There are more than 30 parks in Amsterdam. Which is rather a lot for such a village. But can I be bothered to write about them all? Um, probably not. So below are some of the best – including the city's most famous slice of green, the Vondelpark. There's also the Hortus Botanicus. However, for a whopping 130,000 acres of woodland, heathland, lakes, free bicycles - and the odd puma known as 'Winnie' – head out of town to the Hoge Veluwe. It's also where you will find impressive art and a sculpture park at the Kröller-Möller Museum.
10 square kilometers of sprawling woods, lakes and marshlands – home to rabbits, squirrels, frogs, woodpeckers and rare plants – lie just to the south of Amsterdam. As well as a great crowd-beater on hot days, it's ideal for picnics or more strenuous activities such as canoeing, cycling, boating, football and horse-riding. Kids will love riding on the Museum Tram, that trundles along the park; the paddling pool; the adventure playground or the organic goat farm where they can feed the friendly goats, hens and pigs. For some culture, slap on the mosquito repellant and take in a play at the Open-Air Theater during the Summer. Head to visitors' centre De Molshoop (Bosbaanweg 5, +31 20 545 6100) for more information and a map.
At the end of 2003, the park on the grounds of the former gas works, Westergasfabriek (see Cultural Centres), reopened after major renovation. More than 1,100 new trees were planted, and a sculpted grass amphitheater and several striking water features created. The park was designed by American landscape artist Kathryn Gustafson who is best known for the Diana Memorial Fountain in London's Hyde Park, as well as the Parc de la Villette in Paris and The Garden of Forgiveness in Beirut.
New York has Central Park... Amsterdam has Vondelpark. The 120-acre haven of green opened in 1865 and was known as 'Het Nieuwe Park' (simply 'The New Park') before being named after the city's infamous poet Joost van den Vondel (1587-1679). As well as being home to a Picasso statue and wild parakeets (accidently released in 1976. Oops.), it's also where you'll find the Blauwe Theehuis (Blue Tearoom). From late May until the end of August, the park's free-entry Open-Air Theater springs into action.