Are you looking for an insider’s adventure travel guide for the best outdoor activities in Amsterdam?
As part of our Adventure City Guide series, Nienke Krook from The Travel Tester shares with you her expert insider tips on the top adventure and outdoor activities to do in Amsterdam; including how to get there and costs. The best time to visit Amsterdam can be found here.
Why visit Amsterdam for adventure?
Anyone not from Amsterdam will agree to the fact that cycling through the capital of The Netherlands is an adventure on its own. But apart from risking your life on two wheels, there are many other options for seeking adventure in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam is probably not the first destination you think of when looking for an adventure holiday, but you might be surprised of what it has to offer. From go-kart racing to indoor climbing, Amsterdam can be an action-packed trip for you if you want. And for those with a little more time can try their hands on activities located about 35 minutes out of Amsterdam, such as ballooning, kite-, wind- and wave surfing. There are even things to do in Amsterdam when you’re broke.
But there is much more:
Outdoor Activities in Amsterdam
Friday Night Skate
The original Friday Night Skate happened in California, 1989. An earthquake had damaged the Embarcadero Freeway, so it got closed. It attracted hundreds of skaters, as the now free road made an excellent skate way. When the reconstructions started, they decided to meet every Friday at the bay.
In spring 1997 Dutchies Yuri, Chris and Alice started skating through Amsterdam with some friends. At a fixed meeting point in the Vondelpark and with an unknown route, they started a tradition that we now know as the ‘Friday Night Skate’. From 3 people, the skate soon turned to over 500 enthusiasts just one year later. Another year later, 3000 skaters joined.
In October 1998 the Skate! trust was founded to ensure the quality and the professional character of the Friday Night Skate. They also have a mission to promote skating in the rest of the country.
Skates are now organised every Friday throughout the year (if the streets are dry) and follow a route of about 20 kilometers. The Friday Night Skate routes are famous and notorious. Famous, because they go over stretches of asphalt where you never get to go as a single skater: as a group they just use the main roads! And notorious because they sometimes use more challenging roads: bridges that are just a little steep, parking garages, brick-paved roads along the canals, tunnels, sidewalks… you name it.
You never have to worry about the route, just relax, look around and enjoy. The route planners always take care that you return to the Vondelpark, with one or two stops in between. There is a new route every week, which can be found on the website.
Photo Courtesy of Friday Night Skate
Getting to the Friday Night Skate Meeting Point
Meet the other skaters every Friday at 20:00 (20:15 in winter) at the round bench ‘Het Ronde Bankje’ next to the Film museum in the Vondelpark. The start of the skate will be at 20:30 exactly, you will return around 22:30. Make sure you arrive before 20:30, as the group will leave on time.
Parking: From 21:00, parking is free in the Emmalaan (park side) and the surrounding streets. And when you turn right inside the park, you can go straight to ‘Het Ronde Bankje’ (the round bench).
The Friday Night Skate is free. Don’t forget to bring a drink, as there are not always opportunities to buy drinks during stops.
The use of a helmet, wrist, elbow and knee protection is strongly recommended! Report accidents to the blockers and nurses and always give way to them. You should be able to brake, be in good shape and think of your safety and the safety of other skaters and traffic.
Don’t forget: Keep to the right and pass skaters on the left!
Pampus Fort Island
Once part of the defence line of Amsterdam (the ‘Stelling van Amsterdam’, constructed between 1883 and 1920 and stretching 135 kilometres around the edges of the city), Fort Pampus was a system of fortifications that defended the city by means of flooding. The entire island is man-made and got abandoned in 1933, after when the last military fort-keeper retired. The island used to be off-limits to visitors for many years, but opened to visitors in 1991.
Fort Pampus is not only interesting to engineers and history buffs, there are many treasure hunts and games organised for children (and adults) and nature lovers can spot a variety of wildlife.
Getting to Pampus Fort Island
The best way to reach Fort Pampus is by boat, being it your own or a ferry from either Muiden (Get the metro from Amsterdam Central Station to Amsterdam Amstel and take the Connexxion bus 320 to Muiden) or a ferry from IJburg (Take tram 26 from Amsterdam Central Station).
The ferry from Muiden departs a few times each day (file is in Dutch: ‘vertrek’ means ‘leaves from’ and ‘gesloten’ means ‘closed’. * = ‘Stay on the island is only 2 hours on these times’ and the times are scheduled in the order Monday / Tuesday-Friday / Saturday-Sunday) opposite Herengracht 33 in Muiden.
The ferry from IJburg departs at least once a day from the yacht harbour.
All ferries take about 4 hours, including 2,5 hours on Pampus island.
Fort Pampus is only open to visitors from 1 April to 31 October, 10:00 to 17:00. It is closed on Mondays. If under 10 people, you don’t need a reservation to visit.
