For the perfect escape from the city without going too far, head to Amsterdamse Bos, the city forest.
AMSTERDAMSE BOS ••• ESCAPE TO THE FOREST
Wander, picnic, canoe, look at art, swim or horseback ride – there’s plenty to do in Amsterdamse Bos. Located to the south of the city just outside the A10 highway ring, Amsterdamse Bos is a quiet retreat from the bustle of city life.
Three times larger than New York’s Central Park, Amsterdamse Bos covers 1,000 hectares in trees, fields and water features. The forest was conceived and designed in the 1920s in the English landscape style with rolling meadows, scattered groups of trees, winding waterways and curved edges that lead into infinity.
Building began during the Great Depression, as the construction of the park was meant to provide employment for more than 20,000 people during these difficult economic times. The work involved hauling 3 million cubic meters of dirt to build the rolling hills as well as planting thousands of trees and other greenery. Originally, the wealthy citizens of Amsterdam footed the bill. Interrupted by WWII, this project that was meant to be done in five years actually took 23 years to finish. We are very lucky to be able to enjoy this beautiful park today.
Activities in Amsterdamse Bos
The park has something for everyone, and really there are too many activities to list here including wandering the trails, horseback riding, swimming, playgrounds for the kids, picnicking, walking the dog, rowing, running, fishing in summer, sledding in winter, a ropes course, cafes and many festivals. Click here for more information on all the available activities. Below are some of our favorite features and festivals in the Bos:
A Day at the Park
This year A Day at the Park will take place on Saturday July 11th. This annual music festival attracts thousands of attendees with acts like Tensnake, Monkey Safari, John Digweed, ROOG, Josh Wink, Derrick Carter and Arjuna Schiks. Tickets are €52,50 and sell out each year, so act quickly!
Starting April 5th Amsterdamse Bos will host Boskeukens, five food trucks scattered throughout the park.
The quiet environment of Amsterdamse Bos is the perfect destination for Amsterdam’s nature lovers. The variety of habitats includes wet and dry forest, grassland, reedy marshes and open water. The Bos is home to around 150 indigenous species of trees, hundreds of mushrooms, and more than 200 species of birds. Birdwatchers might expect to see a woodpecker, owl, hawk, kestrel, heron, nuthatch, jay, kingfisher and a variety of songbirds. Frogs, salamanders and snakes also enjoy the waterways and marshes. Take a guided walk to learn more about the flora and fauna in the park, or just enjoy wandering on your own.
Openluchttheater at the Bos Theater
The open air theater in Amsterdamse Bos hosts a play production each summer. This year the performance is Cyrano de Bergerac. Click here for more information about the Bos Theater and performance times.
One of our favorite spots in Amsterdam! The Geitenboerderij Ridammerhoeve goat farm is nested in the center of the forest. Part petting zoo, part educational center and part working organic farm, this hidden treasure is a great place to visit with the kids. See and touch the animals, and buy some freshly made goat cheese and biodynamic eggs while you are at it! Their goat milk ice cream is the perfect treat on a nice day.
Artwork and Monuments
Artwork is something you might not expect to find in a city forest. But scattered along the paths and trails in the Bos you will find sculptures, paintings, photographs, and other works of art. The park often host temporary installations with a theme. While wandering the park you might also notice a variety of permanent sculptures by artists such as Ulrich Rückriem and Elsbeth Pluimers, as well as poignant monument pieces.
The pedestrian, bicycle, and horse paths in Amsterdamse Bos cross over water many times thus leading to the need for many bridges. There are actually 116 bridges in the park, 67 of which were designed by Amsterdam School architect Piet Kramer. No two are alike and the wooden bridges are painted in a variety of colors. Be sure to check out the “ballenbruggetjes” located near the Bosbaan and Openluchttheater. These bridges can be raised and lowered via the counterweights in the form of metal balls.
Swimming in Nieuwe Meer and Grote Vijver
On those few days a year when it gets sweltering hot in the city, head to Amsterdamse Bos for a dip in the fresh water. There are several swimming spots surrounding the Nieuwe Meer and Grote Vijver. Check this link for information about water quality and the amenities available at the swimming spots.
What’s better on a sunny day than being on a boat? For a fun outing, rent a canoe or waterbike and cruise quietly along the forest waterways. Bring a picnic and stop for lunch in a secluded meadow. From May to September there are also ranger led tour boats through the Bos. The trip takes about an hour, and you’ll learn about the history and nature of the Bos while taking in the sights.
Getting to Amsterdamse Bos
Amsterdamse Bos is located just outside the A10 Ring, the highway around Amsterdam. From the center of the city it is about a 45 minute bike ride, depending on how fast you cycle of course.
It is also possible to reach the Bos by bus. From Centraal Station take Bus 170 or 172 (richting Uithoorn) and get off at the Van Nijenrodeweg/Amstelveenseweg bus stop. Visit 9292.nl for schedules and alternate routes from other locations in Amsterdam.
During the spring and summer, take the historic tram from Haarlemmermeerstation near Hoofdorpplein in Oud-Zuid. This tram ride travels on one of the only remaining sections of the historic tramway originally built in 1915.
Of course you can also drive there if you happen to have a car, through we recommend public transit or bicycle instead. The good news is that parking in Amsterdamse Bos is free!
Amsterdamse Bos Bezoekerscentrum (Visitor’s Center)
Bosbaanweg 5, Amstelveen