|Written by Rosina Majid|
English: Vondelpark On A Sunny Day Deutsch: Ein sonniger Tag im Vondelpark (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Of all the places to get high in Amsterdam, Vondelpark is the place to go and get intoxicated on life, sunshine and smiles. With its main entrance on Stadhouderskade, a stone throw away from the busy square that is Leidseplein, Vondelpark is where the real spirit of Amsterdam lives. Whatever the weather, this is where local residents, workers, friends and families commune in their spare time to soak in the park's vast space of nature, trees, ponds and the sound of birds chirping.
The Vondelpark first came into existence in 1865 as a horseback riding and strolling park under the name "Nieuwe Park". It was renamed "Vondelpark" two years later in honour of the 17th century author regarded as the Dutch Shakespeare, Joost van den Vondel. Throughout the decades that followed, the park continued to develop with new additions, including a rose garden in the 20th century followed by a tearoom and a playground. Now with its current 120 acre space, Vondelpark is the biggest park in Amsterdam attracting over 10 million visitors each year.
As with any park, this space is perfect to take a well-deserved break from city life with a picnic on the grass by the pond. Expect the park to be packed when the sun in shining as many locals come from near and far to soak up some rays while they can with the Dutch weather being what it is. So be sure to get there early to grab a good spot. Though it is home to a selection of trees, birds and wild ducks, Vondelpark has so much more to offer than just nature. The park has several bars and restaurants serving food and drinks in the comfort of their terraces, as well as indoors should the weather be poor. While running or walking the dog are all regular park activities, drop by Vondeltuin to pick up some rented skates and take a roll around the park.
What kind of park would this be without an impressive calendar of events to keep regular locals and visitors happy? Come every June through August, the Vondelpark Openlucht Theatre (Open Air Theatre) opens to the public with a schedule full of acts and performances that will please every art, culture and music lover. There are performances of classical, pop and world music, as well as dance, musical theatre and cabaret shows. The entrance is free and as always, be sure to get their early to snap up a seat!
If you are a film buff then you might like to visit the old Film Museum in the park, which has now been transformed into the Eye Institute, screening Dutch and foreign films everyday. Those traveling with children may wish to sign up their little Masterchefs at the KinderKookKafe (Children's Cooking Cafe), where for a fee your child can cook up their own meals under supervision, while you stick around or enjoy some alone time.
Breaking from the regular what to do list most location guides offer, here's what not to do in the Vondelpark. As much as you may feel like a BBQ, they are not permitted in this park. Bring a picnic instead! Despite recent debate, having sex in the park is actually illegal. Though smoking cannabis is tolerated in the Netherlands, be sure to check you will not be disturbing people sitting nearby before lighting up. And this goes without saying, if you make a mess, clean it up!
The Vondelpark, a state monument and coincidentally the site of the world's biggest picnic according to the Guinness Book of Records, is perfectly located near many trendy bars, restaurants and clubs. With several exits throughout the park, you may choose how you explore this green haven, exiting near the Overtoom for shopping in the Oud-West district or to have a spot of dinner on the Amstelveenseweg. Basked in so much natural beauty, the park is also surrounded by magnificent residential houses and apartments overlooking the park, which are the envy of many locals. Why not take a look at our list of hotels and Amsterdam apartments in the neighbourhood to find suitable accommodation that will put the icing on your trip.
Reaching Vondelpark is pretty easy. Take trams 1, 2, 5, 7 and 10 to Leidseplein, from here it is a short walk to the main entrance of the park.