Amsterdam is a great city that blends its heritage with urbanization in a unique way. From masterpieces to alien sculptures, there is a lot of cultural charm to see and experience.
The question is: what can active travelers do in Amsterdam? Here I show you the best outdoor activities you can enjoy as you adventure the city for memorable lifetime experiences.
This is a guest post by Ally Mashaura, blogger at Adventures Pursuit.
12 of the Best Outdoor Activities in Amsterdam
1. Cycle through the countryside
Amsterdam boasts of more bikes than its population, and you cannot afford to miss a ride on your visit. The city has well-marked 400 kilometers of cycling routes that let you explore every corner in a special way. You can take a guided cycling tour or ride a bike along dedicated paths through small modern canals and charming townhouses.
If you love history, cycle to the north to tour historic harbor towns like Volendam or Marken. During spring, circle towards the south to Keukenhof Gardens for a bike tour through 40Km of colorful millions of flower bloom.
2. Take a walk through the Amsterdam forest
Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Amsterdam Forest (Amsterdamse Bos), away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The forest is located near the airport, and you can commute there by bus. The route is about 8km which you can walk around the all-day enjoying the greenest space and the natural landscape. You can also circle part of the trail to exploit all corners of the forest.
Even relaxing and breathing the fresh air in the midst of the forest is enough to rejuvenate you. Plus, the breathtaking flowers blooming during spring and summer are a sight to behold. The fall season is also great as the forest starts to change colors with mushrooms popping everywhere, making the place pretty spectacular. For more fun, subscribe to Forest Discovery Game to keep you occupied as you explore the area.
3. Go kayaking
Do not end your trip before taking canal tours in Amsterdam, the most famous tourist activity in the city. And, if you are a kayaker, the best way to explore is by kayaking through the canal. You can take guided kayak tours or rent a kayak and adventure on your own. Note that the canals are ever busy and if you desire a quieter place, kayak at the Amsterdamse Bos.
The forest is located south of the city, and you can access it by bus. There are plenty of kayaks to rent, so you do not have to worry about carrying yours. After a long day of leisure rides, you can get a group and head to Bosbaan for a friendly rowing competition.
4. Take a horse ride in Amstelveen
Horse riding is one of the interesting outdoor activities that you can do in Amsterdam as you discover the outlying areas of the city. The horses and saddlery are available for rent at Manege Nieuw Amstelland staples in Amstelveen District. Take a ride south of the town to explore the woods across Amsterdam forest. And, if you have a learning difficulty or limited mobility, you can join horse riding lessons at the staple.
Horse riding along the beach is something to consider too. There are riding schools at the coast, and you will be guided to ride along the sandy beaches for an adventurous experience.
5. Roller skate at Vondelpark
Weave along the cycling routes on inline skates as you enjoy the whipping wind around you. You can join the skater’s group for a 20km adventure skating around the city on Friday night. The group starts at Vondelpark, a place that offers daily roller skating opportunities, and takes a 15km glide towards the center of Amsterdam.
As you rent the ice skaters, hire protective gear such as wrist guards and knee pads. You do not want a fall to cut short your expedience. This is also a chance to make friends and learn more about the city.
6. Enjoy climbing activities at Klimbos fun forest
Though Netherland is seemingly flat, you can still enjoy some climbing activities at Klimbos fun forest, north end of Amsterdam forest. There are a lot of fun-friendly activities to engage in, and you can jump, run and climb all day long. The climbing courses let you explore the old forest on your route or choose to enjoy a roller coaster trip on a zip line.
The zip line runs with high speed through the forest for some adrenaline rush experience. And, you can enjoy 16 meters sensational free fall or take a duo zip line trip with your buddy. Children can use the range and enjoy other fun activities.
7. Engage in water sports along the beach
If you do not mind getting wet, head to the beach for adrenaline-packed water sports. There are many beaches you can explore but Ijmuiden, Velsen-Noord and Zee are among the best. You can do kitesurfing, windsurfing, and stand-up paddling. And, if you are not good at any, many experts are available to teach you at the seaside. Note that stand-up paddling is best done on calmer days unless you are great at balancing.
8. Take a dip in the waters
There are a lot of people taking some dip in the canals and the beaches. But, I do not want you to risk. Canals are difficult places to swim from, given the many houseboats, boats, and submerged bikes. Plus, there can be dangerous algae that can make you sick.
Look for designated swimming places, so you can have peace of mind while you enjoy time in the waters. Consider outdoor swimming pools such as Brediusbad, Flevoparkbad, and Noorderparkbad open to guests during warm seasons. The places offer fun fountains, wading pools in addition to large pools for adults for a family day filled with entertainment.
If you desire a natural swimming experience, then head north of Amsterdam to Het Twiske. Here you will swim in an open lake surrounded by tall, plush trees and a lounging place.
9. Sail on a boat through the canal
If you want to explore Amsterdam canals in a relaxed manner, sailing on a boat through canals is best. You will discover more of the Netherlands without the effort of paddling. In fact, go for a motorized boat for gentle sails through canals. There is even much to see if you head towards Waterland, north of Amsterdam. Here there are several small towns such as Ilpendam and Monnickendam, but half of it is water. This has made Waterland the haven for sailors, which you can be part of.
Take one of the many dozens of sailing routes to have a glimpse of the towns and stop to refuel at Edam. Please do not leave the place without sampling their quintessential cheese!
10. Ice skate during winter
If you happen to visit Amsterdam during winter, don’t be worried about what to do. Dutch take advantage of all seasons! Rent some ice skates and enjoy skating along the freezing canals of Amsterdam. You can also go skating at Jaap Eden Ice Rink, a well-marked 400m outdoor track. The place is open from October to March.
From mid-November to early February, you can explore Museumplein on blades. ICE*Amsterdam transforms the place for the winter skating experience. Young and adults are welcome to skate and enjoy other fun activities with friends and family. This is also a moment to capture nice winter photos with a replica of Skinny bridge and Rijksmuseum in the background.
11. Join t’ai chi classes in Oosterpark
Getting some skills is a plus, and you can add one by joining t’ai chi classes in Ooserpark. You will enjoy the serene park surrounded by tranquil lily ponds and lime trees. Here the Sifu Chan, the teacher, offers lessons on chi gong and ends it with Kung Fu. These are great lessons to learn as they come in handy when least expected. Just remember to carry your raincoat as the drizzles do not interrupt the classes.
12. Stroll around Amsterdam’s outdoor markets
After a busy week full of fun outdoor activities, it is time to take a stroll around Amsterdam’s markets. You can go to Abert Cuypstraat, Dappermarkt, Noordenmarkt, waterloopplein or Ten Katemarkt. Spend time browsing through friendly stallholders for homewares, jewelry, second-hand books, and vintage fashion. It is also worth experiencing local life and tasting their food.
Key insights and take away!
There are countless outdoor activities in Amsterdam. But, the ones I have highlighted are the ones you cannot afford to miss on your visit. The activities let you experience the city of the Netherlands in a special and engaging way. Just plan your trip and have a fun experience of a lifetime!
About the author
Ally Mash is an avid outdoor enthusiast who has spent much of his free time backpacking through South America and other parts of the world. He loves sharing what he’s seen with others by blogging about it on a regular basis! His goal is to get more people in the mindset of protecting our planet; which we all need if we want this beautiful earth around us long enough for future generations to enjoy its beauty too.