It may seem strange to travel all the way to Amsterdam and end up pushing your kids on swings or chasing them up climbing frames, but the city boasts some of the coolest playgrounds you’ll ever see and are well worth a visit.
Residential gardens are a bit of a rarity in the city, so instead there are superb ‘speltuins’ in every neighbourhood, each with their own character. There is even one locally known as ‘The Toy Graveyard’ (official name: Buurtspeelveldje Oud Zuid), where children deposit their old playthings for other kids to use.
With so many to chose from, here’s our Top 5:
The park to end all parks! This place is just awesome, for children of all ages (and adults too). Beautiful parkland, wonderful wooden play equipment, rope bridges, zip wires, an open-air theatre, huge paddling pool, skate hire, a Picasso sculpture and a cracking café, too. Grab coffee and pancakes from the Groot Melkhuis, kick off your shoes and let your kids run wild. www.hetvondelpark.net
A little further away, on the outskirts of the city, this beautiful park offers everything from bumper cars to a petting zoo (just don’t get those two mixed up!). The playground is enormous, the gardens are beautiful, there are two galleries for the culturally-minded and a fantastic hedge labyrinth to lose your children in. Kids can get a train ride through the park, offering a glimpse of a restored windmill, or a pony ride at the petting zoo.
3. Woeste Westen
If your kids like adventure and getting their hands dirty, this is the place for you. A cross between a nature reserve and a play area, there are streams to splosh in, frogs and newts to hunt for, insects to inspect, mud and sand to dig in and plenty of opportunities to climb, wade and go ‘wild’. Best of all, the park has a playground supervisor, leaving parents free to take their foot off the pedal and enjoy some refreshments. www.woestewesten.nl
Rembrandtpark, a lovely quiet spot in West Amsterdam, offers both a wonderful little playground and the oldest petting zoo (‘kinderboerderij’) in the city, De Uylenburg. A highlight of the playground is a wonderful fire engine play area, while the large petting zoo will allow you to mingle with peacocks, pigs, chickens, horses, ducks and other animal friends. www.rembrandtpark.org
5. Vereniging Kippen
Also known as the Chicken and Rabbit Playground, this children’s play area in the Jordaan district (not far from Anne Frank’s House) is a bit of a locals’ secret. Small, but quieter than the touristy parks, this bijou playspace has chickens, rabbits, an array of ride-on toys, a sandpit and even a table-tennis table (take your own bat and balls). You might be lucky enough to get yourself some fresh eggs too. www.konippen.nl