Amsterdam’s famously wild nightlife caters to all tastes and budgets. The two main entertainment districts are the Leidseplein and the Rembrandtplein, however there is something to do almost everywhere in the city, with many local gems hidden on the canals and in the Jordaan. The typical Dutch pub is a brown bar, a local neighborhood establishment generally there for the purpose of consuming alcohol with varying degrees of decor and atmosphere. A common sight during the summer is a street full of terraces packed with people drinking beer or wine. Beyond these brown bars, the city has a vast array of modern, trendy bars, coffeeshops and clubs.
Amsterdam also boasts many nightclubs. Most of them are situated near Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein, however there are a few in outlying areas best reached by taxi. The Paradiso, Melkweg and Sugar Factory are multipurpose venues which turn into discothèques on some nights. Some of the more popular clubs near the Rembrandtplein are Escape and Club Home. Also noteworthy are Panama, Hotel Arena (East) and The Powerzone.
The Reguliersdwarsstraat is the main street for the GLBT community and nightlife. Hollywood films are primarily featured at cinemas owned by Pathe. The Tuschinski theatre near Rembrandtplein is an art deco theatre with a beautiful lobby and six screens. The Pathe cinemas are modern with big seats and cinema style seating. The one most likely for tourists to find convenient is at the Munt. Pathe Arena is located a short metro ride from the centre and is Amsterdam’s a technologically advanced, modern cinema. Art films can be found at Tuschinski, and the independent theaters Cinecenter, Filmmuseum, Ketelhuis, Kriterion, ”The Movies”, and Uitkijk.
Belgique, Gravenstraat 2 (New Side, Tram: Dam Square), +31 20 625 19 74. Easily one of the smallest bars in Amsterdam, there is seating for at most 15 people, but if you can get in you will enjoy it thoroughly. Specializing in Belgian beers, Belgique’s menu is extensive and it includes some hard to find beers on tap. This place is smoke friendly so don’t be surprised to see people rolling joints as they drink.
Cuba, Nieuwmarkt 3 (Old Side, Tram/Metro: Nieuwmarkt). Great bar, really nice atmosphere, close to red light with a nice terrace in the summer. Good selection of cheap cocktails, best long island ice teas in the world! No smoking naughty stuff though.
De Bierkoning, Paleisstraat 125 (New Side, Tram: Dam Square), +31 20 625 23 36. Not a café, but a ‘supermarket’ specialized in beer.
De Jaren, Nieuwe Doelenstraat 20-22 (Old Side, Tram: Mint Square), +31 20 625 57 71. A minimal art-deco interior next to Hotel d’Europe and a great view of where all the main canals come together. It’s mostly a nice place to sip a cup of coffee or tea and read a newspaper. It’s hip interior attracts many students, as well as the upper class.
Gollem, Raamsteeg 4 (New Side, Tram: Spui), +31 6 53 780 273. A special beer café, serving many beers, especially from Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic and other countries.
In De Wildeman, Kolksteeg 3 (New Side, Tram: Nieuwezijds Kolk), ☎ +31 20 638 23 48. A very well stocked beer café, or actually beer tasting room (bierproeflokaal) in the centre of the inner city. 17 beers (usually from various countries) and a cider on draught, and about 250 different bottled beers offered. There is no music played, which makes for a very friendly and talkative atmosphere, and it even has a separate non-smoking room.
Katoen, Oude Turfmarkt 153 (Old Side, near Mint Square), +31 20 626 26 35. Nice bar/cafe close to the southern part of the Grachtengordel. Alternative music and cozy atmosphere also in the evenings.
Molly Malones Irish Pub, Oudezijds Kolk 9 (Old Side, Tram: Central Station), +31 20 624 11 50. Authentic Irish pub with affordable, high quality food. Pleasant mix of ex-pats, locals and tourists and a friendly staff. Situated on a romantic canal off the Zeedijk, close to Centraal Station and Warmoesstraat. Open every night, live music in the week-ends and large-screen television.
d’Oude Herberg, Handboogstraat 17/19 (New Side, near Spui Square), +31 20 623 18 40. Daily 9PM-4AM. One of the oldest original brown cafés in the central district op Amsterdam, a side street of the famous Spui Square. Get a stool at the bar or get comfy in one of the three wood panelled booths. On weekdays a highly popular student bar and in the weekend the hangout for the more adult locals and travellers from Couchsurfing.com. Low prices for a centre pub!