A ticket for both the ferry as the island visit is 17,50 Euro (adults) or 13,50 Euro (children 4-11 years). If you arrive with your own boat, you pay 10,50 Euro (adults) or 8 Euro (children 4-11 years). Guided tours are offered for free, or you can take a free roadmap and explore yourself.
Once on the island, you enjoy lunch and refreshments at the Pampus Paviljoen. It is not allowed to have a picnic on the island, so you can’t bring any food, drinks or snacks onto the island.
Have a look at this video of things to do on Pampus and hopefully you’ll get excited too!
Climbing Park FunForest
The Amsterdam Forest is about three times the size of Central Park in New York. Over 6 million people visit this park every year to relax, play sports or visit an event.
The Fun Forest Climbing Park opened her doors in 2009. It’s located right in the middle of the ‘Amsterdamse Bos’ (Amsterdam Forest), yet still close to the city. The climbing park is an active and fun experience for families, schools and businesses.
There are 9 different climbing courses to choose from. They all vary in difficulty, so the park can be interesting to both young and old as well as experienced and beginner climbers.
Getting to FunForest
You can find FunForest at Bosbaanweg 3, 1182 DA Amstelveen.
By train: get off at the Amsterdam Zuid WTC train stop and take bus 166 (direction Amstelveen) to stop Van Nijenrodeweg.
By metro: take route 50 and get off at stop Amstelveenseweg. Stay on this road and walk past the VU medical centre, after 10 minutes turn right into the forest.
By tram: Tram 16 of 24 from Amsterdam Central Station tot stop VU medical centre. Change onto bus 62, 166, 170, 171 or 172 (direction Amstelveen) and get off at stop Van Nijenrodeweg.
The climbing park is located on the left side of the entrance to the Amsterdam Forest at the ‘Bosbaan’.
The park is open on Wednesday from 12:00 to 18:00 and during the weekends and holidays from 11:00 to 19:00. In Summer (July and August), the park is open every day from 11:00 to 19:00.
Prices are 21,95 Euro (adults), 19,95 Euro (youth 12-17 years) or 16,95 Euro (children 8-11 years)
A climbing experience at Fun Forest takes 3 hours, including instruction and materials. Wear sportive clothes and shoes. It is advised to make a reservation.
Children can climb from the age of 7 years (1.20 meters, about 3 foot 9) and there needs to be 1 adult present for every 4 children and a parental approval form needs to be signed for everyone up to 18 years.
Have a look at the digital flyer of FunForest Amsterdam.
More Adventure Activities in Amsterdam
Still not enough adventure for you? How about taking a scooter trip to explore the rural fishing villages just 20 minutes outside Amsterdam? Or go on a wetlands safari and see the landscape that inspired Holland’s most famous painters such as Rembrandt and Ruysdael back in the Golden Age… by canoe!
Best time of the year to visit Amsterdam for adventure?
In general, most travellers visit Amsterdam between April and September, with longer days and milder temperatures than other months. The weather in Amsterdam is quite unpredictable though, so always bring wind- and rain protection with you. Accommodation is usually cheaper from late October to early March, except of December.
Have a look at this calendar of Amsterdam monthly weather advice and events.
The reason I love Amsterdam for adventure is because…
…it really forces you off the main tourist tracks. Sure, the museums, historical buildings and Red light district in Amsterdam are a must-see, but there is so much more than that! Amsterdam has some amazing parks to avoid the crowds. Within 30 minutes, you get to visit the surrounding areas that carry lots of interesting history.
Travel has been the red thread through Nienke Krook’s life. Growing up with the quirky travel gear from her travel writing grandfather, she kept broadening her view as time passed. Exploring Europe with friends as a teenager, solo travels to Asia and Oceania after her studies and a recent two year expat life in Sydney, Nienke has a serious case of the travel bug that is unlikely to ever pass.
From the practical to the sentimental, on The Travel Tester Nienke shows you how to live a life filled with travel too. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest, or read more about her travel lifestyle on The Travel Tester.
Tips for Planning Your Uluru Tour
Located in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, the magnificent sandstone of Ayers Rock or Uluru stands tall at 1,142 feet above ground. The natural formation is widely known for being one of the most sacred places to the indigineous peoples in Australia. At the same time, it is also popular for attracting tourists from all over the world to the land down under.
If you want to visit Uluru in order to pay tribute to this wonder of nature, then doing so through the right tour is in your best interest. It’s not only because Uluru is located at least a few hours from civilization, but it also because such a tour allows you to enjoy the picturesque sights that come along the way within the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
So what sights are there to see along the way and what other general tours suggestions you should keep in mind while visiting Uluru? To help you answer these and some other important questions, here are 5 top tips to keep in mind while visiting Uluru.
First things first, while it is legal to climb atop Uluru, it is recommended that you do not attempt such an action in order to show your respect to the indigenous peoples.
