Amsterdam has many different kinds of parks, some geared more towards nature or gardens, others offering many entertaining features for children.
The Most Famous Parks in Amsterdam
The largest and best known of Amsterdam’s city parks, Vondelpark offers roses, cute cafés and an open-air theatre with concerts. Still, when compared to other parks in Amsterdam and their features, Vondelpark may feel a bit overrated.
Sarphatipark is a green oasis of Southern Amsterdam, located in the district of De Pijp. Its large pond is sometimes even called a lake. Like Vondelpark, Sarphatipark is especially popular as a chill-out place for the whole family in the weekends.
Westerpark is a walking distance from the city center. It has some relatively forested areas, but also features the cultural venue Westergasfabriek, which has two cafés and often hosts festivals and other events. There is also a small swimming pool for children.
As could be expected Oosterpark is found in the East of Amsterdam, near the Tropenmuseum. The specialty of this fairly large park is the presence of many sculptures and monuments. It also hosts a large bird population and a skating park.
Lesser Known Amsterdam Parks Worth Visiting
Noordrpark/Florapark is located in the north of Amsterdam and one has to cross het IJ (with a ferry or a bus using the tunnel) to get there. It is probably not worth a trip by itself, but that area of northern Amsterdam offers a lovely village-like atmosphere – quiet, picturesque and free of tourists.
Sloterpark can be found western Amsterdam. Mostly visited by local people, it has interesting features for tourists as well. Its most notable feature is a large pond, but there is also a nice garden and a petting zoo for children.
Nearby Sloterpark is Rembrandtpark, another good park for families. It hosts a farm/petting zoo meant for children, open every day throughout the year.
Flevopark is located in the East side of the city, with two tramlines (7 and 14) terminating in front of it. It is more forest-like than most parks. Flevopark has its own nice atmosphere and is a good place for bird-spotting. With luck one can even see foxes, hedgehogs, grass snakes and various kinds of rodents and frogs, as well as bats during the night.
A bit further away than most parks (near Station RAI), Amstelpark is definitely worth a visit, especially for children and families: there is a large playground with many different rides, a petting zoo, a minigolf range, a labyrinth, greenhouses, a rose garden, a rhododendron garden, a Japanese garden and much more.
The Frankendael park (Middenweg 72) is for those who like their parks old-fashioned. It is an old country estate turned into a park and contains two historical gardens, a Style garden (in the Regency style) and a Landscape garden.
Gaasperplas is located quite far from the city center, but one of the city’s metro lines terminates at the stop of the same name, so it is easy to find. This artificial lake has a public beach and is a popular location for boating and canoeing. There are also playgrounds and gardens and a chance to witness local wildlife. Gaasperplas also has a camping site.
The Amsterdamse Bos
The Amsterdamse Bos is a man-made forest/park at the south of Amsterdam, parts of it located in cities of Amstelveen and Schiphol. There are no elaborate flower gardens, but it makes for enjoyable strolling in the nature. There are play gardens and swimming pools for children and a lovely goat farm (geitenboerderij). In the summer there are often outdoor plays
The Amsterdamse Bos is a short walk from the last stop of trams 16 and 24. One can get a little closer with the tram 5 or the metro 51.
Parks in Amstelveen
Besides a large chunk of the Amsterdamse Bos, there are several nice parks in Amstelveen, the neighbour city of Amsterdam. These include Broersepark, Thijssepark and De Braak. Most Amsterdam public traffic maps also include the area of Amstelveen, so it easy to look up routes to these parks.
Vondelpark, a Breath of Fresh Air in Amsterdam
After passing through the ornate black and gold ironwork gate at the main entrance off Stadhouderskade, two blocks west of the Rijksmuseum, visitors experience an immediate sense of calm descend from a leafy canopy high above them. As the cacophony of the city falls away, they find themselves in a green, natural world far removed in spirit from the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam.
Originally, the area that is now Vondelpark was a forested moor slated to be the site for a railway station. The idea to turn it into a city park that would offer respite from Amsterdam’s energy and provide a place for riding and strolling was the brainchild of a group of high-profile Amsterdammers led by C.P. van Eeghen, president of the National Bank. The private group commissioned architect L.D. Zocher to design the park in the style of a verdant English garden.
In 1865, the rectangular-shaped expanse opened as “Nieuwe Park” (New Park). It was renamed “Vondelpark” (Vondel’s Park) in 1867 when sculptor Louis Rover’s statue of celebrated Dutch poet Joost van den Vondel was positioned on a knoll on the park’s northern edge. In 1877, an enhancement by Louis Paul Zocher, the original architect’s son, brought the park to its current size. In 1880, its name was officially changed to Vondelpark.
When the association that owned the park could no longer afford its maintenance, it donated the acreage to the public. Since 1953, Vondelpark has been a gem owned by the City of Amsterdam. In 1996, it was named a state monument.
Amsterdam’s Largest Park
Today Vondelpark welcomes some 10 million visitors annually. Among them are walkers, joggers, skaters, bike riders and those who come simply to people-watch and laze on the grass on sunny days. As the largest park in Amsterdam and the most famous one in the Netherlands, it’s beloved by locals and tourists alike.
Many like to linger on the terrace of its film museum—a movie-buff’s dream, where selections from a 30,000-film collection are shown regularly. Others enjoy free concerts and live performances encompassing dance, cabaret and drama at an open air theater, near the entrance off Eeghenstraat. In summer, entertainers performing in a range of genres appear on the bandstand. Throughout the year, parents throw balls to kids and couples kiss on open fields where native flora and fauna thrive.
Vondelpark for Children
A popular Amsterdam attraction for children, Vondelpark boasts numerous play areas and one large playground near Groot Melkhuis. Kids can rent skates at Snoephuisje (near the Amstelveenseweg entrance) and refuel there with pancakes afterwards.
Within the park, several cafés offer drinks and snacks. On a sunny day, a better choice might be luncheon on the grass with sandwich fixings purchased from any of the small markets or delis in the swank district surrounding Vondelpark.