Finding romance in a city as picturesque as Amsterdam is a no-brainer. With its fairytale canals, illuminated bridges, Golden Age mansions and cobbled alleyways, the Dutch capital is a lovers’ Eden with seductive corners everywhere you wander. To make it easier to find them, here are 25 ways to lure your lover in Amsterdam, including one-off Valentine’s Day events, budget-friendly ideas and tips for big spenders:
2017 Valentine’s Day Events
- Valentine Classics at the Movies. Swoon to film score snippets from romantic blockbusters like Titanic, Sleeping Beauty, When Harry Met Sally and West Side Story, intermixed with Gershwin hits and Mendelssohn classics, at the Royal Concertgebouw, a venue with some of the world’s best acoustics. An intermission glass of Prosecco is on the house; the VIP package includes a pre-dinner and intermission snacks.
- Candlelit Dinner for Two at Palaeis de Weemoed. Share a Valentine Dinner in a sumptuous 1920s-style theater while being serenaded with love songs from around the world by Croonerette La Sirene and Maestro Pianist Roberto.
- Valentine Concert at the North Sea Jazz Club. Be seduced by soulful tunes sung by Dutch vocalist Sazz Lenore.
- Ski + Dine. Swoosh down man-made slopes, then wash down an all-you-can-eat Valentine dinner with a glass of prosecco at SnowPlanet in Velsen-Zuid, about an hour from Amsterdam.
- Say Yes to the Dress at Wedding Fair Amsterdam on Sunday, February 19, when 40+ bride-friendly firms will proffer their wares and services at Amsterdam’s 17th-century Zuiderkerk, near the Nieuwmarkt.
Romance on a Budget
6. Get lost in the Grachtengordel. Amsterdam is an open-air museum woven with canals that earned UNESCO recognition in 2010. Add monumental landmarks, canal-side mansions and fairytale lights over bridges after dusk, and you have a setting made for romance, whether you walk or book a canal cruise from one of the city’s ubiquitous boat companies.
Stumped for where to start walking? Explore where the wealthiest once lived on the curve by Nieuwe Spiegelstraat, dubbed the Golden Bend by modern historians. Most of the mansions are now opulent hotels, law offices and banks, but you can stroll along, observing cherubs, Bible scenes and coats of arms carved into the rooftop gables. In the 17th-century heyday of Dutch wealth, these became sufficiently elaborate to become a defining feature of Amsterdam’s most desirable canal houses.
7. Savor the food of love at a free Valentine Day violin-piano lunch concert in the lobby of the National Opera and Ballet.
8. Seal your love with a kiss on the Magere Brug (Skinny Bridge), the place to embrace for everlasting love, at Kerkstraat between Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht. Named after two sisters living on opposite sides of the Amstel River who needed an easy way to visit each other, it was once so narrow two pedestrians could barely pass each other. Widened in the 19th century, it’s now one of Amsterdam’s most stunning bridges, especially at night when the lights come on.
9. Walk, skate or cycle through Vondelpark, stopping to picnic amidst the trees and fountains of Amsterdam’s most famous park. Have dessert at the Blauwe Theehuis in the center of the park, a circular landmark known for its round shape, blue and white colors, and one of the city’s largest outdoor terraces.
10. Discover Amsterdamse Bos, south of the city near Schiphol Airport, a forest three times the size of New York’s Central Park, perfect for walking, jogging and picnics, as well as windsurfing and sailing on a recreational pond. Children’s playgrounds and an organic goat farm make it a great family option.
11. Visit the Bloemenmarkt. While buying a rose for a rose will cost you, there’s no charge to absorb the fragrant smells and visual candy of the world’s largest floating flower market on the Singel canal.
12. Retrace the steps of Hazel and Augustus in The Fault in Our Stars. The heart-tugging film about young lovers stricken by illness shows the couple strolling through the tunnel that leads into Amsterdam’s famed Rijksmuseum, boarding tram #4 at Frederiksplein, visiting the Anne Frank House and cuddling on a bench near the intersection of the Herengracht and Leidsegracht canals.
