Summer in Amsterdam

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 in Amsterdam during the warmer months. Here are just a few reasons why the Dutch capital is the perfect summer destination. 

There’s a festival happening every weekend

You could say that Amsterdam is a little bit festival mad. More than 300 festivals take place each year in and around the city – the bulk of these happening in the summer months. So no matter when you visit, there’s bound to be something going on. From huge dance music events to foodie festivals and cultural carnivals, Amsterdam’s festival agenda spans all tastes and genres. Read more about Amsterdam festivals or see our guide to Amsterdam's best summer food festivals!

Amsterdam Open Air 2015 festival

You can take your barbecue to the park

While the rules in other countries around barbecuing in public can be a little hazy, in Amsterdam it’s okay to get out your sausages and light up a bbq in the park. Only in certain parks though; so check this handy map for a guide to which Amsterdam parks allow barbecues. Please note that as of 2017 barbecues are no longer permitted in Vondelpark - though Westerpark and Oosterpark make excellent alternatives.

There are SO many terraces to enjoy

For a city which is pretty cold a lot of the time, Amsterdam really does do a good line in al fresco 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.

You can swim in the open air 

The Dutch are very proud of their clean water, and come summer time you'll find locals stripping off and jumping in at every opportunity for an alfresco dip. Many of the city's recreational areas like Sloterplas, Amsterdamse Bos, Gasperplas 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 10 outdoor swimming spots in Amsterdam for more ideas!

You can go to the cinema on a beach or a rooftop

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.

CC BY-SA 2.0 Erwin Verbruggen via Flickr

You can dine in a pop-up restaurant on a secret island

For a limited time during the summer, adventurous diners can take a boat to a nearby deserted island and enjoy a four-course meal in a specially constructed greenhouse. The pop-up restaurant experience on Vuurtoreneiland is a popular culinary draw, so be sure to book in advance.

Vuurtoreneiland Zomerrestaurant

Photo: Jharda Walker

You can be free to be who you want to be

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 LGBT rights. Taking over the streets, canals, bars, clubs, restaurants and everywhere in between, Amsterdam Gay Pride is one of the most famous Pride celebrations in the world. Find out more about what to expect during Amsterdam Gay Pride.

Amsterdam gay pride, Edwin van Eis

You can go to the theatre in the park for free

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

Vondelpark Open Air Theatre

You can have a beach holiday in Amsterdam

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 Bloemendaal aan Zee and Zandvoort aan Zee. Boasting vast expanses of golden sands to bask upon, plenty of watersports to try plus loads of beachfront cafes and bars, the two towns make a perfect summertime day trip out of the city. Find out more about Amsterdam beach.  

You can party with the animals

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 tour of the zoo.

ARTIS Ronald van Weeren

Search the what's on guide for summer events in Amsterdam.