Your guide to summer in Amsterdam

Summer in Amsterdam is nothing short of magical. People are smiling, everyone is in a good mood, and everyone is outside.

You may think of the Netherlands as being somewhere that rains a lot. While it doesn’t rain as much as people seem to think, it is gloomy and not very warm for much of the year. So, when the sun is shining, that’s step one. The people come out. They cycle everywhere, you’ll see more baby strollers than usual and plenty of dogs playing.

When it’s warm, the city comes alive! People are jumping off docks into the Amstel River or they are heading to a terrace with a sunny spot. And on hot days, they all find beaches or beach-life atmospheres.

How do you make the most of this? There’s a real feel of FOMO every summer because you just don’t know how long any of it will last! If you live here, you’ll recognize some of the events I’ll mention below. Don’t miss out this year.

If you are visiting, click through the links I’ll leave to see if something is happening while you are here. For the REAL Amsterdam, these are the events you should be checking out.


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Food festivals

There are so many food festivals that even this post from iamsterdam doesn’t have them all! If you want my favorite, it’s Rollende Keukens (or Rolling Kitchens in English). There are just so many food trucks but get there early, especially if it’s a nice day because it gets crazy packed. While I’m not vegan, we’re thinking of visiting the Vegan Food Festival this year just to see what it’s all about. Not sure if it’s technically a food festival but Over Het IJ should be good, too!


Dinner on an island – Vuurtoreneiland

This is an epic 5 course dinner on an island in the Markermeer – a body of water near Durgerdam – just outside Amsterdam. You get a boat ride and a fabulous dinner in, what feels like, the middle of nowhere. The chefs work with local producers to ensure quality. They also work with the nose to tail philosophy so that not much is wasted.

You can read more from my friends over at Awesome Amsterdam and Amsterdam Foodie. Prices and some slight details may have changed for this season, but it will give you a good idea. Then you can book directly on their website (be sure to check availability about 2 months out and you may need to use Google Translate)


Evenings at the zoo – Zoomeravonden

Ever want to explore a zoo in the evening? Throughout the summer, on Saturdays, The Artis stays open until sunset which can be around 10:00 pm. While there, you can explore and see some animals heading to bed and find some just waking up. They also have musical performances to create the perfect summer evening. Check out the iamsterdam link for more details.


Boat hire

Get on the water! It’s a city of canals, people. If you can, you should. Paddle boats are super cute and you can get them at different points throughout the city. Be sure to follow the instructions to stay safe and not get lost.

You can also rent a boat to drive yourself. Check out for more info on that. Maybe the best way, in my opinion, is to get a small boat with a captain, so you can enjoy yourself and not run into other boats and get a bit of a tour on the way!


Open garden days

There are many facets to Amsterdam and this is one that just isn’t seen enough — the hidden gardens! On Open Garden Day, you buy a ticket and go to all the places you didn’t know you wanted to discover. There are stunning manicured private gardens in impressive homes that you would not be able to see otherwise. We went when we visited Amsterdam for the first time and were blown away because many times you have no idea they are even there!



Movies on rooftops

Head on up to Floor 17 for movies on the rooftop when it’s a warm day. Be sure to grab your tickets ahead of time and bring things to stay warm since the temperature will drop a bit. But how cool would it be to watch a movie on a rooftop in Amsterdam? Pretty darn cool!


Concerts in Vondelpark

From May until the end of summer, you can see various performances for free in the famous Vondelpark! Donations are graciously accepted to keep this going but get there early to grab a spot. Visit the iamsterdam website for more info and if you have Chrome or Google Translate handy, you can also check the Vondelpark Open Air Theatre site as well.


Uitmarkt

At the end of the summer, we have a cultural event called Uitmarkt on Museumplein (near the Rijksmuseum) and Leidseplein to usher in the cultural season — which essentially means autumn. There are a huge variety of performances over 3 days and it feels like a real festival without too much craziness.


Bustling_Beach_at_Zandvoort

Beach in Amsterdam

If you are looking for something super summer on any warm and beautiful day, then you must find a beach! The coastal beaches are pretty easy to get to by train, like Zandvoort, which I wrote about here. But, we also have some urban beaches where you can get some sand in between your toes and get a whole new perspective of the Dutch capital city. And maybe a tan 😉 For more beach-ideas, check out this post.


Sunny terraces

Times with friends can easily be spent on any terrace in Amsterdam. If you are just looking for a place in the sun with space and want a coffee/tea/beer, then just grab anywhere. There are two lists that are very representative of the best in Amsterdam. For the best terraces in general, check out this list and for the best terrace bars, this list is for you. Such a good variety and all good local spots. Be aware that everyone who lives here also knows about these places, so after work, they are going to fill up on a sunny day. Get there early!


Westerpark Festival

Discover our parks

We love our parks here in Amsterdam, especially for a sunny weekend to get friends together. While there are some you can BBQ in (you can get BBQing kits at some of the grocery stores, possibly HEMA or Blokker, too), be sure to follow the rules. They keep us all safe! My friend over at Awesome Amsterdam wrote about her favorite parks in the city and I do love Westerpark. It used to be right next to where we lived. Now we live near Noorderpark but haven’t taken advantage of it at all! More to come this summer 🙂


Gay Pride Float

Gay Pride festivities

The ultimate event of the summer is Gay Pride Week and its famous parade. It runs from the end of July to the beginning of August and is packed full of lively events. My personal favorites have been the Drag Queen Olympics and the Gay Pride Parade. Everyone turns out for it and it’s an epic showcase of people being who they were born to be and having a blast!


Be adventurous

Have you ever heard of flyboarding? It’s where you strap on a special pair of boats and water is thrust from the bottom of them sending you up high! It’s a crazy sight to see and, I imagine, a crazy thing to do. No, I haven’t done this, but thought it was worth mentioning!


While there is so much more to summer here in Amsterdam, I couldn’t possibly write about it all. There are the summer highlights I thought you would love to know about. Remember, Amsterdam has a ton of visitors, so book accommodations as early as you can!

Visiting Amsterdam? Find the perfect place to stay!

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Wishing you joy and travels (and tons of fun!).

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