Amsterdam's Vondelpark, located in the Old South, is so beloved by locals that it's the subject of a folk-rock ode by Dutch duo Acda en de Munnik. Dedicated to the 17th-century dramatist Joost van den Vondel, often dubbed the "Shakespeare of the Netherlands", the Vondelpark is a place for all moods: entertainment for those who want to be entertained; peace and tranquility for those who want to just be. The plethora of cafes, restaurants and indoor activities mean there's always a roof to take cover from the Dutch storms that brew in record time; this makes any day of the year a fine day for a stroll in the Vondelpark. I first visited the Vondelpark in the dead of winter; the number of orphaned mittens on the Vindhek ("lost-and-found fence") proved that I wasn't the only one who fancied a snow-strewn Vondelpark!
What's to Do at the Vondelpark:
- EYE Film Institute - The Filmmuseum is now the EYE Vondelpark, the parkside location of this film institute. Just like the former Filmmuseum, EYE screens movies from the Netherlands and abroad on a daily basis; showtimes are listed on their web site.
- Vondeltuin - The athletically inclined can rent in-line skates and protective equipment at the Vondeltuin, the southermost terrace in the Vondelpark. Rather put on calories than burn them off? The Vondeltuin also serves solid, unfussy meals both indoors and outdoors.
- Hollandsche Manege - Hippophiles shouldn't miss this spin-off of Vienna's celebrated Spanish Riding School, where visitors can spy the horses with their trainers from the upstairs cafe.
- Orgelpark - If you're on the lookout for an actual park, you will probably miss this former church turned classical and jazz concert venue. See their web site for a concert calendar and ticket information.
- Open Air Theater - Amsterdammers turn out in droves for these free open-air theater performances on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in the summertime.
Vondelpark for Kids:
The Vondelpark is a veritable children's paradise, where visitors are rarely far from the nearest sandbox. Here are some special child-oriented attractions in the park:
- Kinderkookkafé - The Kinderkookkafé has become a phenomenon with its simple but unique premise: children man the kitchen (under supervision, of course!) while parents can kick up their heels.
- Klein Melkhuis - The Groot Melkhuis café not only boasts a much-requested kid's menu, with favorites from mini-pancakes to French fries – it also harbors a fabulous children's park, the Klein Melkhuis, to entertain the little ones.
Accommodations near the Vondelpark:
Prefer the quieter, leafier south to the action-packed center? Convenient public transit links connect the Vondelpark area to the rest of Amsterdam. See a round-up of the best accommodations near the Vondelpark to find your ideal match.
Where to Eat in and Around the Vondelpark:
The Vondelpark has a handful of cafes and terraces, such as the Vondeltuin and Groot Melkhuis (above) and 't Blauwe Theehuis (below), but for more substantial eats, head just outside the park's boundaries.
- 't Blauwe Theehuis - This Vondelpark classic serves moderately priced meals in a monumental "teahouse", but occasionally suffers from its own popularity with too few servers to appease the crowds.
- Hap-Hmm - Traditional Dutch cuisine at its unadulterated best, Hap Hmm churns out no-frills dishes for rock-bottom prices.
- Blauw Amsterdam - Not to be confused with Blauw aan de Wal, Ron Blaauw, or any other popular restaurant with “Bla(a)uw” in its title, Blauw Amsterdam is one of the top Indonesian eateries in town, noted for its various rijsttafels.
- Pasta Tricolore - Located on the chic P.C. Hoofdstraat, this Italian espresso bar and trattoria serves decadent sandwiches, antipasti (appetizers) and entrées to eat in or take out.