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Amsterdam: Top 5 parks offering an escape to nature

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Amsterdam Vondelpark
Even though the Vondelpark is Amsterdam's most popular park, you can still find places to relax. Photo: Gus van Gaalan

Although a very densely-populated capital, Amsterdam is a very “parky” place. In the summertime locals flock to the city’s many green spaces to hang in the sun, picnic, and dabble in recreational games. All very Cheapo-friendly ways to spend the day, as none of them cost a euro-cent.

Here are my five picks for city parks in and around Amsterdam:

Vondelpark

Located just behind the Leidseplein entertainment square is Vondelpark, the city’s most visited park: Its leafy green design draws 10 million guests per year. Concerts and live performances take place for free in its open air stage, while cute and leafy cafes like the Blauwe Theehuis are perfect places to pass the afternoon and soak up some rays. Between the perfectly trimmed rosebushes and romantic gazebo, the soothing creeks and the running track, there have got to be a hundred more reasons why Vondelpark must be visited, especially in nice weather.

(Looking to stay near Vondelpark? Check out our reviews of budget hotels nearby.)

Westerpark Amsterdam

Splashing around in Westerpark. Photo: Tommmie

Westerpark

There is a lot going on at this wide and vast park just west of the canal belt. While the shady tree areas can be great for barbeques, the open field is ideal for throwing a Frisbee and other sports. Families love the Westerpark because it offers one of the few shallow pool fountains young kids can splash around in. And by night, the surrounding old factory buildings that make up Westergasfabriek light up with outdoor salsa, live music and a fun bar atmosphere.

(We also have a few choices for places to stay near Westerpark in our guide.)

Oosterpark

Oosterpark is a great “local’s park,” and an ideal pit stop when wandering around the Tropenmuseum and Plantage neighborhood. A lively population of ducks and water foul hang around and wait to munch on bread crumbs, and the open field here is surrounded by beautiful tall trees. Amsterdam’s green parrots like to congregate here around sunset, and many brown cafés are located just across the street and have lively terraces and a fun, young crowd.

Sarphatipark

While the Sarphatipark is one of the smallest of the city’s parks, it offers a great break while wandering around the Albert Cuyp Market in De Pijp. Packed with everything a park needs to be beautiful and calm, Sarphatipark draws a trendy crowd of the neighborhood’s young professionals. It’s a perfect spot for pre-drinks before hitting the nearby bars.

Flevopark

Flevopark is a giant nature park that’s great for swimming and for experiencing a bit of the Dutch countryside style. The outdoor public swimming pool is one of the few in the city, and the park’s large lake draws many boaters, jet skiers and water skiers that can cruise far out of the area. There’s a great Genever distillery house that serves up some excellent liquors and fresh Czech beer at a cheap price. Along one side of the park runs a Zeeburg Cemetery, where around 100,000 Jews were buried between the 18th century and 1942 (burials here were discontinued during Amsterdam’s Nazi occupation).

Your favorite park in Amsterdam?

What is your favorite park in Amsterdam? Tell us about where to “park it” in our comments section.

About the author

About the author: Audrey Sykes hopped across the pond from the US eight years ago for a Masters degree in global journalism. Since then, she’s lived all over Europe, reporting and editing for music sites, snowboard mags, and travel media. She’s also the Amsterdam author for Party Earth, a guide to nightlife across Europe.

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