When summer (finally!) arives in Amsterdam, what can be nice than taking a dive in natural water?
Outdoor swimming in Amsterdam is possible in 5 heated swimming pools in the city.
But Amsterdam is a city of water and there are many spots you can take a swim in natural water. In the North, the water IJ is clean enough for a refreshing dive. Around the artificial island or IJburg, a large suburb east of the city, there are several artificial beaches where you can swim.
On the map below you’ll find places to go outdoor swimming in Amsterdam. Also added are children’s pools in Amsterdam’s parks: Vondelpark, Westerpark among others.
If you are really desperate for some feet dipping: try the ponds at Museum Square or, why not, in front of the Americain Hotel at Leidseplein.
View Swimming in Amsterdam in a larger map
IJburg for hipsters and locals
IJburg is a suburb built on an artificial island. In winter it can be windy and feel desolated, but in summer, when it’s hot, everyone wants to live here. The reason is its many beaches, suited for swimming, tanning and even beach parties.
Hotspot is Blijburg, a wooden beach pavilion decorated with budhas, colourful cushions and other matching artefacts that make you feel like you’re have stepped on a beach in Goa, India, instead of one of the most boring suburbs of Amsterdam.
At night, fires, candles and barbecues are lit while the dj turns up the volume. Spring, summer and fall, Blijburg organises parties and festivals. Definitely a place to pass a warm, moist and magical Amsterdam day or night.
Outdoor swimming pool: BadBuiten
BadBuiten is Amsterdam’s first floating swimming pool. It’s small pool and can get quite busy.
You can enjoy a drink and simple meal at the large wooden bar with terrace without paying entrance for the pool.
The location is beautiful with views over the river Amstel.
BadBuiten is only open on warm days.
Entrance €4. No picnicking allowed.
Take metro to Spaklerweg or train station Amsterdam Amstel.
At Westergasfabriek there is a large green field that fills up with barbecues and get to gethers of Amsterdam’s inhabitants.
There is also a large paddling pool for children.
If you want more quiet, walk up the pool, place yourself along the water and dip your feet in while you read a book.
What a way to spend a hot summer’s day in Amsterdam.
Swimming in Amsterdam canals
Can you swim in the canals in Amsterdam?
Yes, you can swim in the Amsterdam canals. The Amsterdam canals used be an open sewer, but that was a long time ago. Nowadays, the water is so clean, the Amsterdam council is considering taking further steps to make the Amsterdam canals suitable for swimming. The problem is that there is a lot of garbage in the canals, especially bikes. Diving or stepping on bicycle parts can be painful. So I do not recommend it.
Are people swimming in the Amsterdam canals?
Yes, people swim in the Amsterdam canals. Every year since 1841, there is the Royal Amstel Swim. Participants swim underneath 6 historic bridges in the Amsterdam canals to promote clean water around the world. It’s in September, when the water is not so cold (but still cold!).
People also drown in the Amsterdam canals, but that happens mostly when they piss in the canals while drunk.
The IJ is the water north of Central Station. From the different Islands (Java-island, KNSM-island and Zeeburg) you can easily jump in.
The water is fairly clean.
Kids use the bridges to jump off, thought this is dangerous because of passing ships.
Combine a bike ride to the architectural interesting islands with a swim.
Always be careful with passing ships and shower after swimming.
Check your body for bugs!
The river Amstel river is not an official place to go swimming in Amsterdam. But if you follow the water from BadBuiten, you’ll find there are many spots where you can take a swim. Be careful with diving for the water near the edges might be shallow.
All along the river there are people swimming and resting in the grasslands along the Amstel.
Take a bike ride and jump in when you feel overheated!
The Amsterdamse Bos is a large woodland park (we call this a ‘forest’). It’s the largest recreational area in Amsterdam, three times bigger than Central Park in NY and excellent for long walks and runs. Through it flows the Bosbaan, a waterway for rowing competitions.
At the end lays a museum dedicated the natural history of the park. Children will enjoy a visit to the goat farm and the pancake house.
In summertime you can jump into the waters. The Grote Vijver (Big pond) is perfect for swimming, especially for children. There are showers, toilets and a café. You can also rent canoes and water paddle bikes. When the sun sets, get out of there, because mosquitoes take over.
De Nieuwe meer is a large lake in the middle of the Amsterdamse Bos. It’s popular for fishing and yachting. It’s big enough to find your own secluded swimming spot.
Maybe you’ll spot a Highland cattle. Yes, you read it correctly. There are Highlands wandering around the area. And there is a gay cruising area as well. Don’t worry, there is nothing to fear from either. Just keep your distance!
Recreation lakes in Amsterdam
Around Amsterdam, the Dutch have created artificial lakes for the sole purpose of recreation. Usually there are beaches or green areas, shops for snacks, toilet facilities and sometimes even life guards. Entrance is always free.
To go outdoor swimming Amsterdam, you can go to Sloterplas in the South-West, Gaasperplas in the South-East and the Ouderkerkerplas in nearby village of Ouderkerk aan de Amstel.
Safety of swimming in natural water in Amsterdam
When there is a large warm period, what we call a ‘heat wave’ (hittegolf), the natural open water can get poisonous. Typically you’ll find a layer of ‘scum’, a thick dirty green and blue layer floating on top of the water. It’s also is quite smelly.
The so called algal blooms or blue-green algae produce some toxic bacteria and is harmful for humans and animals.
Swimming in affected waters can cause diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, poor eye sight, head aches and skin rashes.
That is why the Dutch provincial authorities check the quality of the water of the recreational lakes every 2 weeks.
If these bacteria are found (it’s called in Dutch blauwalg), signs are put up to warn the public.
Be ware, that blue-green algae are also poisonous for dogs.