The city of canals is renowned for a lot of things, but Amsterdam nightlife is considered especially legendary by many. The city is filled with opportunities to dance the night away at one of the countless clubs or one of the many “danskroegen” (pubs where the dancefloor gets pretty lit!). After reading this article you won’t be that tourist that immediately falls into the trap that is Leidse Square, you’ll be able to navigate the illustrious, exciting, and ever-changing Amsterdam nightlife like a local.
In addition to their (often) weekly doses of techno, the Dutch are also suckers for their terraces and enjoy having a “borrel” (casual drink) regularly. In Amsterdam, these “borrels” quickly evolve into a boogie at one of the many bars or clubs around. And, as far as events go, the Dutch are spoilt. Of course, there is the Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE), which attracts countless tourists yearly. Or, hit up one of the many weekly festivals that keep going until late at night, especially during summer.
Before diving into the eclectic, creative urban jungle that is Amsterdam nightlife, a quick disclaimer: Just as it has hit the global hospitality industry, COVID-19 also hit the Amsterdam party scene. Luckily, the local industry has shown incredible resilience, pivoted and new hospitality concepts and/or practices have popped up out of the ground at lightning speed.
Still, COVID-19 regulations have been changing rapidly, so all hospitality and events are still very much subject to COVID-19 governmental developments. Before heading out anywhere, check online, and make sure that you stick to the rules that are currently in place.
Now, get ready to dive into this extensive list of a local’s Amsterdam nightlife favourites.
What’s the nightlife like in Amsterdam North?
The elusive “north” is undiscovered by a lot of people living in Amsterdam. This is such a shame because many prime Amsterdam nightlife spots are located in the north of the city.
Bars and restaurants in the north of Amsterdam
Start off with a big one! The A’DAM Tower. You might think that A’DAM stands for Amsterdam, but this is actually not the case. A’DAM stands for “AMSTERDAM, DANCE AND MUSIC”, which is what this building is all about. It has 21 stories (and according to its website, “… many more to tell”), and is filled to the brim with buzzworthy dining experiences, music, and culture.
To name just a few of the experiences at A’DAM:
- Shelter: an underground techno club with a 24 hr license.
- Ground/1st floor: the A’DAM Lookout experience
- 20th floor: M’ADAM, bar and restaurant
- 21st floor: the ‘Over The Edge’ swing!
For more information about the A’DAM Tower and their latest COVID-19 regulations, visit their website!
Tucked away in the Noorderpark, you’ll find the cute and quirky “Pompet”. This bar is popular amongst locals thanks to its friendly and accessible atmosphere and great location. Their lovely beer range and great service make them the perfect spot to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon, enjoy some live tunes during a hot summer night or a chilly winter evening.
In 2012, a group of architects won a contest with their business plan, receiving an old shipping yard for 10 years on loan in order to develop their vision. And this is what the Ceuvel is today. A creative hub, where artists, sustainability pioneers, and entrepreneurs came together and created one of the most groundbreaking circular multi-functional spaces in Amsterdam, and maybe even Europe. Don’t worry, there’s also a bar, making it an obligatory stop on any pub-crawl through the north of Amsterdam.
The name gives it away already; the Skatecafe is a bar/restaurant and event space with its own mini skating ramp inside. Apart from the weekly skating lessons, you can also enjoy good food, casual drinks, or go to one of the many events hosted at Skatecafe every week. The decor is simple yet intricate and the vibe is undeniably good. It’ll have you coming back for more!
This is an absolute must-visit, especially if you’re in town during summer. Whilst Pllek started off as a pop-up/temporary concept in 2012, it’s grown to become one of the most popular spots in the north of Amsterdam – especially in summer, as it boasts a city beach as well!
Since the day they opened, they have served fabulous breakfast, lunch, and dinner and have heaps of other activities on the program, such as yoga on Sunday mornings. Check out their website to see what is on the schedule this month!
