For barbecues: Erasmuspark
Pay attention, pit masters! While barbecuing is not allowed at most of the city parks, you can still grill to your heart's content at Erasmuspark in Amsterdam’s popular Bos en Lommer neighbourhood. This lush park is laid out in the Mondriaan style, with the landscape designed to create visual harmony between the paths, trees and grass. Speaking of fine art, there’s a giant polar bear statue that will cool you down with its stoic arctic vibes as you sweat over the coals. Is it even really a party if there isn’t at least one giant polar bear present?
For chilled-out picnics: Beatrixpark
The royal park in Zuid is intimate and relatively quiet, but it’s still big enough to make you feel like you’ve escaped the city for the day. Pack some coldcuts, strawberry scones, a bottle of wine and some lemonade and enjoy the beautiful landscaping and the peace and stillness of the lake. Little ’uns will love wading in the paddling pool, so a splashing good time is guaranteed for all.
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 the 1930s, a product of the depression era, 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 the Ridammerhoeve organic goat farm will taste even better on a picnic blanket.
For fans of landscape architecture: Schinkeleilanden
One of Amsterdam’s newest parks, Schinkeleilanden was created between 2005 and 2010 and is located nearby the Olympic Stadium. It was designed by a landscape architecture firm and is made up of four islands, emphasising the spot’s wetlands history. The best place for picnics is on Parkeiland at the heart of the park. Two pedestrian bridges lead to the idyllic spot, which features waterside walkways and artificial hills for great views.
For sun-seekers: Flevopark
Take a plunge in verdant Flevopark, where you’ll find the warmed Flevoparkbad (voted ‘best outdoor pool’ by Amsterdam 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 jenevers 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.
For urban beach bliss: Het Stenen Hoofd
This stone jetty along the Westerdoksdijk, nestled between the up-and-coming Houthavens and Haarlemmerbuurt neighbourhoods, is a hidden-in-plain stretch of beach. The waterfront strip of sand and grass is an ideal spot to toss down a chequered blanket and unpack a wicker basket stuffed with picnic treats and eats. During the warmer months, it often plays host to outdoor events such as open-air film screenings, so you can enjoy dinner and a movie without spending a cent.