The essential guide to camping in Amsterdam
Summertime in Amsterdam is best spent outdoors, but it doesn’t have to be limited to dining on a sun-drenched terrace or lounging in one of the city’s peaceful parks. Thanks to its nature reserves and the surrounding sea, Amsterdam boasts some of the best campsites in Europe. Camping in the Netherlands is a pretty casual affair with all mod-cons close to hand. It’s all about kicking back and relaxing in the open air. Take part in a favourite Dutch pastime by pitching a tent, parking a caravan or bunking down in a bungalow at one of Amsterdam’s best campsites.
Stepping onto the campsite at Vliegenbos is like stepping into another world—a world that is only a short journey by bike or Metro from Amsterdam Central Station. Situated in a forest in Amsterdam Noord, Vliegenbos offers easy access to the city centre, shower facilities and modern amenities, as well as its own natural surroundings to explore. All types of campers will find accommodation: social butterflies will love the camping hotel, with tents grouped around an outdoor kitchen and hangout area, while those who prefer more modern facilities can stay in one of the furnished hikers’ cabins.
Surrounded by meadows and waterways but only 15 minutes by rail from the city centre, Gaasper Camping is an ideal location for those that want to get in touch with nature but don’t want to stray too far. The Gaasperplas recreational area features plenty of fun for adults and children, including gardens, playgrounds and the opportunity for water sports such as canoeing, windsurfing and more. It’s all tents and caravans at this campsite—no huts, cabins or hotels—so it’s for committed campers, though it does feature a restaurant, campsite shop, shower facilities and free Wi-Fi.
Live the island life at Camping Zeeburg, a campsite located on a small island in the IJmeer. It is more community than campsite, with a restaurant, supermarket, open outdoor kitchen—with a free-to-pick herb garden—a children’s petting zoo and weekly live music and events. In addition to plenty of space for tents and caravans, Camping Zeeburg offers quaint, brightly painted two- or four-person ‘wagonettes’ as well as one-, two- and four-person eco-cabins. The cabins are furnished and heated, and the campsite features sparkling clean onsite shower and laundry facilities.
Camping de Badhoeve
Everyone loves a waterside location, especially one that gives you quick access to the city. Camping de Badhoeve on Kinselmeer offers tranquility and access to IJmeer, where you can enjoy nature, water sports or a spot of bird watching to the north of Amsterdam. From this idyllic spot you can cycle into the centre of Amsterdam or spin your wheels in the other direction to take in classic Dutch villages such as Marken, Volendam, Monnickendam and Edam. Kids are well catered to with a playground and sports field.
Het Amsterdamse Bos
On the city’s southern outskirts is where you’ll find Het Amsterdamse Bos, or Amsterdam Forest. This large expanse of green space in Amstelveen has much to explore within its borders and hosts many events throughout the year. Soak up some rays, swim in the nearby Nieuwe Meer or jump on a bike to explore Aalsmeer, the fresh waters of Westeinderplassen or Oudekerk aan de Amstel. As far as accommodation goes, choose from hostel dorms, cabins including some self-contained options, and spots to pitch your tent or pull-up to in your caravan or camper.
Travel a little further north of Amsterdam to camp by the sea at Camping Bakkum. Offering a multitude of accommodations, Bakkum lets you camp the way you want to: relax under the shade of maple trees at the Forest Pitches or hang out with fellow water sport enthusiasts at the Watersport Pitches, which feature complimentary locker space at the beachside Sports at Sea centre. Campers that prefer a little more luxury can stay in one of the beach cabins or bungalows, which—unlike many cabins on other Amsterdam campsites—feature toilets and even a private shower.
Camping de Lakens
Don’t expect just the standard tents found elsewhere at De Lakens. At this campsite north of Amsterdam, you can camp in a real American school bus, called the Beachbus, or stay in a retro Airstream trailer, bungalow or backpack shack. Tents are also available—and already set up, so there is no need to drag your own camping gear. De Lakens is the perfect place to be pampered while camping; in addition to clean shower and toilet facilities, the campsite offers massages and manicures on the Wellness Bus, a steam in the sauna and yoga in the Zen Zone. For added sizzle, hire a barbecue and create the perfect holiday meal.
Neighbourhood camping in Amsterdam
De Buurtcamping gives Amsterdam locals the chance to spend a night under the stars too. During this annual event, residents pitch their tents in neighbourhood parks for a night of games, activities and family fun.
Where to get your camping supplies
Now that you’ve decided where to pitch your tent the only thing left to do is to grab your supplies. Drop into Bever or Decathlon for all manner of sporting goods including an impressive selection of camping equipment. You’ll find everything from tents and sleeping bags to lamps and coffee bits and bobs for your morning brew. For sustainable and environment-friendly gear check out Patagonia’s offerings.
That’s it, you’re all set for a Dutch camping experience. Don’t forget the mozzie repellent, your hay fever medication or your sunscreen creme! Oh, and keep an eye on ticks, they’re nobody’s friend.