Amsterdam SAIL

SAIL title

If you are in Amsterdam during SAIL, you just have to go! It’s known around the world as the biggest free public event in the world. We’ve been waiting for this since we learned about it months ago. Amsterdam has so many great festivals, like Gay Pride Parade and King’s Day. In the summer alone, there are over 300 festivals in and around Amsterdam. But SAIL is special.

Amsterdam SAIL IN

So why is this festival different from the others? Because SAIL happens once every five years…FIVE! So people line up to see this nautical experience. Estimates are that anywhere from 1.5 million up to 3 million people visit SAIL. For a city of around 800,000 residents, that’s huge!

Crowd at SAIL Amsterdam

Credit: Dennis Veldman

Thanks to my awesome friends, I have sourced some other photos from different perspectives. This one comes from Dennis Veldman at I love his photos! He captured the anticipation of the SAIL IN before the ships arrived. This shows the scale of people…at just one corner of Amsterdam. There were many areas like this.

sail crowd

We got to see somewhere from 21-50 tall ships sailing in. These are big beautiful historical and replica sailing boats. But hundreds, maybe thousands of boats actually participate in the SAIL. When you look at aerial views, it can look like tiny fish surrounding a whale. Everyone wants to get close to see the details, and who doesn’t want to spend a beautiful day or evening on the water?

View from the water by Jody Pollara

View from the water by Jody Pollara

SAIL from Above

Credit: Stad Amsterdam

We went to a special event on a bridge that they dismantle to allow these tall ships to pass, so we had a bit of a unique view. It was an afternoon of “ohhhs” and “aahhhs” as the tall ships passed right by us. It was almost like being in a movie. Cannons were even going off (obviously without cannonballs)! Talk about unexpected!  Each time it caught me off guard. What a way to enter the Amsterdam harbor…with a bang!

SAIL Amsterdam Bridge

The bridge is in pieces to let the tall ships pass.


Sunday afternoon was when these same boats sailed out. It was sad to see them go, but it brought so much joy to see them sail about. We thought we had the perfect unknown spot to watch the ships leave, but it turned out that it was actually quite crowded! That was perfectly fine considering we found a spot big enough for our blanket and a couple of friends.

sail sunday black ship SAIL Amsterdam

This is just another reason I love Amsterdam. You can just sit out on a jetty, put a blanket down, have some wine, chill with some friends, and watch boats. The experience brought such a smile to my face. I hope you have those experiences in your life! It really is the simple things.

Columbia Ship

On the side of the IJ

On the side of the IJ

SAIL Amsterdam

For more photos, visit the SAIL albums of my friends, Shoshannah from Awesome Amsterdam, and Cat and her Instagram page.  Do you follow Amsterdamming? If not, you need to check out that page now! Her SAIL photos are also wonderful to look at. I love giving you all multiple perspectives so you can see something from all kinds of views.

Kid on the side of the IJ

Oh to be a child watching sail. How magical!

Cutrufellos at SAIL IN Amsterdam

For more of our photos from SAIL, check out our Flickr!

What is one of the best experiences you have had? At home or abroad?

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SAIL Amsterdam Pinterest

Jessica Cutrufello wearing a green floral dress, glasses and pink lipstick

Hi! I’m Jessica, an American who made Amsterdam her home in 2014. I share European gems through food and memorable experiences. Want to know more? Head to my about page or check out my YouTube channel.

Travel with us - Tuscany October 2022