Travelling to Amsterdam in summer 2019? The days and nights are filled with festivals for food, music, art, dance, theater and films. For tourists it can be a challenge to find 10 things to do in summer in Amsterdam that are not touristy. Before you know it, you’ll be spending your Amsterdam summer vacation in coffee shops and the red light district when you could have made something more special.
To help out tourists, here is a list of things to do in summer 2019 in Amsterdam. Explore Amsterdam North by bike, see the view from the art installation rooftop at Oude Kerk, get drunk with the locals at De Parade, fill up at the many culinary festivals, watch a film in open air, rent your own boat, organise a barbecue hassle free, laugh at standup comedy, celebrate multi cultural food and music at Kwaku festival and enjoy classical music on the Amsterdam canals with the Amsterdam Grachtenfestival.
10 Things to do in Amsterdam in Summer
1. Explore Amsterdam by bike
When it gets hot, walking the narrow streets of the Amsterdam red light district is not a lot of fun. Biking is great fun, as long as you stay out of the centre, and out of the way of the Amsterdam bikers! Enjoy a lovely bike ride by taking the free ferry across the IJ-water to NDSM and bike along the water.
You will pass by old shipping wharfs, hip bars and chill out cafés and find out where the locals go. Further along you will see a small village and eat apple pie, before you cross the big bridge to come back to Amsterdam East side and follow the water again back to the centre. A really great day! Follow this route to do the IJ-lake Bike Tour.
2. Rent your own boat in Amsterdam
Prepare a picnic and rent your own little boat to sail through the Amsterdam canals. Expect to pay around 100 euros for a couple of hours in the Amsterdam canals. You can enter the boat with max 6-7 people and share the cost. Check here how to rent your own private boat in Amsterdam.
3. Kwaku Festival
Experience a totally different side of Amsterdam at the Kwaku Festival. This festival is held 4 weekends from in July and August 2019 at Amsterdam’s multicultural neighbourhood Southeast (Nelson Mandelapark).
There is great food (100 food stands!) and music (3 stages!) from all over the world and that special vibe that only Amsterdam’s most colorful inhabitants can bring. The Friday Evening Concert is a special musical performance. Entrance is 5 euros, kids up to 13 years are free.
Kwaku by public transport
It’s easy to get to Kwaku Summer Festival by public transport. Go to Station Amsterdam Biilmer (trains and metro 50 and 54, many buses). Walk through the shopping mall De Amsterdamse Poort to the festival (15 minutes walk).
4. Classical music on the Amsterdam canals
From 9 to 18 August 2019 the Amsterdam canals host a great amount of classical music performances. Yes, the canals. The canals, the island of Pampus, the Vuurtoreneiland (light house tower) at Durgerdam, the Stelling van Amsterdam (17th century defence belt around Amsterdam), the roofs of houses, gardens, roof terraces all become location of classical music concerts during the Grachtenfestival.
5. The Old Church in red light
The Oude Kerk (‘Old Church’) is Amsterdam’s oldest church and lies in the heart of the city – the red light district. This summer, you can visit the church in a special light: the red light. The church will be bathed in an ocean of red light, an inimitable experience. Late in the evening the red light is emitted from the church, coalescing with the red lamplight of the plentiful brothels and prostitution windows surrounding the church. Throughout the summer the church shares in this light and shade: interior and exterior circulate around each other, to the rhythm of sunlight and its inversion.
The red light of the Old Church is a work of the Italian artist Giorgio Andreotta Calò. The exhibition Anastasis runs from 25 May till 23 September 2018. Admission is €10, free for holders of the I Amsterdam Card. Open Monday to Thursday from 10.00 – 18.00, Friday 10.00 till sunset, Sunday 1300 – 17.30.
6. Festivals for Foodies
Amsterdam’s full of culinary festivals where you can taste and buy locally produced goods and new international dishes. Generally the festival is located in a beautiful location and free to enter. Often, music is provided and the food is accompanied by nice wines and sometimes locally produced beer.
Check out the Kimchie Farm Festival their new location De Ceuvel, the Pure Markt every month at Amstelpark, the Food Truck Festival at Amstelpark and at Westergasfabriek the monthly NeighbourFoodMarket and Sunday market.
Check the Amsterdam Event Calendar 2019 for dates and food festivals.
7. De Parade Theatre Festival
De Parade might be announced as a Theatre Festival, it’s also the place where the young and old gather, sit around tables and wander around to see, be seen, get drunk and (towards the end of night) hook up.
So if you want to meet up with some Dutch locals, head over to this park along the river Amstel, buy your entrance tickets and buy a bottle of Rose wine to blend in. Every day there are many theatre, dance, mime and musical performances, each of which so have to buy additional tickets for. The quality of the performance varies greatly. But the entourage and circus tents are great, and so is the ambiance.
De Parade is every day from 9 August to 25 August 2019 at the Martin Luther Kingpark. It’s best reached by bike, like the Amsterdam do. If you have no bike, travel to the Amstelstation (train, tram, metro) and walk 15 minutes. From Central Station, take tram 4 and get out at Victorieplein, walk for 10 minutes.
8. Visit a market
There are many markets in Amsterdam where you can not just buy food, but be entertained as well. Try delicious food, walk around, enjoy some live music. Pure market, NeighbourFood market and Sunday Market at Westergasfabriek or one of the daily food markets are a real good way to spend your time in Amsterdam, try local food and a chance to mingle with the locals.