What Central Park is to New York City, the Vondelpark is to Amsterdam. This sprawling greenspace in the heart of Amsterdam is as much of an escape from the city as it is a place to people-watch folks from all walks of life. With 120 acres to explore, the Vondelpark is a no-brainer for those visiting Amsterdam with time to spare and fresh air to take in.
History of Amsterdam’s Vondelpark
Back in 1864, a group of Amsterdam locals got together to create a park on the outskirts of the city. (This gives you some idea on just how much Amsterdam has grown.) Under the watchful eyes of architect Jan David Zocher, a new greenspace was made available for all to enjoy.
Over the next century, Vondelpark was expanded and beautified. Rose gardens, bike paths and manicured streams popped up throughout. In the 1960’s, Vondelpark was the Haight-Ashbury of Amsterdam- a place for like-minded groups to gather and promote all that the flower power generation stood for.
Today over 10 million people visit Vondelpark every year. It is the go-to place in Amsterdam for outdoor theatre, concerts, and King’s Day celebrations.
Things to do in Vondelpark
Events take place in the park throughout the year, but are almost daily during the summer months. The Open-Lucht Theatre hosts the majority of the shows and music performances, check out their website to see what’s on during your visit.
If you are visiting with children, there are seven play areas, including one giant playground. The ponds are frequented by local fowl, and don’t mind an extra crumb or two from left over ‘broodjes’ (sandwiches). For something a little more special, stop by the Kinderkookkafe, where kids get the chance to cook their own meals.
On a sunny day when a beer or coffee is needed, there are several cafes around the park which offer picnic style grub and a basic selection of drinks. Most offer outdoor seating and don’t require a reservation.
If you are still looking to book Amsterdam hotels, the Vondelpark area is perfect for exploring the city and having an outside space to escape to when you have had enough of the throngs of tourists.
Best Time to Visit Vondelpark
There is one day that the Vondelpark truly shines, especially if you have children. On April 27th each year, King’s Day (formerly Queen’s Day) celebrations take over the city and the Vondelpark becomes a giant flea market for children. Kids sell their old toys and books for pocket change and activities such as face painting and organized sports are found everywhere you look.
If you would rather avoid the King’s Day crowds, May-August is a good choice. You can expect flowers to be blooming and hopefully the sun shining while you take a nice walk around the park.
For over 150 years, the Vondelpark has been an Amsterdam institution. Carve out an afternoon in your itinerary to explore this beautiful area. Afterall, you wouldn’t skip Central Park in New York!
Cover Photo: Vondelpark-Amsterdam via photopin (license)