The Complete Guide
Amsterdam is the capital city and most populous municipality of the Netherlands. Amsterdam has a population of 866,737 within the city proper, 1,380,872 in the urban area and 2,410,960 in the metropolitan area. The city is located in the province of North Holland in the west of the country but is not its capital, which is Haarlem.
Amsterdam’s main attractions include its historic canals, the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum, the Hermitage Amsterdam, the Anne Frank House, the Scheepvaartmuseum, the Amsterdam Museum, the Heineken Experience, the Royal Palace of Amsterdam, Natura Artis Magistra, HortusBotanicus Amsterdam, NEMO, the red-light district and many cannabis coffee shops, bars, pubs, renowned restaurants and night clubs. They draw more than 5 million international visitors annually. The city is also well known for its nightlife and festival activities, several of its nightclubs are among the world’s most famous. It is also one of the world’s most multicultural cities, with at least 177 nationalities representation.
Amsterdam is also famous for its vibrant and diverse nightlife and has many Pubs, Bars, Cafés ranging from large and modern to small and cozy. Most cafés have terraces in the summertime, whereas, a common sight on the Leidseplein during summer is a square full of terraces packed with people drinking beer, wine or cocktails. Since Amsterdam is a multicultural city, a lot of different cultural restaurants can be found throughout the City. Restaurants range from being rather luxurious and expensive to being ordinary and affordable. Amsterdam City also possesses many discothèques. The two main nightlife areas for tourists are the Leidseplein and the Rembrandtplein. The Paradiso, Melkweg and Sugar Factory are cultural centers, which turn into discothèques on some nights. Examples of discothèques near the Rembrandtplein are the Escape, Air, John Doe, and Club Abe. Also noteworthy are Panama, Hotel Arena (East), TrouwAmsterdam and Studio 80. Bimhuis located near the Central Station, with its rich programming hosting the best in the field is considered one of the best jazz clubs in the world. The Reguliersdwarsstraat is the main street for the LGBT community and nightlife.
So as briefed above the city offers a wide and great range of bars, restaurants, and nightclubs which has actually improved the nightlife experiences for their locals as well as foreigners, in context of the same, here in this article we are going to take a deep look into such features of The Amsterdam city which will make your journey excellent.
When it comes to experience and discuss nightlife in Amsterdam, there are countless venues including city center attractions, pubs, bars, dance festivals and club nights to suit every single visitor’s taste! DJs keep the crowd going with everything from techno, dubstep, and trance to hip-hop, funk, and deep house. With tourist statistics continuing as sky-rocket, it seems that Amsterdam is as popular as ever with the city’s record-breaking crowd, and the best things to do in Amsterdam appear to increase in number each season. Even for residents, the city’s ever-changing nature means there are loads to explore – in fact, while the Dutch capital’s pleasure-seeking nightlife still attracts a mass of stag and hen dos, there is so much more to this sophistication.
Culturally, it is one of Europe’s most diverse, eclectic destinations, and with many bijoux renovations and regeneration projects now completed, it has now been more vibrant and lively than ever, so check out our suggestion here and explore the city attractions to accomplish your trip at it’s best:
On an annual basis, Holland Festivals attracts international artists and visitors from all over Europe. There are so many famous festivals and events in Amsterdam include: Koningsdag (which was named Koninginnedag until the crowning of King Willem – Alexander in 2013, King’s Day & Queen’s Day), the Holland Festival for the performing arts, the yearly Prinsengracht Concert (classical concerto on the Prinsen canal) in August, the ‘StilleOmgang’ (a silent Roman Catholic evening procession held every March), Amsterdam Gay Pride, The Cannabis Cup, and the Uitmarkt.
On Koninginnedag – that held each year on 30 April – hundreds of thousands of people visiting Amsterdam to celebrate with the city’s residents and Koningsdag is held on 27 April. The entire city becomes overcrowded with people buying products from the freemarket, or visiting one of the many music concerts being arranged in the city. The annual Uitmarkt is a three-day cultural event at the start of the cultural season in late August. It offers previews of many different artists, such as musicians and poets, who perform on podia.
Amsterdam has 3 main areas to party, the Dam Square (same area as the Red Light District), Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein. Another recommended area to visit is the Jordaan district, the alternative neighborhood of the city, ideal for shopping and a coffee or beer with a canal view.
