How to Enjoy Amsterdam in Summer Like the Locals

27th April 2020

It’s difficult to beat Amsterdam during the summer months. The sunshine glistens off the canals, the city buzzes with activity and it seems like life just couldn’t be any better! If the crowds of tourists aren’t your thing and you’re looking for something a little more authentic, check out our tips below for enjoying an Amsterdam summer like the locals!

Related reading: 
Check out our 48 Hours in Amsterdam Itinerary!
And the best things to do in Amsterdam Old Town.

Try an authentic Amsterdam boat rental


Throughout the warmer months, locals love nothing more than getting on the water. There’s no greater way to spend an afternoon with friends than setting sail through the city that some of us are lucky enough to call home! If you want to enjoy an authentic Amsterdam experience like no other, why not rent a boat in Amsterdam? As you cruise along the canal with a local skipper and host, you’ll blend right in with the locals as you find out more about their home city!

Taste Amsterdam’s local beer

amsterdam beer

Amsterdam is known as the home of some really great beers and the city has plenty of really cool drinking spots where you can sample the breweries’ best! There are so many fantastic things to do in Amsterdam, and after a busy day of exploring, you’ll definitely have earned a beer – here’s where and how!

Amsterdam is known for its typical brown cafes – these classic Dutch bars are known for their unique atmosphere and have been an important part of the country’s culture for centuries.

If you really want to have a truly local experience, Amsterdam-style, be sure to order a Kopstootje – directly translating as ‘little headbutt’, this is a glass of beer served alongside a Jenever (the precursor to gin and the national spirit)! Although these little bars are classic, typically Dutch drinking holes, Amsterdam also has a huge variety of different bars of all kinds.

Whether you’re sipping on perfectly crafted cocktails in a hidden, speakeasy-style bar like Door 74, or hanging out at one of the city’s artsy and bohemian waterside terraces, Amsterdam has something for everyone! But wherever you’re drinking, be sure to drink local – Amsterdam’s local beers are loved worldwide for a reason!

Want to really step it up a gear and combine two of Amsterdam’s favourite activities – beer and bikes? Well you can, on the Amsterdam Beer Bike! You just pedal, someone will do the steering! And you can refuel the tank with as much local beer as you fancy!

On a sunny day in the summer, the canals are busy with people jumping aboard the boats of family and friends and enjoying a few beers together and with an Amsterdam booze cruise, you can too! As you sail along the stunning canals of the city, beer in hand and not a worry in the world, it’s impossible not to fall in love with this city! The atmosphere on a summer evening is just incredible and you’ll feel at one with the hundreds of locals, combining two of their great loves – beer and boats!

Experience the world famous Amsterdam coffeeshops

amsterdam coffee shops

Amsterdam has long been known for its liberal attitude towards soft drugs, and there is a reason for its reputation as the Cannabis Capital of the world. There is a cannabis culture unlike any other place in the world, the centres of which are the famous Amsterdam coffeeshops. Chilling out in a coffee shop, sampling some of the world’s finest weed and enjoying the company of fellow smokers is a great way to spend an afternoon and an experience truly unique to Amsterdam.

There are around 250 coffeeshops in Amsterdam alone and, although there are well known chains (especially in tourist areas), there are also small, independent shops that have a more local vibe. If you want a more local coffee shop experience, why not try out one of the smaller spots?

Some people visiting Amsterdam can be a little nervous about going into a coffee shop but there really is nothing to worry about… And if the question on your mind is ‘Are drugs legal in Amsterdam’ you can find out more here.

Rent a bike and explore the Vondelpark


Bikes are an important icon of the Netherlands and the best loved mode of transport in Amsterdam, the cycling capital of the world. If you want to get some exercise and fresh air, why not rent a bike and explore the Vondelpark. It’s just a stone’s throw from the centre and as with a myriad of beautiful lakes, flower gardens and sculptures, the Vondelpark is one of the prettiest and best loved green spaces in the city.

