evening. There will be food, drinks, and live music.
© 2017 Iris Duvekot / IAmsterdam
14 September 2019 — March 15 2020 | Jewels! | Hermitage Amsterdam
Amsterdam is not an ostentatious city, but there are places where you can get a dose of bling.
The Hermitage Amsterdam—our local branch of the St. Petersburg Hermitage museum—celebrates its tenth anniversary with a flamboyant exhibition of Russian royal jewels. The Diamond and Gold Rooms of the Hermitage St. Petersburg treasure one of the world’s largest collections of jewelry. These masterpieces, crafted by the most famous Russian and European jewelers, adorned Russian tsars and were given as diplomatic gifts. Their dazzling designs and exuberant gems speak about the power, luxury, and wealth of the Russian elite from the 17th century to this day. Don’t miss the fantastic work of Carl Fabergé, the goldsmith of the last Russian tsars.
Oh, and then there are diamonds, too. Always.
Until 22 September | The Universe of Amsterdam | Royal Palace, Dam Square
Visit the Royal Palace on the Dam Square—Amsterdam’s former historic Town Hall—to see some of the most beautiful maps and atlases ever made. The exhibition Universe showcases a number of gorgeous 17th and 18th century maps: a treasure trove of knowledge, and works of art in their own right.
During the Dutch Golden Age, Amsterdam counted among world’s most important seaports. It was a major center of European and global trade, most of which went through waterways. No surprise that Amsterdam was bustling with skilled and ambitious cartographers.
Their most impressive masterpieces are still, quite literally, a part of building. The current Royal Palace, built in 1655 as the City Hall, was meant to assert Amsterdam’s claim to be the center of the universe. The entire decoration was designed to symbolically support this idea. The grand Citizen’s Hall is dominated by a statue of Atlas holding the globe, and the marble floors are inlaid with three huge geographic and astronomic maps. Boasting a 20-ft. diameter each, these are the world’s largest maps ever made.
The Universe exhibition runs until September 22, 2019. You can also visit the Royal Palace during the Heritage Days (September 14-15, 2019).
© Ellywa / Wikicommons
3 September, 20:00 | Amsterdam Magic Show | Boom Chicago Rozentheater
Magicians and illusionists from around the world come together in one spellbinding event at the heart of the Jordaan district. Every performance is unique. More details on the official website.
The show is rather aimed at adults. Children are welcome, but the performers don’t promise to follow a strict language policy.
26 September, 20:00 | Candlelight concert | Amsterdam Portuguese Synagogue
Every month, the Portuguese Synagogue, at the heart of the Amsterdam Jewish district, hosts a candlelight concert of Jewish music. In September 2019, it features the work of five 20th-century composers: Leo Smit, Lex van Delden, Dick Kattenburg, Leon Stein and David Stock.
The concert is offered by the Leo Smit Foundation—a non-profit organization dedicated to rediscover and promote the work of Jewish composers who were persecuted during World War II. The first project, back in 1996, was focussed on Leo Smit.
If you are interested in learning more about Amsterdam’s Jewish history and heritage, check out this tour, based on a real Jewish family story.
© Peter Lange / Joods Cultureel Kwartier
8 September | Amsterdam City Swim | 12:00
According to Eva, the Amsterdam City Swim is the coolest thing to do in Amsterdam in September. Or even the coolest event of the year. Those of us who don’t dare joining her in the canals take it as a warning that the water may be cold…
Anyway. If you are tempted by a 2 km (1.2 miles) swim through the Amsterdam canals and the river Amstel, this is your chance. If not, you can still come watch and cheer on the participants.
You can also support a good cause. The swim raises donations for the ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) research.
The event starts at noon at the Marineterrein, next to the Maritime Museum. Every five minutes, a new group of participants jumps into water. The highlights of the route include the former ship of the Dutch East India company, moored across the bay from the NEMO Science museum, the Hermitage Amsterdam on the Amstel, the “Skinny Bridge”, and the Keizersgracht canal.
