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.
Medieval Towns with German Castles Near Munich & Frankfurt
Our favorite castles in Germany near Frankfurt and Munich:
We were crazy enough to visit Neuschwanstein Castle on a public holiday. This meant that along with all the Asian tourists, there were an awful lot of Germans. Plus, even though we arrived by 11 am, the soonest tickets we could buy were for the German tour at 2.30 pm, as the terms in English were sold out until 4 pm. So, if you don’t have German friends at hand to translate the tour for you, we recommend booking in advance online. The castle was impressive, and the time was undoubtedly fascinating! Don’t worry, I won’t spill the beans, but the manmade Grotto room made my jaw drop!
Mespelbrunn Castle is located on a pond between Frankfurt and Wurzburg. Unfortunately, we arrived 30 minutes after its closing time of 5 pm, but it looked cool from behind the fence!
Lichtenstein Castle is located on a clifftop near Stuttgart and costs 6 euros per person for a tour in German; however, they did give us a very informative written guide in English. This castle is small compared to Hohenzollern castle, but its story is fascinating. Tanks shelled it in World War II, and today you can still see the cracked mirror from where a small fragment of a tank grenade ricocheted!
Hohenzollern Castle is not too far from Lichtenstein Castle. It is located on a hilltop near Hechingen, and we enjoyed the guided tour. Along with getting to wear GIANT slippers, make sure you explore the casemates and secret passages. One sign made me want to learn more. It read, “Exactly where these steps lead to is unknown. More casemates and secret passageways are likely waiting to be discovered in the heart of the mountain”!
Heidelberg Castle was a lot larger than we expected! Unfortunately, we had spent far too much time at the Auto & Technik Museum in Sinsheim, so we did not have time to explore this castle. But if we get the chance, we will explore the town and its castle next time in Germany.
On our drive from Munich to Frankfurt, we also loved:
The beer garden at Andechs Monastery was just like Oktoberfest but amongst trees and more family-friendly. The beer was cheaper, and the food was great, including the giant pork knuckle, which Moss could not finish. It was also fun walking up multiple flights of stairs to the tower’s very top.
Three hours in Rothenburg was not enough to explore this wonderful medieval town! We recommend getting your hands on a city map from the tourist information office. We enjoyed Roder Gate, walking along the wall and exploring the 17th-century spital bastion, plus Moss lost me in the Kathe Wohlfahrt Christmas shop for over half an hour, and I didn’t even buy anything!
The average person would Google Munich to Frankfurt and see that it only takes about 3 ½ hours depending on how fast you wish to drive on the autobahn! However, we are NOT typical. We took one look at train prices and decided that hiring a car wouldn’t cost too much more.
We aren’t going to tell you our exact route. Still, after surviving Oktoberfest in Munich, we did a giant zigzag to see as many castles and medieval towns as possible. So to save you doing so much driving, we have picked our favorite cities and castles. First of all, ‘Ausfahrt’ is not a destination accessible from every off-ramp! It means ‘Exit’! Another word of wisdom to keep in mind is that the autobahns with speed limits do have speed cameras… and the flash is blinding!
Running with the Bulls Video
Our shaky Running with the Bulls Video footage from the Festival de San Fermin in 2012. Experience it first hand in Pamplona. Enjoy.
We recently wrote about our life or death experience of Running with the Bulls this year at the Festival of San Fermin in Pamplona. On that run, I carried along with our GoPro video camera and tried to shoot some footage for our running with the video of the bull.
All our travel video shooting techniques went out the window when the bulls’ hooves started to shake the ground beneath our feet.
Once we had lined up for the running with the bulls, there was no escape from it as we were walled in by apartment blocks, shopfront windows, and 3-meter high wooden barriers packed with photographers along the entire length. At one end lay the relative safety of the bull ring pulsating with the cheers of the crowd who were still partying from the night before. Behind me, a dozen wild bulls pawed the stony ground looking for freedom.
Unfortunately, I was standing in their path.
What we ended up with is below. However, I think what we filmed for our running with the bull video captures the chaos, craziness, and complete madness a lot better than if I had stood my ground.
Enjoy it and watch for the guy that nearly gets trampled to death near the beginning!
Running with the Bulls Video
Would you ever consider running with the bulls?
While we are very aware that not all people agree that the San Fermin Festival should be allowed to go ahead mainly due to animal cruelty, we think there are two sides to every story. We wrote a post about the controversy surrounding Bullfighting in Spain and the Festival de San Fermin.
We would love to hear your thoughts on the Festival de San Fermin and whether you would ever consider running with the bulls.
