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. Bimhuis

    Oosterdok | Live Music

    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...Read More

  • 2. Hannekes Boom

    Oosterdok | Cafés

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

  • 3. 4'33

    Oosterdok | Cafés

    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...Read More

  • 4. Cafe Pakhuis Wilhelmina

    Oosterdok | Live Music

    This former warehouse is the scene of fun musical events like "zap nights," when local artists perform, and Hard Rock Karaoke, where you can...Read More

  • 5. Flirtation

    Oosterdok | Dance Clubs

    This highly successful women-only dance event for young lesbians and bi-curious girls occasionally takes over dance club Panama (and hosts summer...Read More

  • 6. Panama

    Oosterdok | Dance Clubs

    Colorful lights and thumping beats set the scene at Panama, a lively dance club where no two nights are the same. Their packed agenda features...Read More

  • 7. Café Restaurant Barco

    Oosterdok | Cafés

    One of the owners of this hot spot started this lovely bar and restaurant on a boat opposite the public library (OBA). The staff are friendly...Read More

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