90 Best Bars in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Bar Bukowski

Fodor's choice

This local hot spot has a sunny corner terrace facing the Oosterpark and a weekend cocktail spot, Henry's Bar, in an adjoining space—all invoking the spirit of its namesake, the hard-drinking writer Charles Bukowski.

Bimhuis

Fodor's choice

The best-known jazz place in town occupies the utterly awesome Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ. Everyone from fans of the old legends to those of the latest avant-gardists agrees: the space is close to perfect. Views of the city are breathtaking, the acoustics great, the chairs comfy, and the house rules laid-back; all drinks ordered at the bar, even full wine bottles, can be carried inside.

Boom Chicago

Jordaan Fodor's choice

In 1993, a few zany American expats open their own English-language comedy club inspired by life in Amsterdam. Today, their energetic cast takes the stage inside the historic Rozentheater, performing sketch, improv, and stand-up comedy shows that remain popular with an international crowd, including locals and visitors alike.

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Café 't Smalle

Jordaan Fodor's choice

Complete with Golden Age chandeliers, leaded-glass windows, and the centuries-old wooden ceiling, this corner café is one of Amsterdam's most charming spots. Once home to one of the city's first jenever distilleries, there's almost always a crowd at their canalside terrace, although the historic interior certainly has its charms, too.

Café de Sluyswacht

Nieuwmarkt Fodor's choice

Beware: the slant of this oldie-but-goodie may leave you a little unsteady on your feet after one too many beers on the patio. A quintessential Amsterdam view of the Oudeschans, however, has been bringing relief since 1695.

Café Hesp

Fodor's choice

A neighborhood classic since 1890, this inviting brown café with a huge terrace on the Amstel has a bistro menu and an amazing selection of beer including 18 on tap.

De Balie

Leidseplein Fodor's choice

Eyeglasses peek over books and tablets as a well-read and socially conscious crowd fills the café-bar of this center for art, culture, and politics. This is an ideal spot for an affordable meal, drinks with friends, or date night. The English-language program includes film screenings and lectures, too.

De Nieuwe Anita

Oud-West Fodor's choice

The quirky Nieuwe Anita, darling of the alternative crowd, is home to screenings of cult classics, spoken-word nights, and live gigs put on by underground magazine Subbacultcha!. They also do cocktails, haircuts, and club nights.

De Zotte

Leidseplein Fodor's choice

This intimate pub just around the corner from Leidseplein is a local favorite. With a name that translates to "the drunk" in Flemish, the pub is aptly titled: there are more than 100 Belgian beers available and plenty of Dutch brews, too. Balance out all that beer with a hearty meal or thick slices of bread and cheese on the side.

Dutch Courage

Fodor's choice

If you need to gain a little confidence by drinking jenever, as the British slur goes, head straight for this charming cocktail bar. Owned by the dynamic duo Tess Posthumus and Timo Janse, who are also behind the excellent (neo)classical cocktail bar Flying Dutchmen ( Singel 460) and the Amsterdam Cocktail Week every September, you can sample over 150 jenevers and many jenever-based cocktails here. There's also a nifty kopstootjesautomatiek, a type of vending machine that dispenses a so-called kopstootje: a shot of jenever and a cold local beer—a potent combo.

Hannekes Boom

Fodor's choice

This hippie hot spot offers a waterfront terrace, boat access, and live music some nights.

Het Blauwe Theehuis

Fodor's choice

The Vondelpark's quietly pulsating epicenter is a blue flying saucer–shape "teahouse" dating back to 1937. In step with the style of Nieuwe Bouwen (the Dutch version of Bauhaus), the building was erected from concrete, glass, and steel, and with its minimalist forms it still looks strikingly modern. It's now owned by the famous Amsterdam brewery Brouwerij 't IJ, serving organic craft beer and pizza al taglio (pizza cut into squares) from morning until late. Its park-center location and enormous terrace, where DayGlo parakeets fly overhead, make this warm weather nightlife at its finest. You can also play petanque and table tennis here.

Het Elfde Gebod

Red Light District Fodor's choice

Right in the heart of the Red Light District, this cozy specialty beer bar has 14 beers on tap and more than 120 bottled brews. Engaging staff and a relaxed, mixed crowd of locals and tourists are only too happy to abide by the eponymous 11th commandment "thou shalt enjoy."

Hiding in Plain Sight (HPS)

Nieuwmarkt Fodor's choice

The speakeasy-esque HPS is a properly indie cocktail mecca whose infamous rum-based concoction, "The Walking Dead," has indeed left many locals limping away. Quality cocktails are always expensive in Amsterdam, but here high prices are compensated for by almost familial service standards.

