Expat guide on night life in Amsterdam
The real magic of night life in Amsterdam lies in its twin atmospheres: It is at once a small village where you will likely meet friends and acquaintances on the street and where nothing is more than a twenty minute bike ride away, and simultaneously a global city where ideas, styles, trends and culture from across the world meet. Aside from the thriving cultural scene and the epic business environment, Amsterdam’s night life is far ahead of most of its rivals.
Oddly enough this is one topic where local advice does not tend to help very much. Possibly because of the high concentration of creative types, Amsterdam is caught permanently between what is hip (meaning the next big thing…and there is a next big thing every month) and the tried and tested good times (meaning the big clubs, the cosy bars, the drinking dens and the coffee shops).
Revelers will be pleased to hear that someone is partying in Amsterdam pretty much every night of the week, but of course the weekends are the high point.
Club 8 is popular with a mix of internationals and students. Ping pong tables and other distractions add to the grungy atmosphere.
Admiraal de Ruijterweg 56b
Studio 80 is a good bet for those in need of some drum and bass.
Bitterzoet is understood to be a hip-hop venue but in fact plays a very wide variety of Djs and live acts – just make it clear to security, if asked, that you live in Amsterdam as they seem to have an irrational fear of tourists.
Paradiso is housed in a converted former church building that dates from the nineteenth century.
Studio K is famous to a diverse crowd of young people.
Westergasfabriek plays house and is a good bet for mixed age crowds
Throw a rock in Amsterdam and you’ll hit a bar. Not only are there scores of bars but the variety is not to be sniffed at either. Popular areas for pub crawling include:
- Rembrandtspelin – a mix of tourists and locals. This is a late night party area.
- The Red Light District – mostly tourists. A lot of small bars are in the area, some stay open very late. Due to the massive amounts of tourists it’s a good area to find televised sports games. Warmoerstraat on the Dam side of the district has some fun gay bars.
- Leidseplein – Tourists, Dutch, expats…well everyone really. Leidseplein has a bit of everything with some of the city’s biggest live music venues, theaters and clubs. There are bars in this area to suit any interest and age group.
- Jordaan – For a slightly quieter night out head to the Joordan. The bars around the Noorde Kerk are usually lively but settle down fairly early.
One bar that truly stands out from the rest is Door 74. This is a top-secret place which makes the most exquisite cocktails. With professional bar-tenders, a hint of pretension and a lot of champagne, this will be an unforgettable experience, albeit expensive. The place is hidden, with no sign of its presence: you will have to ring the tiny doorbell and the rest is taken care of. Reservations are required. There is a dress-code and a golden rule: behave as ladies and gentlemen!
Tel: 31 (0)63 404 51 22
Bar open: Tuesday – Saturday, 8 p.m. – 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday until 4 a.m.
Contrary to popular belief drugs are not legal in the Netherlands, even marijuana. Coffee shops selling marijuana and hash are officially tolerated but subject to some serious restrictions. Many of the coffee shops are quite fun and friendly to foreigners and tourists but many more – especially in the city centre – are dull, lifeless places with awful music and a broody atmosphere.
If you do feel like dabbling, head out from the canal ring to some of the smaller local places and don’t be afraid to ask the staff for advice on your purchases. Even if you are a seasoned smoker be warned that the materials here are of a much stronger grade than anywhere else in the world. The extent of marijuana culture in Amsterdam is always overstated. It is important to remember that just because something is tolerated does not mean that it is condoned.
Being under the influence is viewed by a lot of Dutch people in the same light as being drunk at noon – not acceptable. Also remember that visiting a coffee shop does not need to involve smoking. Curious visitors are of course welcome to sit down with a tea or coffee and take in this most peculiar of atmospheres.
Places Where Expats Meet
Sports has a way of bringing expats together.
For soccer and Irish sports head for the Tara (Irish bar) on Rokin
Cocos Outback (Australian bar) off of Rembrandtplein shows American, Australian, British and European games and is something of a gathering point for expats generally.
For alcohol free socializing, the ABC (American Book Centre) Tree House off of the Spui offers regular courses and hosts a variety of clubs.