This article was originally written by Drew Binsky, and was revamped by an Amsterdam local named Izzy.
Amsterdam Nightlife – General Info
So, you’re in Amsterdam for a weekend… What to do? Smoke weed, wander round the Red Light District and drink over-priced beer at tacky bars, right?
Although visiting the coffeeshops and having a peek in the Red Light District windows are definitely things to tick off your Amsterdam-bucket list, this vibrant city has so much more to offer.
Since I (Izzy) moved to Amsterdam about a year ago, I’ve discovered a multitude of awesome places to go out. It also helps that I am part of the Party with a Local team (a free app that connects people who love to party!), so my job has given me the perfect excuse to sample as much of Amsterdam’s nightlife as possible.
Before we get started on the best places to go, a few things to note about the nightlife in Amsterdam…
– People don’t dress up to go out in Amsterdam. So don’t bother with high heels… converse will do in most places.
– Beer is generally the drink of choice purely because it is the cheapest option. Heineken, Grolsch and Amstel beers all come from Amsterdam, so it’s hardly surprising. A regular beer will cost around €2.50 and a glass of wine €3-4, whilst a vodka-mixer will set you back around €6-7 euros.
– BEWARE. 99%, if not ALL late-night food places close at 4am. If you’re the kind of person who NEEDS food on the way home from a night out (like myself), you should bear this in mind.
– Locals bike everywhere – even home from a night out drunk! Recommended if you’re confident on your wheels, though there’s also lots of canals to watch out for…
– Fortunately for those who don’t fancy a drunken cycle, Amsterdam is a pretty small city so you can usually walk between most places – or just take an Uber.
– Crazy party days in Amsterdam: Kings Day in April and Gay Pride in August. If you are lucky to be in Amsterdam on those days, you must not miss the festivities!
Nightlife Areas of Amsterdam
1. Centre – Right in the centre of town you’ll find 3 main hubs of bars and clubs: Leidseplein, Reguliersdwarsstraat, and Rembrandtplein.
2. Leidseplein – is a centre for nightlife, with tons of bars, clubs and fast-food places. It’s also super convenient to get to as it has great transport links (though you may have to walk home). However, here you’ll find a mixture of tourist traps and local hotspots: read about some of the best bars in this area below.
3. Reguliersdwarsstraat – is Amsterdam’s most famous gay street, with a selection of unique, bustling and colourful gay bars and clubs. Whatever your preference, this is a super fun part of town to spend a night out exploring.
4. Rembrandtplein – has only really made it into this post as a warning. Whist many guidebooks suggest this area as a go-to for a nightlife, the bars and clubs you’ll find here are pretty tacky. Now I’m not saying this is always a bad thing… but I wouldn’t recommend starting your night here – it’s more of a ‘last stop’ kind of place.
5. East (Oost) – The East of Amsterdam is a great neighbourhood for bars, home to trendy 20-somethings who know how to party. From a micro-brewery in a windmill (read more below!) to bustling cocktail bars, the East has it all. Check out the Javastraat and the bars around the Oosterpark.
6. West – The West side of the city is a hip, up-and-coming part of town. You won’t find many tourists here, so if you are set on interacting with locals then this is where to head. This is also where you’ll find some of Amsterdam’s coolest and edgiest clubs for electro/techno/house music. Read below about de School – a club in a converted school.
7. North (Noord) – Amsterdam Noord is all about being industrial-chic. At NDSM, huge industrial warehouses are used as festival terrain, and shipping containers are turned into bars (check out Pllek!) Take the free ferry from behind Amsterdam Central Station to get to the North.
Best Bars & Clubs in Amsterdam
One of the things I love most about Amsterdam’s nightlife are the interesting spaces that house many bars and clubs. Amsterdam is big on converting unused buildings – in particular old warehouses and industrial areas – into venues, making for some truly unique nightlife experiences. Also, many of the best bars around town are outside, which makes it an unbeatable atmosphere in the summer months!
Read on to find out about the best spots in town below.
Best Bars in Amsterdam
1. Hannekes Boom
What’s not to love about Hannekes Boom? This bar is a local favourite, close to the central station but hidden away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre.
This colourful bar has plenty of character, outdoor seating and the chilled out vibes you want on a sunny afternoon. The bar is surrounded by water, so people often rock up to Hanneke’s by boat. You can also often hear live music here – just adding to the list of reasons why this is a truly great spot.
Waterkant is another fabulous waterside bar, but this time found in the ground level of a multi-story car park! Sounds strange – I know! – but it’s definitely worth checking out.
With the cool lighting they have installed here, this Surinamese-inspired bar is an awesome spot to spend your evenings. Waterkant can be found in the centre of town, a little walk from Leidseplein. You can also enjoy a tasty meal here to set you up for the rest of the night from a menu with selection of different cuisines.
Roest is one of the coolest industrial-style bars in the city, found in the East.
As well as the converted industrial buildings that house their bar, Roest also has its very own beach! But the fun doesn’t stop when the sun goes down here. Roest also hosts a number of club nights in their unique space. From hip hop to funk to chilled out Sunday vibes, there’s something for everyone.
4. Brouwerij t’IJ
As mentioned, the East of the city also boasts a brewery in a windmill. I know… does it get any more Dutch?!
The Brouwerij ‘t IJ (Brewery IJ) taproom and beer garden is always packed with regulars and new visitors alike. Here you can sample a selection of delicious Amsterdam-brewed beers and nibble on tasty Dutch cheese. Sounds lovely and civilised, but beware, one of the beers is 9%! Just something to note – the taproom closes at 8pm so make sure you get there in time.
Best Clubs in Amsterdam
1. De School
Welcome to one of Amsterdam’s edgiest venues, found in no place other than an old converted school.
With a 24hr license, here you can dance til dawn to the best heavy techno in the city. Whilst the curators of the events here mainly focus on local DJs, international acts also come to play for the 700 serious party-goers who fit inside this venue. Moreover De School is not just a club: it also has a restaurant, cafe, exhibition space and a gym, so you can head here any time of the day.
Not one for quiet Sundays? Then head to Thuishaven for their Sunday parties at the circus. Think big tents, bonfires, bright colours and the best electronic music ever.
Thuishaven is the perfect way to end your weekend. These parties take place in both summer and winter and the weather doesn’t matter. These Sunday gatherings are also perfect for travellers for two reasons: firstly, travellers won’t usually have work on Monday morning; and secondly, tickets don’t go on sale until the week before so you don’t need to plan too far in advance, though they will usually sell out before the party begins.
This club, built in an old sugar factory (believe it or not), is worth a mention since it is open every night of the week.
From Techno Tuesdays to a disco-house night with Kremlin Disko on Thursdays and Wicked Jazz Sounds on Sundays, there is an awesome variety of events happening all week long. Perfect for people visiting town who don’t want to wait til the weekend to party! You’ll find a mixture of locals and tourists at Sugar Factory, located just behind Leidseplein. Perhaps the perfect follow-on from drinks at Waterkant?
Once again, this club is in a unique venue: a converted church!
Paradiso is renowned as an awesome venue for live music and concerts. From Adele and The Rolling Stones to Amy Winehouse and the Arctic Monkeys, Paradiso has heard it all. But it’s not just live music you can enjoy here; Paradiso also hosts a variety of club nights to enjoy in between the big acts. Check out the Club Paradiso website for more info. Paradiso is also centrally located close to Leidseplein.
Of course there is a lot more to see in Amsterdam than these few bars and clubs, but it’s a good start… If you want more insider knowledge or even party with some real Amsterdammers, you can find me and other locals on the Party with a Local app!