Loetje aan ‘t IJ
Loetje aan ‘t IJ is a staple across the Netherlands and this location is especially nice. ‘Loetje’ is a big chain of restaurants that evolved from one single Amsterdam-based cafe that was meant to become the next hotspot to play billiards – until one day the owner put his (now famous) steak on the menu. Quickly, the place was filled to the brim with people. So, you’ve guessed it, a visit to any Loetje is a meat eater’s dream. At this location in particular, your “biefstuk Bali” (steak with sambal gravy) will be accompanied by views of the gorgeous IJ-river. But don’t worry, if you’re not a big steak eater, Loetje also has delicious other options on the menu!
Clubs in the north of Amsterdam
As far as techno clubs in Amsterdam go, Shelter is leading the way. Ever since it opened it has welcomed clubbing veterans and techno newbies 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Located within the aforementioned A’DAM Tower just across the river, a stone’s throw away from Amsterdam’s historic city centre. Pop on the Buiksloterweg ferry and within a few minutes you’ll be standing in front of the illustrious hatch, which serves as the entrance to the club. During COVID-19 club closures, the club has doubled as a VR experience hall. Check out the website for the latest status!
The beautifully industrial NDSM Werf is a sight for sore eyes any time of day. This huge, colourful, and iconic area is a popular spot for all sorts of events throughout the year, and therefore high on the list of things to do in Amsterdam at night.
Obviously, check out their website for the latest information. But especially keep an eye out during ADE and/or summer, because you really should experience the NDSM during a festival. There are also many great restaurants, and it counts as one of the many creative hubs throughout the city, where creative Amsterdam gathers. Also located near the NDSM Werf is the Pancake Boat. Fill yourself up with unlimited pancakes as you sail across the marvelous Amsterdam skyline.
Things to do during the day in Amsterdam North
But what about the east of Amsterdam?
The eclectic east is known for its creativity, diversity, and spacious feel. Only a stone’s throw away from the popular Pijp, yet often overlooked. Filled to the brim with authentic and eccentric places, that are definitely worth giving a go.
Bars and restaurants in the east of Amsterdam
Brouwerij ‘t IJ
Another true staple in the city is the Brouwerij ‘t IJ. This small brewery not only has some truly delectable beers in their assortment, but they also have a large and sun-soaked terrace in a unique location. Take in the rays underneath the iconic windmill or grab yourself a table inside if it’s a bit too chilly outside. For more information regarding the brewery (including tours), hit up their website.
Located in between the Dappermarkt and Oosterpark is Louie Louie. Here you will find many locals enjoying a beer on a summer day, or huddled up inside during a cold winter Friday night. They have a hip but cosy atmosphere and a great menu to choose from. Afterwards, continue your day browsing on the Dappermarkt, have a stroll through Oosterpark, or experience one of the many other things Amsterdam East has to offer.
The Amsterdam nightlife in the east generally starts on the other side of the park, where you can find Bar Bukowski, often also referred to as the “Buko”. If you want to sink a pint like a local, make sure you hit it up. It’s also a great stop for breakfast, lunch, and bar snacks until late at night. The Buko is always buzzing with people, so make sure you pay it a visit if you are around.
One of the best things to do in Amsterdam at night is to visit Studio/K and upgrade your cinema experience to the next level. Sip a Tripel Karmeliet as you view the latest documentary from a lazy chair whilst enjoying some bitterballen. It’s all possible at Studio/K. This non-profit cafe/restaurant/cinema is run by 50 students daily, so they can gain valuable experience in the day-to-day operations of a cultural business. With its easy-going, warm, and welcoming atmosphere, you will quickly want to return to Studio/K for more.
Studio/K is one of the many different ventures of the Kriterion Foundation. Kriterion is the spawn of a group of students that formed a resistance during the Second World War. After the war was over, the group and their initiatives evolved into an organization to provide students with ways to make money to support themselves and gain experience in entrepreneurship. It’s one of the very few non-hierarchical organizations in the Netherlands that is fully run by students.
