Parks, Gardens and Outdoor Attractions
Despite Amsterdam being a modern capital city, there are large green areas and park spaces in the city where you can spend a summer’s day lazing in the sun, or getting active if you prefer.
We also have travel pages for
cycling, sports and
tours in Amsterdam should you wish to make your holiday as active as possible.
Header image credit: David Van De Mark
As central Amsterdam’s biggest park, Vondelpark is an essential part of any Amsterdam experience. With over 100 acres of large, grassy fields, landscaped gardens, ponds, canals, wooded trails and playgrounds, you can spend a whole day wandering before settling down in any of the 4 restaurants, or enjoying a picnic. There is also a film museum in the north of the park, and an open air theatre which offers dance, music, cabaret performances Wednesday-Sunday during the summer. You can also hire rollerblades and join the slaloming crowds in this popular skating spot.
The park is named after Joost Van Den Vondel, the Dutch poet, and his statue is still stood in the north of the park.
Oosterpark represents Amsterdam’s multicultural make-up as a city more so than any other park in the city. The park lies to the east of the city, amidst a large mixed population of Surinamese and Indonesian population. It is also the setting of the Amsterdam Roots Festival, a famous world music festival which is held every June, but even when the festival isn’t on, the park is home to musicians from a range of backgrounds.
Fittingly, given the international spirit of the park, you can see the National Monument to the History of Slavery, known as Shared Past, Common Future, which was built to acknowledge the inhumane trade which brought the ancestors of many locals to the neighbourhood in the first place.
Amsterdam’s Urban Beaches
Amsterdam’s Urban Beaches While Amsterdam isn’t by the coast, there are a few urban beach spaces in the city which are hugely popular in the summer. Perhaps the most striking of these is the post-industrial beachscape of Pllek, made out of former shipping containers and offering a stunning panoramic view across the IJ River. The crowd is young and diverse, and the restaurant is open late, making it a popular hangout venue, just be sure you don’t miss the ferry back to the mainland, it leaves at midnight during the week and 1am at the weekends!
If you fancy a swim, then Biljburg aan Zee is the best beach for you, built into an island with popular bars, festivals and a restaurant.
During the cold winter months, Amsterdam’s locals love to strap on their ice skates in various locations across the city. The manmade island of Ijlburg has become one of the most popular destinations recently, with the suburb’s frozen lake being suitable for ice skating when the temperatures drop seriously low. There are also rinks in Museumplein and Leidseplein, with some of Amsterdam’s most famous attractions as a stunning backdrop!
Alternatively, head to Jaap Eden Ijsbanen, where you can rent out skates and blaze (or bumble!) your way around a 400m track.
Amsterdam Artis Zoo
Amsterdam’s Artis Zoo is the oldest zoo in Holland, with over 900 species of animals from all corners of the globe calling it home. See giraffes strolling with wildebeest, zebras and springbok in a specially made environment designed to replicated the Savannah, or wander through a butterfly enclosure and see lemurs up close. Educational and entertaining, the zoo is perfect for wildlife-lovers of all ages.
Artis Zoo is also home to hundreds of species of plants, plus beautiful themed gardens, an aquarium and the biggest planetarium in the Netherlands.
Image credit: CG Textures
Amsterdam’s famous botanical garden is among the oldest in the world, having been established in 1632, and is an oasis of calm among the hustle and bustle of the busy city centre. The garden is home to more than 6000 plants, arranged in beautiful and pleasant displays, including an agave cactus which is over 2000 years old!
The orangery was recently renovated, and features a comfortable café with a large terrace where you can grab a drink or a bite to eat as you enjoy the gardens.
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