For barbecues: Oosterpark
Pay attention pit masters! While many of the popular parks have only a few designated – and rammed – barbecue areas, barbecuing’s still freely allowed in 19th century Oosterpark. Before hitting the green, stop by nearby Dappermarkt, one of Amsterdam’s oldest and liveliest outdoor street markets, to stock up on meat, seafood and all the other essentials; or fill that hamper with quality bread, cheese and wine at a local delicatessen.
For families: Artis Royal Zoo
Imagine picnicking in the shade of centuries-old trees surrounded by friends of the feathered and furry variety. It’s possible on Saturday nights at the Artis Royal Zoo, which during summer stays open until the wolves howl at sunset. The zoo's 'ZOOmeravonden' (summer evernings) programme includes puppet shows, dance workshops, scavenger hunts and guided tours to keep the wee ones entertained. There’s also live music and the opportunity to discover the secret rituals of Artis’ night animals. Pre-order a ready-made picnic basket, or bring your own.
For nature lovers: Amsterdamse Bos
The 1,000 hectare woodland expanse of the Amsterdamse Bos (‘Amsterdam Forest’) is a breathing space in every sense. Three times the size of New York’s Central Park, it was conceived in depression-era 1930’s with the dual goal of generating more greenery and creating employment for 20,000 out-of-work Amsterdammers. Today, there’s a world-class waterway for rowing, various swimming pools and endless footpaths along which to inhale that fresh forest floor fug. Fresh cheese, yoghurt and ice cream from Ridammerhoeve organic goat farm will taste even better on a blanket.
For foodies: Sarphatipark and food markets
A safe bet for mid-week munchies, pretty and petite Sarphatipark is situated mere minutes from bustling Albert Cuyp market and a superfluity of specialist food shops, such as Goût Deli Boutique and The Beer Tree (Eerste van der Helststraat 31 and 53). On sunny Sundays, grab a pulled pork sandwich, handmade Chinese dumplings or a couple of freshly shucked oysters and a glass of bubbly at one of the Sunday markets held at various Amsterdam parks, such as the Neighbourfood Market and boho Sunday Market in Westerpark and Pure Markt traveling artisan market (pictured).
For sun-seekers: Flevopark
Take a plunge in verdant Flevopark where you’ll find the warmed Flevoparkbad (voted ‘best outdoor pool’ by local newspaper Het Parool in 2013-2015) as well as plenty of natural greenery that’s home to 19 protected animal species and oodles of avian activity. Also nestled within this leafy park is ‘t Nieuwe Diep (pictured), a distillery housed in a restored water pumping station from 1880, which now pumps out artisan genevers on its sunny lakeside terrace, as well as typical Dutch bar snacks such as osseworst (smoked raw beef sausage), sheep’s milk cheese with fenugreek and local mustards.
Looking for more places to soak up the sun in Amsterdam? Check out our guide to the city's top terraces.