Initially, they started with purchasing and repurposing the old NSB theater – the place where Nazi sympathizers would play German propaganda – into the Kriterion cinema. But they have rapidly expanded their business portfolio with a nanny service, gas station, and a cafe. In 2007 they added Studio/K to their list, which has proven to be another success ever since.
Tapperij de Eeuwige Jeugd
After two and a half years of brewing beer, it was time to open their own hotspot in the east of Amsterdam. The friends behind popular local beer brewery ‘Brouwerij de Eeuwige Jeugd’ (Brewery Eternal Youth), decided to open up their own pub. And if you are looking for some fun, make sure to check it out: karaoke, parties, movie nights, date-nights, anything and everything is possible in this colourful establishment. Of course, all the beers of the brewery are on tap, or you can choose another beer from their extensive bottled beer assortment.
Clubs in Amsterdam East
Volkshotel is a hotel like no other. The headquarters of the Dutch newspaper “Volkskrant” used to be based here, but now it’s an edgy hotel where there’s always something going on. For example, the DOKA (inspired by the Dutch abbreviation for “Dark Room”, where photographers would develop pictures) is their own in-house club and event space, and a well-known addition to the list of things to do in Amsterdam at night. DOKA is especially popular during Amsterdam Dance Event, check out their website to see what’s on!
What is there to do during the day in the east of Amsterdam?
First and foremost, as far as museums go, the Tropenmuseum is a must-see. It has an extensive collection of exhibits about the slavery-related history of the Netherlands and many interesting rotating exhibits that often shed a light on minority communities or spark conversation about important topics creatively. If you’d prefer to spend the day outside, check out the oldest zoo in the Netherlands: Artis.
What’s going on in the centre of Amsterdam?
Not to be forgotten, the historic city centre of Amsterdam is also spoiled for things to do at night. High on the list for things couples can do in Amsterdam is to have a romantic stroll through the historic city centre. But there are plenty of other things to do, see and… eat!
Bars and restaurants in the centre of Amsterdam
An absolute local favourite and very popular meet-up spot. Hannekes Boom is well-known for its good vibes, “gezellige” (cosy) atmosphere, and good food and drinks. Because COVID-19 has limited its capacity drastically, they have now also created ‘Hannekes Boat’! Expect the same amount of vibes and quality of experience, just a stone’s throw away from Nemo! This exciting science museum for kids (… and let’s be honest, very cool for adults too) is a must-see when you’re in Amsterdam.
Get ready for some spectacular views across the river, and even better food and drinks. Meneer Nieges is another hotspot and a great place for a good night out. Especially during summer, Meneer Nieges often has live music on and you should make sure to keep an eye out for exclusive parties that run well into the night.
The Reguliersdwarsstraat and its surroundings have been known as a queer meeting hub since the mid-1900s already. Nowadays, you’ll find (gay) bars and clubs scattered across the city, but the Reguliersdwarsstraat to this day boasts a couple of the best hidden gems. This includes legendary gay bars the Exit and Taboo, and nightclub: Club Nyx. The very approachable Reguliersdwarsstraat and it’s many great hospitality offerings will certainly fill up your night.
Clubs in the centre of Amsterdam
In Amsterdam soon? Quickly put on your dancing shoes and head over to Disco Dolly, where the tunes will certainly keep you going all night. Is it a club? Is it a bar? Who cares? They are open seven days a week and love to get down on disco, funk, soul, boogie, house, and hip hop tunes. Like they say themselves: music to your ears!
An oldie but a goldie! The former milk storage unit, later converted to a cultural venue, has been a staple in Amsterdam since 1973. Ever since then, many legendary concerts have been given here by the greatest of the global music industry. The changing room at the Melkweg is the place where Chris Martin wrote the song ‘Amsterdam’ and it was one of the first Dutch venues where Nirvana played an iconic yet intimate set JUST before they broke through. And the Melkweg is the place where Billie Eilish proved to already be too big for the small hall – even before her global debut. Music history is written here every year. Make sure you check out what’s on offer if you are in the area.
