Amidst all the smoke from which bellows from Amsterdam’s omnipresent coffee shops, and the red lights from the city’s infamous red light district, Amsterdam’s nightlife isn’t as hectic as you might initially expect. While it certainly it isn’t tame by any stretch of the imagination, the Dutch capital doesn’t employ an ‘anything goes’ policy that the rest of the world seems to think it does.
In saying that, of course there are different nooks and crannies around the city (or in this instance squares) where the city comes alive at night. The first of these is the Rembrandtplein. Within walking distance (just) of the Red Light District, bars, clubs and coffee shops border this lively square. Further south is the Leidseplein where bargirls and boys from all directions wait on customers from all corners of the globe. But like with restaurants, if you want to go where the locals go visit an area known as ‘De Pijp’.
While most natives of Mother Earth’s ultimate city of sin don’t frequent the coffee shops, you should stick your head into one of them to see what all the fuss is about. And if you decide to stain your memory with visions of scantily clad, overweight 40 year olds during a venture to the Red Light District, make sure to keep you wits about you. It isn’t the safest place in the world after dark.
Herengracht 319, Amsterdam, Netherlands
In this 'proeflokaal' (tasting house) you can sample the liquors of Van Wees, the last of Amsterdam's independent distilleries. Inside enjoy a museum-like interior with lots of brewery utensils.
Open Mon-Sat 4.30pm-midnight.
Spui 18-20, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Hoppe is a well-known Amsterdam institution and is made up of two adjoining properties. This popular bar has the crowd spilling out onto the sidewalks during summer months. During happy hour it fills up with expensive suits on the way home from the office.
Open Mon-Sun 8am-1am, 2am weekends.
Nieuwmarkt 32-34, Amsterdam, Netherlands
This old ‘brown bar’ on the edge of the Red Light District is a good place to sit outside as the terrace has a good view of the Nieumarkt. Popular with students in the evening.
Open 9.30am-1am, 2am weekends.
Lijnbaansgracht 234, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Located in a former dairy, the Melkweg (Milky Way) is one of Amsterdam's biggest entertainment venues, and offers music, drama, movies, a weekend disco, a bar and restaurant, and even a tearoom which sells dope! Live music and dance events are held every weekend.
Rembrandtplein 11, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Located on the vibrant Rembrandtplein in the city centre, Escape is Amsterdam's number one club. Holding over 2,000 people, the biggest night is 'Chemistry' which is on every Saturday. Dress to kill if you plan on fitting in with the rest of the city's clubbers.
Open Thurs-Sun 11pm-4am (7am on Sat); admission varies.
Leidseplein Theater, Leidse-plein 12, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Boom Chicago is Amsterdam's best known comedy club and has been making the city laugh for over 7 years now. The show is a very fast improvisation show with lots of audience participation. If you like "Whose Line is it Anyway" or "Saturday Night Live" you will enjoy this. The show performs Monday through Saturday and ticket prices vary. There is a restaurant and bar in the theater.