© MNO PHOTO / Wouter Roosenboom / Tom Elst / Amsterdam City Swim
14-15 September 15:00 | Classical Music for Children | Amstelveld
The Klassiek op het Amstelveld, a free open-air festival of classical music, is all about children. It strives to inspire children to discover and fall in love with classical music, whether they are in the audience or on stage.
In the official programme, professional musicians—orchestras, ensembles, choirs and solo artists—play together with young talents. The Open Stage offers any child from the age of 4 an opportunity to shine.
The festival takes place in the Amstelveld—a picturesque square not far from the city center, on the corner of the Prinsengracht and the Reguliersgracht canals, lined with old trees and houses. Two historic churches—the 17th century wooden Amstelkerk and the majestic 19th century De Duif—complete this charming setting.
On Sunday, the little ones can also take part in a workshop to build their own musical instrument, and teenagers who already play a string instrument are invited to play with the Dutch Youth string orchestra. The workshops are offered in Dutch, for a small fee.
14-15 September | Heritage Days — Children-Friendly Activities | Various locations
- Play a scavenger game “Through the History of the City” at the City Archives (both days 10:00-17:00)
- Visit the Amsterdam Marionettes Theatre and give a hand backstage (both days at 14:00 and 15:00)
From 21 September | Rembrandt’s Laboratory | Museum Rembrandt House
The interactive exhibition Rembrandt’s Technique Unravelled helps scientifically understand how the most famous Dutch master worked. It includes a special Junior Lab Route for the younger guests.
Children from 6 years old will be offered a clipboard with a research kit that will help them navigate the exhibition by answering questions and doing research assignments. Whenever you see a ‘Rembrandt Junior Lab’ logo, you’ll know that there is something to do here!
© Rembrandthuis Museum
The Albert Cuyp Market is getting all the buzz lately. And it is well deserved. But unfortunately, it also means that the place is now overtouristed.
Here are some alternative local markets that we love to explore. They have one thing in common—a ‘good story’. It’s all about organic ingredients, or local produce, or social initiatives—or all of the above. These markets strive to connect people. They support independent, socially responsible entrepreneurs. We are ourselves big on sustainability and ethical commitment, and we appreciate their effort to promote slow life and social integrity.
8, 22, 29 September | Pure Market | Various locations
8 September at Amstelpark | 22 September at Amsterdamse Bos | 29 September at Park Frankendael | 11 P.M. to 6:00 P.M.
The traveling Pure Market is the place to go for high-quality Dutch (and international) food and crafts—all sustainable, organic and artisanal. Children will enjoy the solar-powered merry-go-round.
15 September | Museum Market | Museum Square
Next to the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh museum, this small but lively designer’s market features unique arts and crafts—from jewelry to toys—, along with international food and live music.
In September, we look for versatile places to defuse Amsterdam’s ever-changing weather. Here are some of our favorite hangouts where you can equally enjoy yourself on the terrace and inside. All of them have an uncompromising commitment to quality and, in some cases, to using organic, local produce.
The Hortus Café
The Hortus Botanic Garden itself is one of Amsterdam’s highlights. But once you are there, don’t miss the gorgeous café! Built in 1875 as a conference hall, it has initially served as an orangery to shelter fragile tropical trees during winter. Now it’s just a great place to have a coffee or lunch in a quiet, cosy atmosphere, among exotic plants.
Dignita | Vondelpark and Hermitage Amsterdam
‘Eat well, do good’, and enjoy a great brunch/lunch in one of two fantastic locations—at the heart of the Vondelpark or in the gardens of Hermitage Amsterdam. We have a weak spot for the latter—it’s a true hidden gem. It also comes with a safe play area for children inside and outside.
The ‘Eat well’ part of the motto is self-explanatory. The food and drinks—hello, fresh juices and cocktails!—are based on seasonal, local, and whenever possible organic ingredients. Most vegetables come from Dignita’s own vegetable garden, and they make their own bread.
