Vondelpark is a State Monument and an Amsterdam hot spot in summer. This is where locals go to sunbathe, cycle or play outside. There are also concerts or other performances on weekends. Over 10 million visitors come here every year to enjoy nature and culture, as well as order drinks and meals on the restaurant terraces.
Opened in 1865, Vondelpark injected much-needed greenery into the then already very developed city. The park was named after the Dutch poet and playwright Joost van den Vondel. At that time it was a popular place for strolling or horseback riding. Today, the horses have made room for bicycles, of which there seem to be hundreds at any given time.
Vondelpark is at its liveliest when the sun shines and the locals flock here for a much-needed dose of vitamin D in the sometimes cold and rainy country. In summer, the Dutch suddenly all show their skin, with the ladies sunbathing in bikinis and the men playing soccer in shorts. No matter which time of year, locals love to come here for their lunch break or to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends.
Lounge on the grass, or rent a bike or roller blades to explore the paved pathways that loop through the 120 acres (47 hectares) of greenery, ponds and flowerbeds. There are playgrounds, a rose garden and terraces. The ponds, hawthorn and chestnut trees are frequented by a interesting variety of birdlife. While sitting on one of the benches, keep an eye out for the wild parakeets and nesting storks. There’s also a Picasso statue in the park: the Spanish artist donated The Fish in 1965.
An open-air theater hosts musical concerts, plus theater and cabaret between June and August. Some shows are free, others request a donation. Afterwards, enjoy coffee with pancakes at one of the pavilions. You can also grab a chair on the big terrace of the circular Blauwe Theehuis (Blue Teahouse), a gathering place since 1937.
Vondelpark is a short walk from Leidseplein and a few blocks north of the Museumplein, where many trams stop. There are parking lots in the city center, but spaces are limited.