Another staple, Paradiso, is a beautiful venue that has proven to be a hotspot for music lovers and creatives alike. They also aim to book as many good shows as possible, which obviously makes for some friendly, creative competition with the Melkweg. Epic shows were played here, including Prince, who apparently enjoyed playing at Paradiso so much that he announced during his set he would be back the next day – without the programmers knowing… Obviously, they did everything in their power to host the legendary Prince again.
To see what’s currently happening, check out the website!
Chicago Social Club
See and be seen at the Chicago Social Club, a staple for many years already in Amsterdam. Located smack in the middle of the city, there is always something going on here. Check out their website for the latest updates, and enjoy a night out filled with cocktails, music, and fun!
What is there to do during the day in the centre of Amsterdam?
The centre of Amsterdam is overflowing with culture and beautiful architecture. Take a canal cruise in a 100-year-old boat and learn all about the rich history of Amsterdam or see the infamous Banksy’s work up close at the Moco Museum.
Wait… what about the west, though?
Explore the wild west of Amsterdam and all the great (hospitality) experiences it has to offer. Before you hit the clubs, why not have a beer at “Brouwerij De 7 Deugden” during the day, or for some more relaxation check out the FloatSpa.
Bars and restaurants in the west of Amsterdam
This quaint little pub is the perfect place for an afternoon glass of wine or a late-night pint. Its vibe is cosy and with its friendly staff and great accessible location, it is a favourite meetup spot of many locals. For more information, check out their website.
When you enter the new-ish kid on the block Karavaan, it will quickly transcend you to Middle Eastern atmospheres. They serve something to eat and drink for every moment of the day and are known for their stunning decor. Owners of Karavaan actually prefer not to be called a restaurant, but rather a place. A place for the neighbourhood, where you can stop by easily, have a meal, relax, meet up with friends or get some work done.
Clubs in the west of Amsterdam
Music lovers rejoice! Marktkantine and its plentiful offerings of all kinds of music will keep you entertained all night long. They always have a good vibe going and will surely have something that will interest you during your visit to the Netherlands. What’s on this week? Let’s find out.
Westergas Culture Park
Another brain-spawn of the creative elite of the city of Amsterdam. This repurposed industrial site is now one of the many spots for music lovers, sustainability fiends, and entrepreneurial creatives alike. This once-industrial site used to be incredibly polluted, but after decades of TLC it is now cleaned up and a much beloved cultural meet-up point.
Art exhibitions, festivals, good food and drinks; anything and everything is happening at one of the many venues in Westergas.
“This is a place where creativity, diversity, and freedom are celebrated.” –
What’s on? Check out the website.
Another iconic Amsterdam venue, Elementenstraat is usually packed with people, good music but most of all: history. During the early ’90s, Elementenstraat was the ultimate hotspot in Amsterdam for a year straight. Dutch dance scene patriarch Ilja Reiman threw 61 of his incredibly popular – yet incredibly illegal – parties at Elementenstraat, under the moniker ‘Multigroove’. Not only was it here where the first strides into Gabber culture were made, but incredible DJs played here back then, and still do to this day.
“At Elementenstraat the value of community is as strong as it’s always been, a sentiment carried over from the venue’s historic days as the crucible for gabber culture in Amsterdam.”
Multigroove’s consecutive 61 illegal (but incredible) parties came to an abrupt end when the police raided Elementenstraat as part of an undercover operation (operation Ponytail). All DJs and organizers were arrested, with Ilja himself ending up in jail for 4 weeks with a 1.5 million guilders fine. During Ilja’s imprisonment, vigil-raves were held on the doorstep of the Elementenstraat by Multigroove fans. Unfortunately, Elementenstraat still had to close its doors (but luckily reopened them in 2014). What’s on tonight, you might be wondering? Check out their website.
