Amsterdam is one of Europe's top party cities with all sorts of weird and wonderful activities on offer nightly. Start off with a romantic stroll or bar hop before partying until dawn in one of the numerous clubs. Otherwise you might dip into the sordid side of a city with few inhibitions. If you're up for dancing the night away, head for the Rembrantsplein-Leidseplein area, but if it's cheap thrills you're after, wander round the Walletjes and indulge. The gay and lesbian scene thrives, with Reguliersdwarsstraat one of the more cutting-edge nightlife districts. Amsterdam tolerates the sale and use of soft drugs, which centre around smoking cafés euphemistically known as 'coffee shops.' These places usually have a cannabis menu, with varieties of varying strength on offer. An ever-vibrant and varied cultural scene also has plenty to offer theatre, music and dance buffs. The highly varied music scene ranges from street performers and carillons (bell towers) to midday and evening performances in the Concertgebouw, noted for its superb acoustics. To find out what's happening check the What's On page of the Amsterdam portal www.iamsterdam.com. Half-price tickets for selected events are available starting at noon at the Visitor Information Centre, opposite Central Station, and at the Stadsschouwburg (Leidseplein 26). While you're there, pick up a copy of A-Mag, for English listings of what's on.
Bars in Amsterdam
This brewery and pub, 1 km (0.6 miles) east of Central Station, is easy to spot as it stands beside a tall wooden windmill. Beers are dispensed directly from the brewing tanks. The broad terrace is a popular gathering spot in nice weather with everyone sitting at long tables and enjoying its fine brews including seasonally brewed quaffs. Snacks include hard-boiled eggs, salami and organic sheep’s cheese. Last orders, though, are at 8pm.Address: , Funenkade 7, Amsterdam, 1018 AL
Telephone: +31 (0) 20 261 9801
One of the most authentically Dutch bars in town, the Hoppe started life as a distillery way back in 1670. It has two sections, the more atmospheric one being on the corner with Heisteeg. On any given evening, both Amsterdammers and tourists crowd the narrow room with sandy woody floors and ancient barrels of Jenever behind the beautifully preserved bar.Address: , Spui 18-20, Amsterdam, 1012 XA
Telephone: +31 (0)20 420 4420.
Of the more than 200 'coffee shops' (code name for Holland's marijuana and hash vendors) currently operating in Amsterdam, this is perhaps the most famous one, since a scene from the 2004 film Ocean’s Twelve was shot here. With its trippy décor, extensive menu of cannabis varieties and friendly staff, it's popular with visitors and locals alike. Aside from the grass and hash (dispensed by the gram or in pre-rolled joints mixed with tobacco), fresh fruit milkshakes, hot Belgian chocolate and coffee are served.Address: , Handboogstraat 29, Amsterdam, 1012 XM
In de Wildeman
A beer drinking bar that is hosted by a former distillery. Locals and tourists mix in De Wildeman and enjoy a great variety of beers in a relaxed pub atmosphere. The bar keeper will let you taste beer almost in the manner a wine steward would do: The samples come in very tiny glasses. You can absolutely concentrate on the new tastes, because no music is played and the choice of pub grub isn't large either.Address: , Kolksteeg 3, Amsterdam, 1012
Telephone: +31 (0)20 638 23 48.
Clubs in Amsterdam
De Nieuwe Anita
Surely Amsterdam’s most alternative space, this friendly club west of the centre has a rough-hewn charm and is consistently crowded by the brainier set. The beer’s cheap and dispensed from a handsome circular bar, along with wine and herbal teas, and there are plenty of mismatched armchairs and sofas to lounge around on. A hall at the rear serves as a venue for fiercely eclectic programming, from anti-Hollywood film nights to Burlesque to wrestling, plus all kinds of bands.Address: , Frederik Hendrikstraat 111, Amsterdam,
The legendary ‘Milky Way’ has been a key component in Amsterdam’s pop scene since the 1960s. Ensconced in an old dairy factory just off the nightlife nexus of Leidseplein, it remains a cultural playground with three concert halls, a gallery, cinema, theatre and café. The old hall is an intimate space with excellent sound, while the Max pulls in a bigger crowd for old and new heavyweights. The new Rabozaal, linked to the nearby Stadsschouwburg theatre, is a slightly higher-brow venue with seating.Address: , Lijnbaansgracht 234a, Amsterdam, 1017 PH
Telephone: +31 (0) 20 531 8181.