Jazz Cafe Alto

Leidseplein Fodor's choice

Hear top-notch local ensembles in the jam-packed and ultra-intimate environment of one of Amsterdam's oldest jazz joints. Along with live jazz every night, a little Latin, funk, and salsa can also be enjoyed here.

Lokaal 't Loosje

Nieuwmarkt Fodor's choice

Artists, students, and businesspeople unite in this popular café installed in a building from 1900 that used to be a waiting room for the horse-drawn trams. Much of the turn-of-the-20th-century interior, including the tile-covered walls, remains. The (heated) terrace is a sun-trap from early in the morning until late in the afternoon.

Melkweg

Leidseplein Fodor's choice

The legendary "Milk Way" features live performances, DJs, and club nights covering everything from hip-hop to punk to world music. A former milk factory, this space began as a hippie squat in the 1960s. Today it's a slick multimedia center equipped with two concert halls, a theater, cinema, gallery, and café-restaurant.

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Paradiso

Leidseplein Fodor's choice

This former church—vaulted ceilings and stained glass still intact—has become the country's most famous "pop temple," an epic venue for legendary musicians, new bands, and club nights. Paradiso also has a sister location, Tolhuistin, in Amsterdam Noord, just across the river from Centraal Station.

PRIK

Medieval Center Fodor's choice

This highly popular pink bar is situated rather off-the-beaten-path (for the gay scene, that is)—which was exactly the intention of its founding gay couple, as they aim to be as all-inclusive as possible. Whatever their intentions, they keep winning "best gay bar" awards. The staff and clientele are as cheerful as the venue's name—prik means "bubbles" in Dutch and refers to the prosecco on tap (among other things). They serve great cocktails and finger food, too.

Proeflokaal Gollem

Oud-West Fodor's choice

Popular with locals and visitors alike, this tasting room has dozens of imported beers on offer along with a variety of local brews, including Two Chefs, Oedipus, Gebrouwen door Vrouwen, and Lowlander Beer. Naturally, the food menu pairs well with a pint—think cheese platters, frietjes (fries), and hearty stews. Other locations include the Medieval Center, De Pijp, and Oost.

Queen's Head

Red Light District Fodor's choice

You won't find Her Majesty the Queen here, but a mainstream crowd, fun-loving princes enjoying DJ beats, theme nights, drag bingo, and parties that pour out onto the sidewalk.

Wynand Fockink

Medieval Center Fodor's choice

This is Amsterdam's most famous—and miraculously its least hyped—proeflokaal (tasting room). Opened in 1679, this dimly lighted, blithely cramped little bar just behind the Hotel Krasnapolsky has a menu of more than 60 Dutch liqueurs and jenevers that reads like poetry: Bruidstranen (Bride's Tears) and Boswandeling (A Walk in the Woods) are two favorites. Call ahead for a guided tour of the distillery.

'SKEK

Red Light District

Run by students, this artsy cultural café on the Zeedijk attracts a young, alternative crowd. They serve tasty, well-priced food, and three times a week there is live music, including jazz on Sunday.

4'33

Whether you have the musical motivation to visit the Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ, the building's bar-restaurant is alone worth the hike. Stop by for a drink or a meal of fresh fish and take in the panoramic views of the harbor and docklands.

Abraxas

Medieval Center

Down a small alley, just a stone's throw from the Dam, you'll come upon what would seem to be the multilevel home of a family of hip hobbits. You'll know better once you spot the suitably slumped travelers smoking joints or nibbling on blueberry "space muffins." At No. 6 is the souvenir shop, where you'll find branded organic cotton hoodies, T-shirts, and weed-theme memorabilia.

Bitterzoet

Medieval Center

An adventurous and diverse program of entertainment includes DJs, live bands, and even theater. When it comes to music, hip-hop, Afro beats, Latin, indie pop, and soul share the spotlight.

Brouwerij 't IJ

Perched next to a windmill on the eastern outskirts of the city center is an evocative microbrewery where organic home brews can be enjoyed on the large terrace, weather permitting. Or head to the brewery's other tasting room in Vondelpark (Proeflokaal 't Blauwe Theehuis, Vondelpark 5).

Café Belgique

Medieval Center

As the name suggests, this welcoming little café right behind Nieuwe Kerk offers over 50 Belgian beers, including eight on tap.

Café Bloemers

This popular neighborhood café is warm and cozy inside with a street-side corner terrace that's great for people-watching while sipping the house IPA (there are also cocktail pitchers and gin and tonics, as well as spritz and wine). Simple bar food and snacks and a welcoming staff complete the package.

Café Brecht

In between the Vijzelgracht and Leidseplein is this German bar with an infinitesimal number of improbable brews, including a smoked Franconian lager that tastes of bacon. The decor will make you feel like you've entered your grandmother's living room or a hip retro bar in Berlin—all the more perfect to strike up a conversation (in a variety of languages) with other patrons.