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. The College Hotel

    Museum District | Cafes–Nightlife

    Looking for a little New Amsterdam in Old Amsterdam? Stop by the lounge-bar of this hotel, where dark oak floors, a fireplace, sleek black tables...Read More

  • 2. Café Brecht

    Museum District | Cafes–Nightlife

    On a corner in between the Heinekenplein and the Rijksmuseum is this German bar with an infinitesimal number of improbable brews, including...Read More

  • 3. Conservatorium

    Museum District | Cafes–Nightlife

    A sublime example of the Dutch ability to turn landmark buildings into chic destinations, this hotel features a cavernous glass-and-steel brasserie...Read More

  • 4. Het Blauwe Theehuis

    Museum District | Cafes–Nightlife

    The Vondelpark's quietly pulsating epicenter is a blue flying saucer–shape "teahouse" dating back to 1937. In step with the style of Nieuwe...Read More

  • 5. OCCII

    Museum District | Music Clubs

    The former squat and slightly out-of-the-way hole-in-the-wall, just beyond the gates of the Vondelpark's western exit, has stayed true to its...Read More

  • 6. Wildschut

    Museum District | Cafes–Nightlife

    This 1920s Amsterdam School edifice is a delightful place for a pre- or post-recital stop, with the Concertgebouw just down the road. The large...Read More

  • 7. Caf Vertigo

    Museum District | Cafes–Nightlife

    Not only does the Nederlands Filmmuseum have an atmospheric cellar restaurant, great for a premovie meal or postflick refreshments, but the...Read More

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