The largest tourist area of Amsterdam is concentrated around the Dam Square, with its numerous historical and administrative buildings, as well as an endless number of bars and restaurants. Along the way from the Dam Square to the Red Light District, close to the Old Church (Oude Kerk) is located the most famous coffee-shops (marijuana bars). Here are also the rows of famous red-lit windows of “working girls”. Walking around this area you can grasp the essence of the city, famous for its open culture, sexual liberty and legal use of marijuana.
This small square has become the epicenter of the Amsterdam nightlife, as it has countless pubs, some coffee-shops such as the Smokey (photo) and has a great atmosphere and a superb location. It is indeed ideal to spend an evening and have a beer. Then, if you still want something more to boost your night, then you must go to Leidseplein or the Red Light District, as this area is right between them, just 10 minutes walking from each.
Leidseplein is the most demanding and popular area to party for locals and foreigners, where you can find the best nightclubs in Amsterdam (we will discuss in upcoming paras below) and small clubs scattered around the streets of the area. You have a guaranteed party until 5 in the morning and you can also start as soon as you want. There are numerous coffee-shops and pubs in the surrounding area, as well as a large selection of international restaurants.
Coffee-shops are an unchallenged tourist attraction in Amsterdam, even non-smokers are amazed that a country allows the sale and consumption of cannabis in their premises. Generally, the coffee-shops are usually found full, they are very small and extremely expensive. Here we have selected the three best coffee-shops 1) The Bulldog, 2) Original Dampkring and 3) Barney’s Coffeeshop. These three coffee-shops are most frequented and demanded in the City and are outstanding in their performances. Make no mistake, the selection of marijuana and hashish is very similar in all, the interesting thing is their decoration, history and the environment.
A little Chinatown of Amsterdam is formed just behind the Red Light District where some small blocks of buildings are there. The denomination is not the most appropriate since its huge community comes from different Asian countries, especially Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. There are a few pubs here, but it is a great place to grab a bite in the evening. There are plenty of great Asian restaurants and small snack bars as well and it is very animated in the evening.
Amsterdam has two casinos. It is pertinent to mention here that, to enter into the premises, it is required to be dressed formally, be at least 18 years old and have an identity card or passport. The Casinos are 1) Holland Casino Amsterdam, located at Max Euweplein 62 and 2) Holland Casino Schiphol Airport, located in the West Terminal of Schiphol Airport.
For this we can say, Twinkle twinkle little star, where will you find Amsterdam’s highest bar?
Up to the A’DAM Tower of course! Just next to ClinkNOORD, MA’DAM sky bar is the place to head for panoramic views of the city after dark. Grab a cocktail of your choice and watch the lights sparkle across the Amsterdam. The bar operates a no-reservations policy and their only rule if you want to swing by for drinks? … Show up thirsty!
Amsterdam is lovely and beautiful by day, but at night, when the sun goes down, the mystery magic starts to happen. Stroll along the city’s cobbled canal-side streets lit up with romantic street lights, and soak in the romance of it all. If you are lucky, the Amsterdam Light Festival might be in town too. During the city’s darkest days, a host of innovative light installations brighten up the canals and streets.
Visitors to Amsterdam have been exploring its thriving bar ‘scene’ since the 1600s when sailors dropped by for one last shot of jenever before heading out to sea. Some of the bars they frequented are still around, serving the local juniper-based spirit in tulip-shaped glasses. There is an ultra-cool, ultra-modern side to some of the best bars in Amsterdam too. Upmarket lounges, world-class cocktail bars, and cutting-edge craft breweries have transformed the Dutch capital’s drinks offering in recent years. While in summer, nothing beats sitting out on the terraces, where tourists and local’s alike while away impossibly long evenings over biertjes (little beers) and bitterballen (a classic Dutch deep-fried bar snack).
So, if you have had a long day out experiencing this city’s wonderful attractions and other things to do, you probably deserve a drink to satisfy your thirst, so check out our recommendations here for the best options available in Amsterdam and they are ready to make you happy and kill your liquor desire:
This down-to-earth pub has plenty to offer anyone searching for a peaceful spot to enjoy an afternoon beer in central Amsterdam. Even though it is located right next to the busiest shopping street in the city, Kalverstraat, it usually remains comparatively quiet compared to other nearby watering holes and has a distinctive, old-time charm that is difficult to find elsewhere in the center of town. Rather than handing out menus, the Pilsner Club displays its selection of beers, spirits, and snacks on chalkboards at the back of its lounge and lets customers order from their tables.
