Summertime is the perfect time of year for a city trip. In June, July and August, the weather in Amsterdam is usually on its best behaviour. We know that outside activities are always amazing when the sun is out but if you want to escape the heat Amsterdam also has plenty of options. To help you plan your visit to Amsterdam, we’ve listed our top 10 things to do during the Amsterdam summer.

1. Amsterdam Canal Cruise

The best way to enjoy a sunny day in Amsterdam is of course on the canals. Step aboard the semi-open boat or take a small boat cruise to enjoy the sun on your face, or sit down in a covered boat if you’d rather enjoy the view from the shade. Every canal cruise is unique as the route depends on both the size of the boat and how busy the canals are.

During a cruise you will see some of Amsterdam’s best sights from the water, such as the Anne Frank House, the Amstel river which gave the city its name, and the iconic Skinny Bridge. If you want to explore more of the city by boat, the City Sightseeing Amsterdam Hop-on Hop-off boat is the perfect canal cruise for you. There are several stops along the city's canals near some of the best attractions!

2. ARTIS Royal Zoo

Strolling through a zoo on a lovely summer's day, almost always guarantees a good time for the whole family. ARTIS Royal Zoo is the oldest zoo in the Netherlands and it is located in the east of the city, near the botanical gardens, the Dutch Resistance Museum and the Wereldmuseum. Enjoy a day in the company of giraffes, sea lions, elephants, jaguars, and learn more about their habitats.

Throughout the day, zookeepers are on hand to tell you more about the animals. The Amsterdam Zoo also boasts an impressive butterfly pavilion and Insectarium, which is climate-controlled to replicate their natural environment. And a planetarium shows you the wonders of the universe beyond our planet.

3. Van Gogh & Rembrandt in Amsterdam

A truly unique Amsterdam experience can be found in the Noorderkerk on the Prinsengracht. Here, you can discover how Vincent van Gogh became inspired by Rembrandt van Rijn with the help of a spectacular son-et-lumière show. It is the only show of its size and kind inside a national monument in the world.

Both artists visited the Noorderkerk, Rembrandt only a few years after the church had first been built, and Van Gogh 200 years later. Artworks by these master painters comes to live before your eyes as they are projected on the walls and ceiling of the church. Meanwhile, Van Gogh's voice resonates through the church as you hear his letters to his brother Theo, where he mentioned Rembrandt over 100 times. 

4. Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Amsterdam

Amsterdam is home to many peculiar and unbelievable sights, such as the narrowest house, which is only 2 metres wide. But if you want to truly surround yourself with unbelievable sights and stories, you will want to visit Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Amsterdam, where you can marvel at hundreds of rare and unusual artifacts and get hands-on with unbelievable interactives.

Inside this completely air-conditioned building, you enter the world of the unbelievable and the bizarre. You will be immersed in artefacts, incredible art, animal oddities, pop-culture memorabilia, and interactive games that are hard to believe yet true. From genuine shrunken human heads to the world's longest fingernails, people say it’s one of the weirdest spots in the city.

5. Amsterdam Icebar

If there is a heatwave in the city there is really only one place that will truly cool you down. The Arctic cold of the Amsterdam Icebar might even be a bit of a shock to the system, luckily they’ll provide you with a warm coat and gloves for when you enter the -10 degree Celsius icebar.

At the Amsterdam Icebar, you join the crew of Dutch Arctic explorer Willem Barentsz, who at the end of the 16th century tried to find a quicker route to the Indies. Barentsz and his crew got stranded on the island of Nova Zembla for over a year. Along with the winterwear, your ticket also includes 3 free drinks, which are served in glasses made of ice.

Top 10 things to do during the Amsterdam summer

6. Vondelpark

The Vondelpark is the largest park in the city of Amsterdam and a great place to escape the city’s hustle and bustle and the summer heat reflecting off of the buildings. Amongst the greenery you'll find bike paths, walking paths, picnic spots, playgrounds, an open-air theatre and several large outdoor cafés and restaurants. The park is a favourite with locals and tourists alike.

7. Pancake Cruise

If you want to get on the water and taste some delicious Dutch pancakes, the 75 minute Pancake cruise is for you. The cruise takes you onto the IJ river, which splits the city centre from the Amsterdam North district, passing by sights such as the EYE Film Museum, the A’DAM Tower, Central Station and massive cruise ships.

During the family-friendly cruise, you’ll have access to an all-you-can-eat buffet of Dutch pancakes, including mouth-watering toppings like Dutch cheese, syrup, bacon, fruit, chocolate, marmalade and much, much more. So make sure you’re hungry when you get on board. And there is a giant ball pit for kids to play in, in the hold of the ship!

8. NEMO Science Museum

If you are looking for a fun, interactive and educational attraction for the whole family, NEMO Science Museum is the place to go. It is a unique attraction in the centre of Amsterdam, which aims to educate visitors about the wonders of science with the help of fun and interactive experiments.

The museum also has the highest city square in the Netherlands located on its roof with a beautiful view over Amsterdam. So when the children have finished exploring the museum you can relax in the sun with a delicious lunch or a good cup of coffee.

9. Heineken Experience

When the temperatures reach a certain point a nice cold beer can be very welcome. If you don’t want to take a seat on a crowded terrace, we highly recommend a visit to the Heineken Experience. The Heineken Experience is a state-of-the-art interactive tour in the historic brewery of one of the world's largest beer brewers.

During a visit you’ll learn about Dutch beer drinking traditions, witness the Heineken brewing process first-hand and savour the nutty flavour of barley. And your tickets include two free drinks at the bar.

10. Explore the Netherlands beyond Amsterdam

If the Amsterdam summer weather gets a bit to sweltering and you want to enjoy a cool countryside breeze, you should consider a visit to Volendam and Marken. The excellent Dutch public transport will take you from Amsterdam Central Station to Volendam or Marken in around 30 minutes. You can take the Marken Express ferry to travel between the two villages.

Both Volendam and Marken are picturesque fishing villages, though very different from each other. It is here where you’ll find some locals still dressing in traditional costumes and where you can taste the best freshly caught fish dishes.

Of course, you can also visit other cities in the Netherlands during your trip. For instance Rotterdam, the second largest city in the country. We've listed the top summer attractions and activities to explore if you're considering heading to Rotterdam.