Summer in Amsterdam: things to do and see

From outdoor festivals and countryside bike rides to canal cruises and watersports, discover the best things to do in Amsterdam in summer.

Amsterdam comes alive in summer, and with the warmer weather comes a host of summertime activities that show off the vibrant energy of the Dutch capital. From spotting Amsterdam’s landmarks as you take a leisurely cruise along its famous canals to more energetic and fun activities like flyboarding, there’s no shortage of things to do in summer. It’s also the perfect time to explore the Dutch countryside or head to the sea to discover even more amazing places around Amsterdam.

Summer also marks the arrival of festival season, with regular food, music, art, and outdoor cultural events creating a buzz throughout the city. Ready to explore a (hopefully) sun-soaked Amsterdam? Here are 10 ideas ready to add to your itinerary for an incredible summer trip to Amsterdam.

Best outdoor activities

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1. Get in touch with flora and fauna at ARTIS Amsterdam Royal Zoo

Discover the wonders of ARTIS Amsterdam Royal Zoo and its diverse collection of animals and exhibitions, including ARTIS Park, ARTIS-Micropia, and ARTIS-Groote Museum.

Highlights:

With your ARTIS Amsterdam Royal Zoo ticket, learn about the conservation efforts, educational programs, and unique experiences that make ARTIS a must-visit destination for animal lovers of all ages. In July and August, the Summer Nights program means live music and picnics until late on Saturday nights.

Address and opening hours:

Plantage, 1018 CZ Amsterdam, Netherlands. Open Monday-Sunday, 9:00 AM-6:00 PM.

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2. Escape the city and explore the Dutch countryside

Take to the Dutch countryside on two wheels and get acquainted with the villages and landscapes of the Waterland District.

Highlights:

Join a bike tour of the countryside and villages and spend half a day exploring its traditional windmills and beautiful scenery, that’s at its best in summer. The flat landscape makes it an easy cycle and there are great photo opportunities.

Address and opening hours:

Nieuwezijds Kolk 33-1, 1012 PV Amsterdam, Netherlands. Tour times vary.

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3. Head to the countryside for a traditional Dutch experience

Take a trip to Zaanse Schans to experience traditional Dutch clog- and cheese-making, and go inside a real windmill to see how they work.

Highlights:

As part of a Zaanse Schans tour, get firsthand experience of the cheese-making and clog-making processes and enjoy stories of the area as told by your local guide. If they summer weather is heating up, look forward to a welcome breeze on the windmill’s balcony.

Address and opening hours:

Prins Hendrikkade 59-72, 1012 AD Amsterdam, Netherlands. Open Monday-Sunday, variable start times.

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4. Get chauffeured around to Amsterdam’s landmarks

Exploring Amsterdam’s must-sees in summer can be tiring in the heat, so take it easy as you make your way around the attractions with the help of your personal rickshaw driver.

Highlights:

Book a private city highlights tour to see the most popular spots in the city without working up a sweat, including the Red Light District, Dam Square, and Chinatown.

Address and opening hours:

Amsterdam Centrum, Netherlands. Open Monday-Sunday, variable start times.

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5. Explore street art throughout the city

Visit the STRAAT Museum to view avant-garde works, street art, and graffiti from some of the world’s greatest underground artists.

Highlights:

With a STRAAT ticket, you can see amazing works from more than 130 international artists in a light and airy space. You can even visit in the evening when it’s a little cooler to see incredible projections and light installations at their best — the perfect summer evening activity for art lovers.

Address and opening hours:

T.T. Neveritaweg 1, 1033 RC Amsterdam, Netherlands. Open Mondays 12:00 PM-6:00 PM, Tuesday and Thursday-Sunday, 10:00 AM-6:00 PM.

Best water activities

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6. Fly around Amsterdam’s lakes like a superhero

Feel like a superhero as you blast around one of Amsterdam’s largest lakes on a flyboard. After a one-on-one lesson, discover how easy it is to move through the water and shoot into the air for a unique view of the city.

