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. 

You can discover Amsterdam’s street food scene

Amsterdam doesn’t hold back when it comes to celebrating street food. With festivals like Taste of Amsterdam, Rollin Kitchens and Kwaku, the city lives by one policy alone: it’s never enough. Don’t miss the 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.

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

There are museums for every weather

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.

Rijksmuseum Gardens 24h Zuid Amsterdam

It’s the perfect time to be on the water

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.

You can beer hop your way through the local breweries

With over 67 breweries in the city alone, Amsterdam is a true mecca 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 Noord side where creativity flows as freely as amber from the tap.

You can listen to classical music on the canals

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.

Amsterdam Grachtenfestival Jeroen C. van Zijp

You can lose track of time in the Amsterdam Forest

Grab a bike and discover the majesty of the Amsterdamse Bos where the possibilities stretch from tree-shadowed picnics to goat farms and lakeside cafes. Couples might want to seek refuge at the beach or the spa hotel Zuiver around the corner while families will delight in the adventure playgrounds and climbing park.

There are SO many terraces to enjoy

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.

You can swim in the open air 

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 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 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.