Quintessentially Dutch, cycling is an integral cog in the machinery of Amsterdam – propelling the city forward with pedal power every day. With a larger bicycle population than residential number, everywhere you turn and look in Amsterdam is graced with charming bicycles tied to trees, fences, benches, and just about everything else rooted to the ground.
Far more than just a form of transport during the daily commute, cycling is central to the very personality of Amsterdam – with pedalling for pleasure one of city’s great pastimes. And there are few finer places to indulge in an afternoon of serendipitous cycling than Vondelpark, the beautiful urban park found in south Amsterdam.
Across 47 hectares, the 150-year-old Vondelpark was constructed by a group of citizens looking to develop a stretch of land for the pleasurable pursuits of strolling and cycling. After purchasing the land on which the park still sits, the Vereeniging tot Aanleg van een Rij- en Wandelpark (Association for the Construction of a Park for Riding and Strolling) opened the park to the Amsterdam public in 1965.
Two years later, the group places a statue of playwright, Joost van den Vondel, in the grounds, earning the park the nickname, Vondelpark. This moniker soon became the recognised name for the park whose reputation was growing with the additions of a bandstand, the Beer House Vondel, and English style gardens in the following years.
Cycling around Vondelpark grew increasingly popular over the coming years, leading the management to implement bike paths in the latter parts of the 19th century. For a short while, cyclists were restricted to the pace of a horse’s trot, but these restrictions were soon lifted thanks to the General Dutch Cyclists Union, and leisurely cycling could continue.
Throughout the 20th century, the park was lovingly maintained and improved with the additions of a rose garden, tea rooms, an open air theatre and a children’s play area. Between June and August, a number of free musical and theatrical performances take place in the open air theatre.
Vondelpark Cycle Route
It is possible to hire bicycles on all Emerald Waterways river cruises, helping you explore the wonderful port cities and towns. If you decide to rent a bicycle when docked in Amsterdam to explore the beautiful Vondelpark, here is a guide to the park and the route around all of the delightful sights.
There are nine major entry points for cyclists to enter the main figure-of-eight route. The eastern entrance into the park is located close to the city’s Museum District, with the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum just a short cycle ride away. A thin strip of greenery surrounds the entrance route opening up onto the smaller circular route of the figure-of-eight.
The early stretches of this route surround labyrinthine waterways with a splattering of beautiful green spots – perfect if you fancy a little rest. The Café ‘t Blauwe Theehuis (Blue Teahouse Café) is located on a small spit of land wrapped by the waters, providing a charming spot to enjoy a drink and a bite to eat with panoramic views of the park provided by the upstairs balcony area.
Continuing to the other half of the cycle route, Vondelpark’s beautiful gardens start to open up before you. Perhaps the highlight of the west side of the park is the enigmatic rose garden providing stimulation for all the senses.
Continuing past the rose garden is the Vondelpark tennis club, one of Amsterdam’s premier spots for a few sets of the gentlemanly sport. High profile championships are played on these courts, so if you’re lucky you may spot your favourite sporting heroes.
Amsterdam’s Other Parks
The Dutch capital is awash with green areas and huge floral displays – meaning plenty of places to retreat for a quiet afternoon in beautiful Amsterdam. Here we have a look at just a few of the city’s other stunning parks.
Westerpark – Dotted with ponds and vibrant plant life, this park in Amsterdam West is built upon a former gasworks which has been fully overhauled and lovingly renovated in recent years. On warm days, Westerpark’s stretches of water are hugely popular with families looking to cool off with a quick paddle.
In recent years the beautiful setting has grown ever more popular with wedding planners looking to craft a special day no bride or groom could ever forget.
Amstelpark – Boasting a huge selection of iconic Amsterdam tulips, Amstelpark is unashamedly Dutch – celebrating everything about this beautiful country. An expansive park located on the southern reaches of Amsterdam, Amstelpark is full to the brim with extensive flower gardens and galleries.
The park was original built for the 1972 Floriade, Amsterdam’s leading flower show held in the city every 10 years. Professional gardeners from all around the world make their Amstelpark to create the most incredible floral displays.
Rembrandtpark – Named for the beloved Dutch Master, Rembrandt, this park is an oasis of greenery and water features. Quieter than Vondelpark, and blessed with a myriad of picturesque cycle paths, Rembrandtpark is a wonderful setting for an afternoon of cycling.
Also, Rembrandtpark is home to the oldest petting zoo in Amsterdam, De Uylenburg.
Our Netherlands and the Beauty of Belgium river cruise is a round-trip from Amsterdam – providing plenty of opportunities to explore this enigmatic capital city. For more information, call our friendly team today on 0808 301 4705.