Highlights:

Book a 20-Minute flyboard experience and you’ve not only found one of the most fun things you can do in Amsterdam, but the perfect way to cool down in summer.

Address and opening hours:

Oude Haagseweg 18, 1066 BW Amsterdam, Netherlands. Variable start times.

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7. Watch the sunset from the water

Summertime means beautiful sunsets, and that’s exactly what you’ll get when you venture to the Dutch countryside in the evening. Join a canoe tour for a perfect, and romantic, way to end a summer day in Amsterdam.

Highlights:

Book your place on a sunset canoe tour and enjoy a sense of peace and tranquillity just outside the bustling city — and catch the spectacular golden sky as you paddle.

Address and opening hours:

Buikslotermeer, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Opens Monday-Sunday, 5:00 PM-9:00 PM, during May-August. Tour start times vary.

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8. Paddleboard along Amsterdam’s iconic canals

Choose the most unusual way to explore Amsterdams canals on a stand-up paddleboard tour. It’s a fun, refreshing, and unique way to sightsee in summer. 

Highlights:

Book a 2-hour paddleboard tour and see beautiful townhouses, the Red Light District, the Nautical Museum, and an 18th-century ship along your route along the canals and Amstel River.

Address and opening hours:

Zeeburgerpad 10, 1018 AJ Amsterdam, Netherlands. Open Monday-Sunday, variable start times.

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9. Clink glasses as you cruise the canals

There’s nothing like a refreshing drink in the sun, especially when it’s accompanied by a cool breeze and the best sight in Amsterdam. That’s what you get when you choose a canal cruise that comes with expert commentary from your guide and an onboard bar.

Highlights:

Book an open-topped boat tour for the ultimate summertime experience in Amsterdam. Your skipper will tell you all about the city as you sip your drinks and sail by the Hermitage Museum, under the Skinny Bridge, and through charming Grachtengordel neighborhood.

Address and opening hours:

Oudezijds Voorburgwal 230, 1012 DV Amsterdam, Netherlands. Open Monday-Sunday, variable start times.

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10. Scout for seals and birds outside of the city

Venture to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Waddensea to take in the wildlife you won’t be able to see anywhere else in Amsterdam.

Highlights:

Join a half-day seal safari at Waddensea and begin your adventure in nature as you search for these adorable creatures.

Address and opening hours:

De Ruijterkade 153, 1011 AC Amsterdam, Netherlands. Open Monday-Sunday, variable start times.

FAQs

Where can I go swimming or relax by the water in Amsterdam?

Amsterdam is a city of canals, making it an ideal place to enjoy the water. One of the most popular spots for swimming is the Sloterplas, which also offers sandy beaches and grassy areas for sunbathing. You can also take advantage of boat tours that offer unique views of Amsterdam while enjoying refreshments.

Are there any great summer festivals in Amsterdam?

Amsterdam has many amazing summer festivals that attract visitors from all over the world. Notable events include the Palmengracht Festival, a lively street party featuring food and drink stalls; Dekmantel, which offers a diverse lineup of electronic music artists; and the Kwaku Summer Festival, showcasing African cuisine, music, and culture.

What are the must-visit outdoor attractions in Amsterdam?

Vondelpark, a sprawling urban park that offers stunning sights all year round, is a must-visit in Amsterdam. Next, head to Amsterdamse Bos, a vast forested area located on the outskirts of the city that can be accessed by public transportation. Here, you can enjoy nature at its finest.

What are some great day trips to take from Amsterdam in the summer?

During the summer months, there are many great day trips you can take From Amsterdam. Zaanse Schans, for example, is a picturesque village famous for its iconic windmills, beautiful wooden houses, and cheese farmhouses. Alternatively, to indulge in some water activities, take a trip to the countryside to canoe at sunset.

What are some fun activities with kids in Amsterdam in summer?

Amsterdam offers plenty of activities for children throughout the summer season. At the ARTIS Royal Zoo, children can witness various animal species and enjoy petting zoos as well as playgrounds. Vondelpark, Amsterdam's largest park, also offers an array of outdoor activities that kids will enjoy.