9 best things to do in the Netherlands this summer

9 best things to do in the Netherlands this summer

The summer season (and the summer holidays) are right around the corner. With (hopefully) nice weather, long days, and potentially lots of free time, you might be looking for inspiration on how to spend your days. If this is the case for you and your family, here are some top tips for things to do in the Netherlands this summer.

Summer in the Netherlands

According to the astronomical calendar, summer kicks off on June 20 - the Summer Solstice, or the longest day of the year. Meteorologists consider the summer months to be June, July and August.

Summer in the Netherlands can be a bit of a mixed bag. The country certainly isn't known for its glorious weather, and over the course of the summer, you'll likely experience a range of weather types - including a couple of hot days where temperatures rise well above the 25-degree mark. Generally, the warmest weather is seen in the southern and eastern parts of the Netherlands, in the provinces of Limburg, North Brabant and Gelderland. 

Best things to do in summer in the Netherlands

Now you know what to expect from the notoriously unpredictable Dutch weather, here are some suggestions for ways to pass the time over the summer.

Relax at one of the Netherlands’ beaches

It’s an oldie but a goodie. While the Netherlands isn’t known for its beach weather, its location along the coast means it has plenty of stunning beaches which can be enjoyed all year round. There are a couple of beaches that are really easily accessible - and so are pretty popular and can get really busy - such as Scheveningen and Zandvoort, but those aren’t the only options out there. 

Why not try visiting one of the beaches near Bloemendaal, or the stretch of beach between Noordwijk and Zandvoort. Alternatively, visit one of the many city beaches that can be found in cities across the Netherlands.

Image credit: Fotografie - Schmidt via Bloemendaal aan Zee, beach in the Netherlands

Take a day trip to a quaint Dutch village 

If you’re a (relatively) new arrival to the Netherlands, it might be a nice idea to use the good weather and long days as an opportunity to explore more of your new home. The country’s high population density means it's fairly built up, but there are many beautiful - and more rural - towns and villages out there that make for great day trips. Fill your day with a nice stroll or a cycle ride and a tasty lunch and a cool drink on a terrace in the sun. 

Image credit: Frolova_Elena via Bourtange, Groningen, the Netherlands

Have fun at a Dutch theme park

This is a great one for all the families (and fully-grown children) out there. Whether you’re eight, 18 or 80, if you’re a fan of exhilarating roller coasters then the perfect way to spend a summer's day is undeniably at one of the many theme parks you can find dotted across the country. The biggest and most famous are Efteling and Walibi, but there’s something for everyone out there - including a couple of water parks, which are great places to cool off on a hot day. 

Image credit: StockStudio Aerials via Roller coaster at Walibi World theme park, the Netherlands

Visit the Frisian Islands

Want to take your beach day to the next level? Visit one of the Netherlands’ islands! No, we’re not talking about one of the Dutch Caribbean islands (sadly) - we’re talking about the Frisian Islands (Waddeneilenden), which can be found off the northern coast of the country.

There are eight in total - but three are small and are completely uninhabited. The largest island is Texel, and its location at the top of the province of North Holland means it's also one of the most popular to visit. Alternatively, head to Schiermonnikoog, Vlieland or Terschelling, which are all smaller and car-free.

Image credit: Rudmer Zwerver via Schiermonnikoog, Frisian Islands, the Netherlands

Go on a hike or a cycle trip

If you’re someone who likes to keep active, then a nice thing to do over the summer might be to explore the city by foot or by bike via one of the Netherlands’ many walking and cycling routes. You could, for example, cycle through the Veluwe National Park or through the dunes in Julianadorp. Another option is to cycle or walk (part of) the 43-kilometre route at Kinderdijk, or check out our picks for some of the most magnificent hikes in the Netherlands.

Image credit: leoks via Kinderdijk windmills, the Netherlands

Let loose at a music festival

The Netherlands is known for its music scene, and festival season is the best chance to explore the many artists and genres the country has to offer. Some of the biggest include Pinkpop, Lowlands, Awakenings, North Sea Jazz Festival, AMF and Milkshake - but there are so many more to choose from!

If rocking out isn’t really your scene then not to worry; there are a number of other kinds of festivals happening across the Netherlands at this time of year. There are food festivals aplenty, art festivals, wine festivals, and, of course, Pride Amsterdam!

Image credit: Ben Houdijk via Lowlands music festival, the Netherlands

Engage in some water sports (or go on a boat trip)

The Netherlands has A LOT of water - and the Dutch like to make the most of that by spending sunny days out on the water. Depending on where you are, the options for what water sports you can engage in will likely differ, but some popular ones you can do almost anywhere - including in cities - are stand-up paddleboarding (SUPing) and kayaking. If you’re after something a little bit more exciting, you could head to a beach and try sailing, surfing or kite surfing. 

If you’re after something that's a little less active and a little more relaxing, why not go on a canal cruise, or - even better - rent a boat with your friends or family and enjoy a day out on a lake or the canals

Image credit: Ceri Breeze via Stand-up paddleboarding on canals in Utrecht

Enjoy a movie under the stars at an outdoor cinema

If it’s an especially hot day and you want to escape the heat, then going to sit in an air-conditioned cinema for a few hours is a great idea. But, if you’d rather be outside to enjoy the (likely fleeting) nice weather - and still want to catch a flick on the big screen - then make a plan to go to one of the Netherlands’ outdoor cinemas

The cinemas are only open for limited periods of time, and the showings are (unsurprisingly) dependent on the weather on the day, but kicking back and enjoying a movie under the stars could be a special or romantic way to spend a summer's evening.

Image credit: Melanie Lemahieu via Open-air cinema viewing in Amsterdam

Enjoy a glass (or three) at a Dutch vineyard

So the Netherlands might not be France, California or Cape Town, but did you know that the Dutch produce their own wines? You’ll have to travel down to Limburg to find them, and once you’re there you can go on a tour or enjoy a tasting session. There are even companies that operate walking and cycling tours through the different vineyards, giving you a chance to explore more of the local area (and work off some of that alcohol).

Image credit: Joop Hoek via Vineyard in Geul, Limburg, the Netherlands

Make the most of the Dutch summer

There you have it; all the information you need to make the most of your summer in the Netherlands. Now get out there and enjoy the summer while it lasts!

Thumb image credit: fokke baarssen via

Victoria Séveno


Victoria Séveno

Victoria grew up in Amsterdam, before moving to the UK to study English and Related Literature at the University of York and completing her NCTJ course at the Press Association...

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