Parks and Recreation

Cali Carper
December 18, 2021

Parks, as plain as they might sound, have been lifesaving. A spot for lunch, a late night stroll, or a gathering, they are key to getting me outside in the evening.

With the Netherlands rotating in and out of lockdowns, needing access to free, outdoor activities is about as essential as wearing your mask on public transportation (a consistent rule). Now that we have entered a complete lockdown, save the grocery stores and a scattered few others, what are we left with? Parks. It’s a bit difficult to find free places to go around the city, but you’re guaranteed to find surprises in any park you visit. Whether it be landmarks or pretty bridges, any park around the city is sure to have something worth seeing. 

In the beginning of my trip, I set a goal to visit at least 20 parks and 20 museums during my semester. I've comfortably met my goal I must add, which leads me to believe it's time for a recap. And now that I'm approaching my last few days, I'm initiating a review of some more basic and accessible parks I've enjoyed.

In celebration of my progress and exploration, here are five recommendations (& then some!) for popular places to see around Amsterdam.

Rembrandt park

Only a short walk from the hotel, this massive park is the perfect distance if you’re in need of a break from studying. I’ve been taking nightly walks around the area, especially around the park across the street! Try the mini zipline, you can't miss it! They also have some enjoyable murals right around a small skating area.

The park itself is bigger than most, fit for biking, walking, picnics, and hang outs. If you’re lucky, you might find a festival or two in the park! There are some hidden treasures if you’re lucky enough to stumble upon the farm animals. It’s also a great spot surrounded by grocery stores and more, which you'll need to mark down if you live in The Student Hotel-West during your trip.


An absolute must. This massive intercity park is a classic meet up spot when you’re exploring Amsterdam. It features a decent restaurant and bar, which is impossible not to stumble upon. This park is bustling with people at all times. Some of my favorite memories have been walking around the park watching different groups hanging out listening to music. However, most trails are dirt, so make sure to wear fitting shoes. 


One of the first parks I explored during our orientation was Sloterplas. It has a huge wooded area where you can follow trails and enjoy the view around the water. More than a typical canal, sloterplas lines a lake. Here is some beginners Dutch: 'Plas' means lake, but 'plaas" means place!

It has a short boardwalk, where I’ve seen people doing borderline scuba diving. I say that because the water seems questionably shallow for diving. There is also a small beach area! Major perk is how conveniently located it is since it’s right by the hotel as well.

Koningin WilhelminaPark

This more quaint park could be classified as an open space rather than a park. Its best feature: the swings that outline the inner circle of the park. The view is less of nature and more of the surrounding apartment complexes. Still, a sight worth seeing. This park holds special meaning to me because it was where I had a revelation about wanting to move to Amsterdam! 

De Hoge Veluwe National Park

As the name explains, this national park is one of the largest! It was the first place I tried biking in the Netherlands, which, if you don’t know, is a must! Fun fact and not-so-secret secret, I fell over on my bike here. I had to switch bikes at least three times because they were all too tall for me. And then then I tried to kick my leg over the back when I stopped only to kick the attached child seat and subsequently pull the bike onto myself, causing me to fall onto the path. Not hurt and no one else saw. 

The bike trails go for miles, so it’s easy to get out and explore on your own. The view is gorgeous, perhaps more in the warm seasons when everything is in full bloom. If you’re lucky enough, you may find the palace and enjoy the view around the pond. Be sure to catch it on one of the nicer days to fully enjoy the outdoor experience. 

Bonus: Museumplein 

Also less of a park and more of an open area. But the ideal picnic spot post-museum. As the name implies, this area is surrounded by a bunch of museums! If you like markets, maybe you’ll be lucky enough to catch the market outside of the Rijksmuseum. 

Extra Bonus:

If you are interested in day trips, finding a nearby city that has castles could offer a perfect intersection for a quick tour and stroll through the palace gardens. The best surprise: just google a random castle and see what you find!

When it comes to what you can do in a park…well, it’s pretty self-explanatory. However, these few places have been the most memorable for one reason or another. It’s all about what you can make of it!

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Cali Carper

<p>Hi there! I’m Cali Carper, a small-town Wisconsin girl who enjoys her book collection, dance, fashion, thrifting, knitting, and thinking critically. Currently, I’m a fifth-year student at Penn State studying Criminology and Comparative Literature with minors in Korean, Asian Studies, Sociology, Global Studies, and English. When I was a first-year student, I spent a summer abroad at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea. In my last year, I’ll be traversing Europe for a semester during my study abroad trip to Amsterdam, where I’ll participate in the Law &amp; Criminology program at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam!</p>

2021 Fall
Home University:
Penn State University
Hudson, WI
Comparative Literature
Criminal Studies
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