With its fairytale canals, illuminated bridges, gabled mansions and cobbled alleyways, Amsterdam oozes charm every day of the year. But for sweethearts and wanna-be Valentines, February 14 is special.
If you’re celebrating this most romantic holiday of the year in the Dutch capital, here are 10 ways to woo your sweetie:
1. Canal Cruising. What’s more romantic than watching shimmering reflections in your lover’s eyes while meandering through Amsterdam’s UNESCO-recognized waterways on a comfy canal boat? Book a Valentine Cruise with Lovers Company or Canal Company to see the 17th century mansions and illuminated bridges up close and personal over a four-course dinner. If that doesn’t float your boat, opt for an intimate cruise for two on a private water taxi.
Not part of a couple? Not a problem. Spice up your holiday with singles bowling or laser games in the Lovers Powerzone. Or invite a dozen or so of your friends to a Valentine party on your private salon boat.
3. Dinner and a Movie. Add a new twist to a date standard at a screening of Love in Portofino. On your virtual trip to one of the world’s most romantic destinations, swoon to Andrea Bocelli performing love duets with renowned guests, backed by a 40-piece orchestra. On Feburary 14, the 97-minute concert will play at five Pathé cinemas in Amsterdam including the intimate Tuschinski. In this Art Deco movie palace, up the date-night ante by booking private or balcony seats—perfect for snuggling while munching on snacks and revisiting the beloved tenor’s August 2012 concert, produced by Grammy winner David Foster.
In Ijmuiden, €40 buys you a glass of bubbly and three-course dinner at Thalia Theater, an Art Deco gem outside city limits. On Valentine’s Day, savor your meal over Love is All You Need, a romantic comedy starring Pierce Brosnan as half of a Danish couple about to wed in sunny Sorrento, Italy until family relationships rear their ugly heads.
2. Wed and Walk. Commitment phobic? Join the Dutchie club. In Amsterdam, dip your toes into marital seas for a mere 24 hours at Wed & Walk. On Valentine’s Day, Amsterdam’s new pop-up wedding chapel supplies the red carpet, flower arch, bridal gown, vintage jacket, plastic rings and bogus bouquets. Say “I Lust You” and mean it until dawn, when the nuptials become null and void. Your exposure is just €65/couple—a fraction of what a more extended entanglement would run—for the venue, dress, music, ceremony and photo that will remind you how far you’ll go to get a piece of the romantic action on Valentines Day.
4. Chocolate Seduction. In 1828, Dutch confectioner Conrad Van Houten added sugar and cocoa powder to the fat from roasted cacao beans to isolate cocoa butter for Holland’s first chocolate sweets. His legacy abounds at Jordino on Haarlemerstraat, a family-owned shop that’s been crafting chocolate spike heels since 1993. Alongside the pumps, 90 varieties of chocolates, some infused with liqueurs, plus cream truffles, decadent cakes and 24 kinds of macaroons will sweeten your holiday. For a personalized gift, send in a photo to appear on a Valentine’s Day delicacy.
In the Jordaan, Erik and Leslie Spande, originally from Portland, OR, proffer artisanal cocoa confections crafted in small batches at Chocolátl. Their products differ from commercial candy, Leslie explains: “A chocolate maker is a mainstream company that mass produces its product. A chocolatier oversees everything from bean selection chocolate production and the addition of cream, berries, nuts, spices or other ingredients”―a bean-to-bar artisan, like a winemaker who grows his own grapes.”
Each elegantly packaged Chocolátl bar reveals bean type, country of origin and cacao percentage. Find the ultimate chocolate seduction in a Mo’s Dark Bacon Bar or mini-pyramid of chocolate from Madagascar, Ghana, Venezuela and other exotic locales.
5. Music as Muse. Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw provides an elegant stage for a Valentine’s Day program of classical, pop and jazz selections performed by the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra. Dress to impress for an evening of live music that will titillate your senses as you swoon over works by Verdi, Puccini and Elgar. A limited number of tickets are available, with or without dinner, beginning at €35.
6. Poney Up. Play Prince Charming and Cinderella on a ride around Amsterdam’s cobblestone streets in a private carriage taxi. Since 1991, Karos City Tours has been putting the romance back in sightseeing by transporting guests in Golden Age style―by horse and buggy. Prices begin at €70 for a 20-minute jaunt around town from Dam Square.
7. Just Add Water. For Casanovas on a budget, one of Amsterdam’s most social gyms presents Trouwen in een Swembad―a wedding in a swimming pool. For just €8, swim with your honey, tie the knot in a pool, then unravel it quicker than the Kardashians after you’ve kissed over a glass of bubbly at the Het Marnix gym.
8. Hot Comedy. There’s nothing like laughter to light a romantic fire. Join Boom Chicago for a Valentine dinner and evening of improv comedy at the intimate Rozentheater (literally, Roses Theater). A post-show salsa party with a revved-up DJ will keep the fires sizzling after the improv show. Boom Chicago‘s Valentine Package runs €60/pp, excluding drinks.
9. Run for Love. At Amsterdam’s inaugural Valentijnsloop (Valentine’s Run), 500 sporty singles and couples will find their groove on a 5k course through Vondelpark. Red heart-shaped lights will mark the route for the February 14 event. Runners will be kitted out with glow sticks to light the way, as well as arm bands indicating whether they’re spoken for or on the look-out for a prospective (running) partner. All singles will be matched with a running buddy before the race. Cross the finish line to a Valentine’s after-party at Vondelpark’s Blauwe Theehuis. Entry fees (€11/singles; €15/couples) will go toward the cure of ALS.
10. Make Love Last Forever. Seal your love with a kiss on the Magere Brug (Skinny Bridge)―once so narrow it was difficult for two pedestrians to pass each other. Widened in the 19th century to be more accommodating, the slim drawbridge is allegedly named after two magere zussen (skinny sisters) living on opposite sides of the Amstel River who needed an easy way to visit each other. It’s one of Amsterdam’s most stunning bridges, especially when illuminated at night. According to legend, it’s the place to embrace if you want to be blessed with everlasting love.