Not just electronica fans will appreciate this dance cave around the corner from Leidseplein. The ingeniously illuminated space stirs art, poetry, comedy and dance into the mix for a richly varied theatrical experience. A mostly Dutch, twentyish set crowds in for the famous and almost famous DJs who customarily kick the club. If you prefer your music live, check out its Wicked Jazz Sounds evenings.Address: , Lijnbaansgracht 238, Amsterdam,
Telephone: +31 (0)20 627 0008.
Live music in Amsterdam
Perched at the top of the Muziekgebouw, a short distance from Centraal Station, the Bimhuis is the city's top jazz venue. An intimate space, the windows that afford wonderful views across the city actually form the backdrop for the stage, and the venue’s size encourages direct communication between audience and artist. Every jazz luminary has performed here, including the stars of the Dutch scene. Most performances are divided in two sets, and it’s usually possible to mingle with the artists in the bar afterward.Address: , Piet Heinkade 3, Amsterdam, 1019 BR
Telephone: +31 (0)20 788 2188.
Throughout the spring and summer, this outdoor venue in north Amsterdam hosts an eclectic series of music events in the gardens adjacent to the old toll house for ships plying the northward canal. The line-up ranges widely from free jazz to Brazilian rock to jangle pop, but all suit the festive castaway aesthetic of the green retreat, with snacks and drinks served from abandoned camper vans.Address: , Tolhuisweg 5, Amsterdam, 1031 CL
Telephone: +31 (0)20 763 0650.
Classical music in Amsterdam
Concertgebouw (Concert Hall)
Facing Museumplein, the Concertgebouw is home not only to the world-famous Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra but also plays host to visiting companies and international soloists. Renowned for its fantastic acoustics and lavishly restored Grote Zaal (Great Hall), it is among the world’s most highly attended concert halls. A second venue, the Kleine Zaal, is reserved for chamber music recitals. Free concerts take place on Wednesdays 1230-1300.Address: , Concertgebouwplein 10, Amsterdam, 1071 LN
Telephone: +31 (0) 20 671 8345
The architecturally striking Muziekgebouw holds a commanding presence on the banks of the IJ, with its formidable glass-walled foyer and protruding block containing the Bimhuis theatre for jazz. The Netherlands' foremost venue for contemporary classical music, it features an acoustically superior concert hall whose dimensions can be adjusted to suit the performing artist. The innovative programming encompasses both the works of modern composers and fresh interpretations of the old masters.Address: , Piet Heinkade 1, Amsterdam, 1019 BR
Telephone: +31 (20) 788 2000.
Dance in Amsterdam
The Muziektheater is home to the Dutch National Ballet, considered one of the best and most versatile companies in Western Europe, as well as the Netherlands Opera. The theatre also plays host to foreign companies. Situated on a curve of the Amstel, this cultural landmark remains, despite its size (seats 1,600), amazingly intimate. The building is shared with the Amsterdam City Hall (Stadhuis), earning it the nickname 'Stopera.'Address: , Amstel 3, Amsterdam,
Telephone: +31 (20) 6 255 455.
Theatres in Amsterdam
Koninklijk Theater Carré (Royal Theatre Carré)
Named after the Carré family, renowned circus performers who had it built for their performances in the late 19th century, this famous theatre stands on the east bank of the River Amstel. The eclectic program consists of international musicals, Dutch cabaret and folk artists and touring international stars like Emmylou Harris and Marianne Faithful. Nearby, the Kleine Komedie is a charming cabaret venue dating back to 1786.Address: , Amstel 115-125, Amsterdam, 1018 EM
Telephone: 0900 2525 255
Facing the popular Leidseplein, this impressive 19th-century structure functions as one of the country’s leading theatres, with dance performances as well as selected productions subtitled in English. Some of Holland’s more boundary-pushing drama troupes ply their craft here. Apart from the opulent main hall, the new addition of the Rabozaal connects to the adjacent Melkweg concert hall.Address: , Leidseplein 26, Amsterdam, 1017 PT
Telephone: +31 (0)20 523 7700
Music and Dance in Amsterdam
Culture in Amsterdam
Browse our Video Guides