Even when traveling and exploring we seek some refuge–some place to just stop planning, mapping, photographing, and to just be. Amsterdam is a city of many treasures including dozens of museums, the Red Light District, and infamous coffeeshops (that aren’t know for their coffee). After some full days of sightseeing you need to wind down a bit and for that, a park is the way to go. Fresh air, sunshine, nature, and even water features can be found in parks throughout the capital of the Netherlands.
If you mention a park to anyone who knows anything about Amsterdam, they will immediately think about Vondelpark. This is a large park at 120 acres and with its 10 million visitors each year, it’s the most visited park in the Netherlands. And as lovely and large as Vondelpark is, it can get extremely busy on a warm day. Luckily, there is another great park that is still close to the center but just far enough outside that it’s still feels a bit hidden.
Westerpark is so special because it’s not just a park with a fountain and open spaces to sit and relax, but it has expanded through Westergasfabriek and is well-known for diverse markets and festivals. From a local foods market, to music festivals, and food truck festivals (like the Rolling Kitchens!), this area always has something interesting going on.
At around 35 acres, there could be a crazy festival going on and you would still be able to find a nice quiet spot for yourself. There are areas just for the kids, some spots for the dogs to run around, and even perfect spaces for sports. But my favorite thing to do in Westerpark is to walk through the wooded area towards the back. You feel miles away from the city and can simply enjoy being around the nature it offers. The tulips, cherry trees, and canals just take you to a peaceful place.
On a nice hot day, there’s a man-made long wading pool that looks like a canal for the kids to splash about in, but you could take a quick walk in it too to cool off! During other seasons, you’ll find kids rollerblading or practicing their bike skills in the empty pool. The Dutch make the most of their public spaces, and so should you!
To experience Amsterdam without the hustle and bustle of the city center and without the crowds of Vondelpark, Westerpark is the perfect spot. Even the bridges to enter are charming! So, take a bus from Centraal Station, or rent a bike, bring a blanket or towel, and have a lovely picnic. Whether alone, as part of a couple, or as a group, this is a very enjoyable experience.
What is your favorite park in the world?