Summer in the city

Summer evening on a canal in Amsterdam

The sense of summer in Amsterdam

As cities go, Amsterdam is a very nice ‘summer city’. With so much water, so many trees, and places to conk out, under a tree, (or under a table at a pavement café if you overdo it). All of this sooths the sizzlingness of a hot summer day in the city. So you may not suffer at all, you might revel in it.


Summer walks in Amsterdam

Some of the walks that we select here are particularly nice in summer being either short and sweet (for balmy summer evenings) or longish, getting you away from the crowds to places where you'll have more leafy space. Especially for warm days, we have a few airy walks in places where you're fairly sure to find a nice spot beside the water, that kind of thing! So when the heat is on, take your book, camera (and some refreshments?) and follow one of these leafy trails.  This applies to young and old alike.


What you can see in summer in Amsterdam

Pavement Gardens in summer

pavement garden in amsterdam in summerThe pavement gardens come in to their own in the summer, from May or June onwards you could say. For the very reason that they are so small, they look best when they are in full bloom. The luxuriance belies the amount of ground available. Although there's great variety in summer, the roses and hollyhocks are exceptional.

Everything in the pavement garden is Rosy!

Roses are red… and yellow… and white… and pink… and peachy. Roses love Amsterdam, the pavement gardens are festooned in them now, climbing and cascading over doors, windows, balconies. You could take photos every five steps and here are some pavement roses to whet your appetite.

The colours are vibrant so even it it's not sunny, they shine. You can walk and walk and you'll just be oohing and ahing all the way.

pink roses in pavement garden in amsterdam in summerred roses in pavement garden in amsterdam in summer

Lavender Lanes

cushions of lavender in amsterdam in summerLavender is about to bloom or blooming already and lavender has established itself as a perfect candidate for the pavement garden. Big cushions of it sit at the foot of the buildings adding to the scents of summer.

HHH: Hollyhocks, hydrangea and honeysuckle

Honeysuckle is flourishing by now as well and although some of you may consider it a nuisance, it does look and smell wonderful beside red roses. Hydrangeas are becoming widespread and look great, often brightening up dark corners.

Depending on the weather, the hollyhocks should be marching in all their glory from June onwards. They are superb, every colour imaginable, and they grow out of coin-sized nooks and crannies. The ‘guerilla gardeners’ of Amsterdam (myself included) have had a loose hand in deploying these happy flowers. We collect the seeds end of season, and scatter them wherever they're needed to brighten up dull and dingy corners. Their charm is in their chaotic colours and random dispersion, forestalling any pretty pretty choc-box effect.

hollyhocks in pavement garden in amsterdam in summerred hollyhocks in pavement garden in amsterdam in summer

Gardens and inhabitants

The pavement gardens may have their inhabitants enjoying a coffee in the morning, or lunch, or a book, or a glass of wine, the newspaper, or dinner. Weather is usually better now and people have time off.  I haven't included photos of the inhabitants because that's really infringing on their leafy privacy but they're usually chuffed if they happen to see you admiring their work.

That said, July & August are the months when there's a mass-exodus of Amsterdammers heading off on holiday. The city becomes much quieter, less need to sprint for the last table at the café, restaurant or pub. Parks, squares and streets outside the tourist-areas become nostalgically tranquil. You'll notice much less traffic, borne out by the abundance of free parking spaces. Even car-owners opt to walk or cycle when the weather is sunny and hot.

Of course nothing beats a secluded private garden, but for us passing by, there is something open and generous about these pavement gardens; it's as if they imbue everyone with a sense of well-being, and that's the intention too.

Trees in summer

If the trees in spring delight us with their pale-green hue, in summer they are a beautiful relief as well, giving shade and coolness in many a hot moment. There's nothing as nice as the shade of an airy, leafy tree when things get hot. No sun umbrella can compare and in Amsterdam there's no scarcity of leafy shade.

The trees all look magnificent of course, and the plane trees, of which there are many, look their best now. Plane trees can look a bit scruffy in their spring leaves, but in the full summer, they are glorious. Caucasian wingnut are widespread in Amsterdam and enhance many a summer park or square. Honey locust, swamp cypress, weeping willow, catalpa, birch, lime you'll encounter them all thriving near to the wonderful elm.

Summer nights

Warm summer nights: sitting outside at a café pub by the water around midnight. Just the sound of soft voices from other tables and the slosh of water when a boat chugs by, a refreshing glass of whatever - you'll feel at peace with the world.

Amsterdam Open Garden Days

Amsterdam Open Garden Days 2016 (June 17, 18, and 19, 2016)

A great opportunity to ramble around some select city gardens. The Open Garden Days is a recurring event every June.