Schuim, Spuistraat 189 (New Side, near Dam Square), +31 20 638 93 57. The super comfy cafe is a great place to spend entire rainy days at a time. It heats up quite a bit at night. Pot smoking seems to be tolerated even though Schuim is definitely not a “coffee shop”.
‘t Arendsnest, Herengracht 90 (Intersection of Herenstraat and Herengracht), +31 20 421 20 57. Su-Th 4PM-midnight, F-Sa: 4PM-2AM. Excellent biercafe serving only Dutch beers and liqueurs, including jenever. Around 30 beers on tap, 17 or so which change regularly, and over 100 bottled. Very friendly bartenders who know beer well and give great recommendations. Try the €8 sampler, which gives you 12cl samples of 3 beers with a glass of water and some crackers.
Dan Murphy’s, Leidseplein 7, +31 20 422 32 85. One of the many Irish pubs in the city. People from all over the world meet here and watch football, rugby and typical Irish sports like hurling and Gaelic football while drinking a pint of Guinness.
Feijoa, Vijzelstraat 39 (Rembrandt Square, corner of Vijzelstraat and Reguliersdwarsstraat), +31 6 53 726 137. Cocktail bar with a lovely atmosphere, pleasant music and friendly staff, including one of the Netherlands leading cocktail barmen. Will make any cocktail you ask for.
Hard Rock Cafe, Max Euweplein 61 (Max Euwe Square, close to Leiden Square), +31 20 523 76 25. This is close to, or right next to the Holland Casino also close to the Leidseplein. Great service, great food, and plenty of drinks.
Mulligans Irish Music Bar, Amstel 100. The oldest Irish bar in Amsterdam, Mulligans has live music most nights. This is where the traditional music crowd gathers.
l’Opera, Rembrandtplein 27-29 (Tram: Rembrandt Square), +31 20 620 47 54. A friendly spot for coffee, a beer, or something stronger. You may at first only notice the outside seating and the enclosed terrace, but there is also an elegant, (usually) quieter indoor area. Food, too, but you don’t see many eaters.
Whisky Cafe L&B, Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 82-84 (Tram: Leiden Square) +31 6 245 541 62. If you like whisky, this small, laid-back and friendly cafe is the ideal place to visit. Many unusual whiskies from independent bottlers and closed distilleries are available. The menu stretches along one wall and is about 2 meters in height, the cafe having had 1001 whiskies available since they opened. Just be warned the stairs to the toilets are pretty steep!
Escape, Rembrandtplein 11 (Rembrandt Square). Famous and conviently located on the main clubbing square, the Rembrandt Square. It is large and attracts the more or less wannabe hip people of the city. The second hall upstairs has a completely different audience, mostly hiphip and R&B enthusiasts. At some events Escape is split in two, which means you can use the backside entry at Amstel for a different party.
Jimmy Woo, Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 18 (Leiden Square). The most glamorous club in Amsterdam offers a selection of house and r&b, with a spectacularly lit dance floor downstairs. Entry policy is strict so dress sharp to get in.
Melkweg, Lijnbaansgracht 234 (Leiden Square). A former milk factory, now it’s one of the best clubs of Amsterdam. It’s special effects or interior is not as good as Escape, but the atmosphere feels more relaxed. Popular among students and younger tourists, it’s a great place to go out till the sun gets up.
Paradiso, Weteringschans 6 (Leiden Square). Sometimes referred to as a nightclub, it feels more like a nightly music venue. It’s interior is phenomenal, being in a beautiful former church, but the main room has relatively bad acoustics. But there are plenty of rooms with plenty of bands performing at the same time. It’s mostly rock music, but can really be anything: don’t be surprised to be dancing on Russian troika music with thousands of people. Gets fairly packed, even on weekdays and especially after 1AM.
Sugar Factory, Lijnbaansgracht 238 (Tram: Leiden Square), ☎ +31 20 626 50 06. Bit of a remarkable place that integrates art, music, culture, theater and club into one. It has a relaxed atmosphere with an eccentric artisty audience. Around €10.
The Cave Rockclub, Prinsengracht 472 (Tram: Prinsengracht), ☎ +31 20 626 89 39. Cozy metal bar with friendly barstaff and interesting regulars, with live performances by touring metal bands on weekends.
Waterhole, Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 49 (Tram: Leiden Square), ☎ +31 20 620 89 04. Light rock/funk jam sessions in a dingy but atmospheric bar with pool tables.