Beyond the smoke and red-lighted windows, Amsterdam is a city teeming with music, dance, theater, and art, which has given it the epithet "nightlife capital of the world." Think outside the box—even outside the Grachtengordel—and you'll be amazed at what this city that (almost) never sleeps has to offer.

Many people know that The Night Watch is the name of Rembrandt’s most famous painting, but not everyone remembers that, back in the early 2000s, it was also the nickname of a bunch of "Night Mayors." This group of cultural leaders saw their role as fighters against the frumpiness that had cast a shadow over Amsterdam’s night scene since the city fathers cleared away the "squats"—the deserted buildings that were the settings for city’s wildest nighttime events and raves. Now, 15 years later, Amsterdam has happily reclaimed its reputation as a true nightlife capital. The city is a must-stop on the international DJ circuit, and new pop-up clubs and dance venues, plus a plethora of homegrown festivals, keep all walks of life shaking until the wee hours of the morning. The city is rich with inspired folk who are willing to organize a video-arts festival in a cruise-ship terminal, a gentle Bach recital on a canal, an arts festival in an abandoned factory, a house party in a football stadium, or some heart-stopping spectacle in a park. So get ready to savor Amsterdam’s giant cultural wallop through its numerous venues—from former churches and industrial monuments to the acoustical supremacy of the legendary hall of the Concertgebouw.

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  • 1. 't Smalle

    Jordaan | Bars/Pubs

    Set with Golden Age chandeliers, leaded-glass windows, and the patina of centuries, this charmer is one of Amsterdam's most glorious spots....Read More

  • 2. Café Tabac

    Jordaan | Cafes–Nightlife

    One of the best modern cafés in the Jordaan commands a charming corner between Brouwersgracht and Prinsengracht. The staff are friendly and...Read More

  • 3. Amnesia

    Jordaan | Cafes–Nightlife

    The dark interior is more than compensated for by the canalside terrace, where you can smoke your weed while watching the boats pass by. Off...Read More

  • 4. Café Chris

    Jordaan | Bars/Pubs

    This venue has been pouring beverages since 1624, which makes it the oldest bar in the Jordaan. The tiny washrooms remind you how small people...Read More

  • 5. COC

    Jordaan | Gathering Places

    Founded in 1946, this center of the Dutch Association for the Integration of Homosexuality is the oldest organization of its kind in the world...Read More

  • 6. De Prins

    Jordaan | Cafes–Nightlife

    This mainstay on the Prinsengracht is blessed with a canalside patio. A brown-café atmosphere prevails, while a modern kitchen sends out simple...Read More

  • 7. De Twee Zwaantjes

    Jordaan | Cafes–Nightlife

    If you want to hear locals sing folk music, stop by this classic canalside café. ...Read More

  • 8. Maloe Melo

    Jordaan | Music Clubs

    What could be nicer than a friendly dive, a place for rock, blues, and roots musicians? Sometimes said musicians are joined on stage by bigger...Read More

  • 9. Nol

    Jordaan | Bars/Pubs

    Just getting started around 9 pm, Nol resonates with the sounds of lusty-lunged native Jordaaners having the time of their lives. ...Read More

  • 10. Rooie Nelis

    Jordaan | Bars/Pubs

    Despite the area's tendency toward trendiness, this café has kept its traditional Jordaan vibe. ...Read More

  • 11. Saarein

    Jordaan | Bars/Pubs

    Amsterdam's best lesbian bar, as it's been labeled, started out in the 1920s as a brown café in the Jordaan and has since been modernized; today...Read More

  • 12. Siberie

    Jordaan | Cafes–Nightlife

    Slightly off the beaten track, at the beginning of the Brouwersgracht, Siberie is one of the best coffeeshops in town, selling high-quality...Read More

  • 13. Club Roses

    Jordaan | Dance Clubs

    What used to be the plain old Club More and then Club More Amor now makes a nod to its location on Rozengracht, aka the Roses Canal. Latin-flavored...Read More

  • 14. Korsakoff

    Jordaan | Dance Clubs

    Since the 1980s this has been a dark but friendly magnet for pierced and tattooed rockers who like their music rough and ready (there's a bit...Read More

  • 15. Werck

    Jordaan | Cafes–Nightlife

    This former coach house to the Westerkerk is now a watering hole for yuppies, Jordaanites, and the loungey house DJs who serve them smooth late...Read More

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