Top 10 FREE summer things to do in Amsterdam during a short layover

Free summer things Amsterdam

Summer in Amsterdam has officially started! And guess what? Amsterdam is even more beautiful during summer for a short stopover. The canals come to life with its boats, locals chill in the famous Vondelpark and there are literally traffic jams of cyclists on the streets.

The average temperature in summer is around 20 °C with exceptional peaks of 30 °C. The Dutch can’t stop smiling when temperatures reach over 25 °C. This can be seen in parks, on city beaches and on terraces: it’s packed with Amsterdammers enjoying the sun. Here a list to take full advantage of during a short stay in Amsterdam during your stopover of a few hours. And guess what? Most suggestions are completely free. Enjoy the free summer things Amsterdam!


Vondelpark - what to do during a layover in Amsterdam

Vondelpark Amsterdam

The Vondelpark is the ‘Central Park’ of Amsterdam. It’s right next to the famous entertainment areas Leidse Square and Museum Square and connects the center with the beautiful Old-West neighborhood. Really cool is to visit one of the free concerts that are given at the open-air theater from the 5th of May till the 10th of September. Most performances are given on weekends. Check the program by clicking here.

2. GO SWIMMING AT BLIJBURG AT SEA OR STRANDZUID – Free summer things Amsterdam

Free summer things in Amsterdam - Blijburg Beach - Amsterdams' nicest beach

Blijburg at Sea beach

For the real hot days you might want to visit Amsterdam’s city beach: Blijburg at Sea. From here you’ll have a beautiful look over the IJsselmeer, the largest lake in Western Europe. Another luxurious option is: Strandzuid. This beach is better reachable by public transportation and nice for its beach beds and  sandwiches, although they start from EUR 8. Swimming at Blijburg is more pleasant and you can bring your own sandwiches bought from a supermarket for EUR 2-3.

3. TAKE THE FREE FERRY TO AMSTERDAM NORTH – Free summer things Amsterdam

Free summer things to do - Ferry to Amsterdam North

Ferry from Amsterdam Central Station to Amsterdam North

Not that much time in Amsterdam? Doing something really local? On the backside of Central Station you’ll find the ferries to Amsterdam North. All of these ferries are free. Take the ferry to Buiksloterweg (5 min) and make sure to have a spot on the side to be able to enjoy the beautiful view over ‘t Amsterdamse IJ’. Once there you can chill on fatboys in the sun at the laidback Tolhuistuin. When taking the longer ferry to NDSM werf (14 min), make sure to go to Pllek, the creative hangout or give a visit to the IJ-hallen, the biggest flea market of Europe for those vintage jeans you still missed.

4. THE AMSTERDAMSE BOS – Free summer things Amsterdam

The forest of Amsterdam is three times the size of Central Park and famous for its rowing track, art and own theater. You can do whatever you like in this park and having a beer at Grand Café Bosbaan is a must when visiting the Amsterdamse Bos. For festivities, exhibitions and information in the forest visit the Boswinkel. They will tell you all ins and outs of the forest.

5. JORDAAN DISTRICT + DRINK AT THE WATERKANT – Free summer things Amsterdam

Jordan District, Amsterdam

The Jordaan District is known as a romantic and lovely quarter. It’s famous for the people that grew up there and its songs but most of all because of the lively and small streets. The district used to be one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Amsterdam. Nowadays this 17th century district is one of the most famous and rich areas to live in. You will find there many artists, students and young professionals. After walking through the Jordaan District having a drink at the Waterkant is a must. This café below a parking lot is a recent hype because of its laid-back atmosphere where you can sit next to the water.


No hours to spend in Amsterdam? A five minute walk west from Central Station you’ll find the public library of Amsterdam (OBA). Open everyday from 10am to 10pm. Everybody can enter this beautiful library and it is of course: free. On the seventh floor you’ll find the view point over Amsterdam from which you overlook the canals and the whole centre of Amsterdam. This is free and you do not have to buy anything at the attached restaurant as the view point is not part of the restaurant. This is a far better and much cheaper option than the A’DAM Lookout in Amsterdam North. Another great view point is Café Blue. There you’d have to buy yourself a cheesecake though, it’s delicious.


Albert Cuyp Market - Local Market Amsterdam

Albert Cuyp Market, De Pijp Amsterdam

This is the place to find locals shopping for groceries, fabrics, clothing, textile, leather goods and jewellery. The Albert Cuyp market is open six days a week from 9am to 5pm and is located in the vibrant neighbourhood the Pijp. When visiting the market make sure to go to Gerard Douplein for a drink or go to Restaurant Bazar, located in the Albert Cuyp street. This Eastern fairy tale restaurant is located in a former church and will blow you away with its artistic colours and music.

8. WESTERPARK AND WESTERGASTERREIN – Free summer things Amsterdam

Westerpark - IAmsterdam sign

I Amsterdam Sign – Westerpark, Amsterdam

This is a nice option for when the weather may change from sun to rain and back. When it’s sunny you might want to lay down on the grass in the Westerpark and when the weather is rainy you may play crazy arcade games at TonTon Club.


Windmill next to Brouwerij 't IJ Amsterdam

Windmill next to Brouwerij ‘t IJ Amsterdam

Do you love beer? And do you want to taste a local beer from Amsterdam? Our favorite is the craft beer ‘Eiwit’, which is a goldish fresh blond beer and best on a good summer day. Next to the Brewery ‘t IJ in Amsterdam East you’ll find a Dutch Windmill. It’s not part of the brewery, but still nice to see. And looking at it is completely free. Beers start from EUR 3

10. GAYPRIDE IN AMSTERDAM – Free summer things Amsterdam

Gaypride Amsterdam

Canal Parade – Gay Pride Amsterdam 2016

Among other festivals in Amsterdam the Gaypride is completely free and so much fun. Just stand on the banks of the Prinsengracht or the Amstel river and watch 80 boats with DJs, different themes, plenty of boobs, smiles and crazy stunts. Around 350,000 spectators come to Amsterdam every year so make sure to have a good spot. The event will take place on the first Saturday of August every year. In 2017 this will be on the 5th of August from 13.00-18.00h.

10 thoughts on “Top 10 FREE summer things to do in Amsterdam during a short layover

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