Discover urban nature in New Land
Almere is a young city renowned for its dazzling modern architecture and innovative urban planning solutions but it’s no concrete jungle. Considerate green landscaping, trees and waterways have always played a key role in the city’s neighbourhoods, connecting residential life with nature. But there are many more ways for young and old to get in touch with the natural world in Almere: discover the wildlife areas, city parks and petting zoos, all easily accessible from the heart of the city.
Nationaal Park Nieuw Land
Probably the most famous nature area in New Land is Nationaal Park Nieuw Land. One of the main areas in this wild (man-made) expanse is the Oostvaardersplassen, which neighbours the eastern boundary of Almere. In recent decades it’s become a crucial breeding and feeding area for migratory bird species, making it perfect for birding. And there’s a dazzling array of mammals that can be seen at close quarters, too, including foxes, deer, Heck cattle and Konik horses. Whether you opt for a self-guided wander, an official ‘safari’ tour with young family in tow, or even a (mountain) biking excursion, you’ll quickly feel connected to nature.
Forest fun and urban farming
Venture out into the forest and discover a wealth of family fun in Almere. De Kemphaan (in Dutch) is a nature area in the southern district of the city known as Almere Hout. Although easily accessible from station Almere Centrum (less than 20 minutes by bike or bus), you’ll leave the city’s glass and concrete behind to discover a tranquil, green oasis that’s ideal for relaxation or play. Stop off at Buitencentrum Almeerderhout before heading out on a walk through the forest. There’s also a city farm that hosts a weekly farmers’ market on Saturday mornings, the Almere Jungle (a small zoo), the Klimbos Fun Forest playground for kids, two restaurants, holiday accommodation and a campsite.
Even closer to the city centre, sandwiched between Stedenwijk and Almere Haven, is Het Vroege Vogelbos (in Dutch). The first trees were planted here in 1972, making it one of the most diverse nature parks in the young city. A charming day out for families especially, explore the Schaapskooi (an eye-catching and award-winning wooden architectural design that can house up to 100 sheep as well as the park’s offices), loop around the one- or two-kilometre walking routes, try your hand at the treasure hunt, or launch into a cycling tour of the neighbouring Beginbos and Kromslootpark.
Did you know that Almere is also home to a working sheep herd? Guided by their shepherd and sheep dogs, they help maintain the landscape (eating grass and unwanted weeds) in a natural, sustainable manner. You can even follow the herd on Instagram. Tied closely to this, the Almeerse Wolunie (in Dutch) is an initiative attempting to fully process the fleeces from Almere’s sheep, washing, carding, dyeing and spinning yarn in the city, rather than sending them to factories in Germany and Denmark. Be sure to check out their handmade woollen goodies.
Visit the local petting zoos
Situated just west of the city centre, the petting zoo at Den Uylpark (in Dutch) is easily accessible and invites young and old to get up close with farm animals and other smaller pets, including pigs, ponies, goats, sheep, chickens, rabbits and guinea pigs. Like the Vroege Vogelsbos, its main building is another piece of inspirational architecture, this time designed as a wooden cube.
Other petting zoos in Almere include De Beestenbende (link in Dutch, just a short walk from station Almere Buiten) and Kinderboerderij en Manege de Stek (link in Dutch, just north of the city centre), which is also a horse stables and offers riding lessons.
Look towards a green future with the Floriade
Almere is busy turning green. In 2022 the city will host the Floriade, an international garden festival and exhibition that takes place in the Netherlands every 10 years. This edition’s theme is ‘Growing Green Cities’, transforming some 60 hectares of land near Almere’s city centre into an innovative garden expo to showcase the importance of nature and greenery in the cities of the future. What’s more, almost everything built for this six-month long event will become a permanent part of a new residential district.Learn more about the top 10 family day trips in New Land.