WITTENBERG: IN THE HEART OF PEACEFUL PLANTAGE DISTRICT
Wittenberg is in a central location, on the east side of Amsterdam in the green and tranquil Plantage district – otherwise known as the “cultural garden” of the city. This quiet residential area is easy to access and in the heart of the city, however offers a peaceful and relaxing place to call home surrounded by nature and greenery.
It’s just a 15 minute walk from Central Station but a whole world away from the hustle and bustle of the vibrant city centre. No wonder the Plantage (or East Canal) district is considered by locals and visitors alike to be one of the best neighbourhoods in this amazing city right now. Hop on a bike or head out for a casual stroll and you’ll find museums, parks, bars and restaurants along the many canals that crisscross the area. Or use Wittenberg as your base to do business and make the most of the excellent transport options on your doorstep - getting you wherever you need to be quickly and hassle-free.
Things to see and do
For the perfect place to chill-out, hop over the canal to Hortus Bontanicus – one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world. Wander through desert and jungle environments that stretch throughout this magnificent glasshouse. Flutter with butterflies or stroll around superb gardens – which once provided the locals with medicinal herbs – before finishing off with your own choice of pick-me-up on the sunny terrace. If fauna is more your thing (although there’s no reason you can’t do both) then head over to the Artis Royal Zoo. This impressive zoo dates back to 1838 and gives you the opportunity to say “hallo” to a wide variety of animals from all around the world. Attached to the zoo you’ll find Micropia, which offers a totally fascinating insight into microbes and their impact on our daily lives. Sure, a museum about microbes is a hard thing to sell - but take our word for it, it really is worth a visit!
If art is more your thing, walk (or cycle or take a boat) down the Nieuwe Keiszersgracht canal to the world famous Hermitage Gallery’s Dutch outpost. With a combination of permanent and temporary exhibitions from the main St Petersburg collection, its a varied and interesting museum that is completely manageable in size – so not too big or daunting but still enough pieces to inspire you. Meanwhile, the Tropenmuseum is an entirely different experience - a crazy mixture of all kinds of exhibits from every corner of the world with something of interest for everyone. The Tropenmuseum is located next to the beautiful Oosterpark, Amsterdam’s first large scale public park dating back to the 1890s. Check out the sculpture park there which has many world-renowned pieces or just hang out in this peaceful green space among the pretty wildlife.
More traditional culture is on your doorstep at the Dutch National Opera and Ballet performing arts theatre, which is less than ten minutes’ walk from Wittenberg. Home to the Dutch National Opera (DNO) and Dutch National Ballet, this Cees Dam and Wilhelm Holzbauer-designed building also houses Amsterdam’s city hall. Behind it you’ll find the world famous Waterlooplein Flea Market, a colourful collection of stalls selling everything under the sun (this is the place to go if you want to get your classic Dutch souvenirs).
Places to eat and drink
Feeling hungry or thirsty? You won’t be disappointed. Ten minutes away you’ll find De Groene Olifant which is a tiny bar with bags of character. Cosy and old fashioned on the inside, it also has a great terrace for relaxing on a summer’s day. If you’re feeling adventurous you can always jump on a number 10 tram and head up to Brouwerij ’tIJ for a real Dutch treat – a local brewery with its very own windmill. Or head west over the famous Skinny Bridge (Magere Brug) to Onder de Ooievaar, a traditional Dutch bar right on the Prinsengracht canal.
Food-wise, try the intimate atmosphere and amazing tastes at Elkaar near the Tropenmuseum, or wander over to Noara’s for an Arabic food journey with hints of French cuisine thrown in. Some of Wittenberg’s closest restaurants are by the zoo: De Plantage is an elegant affair in spectacular surroundings while Tempura is a great Japanese restaurant with similarly great prices. Burgermeester is also in the district if you fancy a classy organic burger and Pizzabakkers has the best pizzas this side of Italy.
Wittenberg is in a great spot for getting practically anywhere in the city - but you'll be surprised by how peaceful and quiet the area is. The closest tram stops are at Artis, Plantage Lepellaan and Weesperplein (numbers 9, 10 and 14). The nearest metro stations are Waterlooplein and Weesperplein. Cycling is probably the best way to get around and fit in with the locals – although not for the faint-hearted - and it’s very easy to rent bikes in Amsterdam (one of the cheapest options is to get an OV bike – see www.ns.nl/en/door-to-door/ov-fiets).
You can easily walk to Amsterdam Central Station but if you prefer, take metro lines 51, 53 or 54 from Waterlooplein or tram line 9 from Artis.
For travel to the business district (Zuidas), take metro line 51 from Weesperplein to Amsterdam Zuid station or tram lines 9 or 14 to Spui then line 5 to Station Zuid. It’s a 15 minute drive if you have a car.
To get to and from Schiphol airport, take metro line 51 from Weesperplein to Amsterdam Zuid station then take a train from the same station on to the airport (they’re very frequent). You could also go via Amsterdam Central Station (see above).