Top 5 places to admire the colours of autumn in Amsterdam

The falling leaves drift by the window. The autumn leaves of red and gold (Nat King Cole)

Autumn in Amsterdam

The autumn is probably my favorite season. A time to stroll around and reflect on things; the poetic season. Every day is completely different: damp, misty, cold and then, suddenly, pleasantly warm. The sunlight in the autumn is soft and sunrises and sunsets are often extremely colorful. And of course, the spectacle of the trees that begin to display a wide variety of hues that often match beautifully with the colors of the houses and reflect in the canals. Autumn seems more visible in Amsterdam than in many other cities, and that is because Amsterdam has so many trees – over a million.

But there are also parts of the city that seem like an endless stone and concrete jungle. It is necessary to head to certain parts of town to fully enjoy the autumn splendor. Here are five suggestions for a beautiful autumn in Amsterdam:

1: Vondelpark

Yes, admittedly, not a complete eye-opener, but the Vondelpark is one of the world’s great urban parks and it is never more beautiful than on an early morning in October or November. There is hardly any place in the Netherlands with a more spectacular array of autumn colors, due to the enormous variety of trees in the park – about 150 different types.

The Vondelpark was masterfully constructed by the architect Jan David Zocher and his son Louis Paul, during the second half of the 19th century. They had studied landscape parks in Paris, Rome and England before they created their new park for the rapidly expanding city of Amsterdam. The park opened in 1865 and was then enlarged a number of times until it reached its current shape and size in 1877.

2: Amsterdamse Bos

Besides smartshops there is not a better place in Amsterdam to find mushrooms. There are some who believe that the Vondelpark is Amsterdam’s largest park, but het Amsterdamse Bos (the Forest of Amsterdam) is some twenty times larger. In fact, it’s one of the largest urban parks in the world, even three times larger than New York’s Central Park.

The forest was created in the 1930’s, in a time when Amsterdam had a severe shortage of green spaces and places for sports and recreation. That’s why horse riding paths, swimming areas and a 2.200 meter long rowing course were incorporated in the ambitious plans for the enormous new park. The construction of the Amsterdamse Bos also provided an opportunity to give temporary jobs to people who had become unemployed in the years of the Great Depression.

For the best autumn colors and the widest variety of mushrooms, head to the southern part of the forest, to the area that is flanked by the towns of Aalsmeer and Bovenkerk. Here you’ll even find some ancient marshlands and swamp forest.

3: The Canal Ring

Autumn in Amsterdam

In the 17th century Amsterdam was the most modern city in the world, full of developments that, over time, were followed all over the world, such as correctional facilities, a fire brigade, a central bank and the stock exchange. The tens of thousands of trees that line the canals can also be seen in this light. There were hardly any trees at all in medieval Amsterdam, but trees were planted meticulously along every bit of new canal that was constructed in the 17th century.

The city council and the people who planned the Canal Ring realized that trees have enormous advantages: their roots hold the soil of the quays together, making them far less vulnerable to erosion. In addition, they provide cooling and shade in summer. The people of Amsterdam also praised their ability to create a lush and pleasant atmosphere in the dense city.

These days the autumn colored trees lining the canals of Amsterdam are among the most photographed phenomena in the world.

Experience autumn in Amsterdam too. Book your Canal Ring Architecture here.

4: Park Frankendael

It is perhaps not generally known that Park Frankendael is the oldest park of Amsterdam. The area in which this park is to be found, the Watergraafsmeer, was only incorporated into the city in the 1920’s, but the Watergraafsmeer was always unofficially part of Amsterdam. This goes back to the 17th century, when a group of entrepreneurs from Amsterdam turned a lake east of the city into a ‘polder’ (reclaimed land). In this polder wealthy inhabitants of Amsterdam constructed large mansions and gardens. Frankendael was one of these estates; the only one that survived until today. In the late 18th century the gardens of the estate were partially opened to the public – as a park for the people of Amsterdam. More was added to this park in the 19th century, but only late in the 20th century did the park get its modern form.

Because the area around the mansion has been a park for so long, it is full ancient trees. There are many species of plants that can’t be found anywhere else in Amsterdam and the park is home to a surprising variety of animals (such as: storks, kingfishers, newts, several types of toads, hedgehogs and reed warblers).

5: Amstel Park

Some people who know Amsterdam well might think it’s about time to mention Oosterpark by now, but this park is basically a much smaller version of the Vondelpark. Yet Amstel Park really is somewhat more unique; one of the best places to experience nature within the city of Amsterdam. Just forty-seven years old, Amstel Park is much more modern than the other places mentioned in this article. Its location, tucked between the A10 ring and a dismal bit of Buitenveldert, has probably contributed to its relative obscurity. But that’s not a bad thing.

It probably won’t receive a tenth of the amount of visitors the Vondelpark gets, but I truly believe Amtel Park is Amsterdam’s most beautiful park. There are more species of trees, plants and wild animals than I’ve ever seen in any other city park. This is because the park is a result of the largest horticultural exhibition ever held – the 1972 Floriade of Amsterdam. The plants and trees and biotopes that were planted in 1972 have lived on until present day and are the basis of the enormous variety of species that you’ll see in Amstel Park.


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