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Vondelpark

Relaxing in the VondelparkOne of the nicest things about visiting Amsterdam with a young family is how many beautiful and spacious outdoor parks and playgrounds there are around town, each one with its own special charm. No matter where you are situated, there is likely to be at least one park within an easy walking or biking distance. The Vondelpark is one of our favourite parks to visit with the family, and it also happens to be Amsterdam’s largest and most centrally located.

The Vondelpark is an easy walk from the city centre and offers a relaxing break from the busy canals and sightseeing. It is popular among tourists and locals alike – on a warm, sunny day you can expect to find the park alive with a buzzing atmosphere, filled with people of all ages enjoying their various activities. There are many things to do in the Vondelpark — from wandering around on foot or by bike, setting up a picnic or a barbecue, to visiting one of the many playgrounds, sitting down for a drink on a spacious outdoor terrace, or even enjoying a concert at the open air theatre!

If you are renting bikes here for the first time the Vondelpark is a wonderful spot to come and practice your cycling. Motorised vehicles are not permitted in the Vondelpark and the cycle paths are very wide, so it can give you a gentle introduction into Amsteram’s cycling culture before you venture out onto the streets. You will find that the park becomes less busy the  further you go from the city, so you can find a quiet spot to safely cycle . Equally enjoyable is a gentle stroll through the park — there are many footpaths that meander and wind throughout the park and it is a really fun way to explore with kids. The park is full of large, beautiful trees which are particularly striking in the Summer when all of the foliage is at its fullest and most green, and the park becomes a vibrant slice of nature in the centre of the city.

Vondelpark Amsterdam

Vondelpark

There is one special tree in the park (located near the entrance from Koninginneweg) which is a favourite climbing tree for many local kids. This tree, which lies almost horizontally along the ground with its low hanging sturdy branches and exposed network of roots provides much fun and excitement. It is often filled with children playing sweetly on its many branches – the big kids priding themselves on how high they can climb while the younger ones clamber around at the base of the trunk. It is a fun spot to pause at if you’re in the park, and would even be a perfect location to set up a picnic.

Vondelpark climbing tree Tree climbing in Vondelpark_renamed_22673 Climbing the Vondelpark tree

Playgrounds in the Vondelpark

The Vondelpark has several playgrounds for children – the largest one is located in the centre of the park near the Kattenlaan entrance. The entire playground is fenced in so it provides a safe and spacious area for little ones to freely enjoy. There are public restrooms on the grounds as well as a water fountain with which to refill your bottle during the Summer. The play equipment caters to all ages and includes a toddler playground with slide, swings (made for one or many), a large sand box and climbing frames. On one side of the park there is an area of woodland that creates a lovely natural environment in which you will often spot children building log forts or even chasing bunnies!

Swing in Vondelpark Bunny in the Vondelpark Woodland in the Vondelpark

The park also has an outdoor paddle pool that gets filled with fresh water on hot Summer days. There is so much excitement in the air when the paddle pool is filled, and children can barely wait to get their clothes off before running in for a splash! This is a perfect place to bring the kids and cool off if the weather is hot – and the water is really quite shallow so even younger children can safely splash around and have fun. If you plan to join the many families that set up a picnic by the paddle pool, be aware that there are no cafes or shops at this playground so just be sure to come prepared.

Vondelpark paddle pool

If you haven’t prepared a picnic lunch though, never fear as just opposite this playground you will find the Groot Melkhuis – a bistro style cafe with a large outdoor terrace and a sweet, rather old fashioned play area for children. The food is quite basic here (they offer a selection of hot and cold snacks, sandwiches, drinks and candy) however it is really quite a pretty spot with plenty of outdoor seating for you to stop and relax at while the children play.

Groot Melkhuis thatched roof

Groot Melkhuis terraceOn Summer weekends when the weather is nice a jumping castle is set up for children to enjoy, often with fresh fairy floss for sale too!

Jumping castle Groot Melkhius

Another great playground for older kids is situated in the centre of the park and is quite a hidden gem! From the Groot Melkhuis if you walk along the footpath towards the middle of Vondelpark (in the Westerly direction) you should come to it. Here you will find a wooden playground that is made up of a series of tunnels and enclosed wooden bridges and forts – and the entire structure sits on wooden stilts creating the effect of a tree house walk. It is so much fun for bigger kids, who really enjoy the adventure and independence that this playground offers. Younger children can also go up as the entire walkway is enclosed with netting and ropes so that it is safe (just be prepared for spending a lot of time hunched over if you go up with your little one as it’s not so ergonomically designed for adults!).

Climbing playground Vondelpark Treetop playground views Vondelpark_renamed_19776 Treetop playground Vondelpark_renamed_10949 Vondelpark wooden playground_renamed_29472 Walking through the treetop playground_renamed_15082  High in the treetops at Vondelpark_renamed_27210 Walking on the logs in Vondelpark_renamed_12460

Lastly, at the most South-Western end of the park is De Vondeltuin cafe and playground (which we have previously written about here). Here you can also enjoy a drink or light meal on the beautiful (and very spacious) outdoor terrace. The atmosphere is casual and you can easily spend an entire afternoon enjoying drinks, snacks and chatting with friends while the kids are having an equally fun time playing in the attached playground. Come evening time De Vondeltuin becomes a popular destination not just for families, but for couples and groups of adults enjoying a drink out with friends. It can be quite fun to feel like you are still enjoying ‘normal’ adult evening activities while your children are out with you – and this is definitely the perfect spot to combine both.

Vondelpark Vondeltuin

Vondeltuin climbing frame

Vondeltuin bike detail

Of course, if you simply want to enjoy a peaceful and relaxing time away from cafes and playgrounds you can just as easily pack a picnic lunch (or just some wine and cheese!) and find a nice grassy spot in which to relax with the family.

Vondelpark scooter


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