The ‘Do good’ part is about the socially responsible concept behind both restaurants: helping victims of human trafficking get access to work and learning.
Brasserie Nel | Amstelveld
Large terrace opened until November, organic and local-based menu (who would have thought that a juicy burger could be healthy?), and live jazz on Monday nights—Nel is the perfect place both for lunch and dinner. It is located on the quiet Eastern side of Amsterdam’s Canal Belt, close to the iconic Magere Brug (“Skinny Bridge”).
They call themselves a brasserie, but the dinner menu is actually a bit on the elaborate side. Everything can be served in a child-friendly portion, and there is also a playground for the kids.
Merkelbach | Park Frankendael
The story of this restaurant goes back to the Dutch Golden Age. Wealthy Amsterdammers sought to escape the hustle and bustle of the city—and the summer stench of the canals—in a beautiful area known today as Watergraafsmeer. Located to the east of Amsterdam, it became famous for pleasure gardens and countryside estates.
Only one of them survived—Frankendael, a beautiful mansion surrounded with a small park. The garden has much changed since, but the sophisticated 18th century interiors are still there. The restaurant occupies the former coach house, and a part of the formal garden serves as a terrace.
Merkelbach is strongly committed to the values of the Slow Food movement (the chef actually co-founded the Dutch branch of the Slow Food Chefs Alliance). In other words, everything is cooked with authentic, sustainable, regional and seasonal high-quality products.
The name comes from one of the last residents of the mansion. Benjamin Merkelbach, a renown 20th century Amsterdam architect, was invited by the municipality to live at Frankendael, in recognition of his merits.
The entire mansion can be visited on Sundays and during the Heritage Days (14-15 September 2019).
Distillery ‘t Nieuwe Diep | Flevopark | Tuesday to Sunday, 15:00-20:00
Genever, or ‘Dutch gin’, is a distilled malted spirit with whiskey-like notes—so, technically, not a gin. It is a well-known attraction in Amsterdam. It is served in many bars, and there are distilleries that you can visit.
This one, however, is as non-touristy as it gets. This small and cozy distillery is hidden in the middle of the Flevopark, in the East of Amsterdam, in a former pumping station. It is accessible by bike or on foot, but not by car.
Besides the locally-produced genever, you can taste various other spirits—gins, bitters, liqueurs—, beers from Germany, non-sweet apple cider from the Basque Country, soft drinks, and a selection of cheese and sausages to go with all that.
Don’t expect anything too fancy, but if you’re ready for a real local experience, this is the right place!
Buurtboerderij | Westerpark
Another low-key, authentic and thoroughly charming place. “Buurtboerderij” means “neighbourhood farm”. It is indeed an old farm repurposed into a socially responsible restaurant. It is run by volunteers and by the members of Amsterdam’s ‘Rainbow Group’—a program of social reintegration for vulnerable citizens (people in debt, homeless, mentally challenged…)
At the Buurtboerderij, you can have a simple and healthy lunch or an afternoon snack, and a weekly dinner menu is served at 6:30 P.M. for a fixed price. A nice stop if you are cycling through the Westerpark and find your self in need of a pick-me-up in a green, quiet, and friendly environment.
Westergasterras | Westerpark
This might be the best terrace location ever. Ok, we’re a little biaised, because we have a soft spot for the not-yet-too touristic Westerpark. But a beautiful terrace next to a small lake, where you can relax with a coffee and pie, or lunch, or dinner, or simply borrelen—the Dutch version of tapas? And if the weather is capricious, enjoy the same view through the bay windows?
Close by, the Westergasfabriek—former gasworks turned creative venue—hosts a wine festival twice a year. The fall edition, on the 27-29 September 2019, is dedicated to the wines of the Northern hemisphere. Live music, workshops, cooking with wine and, of course, tasting—three days of bliss for wine lovers.
Do you have any personal favorites in Amsterdam that we didn’t mention? We would love to hear about them in the comments! And if you try anything from our list, we would be thrilled to know about your experience.