Amsterdam has a huge number of incredible parks including the Vondelpark, the Westerpark and the Amstelpark amongst others, all of which are great places for a walk, a cycle or a picnic. Some even allow barbecuing and most have fantastic facilities for kids. As a brief overview:
Amsterdam’s most famous and popular park is known as the city’s version of New York’s Central Park and at 120 acres with its long rectangular shape and a centrality to local life you can see why. Within the park you’ll find a large lake, some fantastic playgrounds, an open air theatre and a couple of lovely spots for a coffee or a bite to eat. Two standout options are the Groot Melkhuis (particularly great for kids with a sandpit and playground outside) and ‘t Blauwe Theehuis – the wonderful iconic modernist cafe. For the little chef in your life, be sure not to miss children’s favourite the Kinderkookcafe on the park outskirts. On my favourite day of the year King’s Day, the park sees a total children’s takeover with stalls, food stands and entertainment run entirely by young people. But whether you are with kids, or without, the Vondelpark is best explored on two wheels and cycling through this paradise is a most Amsterdam of experiences.
The Westerpark is less touristy than its more famous sibling but no less wonderful. Another huge green space, this park has a series of stunning historic brick buildings which have become known as the Westergas complex. Packed with some wonderful shops, eateries and creative businesses the space includes a gorgeous branch of De Bakkerswinkel, Tony’s Chocolonely store, killer coffees at Espressofabriek, Ijscupje for ice creams and the warehouse-sized Westergasfabriek itself which houses one of our favourite markets on the first Sunday of every month. The park is also home to dozens of events and festivals (especially food festivals) throughout the Summer. As if that wasn’t enough, deep within the park you’ll find a classic Amsterdam children’s farm, a couple of playgrounds, a splash pool and a typically Dutch, wild outdoor play area called Het Woeste Westen. My insider’s tip is the gorgeous Westergasterras for a drink on a sunny day. The whole park is a glorious place to explore.
Cited by our boys as a particular favourite amongst stiff competition, the Amstelpark has a huge playground, a children’s area with coin-operated ride-on vehicles, a little petting farm, a boating lake, minigolf, a maze and most loved of all a wonderful train in Summer which does a 20 minute tour of some of the secret gardens. Once a month, the park also houses the Puremarkt food market. Originally built for the “Floriade”, the Amstelpark has huge flower beds and even a butterfly garden. It’s a fabulous place to spend a sunny morning or afternoon.
The best of the rest
If you want a large outdoor splash pool, the Beatrixpark is the place to head (also home to Restaurant As). In Amsterdam’s “Left Bank” area De Pijp, you’ll find the small but perfectly formed Sarphatipark – gorgeous for a Summer evening stroll before or after sampling the foodie delights that surround it. Eastsiders swear there is nowhere more wonderful than the Oosterpark which is Amsterdam’s most diverse park and houses both the Roots World Music festival and HipHop festival Applesap every year. The East is also home to the lovely Park Frankendael which is more like a country estate. This romantic park is also the place to find the uniquely amazing De Kas restaurant in its historic greenhouse.
And as a bonus suggestion, why not head to the Amsterdamse Bos for an extraordinary variety of outdoor adventures.
If you’re spending time in Amsterdam – make sure you get outside and explore. The city’s green spaces are waiting.