Escaping to the wilderness is an excellent way to relieve stress, but it can be difficult when you’re in a crowded sinking city propped up on stilts, and the only elevation gains are the 14,000 stairs to your apartment. Fortunately, Amsterdam has some surprisingly beautiful walking trails in the city, ideal for a little nature therapy, like Amsterdamse Bos, Twiske, and Rembrandtpark.
Lange Bretten Is Nieuw-best-kept West’s Secret
Lange Bretten is a nature reserve in Nieuw-West that is unlike any other in Amsterdam. It’s quiet and secluded, far enough away from the city center that you’re unlikely to see a single tourist, but close enough to walk to.
A vast network of trails leads you through 10 kilometers of diverse natural landscapes. There are also plenty of grassy offshoots along the way if you want to get off the beaten path.
Lange Bretten is teeming with wildlife. Big buzzards and falcons soar above, while rabbits and squirrels scamper below. There will be croaking frogs and toads, and you may even see some highland cattle.
The most difficult part is turning around and returning — if you simply cannot, continue west a couple of kilometers, and you’ll find yourself in a whole new forest to explore, the Spaarnwoude.
Amsterdamse Bos, The Best Walking Trails In The Amsterdam City
The Amsterdamse Bos (meaning forest) is unrivaled for having one of the city’s largest green spaces, the largest being in Amstelveen. With over 1,000 hectares, this park is three times the size of New York’s Central Park and one of Europe’s largest city parks.
If you’re looking to get lost in the city, this is probably your best bet. You could easily spend hours exploring the park with its endless winding paths.
The Amsterdamse Bos is home to approximately 150 indigenous tree species and over 200 bird species. It’s the place to go to see rare flora and fauna, dozens of mushroom varieties, and a wide variety of birds, reptiles, and insects.
Rembrandtpark In The Nieuw-West Woods
Rembrandtpark is an excellent option for a quick urban nature escape. The leafy and watery park spans 45 hectares and features a mix of paved and dirt paths. Rembrandtpark is an interesting area for spotting birds and other small wildlife, with tall leafy trees, bushy shrubs, grassy knolls, and water features, as well as a handful of unexpected art sculptures.
Rembrandtpark is also a great place for dog walks and a family favorite, with a playground and a petting zoo.
Pro tip: For a longer wander, connect your route to the nearby Vondelpark. Both parks are only a 5-minute walk apart, and you can walk for up to 1.5 hours if you want.
Heemtuin Sloterpark And The Ruige Riet Are Suburban Sweethearts
The green space around Sloterplas (lake) in Nieuw-West is surprisingly dense with trails and wilderness. The Rondje Sloter trail circles the lake for 5.8 kilometers. While this loop does not provide a complete escape to nature, combine it with a wander in the Heemtuin and Ruige Riet areas to forget about your city woes.
Heemtuin Sloterpark is a new nature reserve that was established in 1975 and is run entirely by volunteers. This beautiful little forest can be found just west of Sloterplas.
These wetlands and woodlands support native plants and wildlife. The reserve also has a botanical garden, a petting zoo, and the Drijfsijs nature education center.
The Ruige Riet, a small 14.3-hectare protected bird island, is located in the park’s northwestern corner.
With its primitive, muddy trails, you’ll almost certainly bring muddy shoe home as a souvenir — a small price to pay for this urban nature retreat.
Zuid And Then Some: Amstel River Trail
The Amstel River trail is a wonderful, expansive path that is popular with both pedestrians and cyclists.
Join the trail at any of the numerous entry points along the river. You can enjoy the picturesque Dutch landscape, windmills, and cows once you arrive. Take in the tranquillity of the water along the way, and don’t forget to stop by the lovely Amstelpark. It is densely forested and has botanical gardens, including a rosarium and rhododendron garden with 139 varieties.
The trail will take you as far into the rural countryside as you want to go after you leave the park. To give you an idea, the distance from the Magere Brug (Skinny Bridge) in central(ish) Amsterdam to Amstelpark is approximately four and a half kilometers. The river path continues for another six kilometers to Ouderkerk aan de Amstel, a lovely village for a break on the opposite side of the park.
If you still haven’t had your fill, a lap around the Ouderkerkerplas (lake) will add another five kilometers to your walk. You can keep going as long as you have some good trainers, a sandwich in your pocket, and an abnormal amount of pep in your step. You’ve arrived in the charming little hamlet of Nessersluis after another nine kilometers. However, anything this far from the center is obviously easier to reach by bike than by foot.
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The Urban Walking In The City: Vondelpark, Amsterdam
The famous Vondelpark: a park so easily accessible that it is no surprise that it attracts more tourists than any other park in the city.
The park is peaceful and quiet, especially on a weekend wander. The tall trees make you forget you’re in the city, and the wide paths take you through interesting twists and turns. A dense forest of trees, shrubbery, and ponds attract a variety of wildlife, including grey herons, toads, bats, and even the famous Amsterdam parakeets.
‘T Twiske’s: Soggy Walking In The North Of Amsterdam City
There is the farthest wander area from Amsterdam, located 30 to 40 minutes north of Amsterdam by bike and a short ferry ride. There are several well-marked walking trails ranging in length from 3.5 to 16 kilometers in Twiske.
You can cover the majority of the nature reserve by taking the longest route, the Twiske route. You’ll walk around the Stooterplas (the lake) on both paved and unpaved trails, passing through meadows, dikes, and the Roemersveld and Het Smaal forests. You’ll see pheasants, rabbits, countless forest birds, and handsome Scottish Highland cattle along the way. There are plenty of benches along the way to rest your feet and eat a snack in Twiske.
If you want to see more of the area, you can easily combine a visit to the nearby nature reserves of Ilperveld, Varkensland, and Oostzanerveld. The four reserves form a massive peat bog complex when combined. A walk through any of these watery landscapes will undoubtedly provide a wide variety of flora and fauna to feast your eyes on, and the squishy peat will put a spring in your step.
There you have it — seven incredible places in Amsterdam for a stroll through nature. So get out there and have fun! If you’re still hungry for more, visit some of the Netherlands’ other stunning forests, lakes, and nature reserves.
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