13. View Academy Award nominees like La La Land, Lion, Manchester by the Sea and the new T2 Trainspotting flick at the intimate Tuschinski, an Art Deco movie palace with private balcony seats perfect for snuggling.
14. Get naked. Go swimming in your birthday suit in the heated pool at Het Marnixbad. Ever Tuesday, including this Valentine’s Day, there’s nude swimming from 21:15 to 22:45 for anyone age 18 and over. The same dress code is in place at Sauna Deco, where saunas, steam baths, massages and beauty treatments come with Parisian style. An interior from Au Bon Marché, the French department store that catered to the rich and famous in the 1920s, original arched stained-glass windows, and healthy culinary options make this a wellness spa with a difference in the heart of the city.
15. Let romance roll at Lovers Powerzone, where you can score on one of six glow-in-the-dark bowling lanes. Or oppose your lover in a rousing game of laser tag, then kiss and make up at a post-game BBQ dinner.
16. Spend time with lions, tigers, bears and even some jaguars at Artis, home of some 6,000+ animals. Founded in 1838, Amsterdam’s historic zoo was recently remodeled with new homes for many animals. It also boasts an aquarium, planetarium and botanical gardens.
Upping the Ante
17. Go Over the Edge swinging 20 meters over Amsterdam at A’dam Lookout, offering some of the best views in town, as well as romantic dining at Moon, a revolving restaurant on the 19th floor of A’dam Toren. Dance the night away at Madame, a swanky cocktail bar that turns into a nightclub after dark.
18. Become part of the art you admire, posing as Vermeer’s milkmaid, Hals’ Happy Drinker, Vermeer’s coy Girl with a Pearl Earring or Holland’s Prince of Orange at a Museumfoto shoot. Bring home a digital memory that will last a lifetime, even if your relationship doesn’t follow suit.
19. Book a professional photographer to capture memories of your trip and bring home digital images bound to beat your own selfies, through Travelshoot, a firm that connects travelers with professionals who make a living behind their cameras.
20. See if love is blind at Ctaste, where dining in total darkness puts going out to dinner in a whole new sensory light. There’s a surprise menu designed around your preferences, plus wine and beer tastings. For something sweet, book an ice cream tasting featuring four courses of—you guessed it—ice cream, combined with sweet and savory toppings. An equally decadent chocolate experience includes a dessert fondue. Open Wednesday through Sunday, Ctaste is closed this Valentine’s Day, but open for a post-holiday romantic feast.
21. Dine like a sultan on comfy white cushions at Supperclub, one of Amsterdam’s edgiest venues. Now in a new location in the historic Odean building on the Singel canal, there’s nothing else quite like this combination restaurant, bar, art gallery and burlesque joint, where food is just one ingredient of an evening designed to surprise.
22. Poney Up. Sure it’s touristy. And expensive. But if you want old-fashioned romance, hire a horse-drawn carriage to pull you through Amsterdam’s cobbled streets. Since 1991, Karos City Tours has been transporting guests in Golden Age style—by horse and buggy. Prices begin at €45 for a 25-minute romp.
23. Wed and Walk. Dip your toes into marital seas for a mere 24 hours. On Valentine’s Day, Amsterdam’s 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 as little as €75—a fraction of what a more extended entanglement would run—for venue, dress, music, ceremony and photo that will remind you how far you’ll go to get a piece of the romantic action.
24. Invest in a stone that lasts forever. Amsterdam is one of the diamond-polishing capitals of the world, home to Coster Diamonds, the firm responsible for recutting the controversial, 5,000-year-old Koh-i-noor diamond that sits in a British Royal Crown in the Tower of London today. While you may not be able to afford a 105-carat stone fit for royalty, Coster and other diamond factories like Gassan offer free guided tours of their polishing and cutting rooms, plus showrooms filled with tempting gems.
25. Let music be the food of love. Hire Reinier Sijpkens, Amsterdam’s singular water musician, to perform a floating celebration from his Notendop, a vessel hand-crafted with love and an onboard orchestra with trumpets, bells, and a hand-built barrel organ rigged to produce the sounds of strings, choirs and a church organ. Videotape the festivities and you’ll have a romantic souvenir sweeter and more personal than any commercial offering.