Whatever the weather when you visit Amsterdam, schedule in some time for a trip to Vondelpark and experience the chilled local atmosphere of the city. Even in winter, there are plenty of cosy sheltered spots to sit and watch the world go by. The park also features a children’s play area, an open-air theatre, and a historical pavilion restaurant.
Here we’ll explore some of the best things to see and do at Vondelpark. We’ll talk you through some of the histories of the area, and highlight the best restaurants, bars, and shops near Vondelpark to make your visit even more memorable.
Getting to Vondelpark by train
Before we dive into everything the park has to offer, let’s figure out how you’re going to get there. Vondelpark is centrally located, just west of Museumplein, the Museum Quarter, it’s part of the borough of Amsterdam-Zuid.
If you’re too far away to walk to the park or want to save your energy for exploring inside, you can find lots of public transport options to get you there. The public transport in Amsterdam includes buses, trams, trains, and metros, which are quick and convenient to use.
Which station is nearest to Vondelpark?
Because of its large size, Vondelpark benefits from lots of transport stations and stops nearby. The best one for you will depend on which side of the city you’re coming from.
If you’re travelling by bus from the city centre, alight at Leidseplein to walk the entire length of the park. Other stops nearby include Museumplein and Emmastraat.
By tram, which is the most convenient way to get around Amsterdam, end your journey at Leidseplein, Rijksmuseum, Van Baerlestraat, J.P. Heijestraat, or another stop on the outskirts of Vondelpark. If you’re unsure, you can ask any driver on line 1, 2, or 3 trams to let you know when it’s time to get off.
Choosing a ticket for public transport in Amsterdam
You can buy single tickets for any journey in Amsterdam. Still, we recommend picking up a multi-day travel card to make your trip easier. These, like the I Amsterdam Card or OV-chipkaart, let you use any bus, tram, or metro in the city without buying a new ticket. Simply load up your card with the number of days you’ll need it and swipe on and off public transport at leisure.
Tip: the I Amsterdam Card also gains you free entry to lots of the city’s major attractions.
Vondelpark is much more than just a green space. There are lots of exciting things to see and do during your visit, with plenty of options to keep the whole family entertained. Let’s take a look at some of the best.
Vondelpark Open Air Theatre
Every summer, Vondelpark Open Air Theatre opens to entertain guests with all manner of performances. The theatre first came to life in 1974, though the park was already a popular choice for parties and theatrical performances. From children’s shows to live music, stand-up comedy, and cabaret, there’s an enchanting variety to enjoy year after year.
You can visit the website here to find out what’s on while you’re in Amsterdam. Shows run on weekends from May until September.
This beautifully restored former church now serves as an international concert stage. Composers and performers travel to play on this unique stage from all over the world. Orgelpark celebrates the organ. The historic instrument was once used for church services, but today it’s incorporated into all kinds of spectacular performances.
Visitors can enjoy classical, jazz, and improvised performances here. The organ is also used to highlight dance shows and film screenings. Sink into the art deco ambience when you visit this beautiful Vondelpark concert hall.
Joost van den Vondel Statue
Where did Vondelpark get its name? The answer is this impressive statue of poet and playwright, Joost van den Vondel. The monument was created by sculptor Louis Royer and stood in what was once called Nieuwe Park, or New Park. Locals started calling the park Vondel’s Park, and it was eventually renamed in response.
Vondel produced some of the most significant pieces of Dutch literature, including the trilogy Lucifer (1654), Adam in Exile (1664), and Noah (1667).
Throughout the warmer spring and summer months, there’s a children’s pool in the centre of Vondelpark. The Kinderbaje is a very shallow pool surrounded by grass, which means parents can keep an eye on the little ones and enjoy some relaxation too!
There’s also some playground equipment and sand areas for kids to enjoy. It’s the perfect place for a family day in the park.
Vondelpark’s Rose Garden is an idyllic setting for a stroll. The Rosarium is in the northwest part of the park and is accessible every day, so you can wander through with your morning coffee or as the sun is setting. The garden features 63 rosebeds with lots of colourful varieties on display, as well as plenty of benches to sit and enjoy the flowers.
Groot Melkhuis, which translates to ‘Large Milk House’ in English, is a friendly café in the middle of Vondelpark. While the freshly baked snacks, lunches, and drinks are excellent, most people visit here for the children’s playground.
The playground at Groot Melkhuis is well-loved by Amsterdammers. It’s stood in the same spot for decades, with slides, swings, seesaws, and more just waiting to be enjoyed. On summer days, you can also expect a gigantic bouncy castle, ice cream, candy floss, and other fairground-like attractions.
It should come as no surprise that there’s lots of nature to enjoy in this enormous park. Stroll beneath horse chestnut and Dutch red chestnut trees and look out for different types of plants, herbs, and flowers in Vondelpark. The area is also home to lots of birds, including wild ducks and blue herons. Keep your eyes open and see what you can spot.