Fun fact: Apparently, the founders of ID&T, the A’DAM Tower, the owner of the Westergas Culture Park, Creators of Mysteryland, and club AIR, all started their clubbing ways during the Multigroove Era.
What is there to do in the centre during the day?
Make sure you do a lap of the neighbourhood ‘de Jordaan’, as it is filled to the brim with historic architecture, vintage shops, and quirky cafes. There are countless authentic Amsterdam alleys to discover and beautiful scenery to witness.
If you are more in the mood to check out a museum, continue the architecture vibes and head up to Museum ‘t Schip. Here you can learn all about the Amsterdam School style of architecture. This style (born in 1910) rose to significance right up to 1930 in the Netherlands. It became a vital highlight of international expressionist architecture, and is sometimes linked to German Brick Expressionism.
Amsterdam nightlife in the south
Bars and restaurants in the south of Amsterdam
Albert Cuyp Street
The Albert Cuyp street is a shopping, drinking, and eating haven for visitors of all ages. The street (which coincidentally also houses the famous Albert Cuyp Market during the day) is an immensely popular spot for anything hospitality-related. Located smack in the middle of the Pijp – which is also a popular student area – the Albert Cuyp street is always buzzing with people. A real “gezellige” atmosphere, where there are plentiful options to grab yourself a plate of bitterballen and sink a few pints. Local legendary pubs include: “de Pilsvogel”, “‘t Paardje”, “de Groene Vlinder” and “de Flamingo”. You will have a field day, or night, exploring everything this street and its surroundings have to offer, so enjoy!
Cute yet quirky Foeders is a great place to unwind after a long stroll through the city. Not only is it the oldest cafe in the Pijp area but it also boasts 42 taps, with continuously changing special beers.
You have to know it’s there, but once you discover it you will surely keep returning. Cinetol is hip, Cinetol is happening. It has an effortlessly eclectic vibe to it, whilst being super welcoming to anyone that will visit. During summer, make sure you grab a seat on their big terrace and bask in the sun, as you sip away on one of the many beers they have on their menu. Cinetol is also an event space, where they often have gigs, featuring live artists from all over. Make sure to check out their website to see what’s going on this week.
If you’re feeling fancy, why not grab a glass of wine smack next to the Amstel river at Amstelhaven? It’s a gorgeous terrace, and the view over the city is arguably one of the best in Amsterdam.
The Amsterdamse Winterparadijs (Amsterdam Winter Paradise) is the most recent staple in the Amsterdam nightlife scene. It’s a yearly event around December, where each edition only gets bigger, better and more spectacular. A ticket to the Amsterdam Winter Paradise allows you entry to a world of snow, music, all sorts of food, and all sorts of entertainment. There’s a massive stage where many local artists entertain the crowd, a crazy big indoor-outdoor ice skating rink, and heaps of other fun activities to do. If you’re in the neighborhood, be sure to grab a ticket!
Museum lovers, listen up! Every year (apart from 2020 for obvious reasons…) one night is organized where you can experience museums in unique settings. Museumnacht (‘Museum night’), allows you to enter most museums throughout the night, all throughout the city of Amsterdam. This night has been developed to provide a unique experience, where they promote local gems and connect these marvels of the city with Amsterdam’s locals. Museumnacht draws over 30,000 visitors per year and we cannot wait for the next edition.
What is there to do during the day?
On the southern edge of Amsterdam’s canal district, you’ll find the unmissable Rijksmuseum. This building is not only beautiful from the outside, but is also filled with precious works of world-renowned Dutch Masters. You can even see the famously huge painting “The Nightwatch” here. No time to visit the museum? Then at least make sure you walk underneath the tunnel, which is arguably one of the most Amsterdam things to do. Watch out for the bikers though!
Surely, this tale of Amsterdam techno venues, disco-boogie anecdotes and iconic venues got you tingling to get back to the dance floor.
Fingers crossed that we can meet soon again in person!