To enter this high-end, speakeasy-style bar, patrons must ring an unmarked doorbell then wait for a server to greet and seat them. Though Bar Oldenhof serves all manners of drinks, it is particularly renowned for its superbly-crafted cocktails and extensive selection of premium spirits, including whiskeys, jenevers, and rums. The bar itself looks stunning and features two elegantly decorated levels furnished in dark woods and velvet. Bar Oldenhof regularly hosts whiskey tasting sessions, where participants get to learn about the history of distilling while sampling famous Scottish tipple.
The venue is very small and usually found busy during peak operational hours. This typical Dutch pub has more than 50 tap beers, all Dutch. It is a perfect place to discover new beers and some cocktails of your choice, you can also try opting the cheese and croquette platter -renowned typical snacks to accompany beers in the Netherlands.
One of the best rooftop bars with the most excellent view in town is the W Lounge on the top floor of the luxurious W. It is not the highest but offers stunning 360 degree view over the city and the historical Royal Palace located on Dam Square. On their menu you will find all that is new in the world of mixology in combination with mouthwatering bar bites. Unique to this bar is that, they have a rooftop pool, perfect for paddling with a cocktail in summer! Arrive early and stay late, with beautiful people, weekly events and DJ performances.
This popular canal-side bar lies underneath a gigantic, spiral-shaped, multi-story car park that resembles two towerings, striped barrels. The bar looks out over the Singelgracht canal and is surrounded by a long, spacious terrace – complete with wooden picnic tables – that draws in large crowds over summer. At night, this stunning locale is illuminated by multi-colored lights that cast a dazzling reflection onto the canal, creating an almost festival-like vibe. Waterkant stocks many local brews, including beers from Gebrouwen door Vrouwen and Brouwerij ’t IJ. It also serves Heineken by the pitcher.
Even though it is only around a kilometer away from Centraal Station, Roest seems worlds apart from other bars and the hustle and bustle of the city center. As it is located in a labyrinthine industrial estate, the bar is almost impossible to find without proper directions, which creates an air of secrecy that certainly adds to its appeal. Furthermore, Roest has an enormous terrace, with an adult-sized jungle gym and an artificial beach that edges onto a canal. The bar serves food and drink throughout the day and is among the few places in Amsterdam that stock Berlin’s favorite soft drink, Roest also organizes gigs, festivals, and performances throughout the month and often hosts events inside a nearby warehouse.
This beach hut-style bar is almost surrounded by water and looks as though it was built entirely out of driftwood (in a good way). Due to its incredible location and stunning waterside terraces, Hannekes Boom attracts a lot of footfall during the warmer months of the year and easily ranks among the most popular summer hangouts in the city center. Although it is quite difficult to spot, the bar is within walking distance from Centraal Station and accessible via a scenic waterside footpath that trails past Amsterdam Central Library, Sea Palace and NEMO.
This multi-tiered, disc-shaped café lies in the center of Vondelpark and features an enormous, two-story terrace that ranks among the largest facilities of its kind in Europe. The café was completed in the 1930s and was designed according to ideas drawn from Nieuwe Zakelijkheid- a school of pragmatic, modernist architecture that emerged in the Netherlands during the early 20th century. Due to its expansive outdoor seating area (that overlooks the most popular park in the city), ’tBlauwe Theehuis becomes particularly popular during sunny spells. Thankfully, the café can accommodate around 700 people and features two separate bars.
It is possible to cram in some additional sightseeing while enjoying tasty local craft beers at this independent brewery in Amsterdam-Oost, This mammoth machine serves as the brewery’s unofficial mascot and stands proudly above Brouwerij ‘t IJ’s charming, canal-side beer garden, creating a picture-perfect scene that would not look out of place on a postcard. The brewery itself has been in business for over 30 years and was among the first craft ventures to launch in the city. All of Brouwerij ’t IJ’s signature beers are available on draft inside its taproom and can be enjoyed alongside a small selection of traditional Dutch pub food.
