The past few summers, Europe has been going through the worst heat waves in centuries. That includes Holland, of course, and the heat usually gets even worse in bigger cities like Amsterdam. This is due to the urban heat island effect, but that’s a story for another time. For now, I can’t really keep sweating like this much longer. I want to finish this article and can’t wait to take a refreshing dip already! So, here it goes: I’ll share the best places to cool down and go outdoor swimming in Amsterdam. And spoiler alert: it’s not the canals, stay away from those. They’re not safe for swimming!
Where Can You Go Outdoor Swimming in Amsterdam?
OK, so we’re clear, right? The canals in Amsterdam are off-limits for a swim. People throw and ‘eject’ way too many unidentified substances in there, if you know what I mean. But thankfully, there are definitely other, more idyllic (and hygenic) options out there. Let’s start with the most pristine places for outdoor swimming in the Amsterdam area.
Grote Vijver in the Amsterdamse Bos
The best ‘natural’, outdoor swimming location in Amsterdam is definitely the Grote Vijver (Big Pond) in the Amsterdamse Bos. This huge green, semi-landscaped park is simply called ‘Amsterdam Forest‘ in English. Thankfully, it’s quite easily accessible by bicycle from central Amsterdam. You’ll find it on the southern edge of the city, bordering Amstelveen, a neighbouring town.
The Grote Vijver is a beautiful little lake (or oversized pond, whichever you prefer) with exceptionally clean water. The water easily warms up in summer, so you won’t have to worry about freezing your toes off. The Grote Vijver also borders a comfortable grassy meadow known as the ‘speelweide’. You’ll be swimming in an enormous forest and you’ll feel far away from the urban crowds. In reality, however, you’re only twenty minutes away from central Amsterdam!
Ouderkerkse Plas in Amsterdam Southeast
One of my all-time favourites is a little lake on the edge of the city, in the southeastern part (Zuidoost) of the Amsterdam metropolitan area. Its called Ouderkerkse Plas (‘Lake Ouderkerk’), another location that’s easiest to get to by bicycle. The peaceful lake may not be connected to the sea, but there’s still a nice little sandy beach where you can relax and almost feel like you’re at the beach. What I also appreciate about the Ouderkerse Plas is that the beach is lined with trees. This makes it a lot easier to find a nice spot to settle down in the shade and prevent any sunburns.
The Amstel River Bank at Somerlust Park
The river that gave Amsterdam her name, the Amstel River, is another refreshing option to cool down for city critters. You can head out of town and further down the river for a swim, but you don’t necessarily have to. In my opinion, Park Somerlust (right by the Spaklerweg metro station) is the best place for a swim in the Amstel River. This location is a bit closer to central Amsterdam, so always keep an eye on any signs that may say the water quality isn’t ideal. There is a little wooden jetty where you can jump off of into the water, but there are also stone steps near the water’s edge to safely step in.
Other Outdoor Swimming Locations in Amsterdam
Other cool and clean locations to go swimming in and nearby the city of Amsterdam are: Gaasperplas, Sloterplas and Marineterrein (a more urban location near the National Maritime Museum. I don’t personally frequent those spots very much, but I’ve heard good stories from friends. If you’re thinking about visiting outdoor pools instead of natural bodies of water, I recommend giving Flevoparkbad and De Mirandabad a try.
Do you prefer the beach? Plan a day trip to Zandvoort
And, of course, if you feel like you’re up for a longer trip to the beach, check out this article that I wrote a few months ago. There, I share everything you need to know for your day trip from Amsterdam to Zandvoort Beach (which some people have even started calling ‘Amsterdam Beach’).
Good luck cooling down everyone. Don’t forget to bring a towel, your sunscreen and, of course, your flamingo or pizza slice floaty. That’s all you’ll need. Oh, and perhaps some swimwear. You won’t want to scare everyone away! And if you’re curious about more interesting locations in and near the Dutch capital, don’t forget to check out all my other Amsterdam articles.