Vondelpark History and Facts
The idea for Vondelpark came about in 1864 when a group of influential Amsterdammers started a committee to create a new public park. Together they raised enough money to buy eight hectares.
Designing the park
The group commissioned the landscape architect Jan David Zocher to design the park in an English style. Zocher and his son, who was also a landscape architect, used vistas, water, and pathways to make the humanmade park seem like a natural space.
A new name
Vondelpark opened as Nieuwe Park in 1865. It was mainly intended for horseback riding and walking. The statue of Joost van den Vondel was added in 1867, and the park soon became known as Vondelpark in acknowledgement of the famous Dutch writer.
The committee continued to raise money, and by 1877 it had collected enough to expand the park to the 45-hectare space we know today. When it was built, Vondelpark was on the outskirts of Amsterdam. As with lots of historical spots, expansion of the city meant the park soon became part of the city centre itself.
Did you know? In 2009, Vondelpark hosted the world’s most massive picnic, with 433 people in attendance – it was recognized by the Guinness Book of Records.
Restaurants, Bars, and Shops near Vondelpark
A day at the park is perfectly complemented by food, drinks, and a spot of retail. Make the most of your laid-back day in Amsterdam when you choose the best places nearby.
The best places to eat in and near Vondelpark
Proeflokaal 't Blauwe Theehuis, ‘The Blue Teahouse’
One of our favourite spots for refreshment in Vondelpark, this little blue building boasts a huge terrace, which is often packed out during the summer months.
The site is now occupied by beloved Amsterdam brewery Brouwerij’ t IJ, which means there are lots of great local beers available, not to mention hot and cold soft drinks, breakfast, lunch, antipasti and delicious pizza.
If you’re looking for some truly delicious food, head to Fijnkost Vondelpark, just outside the park itself. This cosy café-restaurant serves excellent food and drinks from their homey location. Think local sausage ravioli, traditional croquettes, and calamari with lime mayonnaise.
Order a couple of small plates and pass them around the table. Throw in some local beers, and you’ve got yourself a perfect casual meal in Amsterdam.
For a perfect brunch or lunch just a stone’s throw from the park, head to Dignita Vondelpark. This sleek spot is open from 08:30 to 17:00 daily, serving delicious and beautifully presented dishes, famous homemade cakes, and comforting drinks.
Back inside the park now, and we head over to De Vondeltuin. This is an ideal spot for a fuss-free yet delicious lunch in Vondelpark. Head to the southern-most part of the park and find yourself a place on the leafy terrace or inside.
The bar stocks a huge variety of drinks to suit any occasion, while breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus include something for everyone. It’s a perfect choice to keep everyone happy during your day in Vondelpark.
Visiting the Kinderkookkafé, or ‘Kids Cook Café’, is a must if you’re in Vondelpark with little ones to entertain. This unique spot first opened its doors in 1981, letting children cook and serve food to their guests.
Cooking is available for children aged 8 to 12. At the same time, younger guests can collect ingredients to make their own cakes, cookies, pizzas, and prepare the food at their family table. Parents can enjoy hot drinks and sandwiches while the kids play and cook, or also taste what their little ones have prepared.
The best shopping near Vondelpark
There are countless shopping opportunities in Amsterdam, and the area around Vondelpark is no exception. Stroll through the pretty streets and see what you can find. You’re sure to stumble upon a vintage or modern designer treasure.
Or, head into the canal-encrusted city centre and explore retail areas like the 9 Little Streets, Dam Square, and more!
Opening Times and Ticket Prices
Vondelpark is a public space, which means it’s open to visiting during all hours of the day and night. Head there in the morning and stroll through the rose garden with coffee and a Danish pastry in hand. Or visit the park in the afternoon for a delicious lunch and some family fun.
If you’re in Amsterdam during the spring or summer, take a look at the open-air theatre programme for a memorable night of entertainment in Vondelpark. There’s often lots going on at this time of year, so it can be a good idea to choose a hotel or apartment close to the park and use it as your city base.
Because it’s a public park, visiting Vondelpark is also totally free! The only cost you’ll need to think about is that of any drinks or snacks you want to enjoy while you’re there. Why not pick up a picnic from a local convenience store or some takeout food from a nearby restaurant to enjoy in the park? The possibilities are endless!
Taking the train to Amsterdam?
Taking the train to Amsterdam is one of the easiest and quickest ways to travel from many major destinations across Europe. Modern high-speed trains are ready to whisk you from one city to another, and some of the most popular train journeys include Paris to Amsterdam (3h 12m), Brussels to Amsterdam (1h 45m) and London to Amsterdam (4h 2m).
On your way home you'll also enjoy quick journey times, including Amsterdam to Paris (3h 13m), Amsterdam to Brussels (1h 46m) and Amsterdam to London (5h 11m - although a new quicker direct route is launching later this year).
Feeling inspired to take the train? Why not find out more about travelling around the Netherlands by train in our trains in the Netherlands guide.