The high-end champagne and cocktail bar Twenty Third Bar is located on the 23rd floor of the five-star Hotel Okura. It offers a great and wide range of exquisite drinks and Michelin star worthy bites with a magnificent view over Amsterdam. A sommelier can advise you on their best wines and champagnes and their bartender will be happy to shake up a fruit-filled cocktail. It is the perfect venue for after dinner or pre going out drinks in style.
The waterhole is a live music bar in the heart of the city with a line-up varying from pop to rock and anything in between. You can go there for a quick bite and drinks or head up to their Tap & Dine restaurant on the first floor serving delicious comfort food like burgers and ribs. The fun thing about this place is that you will be seated at a table with your very own beer tap! The music program is filled with gigs from international and local artists, the whole week through. Indie Mondays, 80’s Funk and Rock on Thursdays and Friday night Rock. Whatever music type you are in to, Waterhole is indeed the perfect venue for a musical night out along the selected cocktail of your choice.
Amsterdam’s restaurant scene is awesome for culinary enthusiastic visitors, much like the people who call it home, is a vast melting pot of styles and influences from all over the globe. Traditionally influenced by the countryside and centered on meat, root vegetables, and calories, Dutch cuisine has evolved and absorbed an influx of foreign ideas and ingredients, for several years, a new breed of Dutch chefs have been updating classics and innovating in the kitchen. The healthy expat community and plenty of things to do are confirm, that there is a diverse array of local joints, hip hangouts, brunch spots, and smaller restaurants all over the city ready to cater to just about any culinary as well as booze desire.
So, get a taste of the vast local produce for yourself by making your way to the street of Amsterdam and experience the diverse and tasty culinary scene with our guide to the best restaurants in Amsterdam:
With rattan chairs and fishing poles hanging from the wall, Bar Fisk strives to recreate the feeling of sitting on a seaside patio, even during the dead of winter in Amsterdam. A youthful and enthusiastic crowd often takes advantage of Bar Fisk’s late hours. The menu consists of a selection of shareable plates linked to the flavors of Tel Aviv. Of course, most items highlight seafood, like pan-fried sea bream with goat cheese, onions, and pine nuts. But choices like pulled beer with crispy pita, pickled onion, and yogurt tahini will also appeal to those who prefer food that comes from the land.
In 2013, Amsterdam star chef Ron Blaauw closed his two-Michelin-starred restaurant and reopened this more relaxed spot in its stead. Since then, the Gastrobar has been setting the tone for Amsterdam’s unpretentious, next-gen dining scene. There is an eclectic mix of expertly executed small plates, like dim sum-style shrimp dumplings in shiitake and chorizo broth, as well as a six-course tasting menu. But the restaurant is known for its dry-aged steaks and gin and tonics.
Diners are only given a hint of the meal to come when looking at the menu. Rather than name each dish, only ingredients are listed, like “trout, fennel, buttermilk, and bergamot.” They come to your table as artfully plated – and enticing compositions. Allow your palate to be surprised you as you move through interesting and unexpected flavor combinations.
The restrained design of exposed brick walls painted white and single-bulb light fixtures does not exactly jive with the peppy cuisine coming out of the kitchen at this restaurant just off bustling Rembrandtplein – but we are cool with it. Constantly rotating, themed menus are arranged around a different ingredient or them, like chicken, fish, beef, or pork, or a cuisine like Italian, Japanese, or Dutch. You choose a tasting menu of five, six, or seven courses, with the option to “add some glory” with a supplement of smoked eel, jamonIberico, Persian Imperial caviar, or a platter of select cheeses. The concept sounds straightforward and simple, but what arrives is artfully plated and elegant – yet in no way off-putting.
Wait staff runs back and forth at the minimalist dining room – outfitted with bright white walls and small wooden tables – and the storefront across the street, where the wood-fired pizza oven is housed. A hip, youthful crowd carb-loads on pizza before hitting the town all night long. Skip straight to the perfectly cooked Neapolitan pizzas topped with the finest ingredients, like buffalo mozzarella, flown in from Italy every week. Try the finocchiona, made with fennel seed-flecked salami, arugula, and artichoke.