It is a pretty easy rule to follow when you pay attention to the emotions of the indigenous tribes who have recommended time and again for people to not climb Uluru.
But that doesn’t mean that you cannot enjoy the natural beauty that Uluru has to offer. In fact, you are encouraged to visit the sandstone and take in its natural glory by standing right beside the formation. That’s why 4WD tour is highly recommended. The tour guides would be able to tell you what you can and can not do.
Ask anyone who has visited Uluru about the best time to see the formation, and you will instantly get the answer as “sunset.”
It’s because Uluru is not an ordinary monolith, but one that is formed through arkosic sandstone. This allows the rock to actually change its color according to the position of the sun. As a result, you can expect the formation to sport a different color depending upon what time of day you reach it.
At sunset, Uluru projects an amber glow that is surreal to take in, especially when you are seeing the formation in person for the very first time. That’s why, it is recommended that you time your trip in a way that allows you to experience this magnificent sight.
Perhaps the best way to visit Uluru is through the nearby town of Alice Springs, which has various amenities and accommodation options for tourists who are making their way to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
The drive from Alice Springs to Uluru can take around 5 hours, which is why it is recommended that you arrive at least a day before you are planning to tour Uluru.
This way, you can reach the national park while feeling fresh and rested. This also gives you time to plan longer trips to the park in order to enjoy all that it has to offer.
Uluru is not just a wonder to look at by itself, but it also holds several little pieces of wonderful art within it.
The caves at the bottom of the formation hold several pieces of rock art that can only be found at Uluru. If you love learning about other cultures through their art, then this will be a must visit.
Just make sure that you take the time to learn about this art through a local tour guide or via the information provided within these exhibits. This ensures that you have an immersive and informative experience which you can remember for a long time.
Enjoying the breathtaking sight of Uluru sounds rewarding enough for a trip to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. But it’s not all that you can do during a tour of Uluru.
From seeing the red kangaroos and other marsupials to spending some time with the camels, and from seeing the one of a kind formations of Kata Tjuta to taking a walk by the Valley of the Winds, there’s so much to see and do around Uluru.
That is why, it is recommended that you take your time at the park and put aside at least two days to enjoy all of the unique activities that the area has to offer. It would give you a well-deserved break from the hustle and bustle of daily life while also allowing you to make the most out of your long journey to the sandstone.
Best Time to Visit Panama and Costa Rica
The fact that Costa Rica and Panama are close makes both countries perfect for visiting. During your holiday there, it’s easy to travel back and forth between the two countries and enjoy all the wonders they have to offer. Keep in mind that the timing of your holiday will influence what sorts of sites you can visit and what activities you can make part of your plans. By understanding a little about what to expect, it’s easy to determine the best time of year to visit both countries, based on what you would like to do.
Learning More About the Dry and Rainy Seasons
If you’re the type who prefers the hustle and bustle that comes with holidays during the tourist season, plan on being in Costa Rica and Panama during what’s known as the dry season. Expect plenty of sunshine and warm weather during this part of the year. Many of your activities will be outdoors, although you will find a number of indoor sites that you will want to include in your plans.
The dry seasons in both countries overlap. The dry weather for both typically arrives during the first to the middle part of December. In Costa Rica, the dry season usually lingers until sometime in April. Panama enjoys a slightly shorter dry season, with it usually ending sometime in March.
Keep in mind that since this dry period is the height of the tourist season, the cost of visiting from December to April will be higher than at other times of the year. Even so, if your plans include spending a lot of time exploring the rain forests or soaking in the rays on one or more of the beautiful beaches, the dry season is the only time to consider.
Making the Most of the Dry Seasons
During the dry season in both nations, do expect the weather to be more humid and the day temperatures to be a little higher. There is some variance depending on which regions you plan on visiting. As a general rule, locations nearer the coast will include warmer weather and higher levels of humidity. By contrast, the more mountainous areas will offer slightly cooler temperatures and lower humidity levels.
During this time, do plan on enjoying the lush greenery found in the rain forests. During much of the dry season, the abundance of rain from what’s known as the rainy or green season ensures that the forests are at their best. Consider adding some variety to your holiday by spending time at the beach, soaking in the nightlife along the coast, and doing some shopping at many of the open air districts. This is also the perfect timing to enjoy some of the local cuisine while dining outside.
There are special events to celebrate during the dry season. President’s Day in Costa Rica occurs during this period. Along with locals, you can enjoy a number of celebrations, open-air festivals, and just about any type of entertainment that one can imagine.
Since the dry season does attract more tourists, it pays to book your lodgings in advance. Along with President’s Day, there’s also spring break and the Easter Season to consider. While you could look at different hotels and other properties near beaches, there are also hostels that make perfect places to sleep. After all, how much time do you plan on spending indoors when there’s so much to do?
