Nieuwe Herengracht is a canal set in the heart of Amsterdam. The canal isn’t as busy as the tourist-flanked canals such as Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht, so you can enjoy beautiful views of its lush green surroundings in comparative peace. There are also plenty of old-school Dutch buildings to explore, including the Hermitage Amsterdam museum that opened in 2009.

Nieuwe Herengracht was named after Heren Regeerders, who governed Amsterdam in the 16th and 17th centuries. The canal starts on the other side of the Amstel River and ends at the Scharrebiersluis drawbridge. When shipping businesses boomed in the 19th century, the Nieuwe Herengracht area became a shipping connection between the Amstel, Oosterdok and the IJ areas.

Stone arch bridges were replaced by movable bridges to ensure larger ships could sail along the waterway. These drawbridges remain to this day – you’ll often hear the warning bells signalling all traffic to stop and give way to the rising bridge. If you happen to be around the area, you’ll want to catch a movable bridge in action.

Nieuwe Herengracht in Amsterdam - one of the highlights of 10 Best Canals in Amsterdam (Read all about Amsterdam here)

What are the highlights of Nieuwe Herengracht?

Nieuwe Herengracht is best known as the home of the Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam, or "de Hortus" to the locals. Established in 1638, the botanical garden is one of the oldest gardens in the world. It has 5 greenhouses with different climates and plantations, as well as a single outdoor garden.

The Hortus Café at the Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam is one of the city’s most beautiful outdoor cafés. You’ll often find locals enjoying coffee on the terrace on sunny days. Seats often fill up fast, so table reservations are recommended if you want to sit outdoors.

The Hermitage Amsterdam occupies the former Amstelhof building, which dates back to 1681. The museum is a branch of Russia’s State Hermitage Museum. It has 2 large exhibition halls and smaller exhibition rooms, as well as lecture halls, offices, and a restaurant. Its permanent exhibitions highlight the relations between the Netherlands and Russia, as well as the history of the museum's building.

Wertheimpark is an excellent spot for those looking to escape the bustle of Amsterdam. While it isn’t as large and popular as Vondelpark, this hidden gem is the oldest public park in Amsterdam. This park also hosts the Auschwitz Monument, a sobering reminder of the city’s bleak past.

Good to know about Nieuwe Herengracht

Thanks to its central location, Nieuwe Herengracht is easily reachable via the Metro on lines 51, 53, and 54 to the Waterlooplein station. Follow the sign that points you directly to the Nieuwe Herengracht and make your way to the exit to De Hortus. A 10-minute tram ride on the line 14 tram to the Mr. Visserplein stop will also take you to this canal.

The National Opera & Ballet building is a 10-minute walk of the Nieuwe Herengracht canal. This custom-built stage for both traditional and contemporary opera and ballet performances was opened in 1986. It produces an average of 11 productions annually.

Check out the ARTIS Zoo for a fun family day out in Amsterdam. Here, you can explore an aquarium, a planetarium, a butterfly house, and the world's first and only microbe museum. The long-established zoo is around 700 metres east of the Nieuwe Herengracht.

Nieuwe Herengracht in Amsterdam

Elie Lam | Contributing Writer