Librije’s Zusje is like a posh cocoon – gray walls, plush chairs, white table clothes – hidden away inside the Waldorf Astoria and overlooking a garden. The intimacy is a fitting ambiance for the sister restaurant to the renowned, three-Michelin-starred De Librije (“zusje” literally means sister in Dutch), in the northeastern city of Zwolle. Executive chef Sidney Schutte, a DeLibrije alum, holds his own, mixing Dutch ingredients with global influences to create innovative dishes like local lobster flavored with lemon geranium and lychee. Librije’s Zusje is the kind of place where you, without question, splurge on the tasting menu.
While open kitchens are commonplace these days, this one has a very little separation from the dining room. It truly feels as if you are dining in someone’s home, which is the goal of chefs Karin Gaasterland and Alain Parry. The three-course menus err on the rustic and seasonal side, with dishes like Dutch pork belly with aniseed and lemon peel cream, or guinea fowl with white asparagus and marrow and anchovy vinaigrette.
You probably did not travel all the way to Amsterdam to eat Japanese food, but you might want to rethink that during your journey in Amsterdam. Yamazato, which excels in kaiseki cuisine, was the first traditional Japanese restaurant in Europe to be awarded a Michelin star in 2002. The decor is Japanese and the dining room even overlooks a garden. Kaiseki menus are the main event, expect a flurry of delicate creations, like shrimp sushi wrapped in a bamboo leaf, or sashimi of tuna, yellowtail, seared sea bream, squid, and sea urchin.
This sky-high bar, restaurant and night club stands on the eastern side of the river Amstel and offers guests panoramic views across the entire city. Thanks to its massive, plate-glass windows there are many vantage points inside the venue that looks out over Amsterdam. Alternatively, guests can venture out onto Canvas’ rooftop terrace and experience the city’s skyline in the open air. During weekends, Canvas hosts club nights after 23.00, which takes place inside its spectacular bar area.
The Foodhallen stands out among other indoor food markets thanks to its top-notch offerings, serving everything from reimagined Dutch classics to Vietnamese and Mexican. Housed inside a former tram depot, Foodhallen is buzzing at all hours of the day. Aggressively guard your table if you manage to get one at all. Gin & Tonic Bar makes, you guessed it, gin and tonics with a range of different ingredients (try the one with jenever for something a bit different). Beerbar, meanwhile, pours more than 60 different local and international beers, including two brewed specifically for Foodhallen. It is an ideal refueling stop at any time of the day, particularly in winter when you need to thaw out after a long day of sightseeing.
While Amsterdam is caring & loving their locals & foreigners, it proudly welcomes to its music and nightlife which has been futuristic from day one. Lettingthe other cities lagged, the Dutch government introduced the first nachtburgemeester (night mayor) in 2016, specifically aiming to grow it’s capital’s club culture to the optimum new levels. Turns out it worked pretty well – there is now a huge range of night clubs in the city, from 24-hour rave havens to squats turned into venues.
When you are planning to visit The Amsterdam, we strongly recommend you to choose a place to stay in closeness to these top late-night hangouts, as it is indeed a must thing to do while you are in Amsterdam. Spaces here are often surprising and you might find yourself dancing in a double-decker bus or a pirate radio boat as well – but wherever you are, you are sure to have an absolute ace time. After dinner at one of the best restaurants in the city, refer our recommendations here and keep the festivities going at the best clubs in Amsterdam :
Leave the day behind the second you step into Club AIR. For the remainder of the night, set the bar high and let your spirits soar. With friendly, attentive service, creative, quality programming and a large space divided to create a cozier atmosphere, Club Air is the perfect place to let your hair down and dance till dawn. The club is even awarded Club AIR the “Best Use of Technology of the Year,” so the superb sound system will get your feet moving. Plus, the club has welcomed many internationally famous artists, such as Afrojack, John Digweed, Sasha, Dr.Lektroluv, Sven Väth, and Steve Aoki.
Housed in an abandoned dairy factory, Melkweg was originally founded in 1970 as an outlet for the arts. Now, the venue welcomes young and old, amateur and experienced, with its multi-faceted mix of experimental and classical programming. Therefore, the Melkweg is also well known for its nightlife. To top it off, you can also experience five different disciplines in one place. It does not matter what you find fascinating; Melkweg has a little something for everyone. For most night programs, you must be at least 16 years old. Additionally, you can receive discounts on club nights and pre-sale advantages for concerts if you have a Melkweg membership.
