Amsterdam

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. De Nieuwe Anita

    Live Music

    The quirky Nieuwe Anita, darling of the alternative crowd, is home to screenings of cult classics, spoken-word nights, and live gigs put on...Read More

  • 3. Jazz Cafe Alto

    Leidseplein | Bars/Pubs

    Hear top-notch local ensembles in the jam-packed and ultraintimate environment of one of Amsterdam's oldest jazz joints. Along with live jazz...Read More

  • 4. Melkweg

    Leidseplein | Live Music

    In a former dairy factory—hence the name, "Milky Way"—is one of Amsterdam's foremost entertainment venues, attracting over 540,000 visitors...Read More

  • 5. Paradiso

    Leidseplein | Live Music

    This former church—vaulted ceilings and stained glass still intact—has become the country's most famous "pop temple," an epic venue for legendary...Read More

  • 6. Bourbon Street Jazz & Blues Club

    Leidseplein | Live Music

    Mainstream blues and jazz are served up to a largely out-of-town clientele, but it does the job—and a late one at that, open until 5 in the...Read More

  • 7. Cafe Casablanca

    Centrum | Bars/Pubs

    On the edge of the Red Light District sits this neighborhood institution, which dates back to the 1940s. For better or worse, cracks have started...Read More

  • 8. 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

  • 9. Cotton Club

    Nieuwmarkt | Live Music

    Fans of more traditional jazz should check out this legendary venue, named for Surinamese trumpet player Teddy Cotton, who started the place...Read More

  • 10. Maloe Melo

    Jordaan | Live Music

    Open seven days a week, this dive bar is the place to be for rock, blues, and live music with a local vibe. Occasionally, local musicians are...Read More

  • 11. Melkweg

    Leidseplein | Live Music

    The legendary "Milk Way" features live performances, DJs, and club nights covering everything from hip-hop to punk to world music. A former...Read More

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  • 12. OCCII

    Museum District | Live Music

    The former squat (in what was once a horse-drawn tram depot) and cultural center, just beyond the gates of the Vondelpark's western exit, has...Read More

  • 13. OT301

    Oud-West | Live Music

    This legalized squat in the former film academy offers fun alternative nights with live bands and DJs. The eclectic music ranges from hard core...Read More

  • 14. Sugar Factory

    Leidseplein | Live Music

    Self-styled as a "night theater," the Factory takes Amsterdam clubbing into the 21st century and beyond. An average evening may involve DJs...Read More

  • 15. Winston Kingdom

    Red Light District | Live Music

    Deep in the 1990s this was kind of a rough late-night bar where artists, students, and prostitutes mingled. Things have cleaned up since then...Read More

  • 16. Zaal 100

    Oud-West | Live Music

    Podium voor ongehoord geluid " (A stage for unheard sounds) is how this former squat describes itself. It's one of the few places in Amsterdam...Read More

  • 17. North Sea Jazz Club

    Live Music

    Finally Amsterdam has an American-style jazz club where you can wine and dine while enjoying live jazz. The diverse program features big names...Read More

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