The most famous park of Amsterdam, and still very beautiful. The part closest to the center can get very crowded though. You can go have a drink at Blauwe Theehuis in the middle of Vondelpark or at Vondeltuin (way in the back near Amstelveenseweg; less tourists!). Go see a show for free at the open air theatre (only a few weeks in summer, Wednesdays through Sundays).
Westerpark is great in summer. Bring a picknick blanket and some food and drinks and you need nothing else to get through the day. The old part with lots of trees attracts mainly families and low key locals. The new part of Westerpark with the very big flat field and no trees attracts a hipper crowd not only from the neighborhood but from the whole city, and more yuppies.
There are also a few nice bars and a cinema in the park. For example Troost beer brewery, or Westergasterras with lovely outdoor seating. Or you can play computer games and other games at TonTon Club.
If you want to go for a stroll there is the ecological wilder park, and a ‘kinderboerderij’, an animal petting farm with rabbits, goats and such for (grown-up) kids.
If you want to go for some food, child friendly Cafe Restaurant Amsterdam (industrial building with very high ceiling) is within walking distance.
- Sarphatipark in De Pijp area is also nice for summer picknicks (small and crowded, but fun).
- Oosterpark in eastern Amsterdam has a nice mix of locals, some tourists from the hostel in the park, and local drunkards who are harmless. In the morning a group perform tai chi, and lots of people use this park to jog.
- Museumplein is a huge patch of grass between the main museums south of the center. A good place for a picnic. There is an Albert Heijn supermarket on the corner near Concertgebouw so you can buy fruit, snacks and drinks there. During weekends it’s also a popular place for locals to play soccer, team frisbee, volleyball, rugby.
- Erasmuspark in western Amsterdam is great if you want to get away from all the tourists and be amongst the locals. On a sunny day this park is buzzing with activity: families having picnics and barbecues, kids playing, people playing football, and if you’re lucky a live jazz band performing at the little cafe in the park.
- Flevopark in eastern Amsterdam is nice and big and usually there is lots of free space without people. It attracts a mix of locals and tourists from the StayOkay Zeeburg hostel and Camping Zeeburg. Families have barbecues here, play with kites or frisbees, local groups do bootcamp, tightrope walking and other sports here, sometimes even(Harry Potter) quiddige. Inside Flevopark the liquor distillery ‘t Nieuwe Diep is a lovely place for liquor, jenever, beer or a soda. They have short opening hours, to be found on their website.
- Amsterdamse Bos (forest) is really in neighboring Amstelveen, but easy to reach in about 20 minutes by bike from Leidseplein for example. This forest is 3 times the size of New York City’s Central Park and is very diverse and beautiful, and very rich in species of birds, insects and other animals including the harmless (and shy) grass snake. In autumn the colored leaves look stunning and there are many mushrooms.
It has a goat farm that sells goat ice creams, a pancake restaurant and various other cafes and restaurants. You can rent canoes, climb in Fun Forest, cycle or walk through the forest, swim in the ponds. The forest also hosts theater performances, festivals, rowing regattas, nature walks with foresters and more.
Amsterdam has a number of small “city beaches” as well. Blijburg has sand and safe water for swimming and a beach bar. About half an hour’s travel time from the center. But you might as well take the 30 minute direct train ride from Central Station via Haarlem to Zandvoort, the real beach by the North Sea.
Pllek is a nice bohemian place in the former industrial area NDSM wharf which is quickly becoming a cool living area. There is a beach, officially swimming is not allowed but people do. Just take the free ferry from the north of Central Station to NDSM (not the other destinations).
More city beaches on this page on iamsterdam.com.
- Also see YourLittleBlackBook’s 16 summer hotspots in Amsterdam.
- More about Parks & Nature in and around Amsterdam.
- Want to be active and see some nature? Do a ‘leafy walk‘ through the city.
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