Chicago Social Club (CSC) serves as both a bar and a night club. Sunday through Thursday, CSC is a laid back place to have a drink with friends. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, though, space transforms into a fun, intimate nightclub. The club has two levels, creating a more gezellig (best translated to nice and cozy) experience. The program is varied, always high quality and often features techno or hip-hop music. CSC is like coming home and dancing with all your (new) closest friends. Go ahead. Shake your thing on the dance floor. Please note you must be at least 21 years of age to enter.
De Trut has been going for around 32 years and. It is only open on Sundays, held in a former squat that is now a foundation: everyone works there voluntarily and all the money from the club goes to LGBT-related projects. The venue is a cement basement, but is very colorful; It is kitsch, but they also fight for their ideals. By 9 pm there is always a queue and only about 250 people can fit in, and there is no guest list. No photography is allowed, either.
A popular nightclub, Studio 80 is the neighbor of the infamous Escape at Rembrandtplein. It is an alternative techno club that offers upcoming musicians, DJs and live acts a podium in the electronic music scene, surrounded by established artists. The music of choice here is mostly (minimal) techno. In 2008, this wonderful club was awarded “Best Club of the Year”, and with its arty vibe, open-minded atmosphere and fashionable visitors it is one of the hippest clubs in Amsterdam!
Club NYX is a little bit more “free” than the rest of Amsterdam’s night clubs. It is a three-floor venue, the decorations are “out there”: there are neon words everywhere and stairs that go nowhere. Throughout the week there are a lot of parties that focus on being inclusive. It is still a gay club really, but on Thursday nights it has parties that are for everyone. There is a regular night, called Vogue, where there are these ballroom parties. Everyone puts on wigs, big dresses, and just dances; it is fun indeed. It feels like everyone is in it together.
Spice up your night at Sugar Factory, where music is an art. Unleash your creative side and find your freedom. Express yourself through movement and dance – actually, it is encouraged. From DJs and swing bands to soul music and salsa nights, the Sugar Factory program is always fresh and unique, as the themes frequently change. While there is an entrance fee, drinks are relatively inexpensive once you are in. If you arrive earlier in the evening, before space turns into a dance floor, you can watch other types of performances such as theater, live music, cabaret, and poetry. Stop by the Sugar Factory and join the continuous celebration.
De Marktkantine has been around for about two years. It is the most unappreciated club in the city even though the programming is high-quality and varied. There are other clubs in Amsterdam that are trying hard to trademark a certain style but Marktkantine is more relaxed about who can come in. Behind the stage, there are stairs up to another level with a small bar. They just started a new series of nights, curated by DJ and producer duo Red Axes, with shows every couple of months. The first edition was a success and musically it was amazing.
Let us conclude the topic, in this article we had a brief introduction of Amsterdam City along with highlighting some of its prominent norms, culture, and nightlife. We also went through different activities and places to enjoy the nightlife of the City, Musical venues, Bars, Restaurants and Nightclubs as well. Such activities provide a great source of entertainment for tourists and locals as well.
As already elaborated, the nightlife attraction of The Amsterdam City is mainly based on two main areas namely Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein. These are the bustling areas of the city where boutiques, cafes, concert and dance venues, galleries, museums, and restaurants offer something really special to everyone who loves the culture, shopping and nightlife. There are plenty of pubs & bars that are scattered throughout the City areas and they are truly satisfying the desire of thirsty visitors where you can enjoy your cocktail with the mesmerizing architectural beauty of the hand-crafted beers and their decors.
You don’t feel any hunger during your trip that is why we also suggested some of the finest restaurants in the city that offer exotic and delicious food along with your favorite drinks. You can really enjoy the taste of good food along with some great booze.
And lastly, we went through comprehensive options of nightclubs that offered great music and fun with some delightfully exotic choices of drinks and cocktail that will delight your overall experience of charming nightlife during your stay at The Amsterdam.
All of the experiences as mentioned above will work together to make your journey of Amsterdam a memorable one. A perfect and balanced blend of the above-identified activities can actually boost your experience and make your trip extremely unforgettable for you.