Especially if you visit Amsterdam in the spring or summer, one of the first things you’ll probably notice is all of the city’s wonderful green spaces. The oversized public park Vondelpark is the most visited green area in Amsterdam, and is in fact the most famous park in the Netherlands.

Vondelpark is located just south of Leidsplein near the museum district and sees about ten million visitors per year— many visitors describe it as the “Central Park” of the Netherlands. Vondelpark has a long history in Amsterdam, and has been an integral part of the city for more than 100 years. The park was opened to the public in 1865 under the name Niewepark; it was renamed for famous Dutch poet and writer Johannes van de Vondel in 1866, and reached its current size in 1877. Since that time, it has been a favorite acitivity center for both residents and visitors, offering activities such as roller skating, jogging, picnicing, or simply lying in the grass and enjoying the quiet.

In June, July, and August, free concerts and theatre performances are given at Vondelpark at the open air theatre near the Eeghenstraat entrance. These take place five days a week during the summer, and are open to anyone who wishes to attend— if you’re in Amsterdam in the summertime, they’re not to be missed (they attract hundreds of daily visitors, so get there early). At the center of Vondelpark is also the Film Museum with its wonderful terrace for sitting and having a drink surrounded by lush green and singing birds. There’s also a charming little blue cafe in the middle of the park.

No matter what time of year you choose to visit Amsterdam, it’s always worth a visit to Vondelpark. Full of trees, quiet paths, and large still ponds, it’s the most peaceful, soothing place in the entire city— in fact, it’s easy to forget that you’re in the city at all.

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