Things to Do During the Rainy Seasons
In spite of the name, it isn’t always raining during the rainy or green season. Most days, there will be brief periods of sunshine that do allow you to spend some time at the beach and other outdoor venues. Do expect the evenings to be cooler. At times, the temperature may make wearing long sleeves or possibly a sweater a good idea.
Even if you’re out and about while it’s raining, there are plenty of things to see. Towns and cities in both nations offer indoor concerts, a number of restaurants catering to all sorts of tastes, and clubs and other settings for entertainment. You will find museums that will tell you more about the history of indigenous peoples and the complexity of their cultures.
What are some of the activities you can enjoy during this time of year? Both Costa Rica and Panama offer options to go horseback riding. Generally, this will happen during the morning when the sun is most likely to be out. Walking tours are also a great way to learn more about the culture and possibly find some interesting places that you will want to return to a little later. Don’t overlook the opportunity to get in some fishing when there’s a sunny morning coming your way. There are changes to engage in freshwater fishing as well as charter boats that will take you to some of the better places to enjoy salt-water fishing.
Coffee and rum tours are also something to consider during the rainy season. These tours allow you the opportunity to see different facilities and how they produce their products. As a bonus, you get to enjoy some taste-testing at many of the places that you visit along the tour. Some of the sites will also have bistros or restaurants included, allowing you to enjoy a nice meal or snack with your coffee or rum.
In terms of museums to visit, San Jose offers some of the most interesting museums in Costa Rica. Many of them are located in or adjacent to what’s known as the Central Market. It’s a great way to enjoy time indoors during the rainy afternoons and early evenings.
In Panama, check out the Panama Canal Museum in Casco Viejo. You can make use of headphones that offer the guided tour in multiple languages. If you happen to be proficient in Spanish, feel free to check out each exhibit on your own. You can also check out the Biodiversity Museum, which features exhibits on the over 1,000 species of animals and plants that are found in the country. Make the most of the discounts offered on Sundays. Retirees also get to enjoy discounts when visiting these museums.
Which season is the best time to visit Costa Rica and Panama? It’s really up to you. For those who prefer a slower pace and don’t mind rain during the afternoons and evenings, the raining season is ideal. Those who thrive on activity, sunshine, and plenty of tourist activities will enjoy going during the dry season. Whatever your choice, plan on coming back a second time. It’s rare for anyone to see everything they want to see during a single holiday.
Most Underrated Travel Destinations
Everyone knows about Paris and Rome and London but there are so many other beautiful travel destinations that are amazingly underrated. The fact that so many beautiful countries go unexplored by travelers is a tragedy. Not only because so many people are missing out on rich cultures and picturesque views, but also because a lot of these destinations tend to be a lot cheaper to travel to than popular cities.
A majority of Americans, when asked about traveling abroad, will likely shake their head and say they can’t afford such trips. Many people deal with multiple monthly bills, such as mortgage or rent, student loans, and title loans, which are all stress inducing.
But what a lot of people don’t know is that there are gorgeous, underrated foreign cities one can visit for a fraction of the price of touristy European cities. Forbes recently published a collection of the ten most underrated destinations you should consider visiting.
Here are a few of them:
Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, is known for its magnificent sights of Mount Ararat, historical monasteries, and its many striking temple ruins. Armenian cuisine is other worldly with classic dishes like rabbit stew, sautéed eggplant rolls, and lamb tartare.
Telč is a colorful town with Italian influences in Czechia. It boasts of Baroque-Renaissance architecture and has a castle of its own with exciting tunnels and passageways that you can explore underneath the town.
Santiago is the capital of Chile and features gorgeous architecture from the neoclassical era. There are towering cathedrals and, of course, plenty of quality Chilean wine. Plus, the city of Santiago is a great place to kick off your exploration of Chile’s wine country.
Rotterdam, the Netherlands
Rotterdam is often ignored due to the popular neighboring city of Amsterdam, but it is a bastion of underground music and street art. The architecture is strikingly modern since the city was heavily bombed during World War II and thus had to be rebuilt from the ground up. The city is filled to the brim with amazing cuisine and museums.
If you are looking for a big city destination, Lagos is a metropolis that has plenty to see and do so that you’ll never be bored. And whenever you need a break from the urban marketplaces, private beaches are just a short drive away.
Con Dao, Vietnam
Con Dao is a Southeast Asian island that makes an excellent beach destination with two resorts and tons of fascinating history. Once host to a brutal French prison, the island is also home to the tomb of the Vietnamese martyr Vo Thi Sau.
Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay
This is one of the oldest cities in Uruguay dating back to the 17th century. The city has a vibrantly decorated historic quarter and a three-century-old convent. It’s also only a short trip away from the bigger city of Montevideo.
Meet Cole and Adela
We have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...
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