Outdoor Activities in Bangkok – Adventure City Guide
Find out how you can explore the streets, canals and local markets within minutes of Bangkok with our Outdoor Activities in Bangkok Adventure City Guide.
Are you looking for an insider’s adventure travel guide for the best outdoor activities in Bangkok?
Why visit Bangkok for adventure?
Bangkok is one of the world’s largest metropolises and a gateway for most of the world to access the rest of South East Asia. With numbers surpassing 14 million people in the Greater Bangkok Region, this is no small player in the world’s super-cities. Of course, having such a long history with foreign visitors, the city has become incredibly established in the world’s tourist sector.
This has allowed it to grow many facets of adventurous activities – making access to something for everyone!
Outdoor Activities in Bangkok
Exploring the Klongs
Klongs are canals that used to feed the entire city with life-giving water, branched off from the city’s main artery – the Chao Phraya River. Today, the locals wouldn’t drink the water if you paid them, but there is still a fascinating life along the Klongs’ banks. There is so much to explore, from floating markets to old houses on stilts, and it gives insight into this ancient way of life!
What’s it cost, and how to get to the Klongs?
You can usually arrange the Klongs from the pier “Saphan Taksin” along the Chao Phraya River. This is conveniently a stop on the Skytrain, making it very easy to access. Usually, you will be renting the entire boat for the day (about 1000 THB, or USD 35) and not paying a per-person rate. So if you can find a few people to go with, the price will drop significantly per person.
Rickshaw City Tours
If you’ve never been to Asia before, Rickshaws are one of the most fun ways to get around. Although they can often be a little more expensive than metered taxis, you get an experience (and a view) that is unparalleled, especially in the busy streets of Bangkok.
What’s it cost?
Occasionally, you can even haggle a deal for a city tour for next to nothing (50-100 THB or $1.50-3 USD), as long as you visit a couple of affiliated ‘custom suit tailors’ throughout the day, as they’ll get a kickback from the shops just for bringing you there… No purchase is necessary.
You can often find Tuk Tuk drivers willing to do this standing along the perimeter of the Kings’ Palace. It may take a few attempts of asking for a ‘special city tour,’ but you will be bound to find someone ready for a cut of this business.
Local Secret Spot
Though most people wouldn’t consider going to a market an adventure, they probably have never experienced the likes of Chatuchak (also known as JJs). This is one of SE Asia’s LARGEST outdoor markets. It’s so prominent that you can find maps of the market to help navigate. It’s roughly the size of 4 city blocks and is divided into various sections.
You’ll find everything under the sun here, from clothing to handicrafts, food, mobile phones, and even puppies and other cute critters for sale!! It’s bonkers. If it gets too much for you, you can take a break in one of Bangkok’s most famous parks (Chatuchak park), located next to the market.
How to get there?
You can get here via Skytrain (BTS), subway (MRT), taxi, bus, you name it – it’s very accessible! But it’s only open on weekends, from about dawn until 5 or 6 pm at its peak. Some shops stay open longer, but most will be closed by dusk. It’s free entry and a perfect place to buy ANY souvenirs at the end of your time in Thailand.
Suppose you can coordinate to be here on the weekend. I generally hate shopping for ‘stuff,’ but I love this market and its energy!
Best time of the year to visit Bangkok for adventure?
Bangkok is in the tropics and quite close to the Equator. Of course, this means it’s hot on a year-round basis.
It’s considered the rainy season from May to October, though showers can happen at any time of the year. This is generally a less busy time for tourists, though the rains are not quite as bad as expected and often only last 30 mins-1 hour, cooling the city’s heart. Peak season is in December-January when temperatures are at their most astounding ad driest… though it’s still pretty hot!
And if Bangkok isn’t to your taste, the luxury Koh Samui will be. Endless sandy beach, beautiful clear waters, and nightlife that could be lived in forever. The luxury rental properties are stunning, and we recommend Tempston Luxury villa rentals.
Finally, the reason I love Bangkok for adventure is that…
It’s never-ending. This city is SO BIG that you could get lost in a new neighborhood almost every day. Single. Day. And still find new, exciting things to explore. On my list for the upcoming weeks, I’ve got the Scala Cinema, the Thai Air Force Museum, Papaya Vintage Shop, and the Erawan Museum – to name a few. Every time I explore one place, I learn of 3 more!!
From a young age, Ian was always a wanderer. He’s since travelled to all 7 continents, and has spent the majority of his life pursuing this passion. You can follow him in his off-the-beaten-path adventures and discoveries on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and his travel blog Where Sidewalks End.
Have you been to Bangkok? What were your favorite outdoor activities in Bangkok?
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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