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Discover Amsterdam
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Live, Work and Study
Proeflokaal van Wees café-restaurant terrace
Image from Proeflokaal van Wees

Reasons to visit Amsterdam in summer

Never is Amsterdam more alive than in summer, when the city’s streets, canals and parks transform into a buzzing kaleidoscope of activity. Whether you want to party all day long at a festival, lounge on the beach, explore the canals by boat, or barbecue in the park, there's an endless choice of things to do during the warmer months. Here are a few reasons why the Dutch capital is the perfect summer destination.

Discover Amsterdam’s street food scene

Rollende Keukens food festival food truck
Image from Luciano de Boterman

Amsterdam doesn’t hold back when it comes to celebrating street food. With festivals like Rolling Kitchens, Keti Koti and Kwaku, the city lives by one policy: it’s never enough. Don’t miss Bacchus Festival if you love a good glass of wine, or tune out the heat with a tour of Amsterdam’s coolest ice cream spots. For a local touch, visit Amsterdam’s best markets for aged cheeses, fresh seafood and signature poffertjes that will leave you fed up… in a good way. 

Be free to be who you want to be

A crowd of people marching with a pride flag.
Image from Jan de Ridder

Ok, so this statement may well apply to every day in Amsterdam. But in summer, things ramp up a notch as the city turns rainbow-coloured in honour of LGBTQI+ rights. Taking over the streets, canals, bars, clubs, restaurants and everywhere in between, Amsterdam Queer & Pride is one of the most famous Pride celebrations in the world. Find out more about what to expect during Amsterdam Pride.

Visit museums for every weather

People walking in Singer Laren museum sculpture garden with flowers
Image from Singer Laren

It’s the perfect time of year to stroll through the Hortus Botanicus gardens or swing from the top of the A’DAM Tower. Catch a train to the Zaanse Schans or the sculpture garden of Singer Laren or seek refuge from the capricious Dutch weather in the Rijksmuseum. With the City Card in hand, you can bounce from one museum to the next hassle-free.

Enjoy the perfect time to be on the water

Canal SUP Amsterdam Stand Up Paddleboard Sup Supping
Image from Canal SUP Amsterdam

Whether it’s renting a boat or a SUP, there’s no better moment to enjoy the canals and rediscover the city from the water than the summer months. Borrow a kayak or two and sail under the bridges or cruise the canals at sunset as the summer breeze carries you down the Amstel. Alternatively, take an impressive view of Amsterdam architecture as you cruise along quaint canals. We recommend choosing a small vessel so you can dock at one of the many waterside bars and restaurants. Hannekes Boom and Waterkant are just a couple of pit stops you could make.

Beer hop your way through the local breweries

Walhalla Craft Beer brewery exterior and terrace
Image from Walhalla Craft Beer

With over 67 breweries in the city alone, Amsterdam is a true paradise for beer-lovers. There’s no reason to choose one with so many craft beers waiting on every turn! Make an adventure of it and venture through the city to discover their unique locations, from windmills to nunneries and old bathhouses. Oh, and don’t forget a trip to the industrial waterfront in Noord and NDSM where creativity flows as freely as amber from the tap.

Listen to classical music on the canals

Image from Merijn Roubroeks

The Grachtenfestival is one of the jewels of the summer season, and definitely worth sticking around for! Ten days of classic music and jazz concerts welcome the audience right on the water in August. The tickets go fast, but there’s no need to plan in advance: just show up and enjoy the music reaching down the street or rent a boat and linger on the sidelines for prime seats to the show.

Lose track of time in the Amsterdam Forest

Amsterdamse Bos Water Bikes
Image from Marie-Charlotte Pezé

Amsterdam even has its own city forest, the Amsterdamse Bos. This green oasis is three times the size of New York’s central park and is home to wild deer, grazing highland cows and many species of birds. Should you want to stock up on organic goat milk and cheese or put your zen to the ultimate test during a goat yoga session, there's a goat farm. Aside from walking and cycling through the green expanse, there's also the Bostheater for outdoor musical spectacles and theatre. Outdoor activities include kayaking on the lakes, whizzing along zip lines in the Fun Forest climbing park or captaining an electric boat.

There are so many terraces to enjoy

Café Cook Terrace
Image from Koen Smilde

For a city that isn't particularly known for its warm climate, Amsterdam really does do a good line in alfresco drinking and dining. As soon as the sun comes out (and often when it doesn’t), Amsterdam’s bars and restaurants take things outdoors, and locals and visitors alike flock to enjoy a drink in the sunshine. From bohemian beaches to swish rooftops, Amsterdam is brimming with fantastic terraces – take a look at some of our favourites or spots where you can catch the sun at different times of day.

Swim in the open air

Bogortuin outdoor swimming spot on Javaeiland
Image from Koen Smilde

The Dutch are very proud of their clean water, and come summertime you'll find locals stripping off and jumping in at every opportunity for an alfresco dip. Many of the city's recreational areas like Amsterdamse Bos, Gaasperplas and Het Twiske have ample spots for swimming (some with showers and changing rooms too), or head to one of the city's many urban beaches on a hot day. Read our guide to outdoor swimming spots in Amsterdam for more ideas!

Go to the cinema on a beach or a rooftop

Pllek café-restaurant outdoor cinema
Image from Pllek

Beginning in July and typically running through to September, a selection of Amsterdam institutions take the world of celluloid outdoors, mixing up film classics with new releases and setting them against a backdrop of some of Amsterdam’s top scenic sights. So choose a deckchair, snuggle up with a blanket and get ready to enjoy some great cinema in the great outdoors. Find open-air cinemas in Amsterdam.

Watch theatre in the park for free

Vondelpark Openlucht open-air theatre classical music
Image from Vondelpark Openlucht Theatre

From May to September, an open-air theatre in the middle of the Vondelpark hosts performances of dance, music, cabaret, comedy and children’s events every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It’s totally free (although donations will not be discouraged). Find out more about Vondelpark open-air theatre

Have a beach holiday in Amsterdam

Kid playing at Strand Sloterplas
Image from Maarten Brante

In the Netherlands, beaches are popular year-round, and the ones in and around Amsterdam are no exception. The city boasts a number of urban beaches that each have their own charms, from the industrial surrounds of Pllek in Amsterdam Noord, Het Stenen Hoofd on the opposite side of the IJ River, to the shores of Sloterplas in Amsterdam Nieuw-West where golden sands await. They’re all especially popular when the sun is shining.

Make a jaunt to the seaside

People walking through IJmuiderslag
Image from koen smilde

It may not be the first place you think of when you envisage a beach holiday, but just half an hour from Amsterdam by train are the popular beach resorts of Zandvoort aan Zee. The two towns make a perfect summer day trip out of the city, boasting vast expanses of golden sands to bask upon, plenty of watersports to try, and loads of beach front cafes and bars. Find out more about Amsterdam beach.  

Party with the animals

De Hollandse Tuin (The Dutch Garden) during the Artis Zoomeravonden.
Image from Samuel van Leeuwen

For a night out with big cats and jungle dwellers, head to ARTIS Royal Zoo's late-night event Zoomeravonden (summer nights) on Saturdays in June, July and August. Have a picnic, watch performances and take a twilight zoo tour.