Exploring the Vondelpark is the perfect way to get your balance if you haven’t been on a bike in a while and it’s a great place to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city centre.

If cycling along picturesque city streets is more your thing, renting a bike is also a great way of seeing the sights from a local perspective – the Jordaan and Oud-West are great places to go with your bike if you want to see the bustling city streets. Other charming neighbourhoods to check out with your bike include Oost (especially around the Artis Zoo) and Oud-Zuid – you can park up and head into the Albert Cuyp Markt to refresh and refuel with some Amsterdam-style street food!

Take a ferry to Amsterdam Noord

Amsterdam Noord

Amsterdam Noord is a fantastic part of the city and a neighbourhood which feels quite different from the rest of Amsterdam. It’s just a short ferry ride across the Ij from central station and this mini boat trip is a pleasant break in the commute of thousands of Amsterdammers heading into the centre of town each day.

Amsterdam Noord is much more than a local residential suburb, however, and although it’s not as well-known to tourists as some of the other parts of the city, it’s well worth checking out. In recent years, Amsterdam Noord has become home to some of the city’s best bars, clubs and restaurants and with its unique, industrial vibe, the short journey is well worth it (in fact, the ferry trip is all part of the fun!).

Some of the area’s highlights are bars like Pllek which overlook the Ij – this bar has a little manmade beach and with its unique, alternative setting and ambience, is one of Amsterdam Noord’s coolest hangouts.

If you fancy a bite to eat, Noorderlicht Café is hard to beat – this greenhouse overlooking the river serves up fantastic seasonal food and is a local favourite, especially in the summer.

As the sun goes down, there’s no need to rush back into town for a great night out – iconic Amsterdam techno club Shelter is just around the corner, and is one of the most popular clubs for locals at the weekend. They have incredible line-ups and a uniquely Amsterdam vibe – well worth checking out for lovers of electronic music.

Try some local Dutch food in Amsterdam

amsterdam food

Ok, so Dutch food might not be internationally renowned but there’s plenty of great stuff that you must try! After all, to truly enjoy the Amsterdam summer like the locals, you’re going to have to eat like them too!

In the summer months, it’s all about fish – some great things to try in the summer are Kibbeling (crispy, fried pieces of fresh fish, best enjoyed with some ravigote sauce in a market!) or Hollandse Nieuwe Haring (if you’re in town at the right time in early summer, you’ll be lucky enough to enjoy herring at its absolute best – the fat content must be 16% plus to be considered Hollandse Nieuwe and anybody selling anything else as this is fined more than ten thousand euros!)

If you’ve been refreshing yourself with some of the fantastic local beer that we were talking about earlier and feel a bit peckish, however, it’s difficult to beat bitterballen! These delicious meaty treats are coated in bread crumbs and deep fried to golden perfection and are served in most cafés in the city – traditionally dipped in mustard, they are the ideal snack to soak up all that wonderful beer.

There’s plenty for those with a sweet tooth two – we think there’s nothing quite like an ice cream on a summer’s day and thanks to a high level of immigration from Italy in the 1960s, Amsterdam is home to some of the best Italian gelato and Ice Cream in the world! You’ll see plenty of spots dotted around the city but IJscuypje or the historic Van der Linde (which has been serving ice cream since the 1930s) are local favourites.

Final thoughts

Summer really is the perfect time to visit Amsterdam and the city has an incredible energy in the warmer months – with these tips you’ll be able to enjoy every minute and whether you’re drinking with the afterwork crowds in a brown café, chugging beers on a boat or tucking into some fantastic food, be sure to make the most of the sunny days – you could be getting your umbrella out again before you know it!

Local tip! – Are you looking for a place to stay during your summer in Amsterdam? Check HousingAnywhere!

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If you’re looking for something a little more authentic in Amsterdam, check out our tips below for enjoying an Amsterdam summer like the locals!

If you’re looking for something a little more authentic in Amsterdam, check out our tips below for enjoying an Amsterdam summer like the locals!

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