3 x skateparks in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is typically associated with all things cycling, and it doesn’t take long to work out why: take one step outside Central Station and you’ll see a flurry of frantic cyclists weaving in and out of traffic, other cyclists and pedestrians. Interestingly though, skateboarding seems to have had a resurgence in the Dutch capital as of late.
I’m starting to see more and more skateboarders and longboarders cruising through the city’s narrow streets, cycle tracks and tourist hotspots. I love that Amsterdam is such a bustling and vibrant city, but it’s sometimes difficult to see the wood for the trees when it comes to finding a decent place to skate. Don’t fret through: read on for three of the go-to skate spots for Amsterdam’s local skaters.
Olympiaplein Skatepark: Amsterdam’s skateboarding community
Olympiaplein is one of the Netherlands’ most popular skateboarding plazas, mostly due to its large, open area and its diverse selection of ramps and rails that are suitable for skaters of all levels – beginners and experts alike. Just like everywhere in the Netherlands, there’s a lot of flat ground. The park has a super-smooth surface too, which is perfect for getting a trick’s fundamentals down before taking it to the park’s gnarly deathbox.
There’s an undeniable community vibe at Olympiaplein; I often see skaters of all ages and backgrounds skating together, learning from one another and generally having a good time – it’s what skateboarding is all about. The sport and its subculture regularly get associated with hooliganism and rebelliousness, which is pretty ironic if you ask me. Skateboarding is one of the most communal and welcoming sports I know, arguably more so than most team sports, and Olympiaplein’s atmosphere embodies this sentiment perfectly.
Olympiaplein, 1076 Amsterdam
Nelson Mandelapark: a park for skaters of all styles
The skatepark at Nelson Mandelapark (formerly known as Bijlmerpark) is one of the largest in the Amsterdam Area. The main attractions of the park are its two brightly coloured pools; the smaller pool is 5’9 (1.8m) high, and the larger one has a coping that slopes between 5’9 (1.8m) and 7’9 (2.4m). The pools are right next to each other, so you sometimes see the bolder skaters – and more commonly, the BMXers – transferring between them.
Nelson Mandelapark also features a street-skating section of sorts, including a variety of banks, hubbas and rails that are low enough for newbies and veterans to hone in their skills. This mini street section breaks up the park nicely, providing a little relief for those street-only skaters. (Hey! Ramps aren’t for everyone!) It’s worth noting that there are a couple of stair sets with handrails at the park’s entrance, but these are far too large for your average skater – they’re more akin to the kind of obstacle you’d see Luan Oliveira throwing himself down in a Street League Super Crown.
Nelson Mandelapark, 1102 BX Amsterdam
CONS Project Amsterdam: the Dutch yellow-brick road of skateboarding
With CONS Project Amsterdam, Converse gave the local Amsterdam creative community – including skateboarders, artists and photographers – the opportunity to create a unique skatepark in the Amsterdam Noord area – DIY style. Boy, they delivered: at first glance, it’s easy to see the TLC that went into this labour of love. The park, inspired by Holland’s back gardens and ‘The Wizard of Oz’, is a gorgeously crafted concrete path filled with an array of kickers, quarter pipes and transfers. Many of the ramps and gaps are great for learners, but there are also gnarlier obstacles for more-experienced skaters.
My personal favourite thing about the park is the kicker gap that has a busted-up car between the kickers – it reminds of something you’d see in the opening levels of the ‘Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater’ series back in its prime. It doesn’t end there though – there are a number of DIY-style obstacles that give this park a decadent feel, such as a shipping-container that only the brave dare to stall on and a garage-like shelter for those showery Amsterdam days. All in all, this park has something for everyone. Even for those who aren’t into skateboarding or extreme sports, it’s worth a visit just to see what Amsterdam’s local creative community is capable of – both artistically and in terms of their skateboarding skills.
CONS project, Noorderpark, Amsterdam