Amsterdam's reputation as a capital of libertinism may be most famously embodied by its coffeeshops, but its nightlife provides ample opportunity to do anything. Clubs cater to gay and straight, scenesters and dancers alike, while bars alternate between classic, old-Amsterdam bruine cafes (brown cafes) and their modern counterpart, the fancily named grand cafe.
Step out into Amsterdam after dark and you'll probably acquire first-hand knowledge about why it's said that the best visit to this city is one that you can't remember.
Amsterdam Bars with Live Music
Holland Casino Amsterdam, in the Lido, Max Euweplein 62 at Leidseplein, is said to be the only legal casino in town -- though there's no sign of any official action against those that presumably are illegal.
This is European gambling, with emphasis on the quiet games of roulette, baccarat, punto banco, blackjack, and others, though there are abundant one-armed bandits, which the Dutch call "fruit machines," and blackjack, poker, and bingo machines (start saving your euro coins!).
You need correct attire to get in (jacket and tie or turtleneck for men), and you also have to bring your passport to register at the door. The minimum age is 18.
There's a strong jazz scene, good music clubs, and enjoyable English-language shows at the little cabarets and theaters along the canals. The club and bar scene can be entertaining if not outrageous; the dance clubs may indeed seem quiet and small to anyone used to the flash of clubs in New York City, Los Angeles, or London.
However, the brown cafes -- the typical Amsterdam pubs -- have never been better. And there are always the movies: You can watch first-run U.S. blockbuster hits with their English soundtracks intact.
- Alto, plays Jazz, located at Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 115 H
- De heeren van Amstel, plays lots of Jazz, located at Thorbeckeplein 5
- Bourbon Street Jazz & Blues, located at Leidsekruisstraat 6-8
- Hof van Holland, plays Dutch songs, located at Rembrandtplein 5
- Maxim Pianobar, located at Leidsekruisstraat 35
- Twin Pig's Live Muzic Cafe (Flying Pig Down Town Hostel), located at Nieuwendijk
Popular Bars & Brown Cafes In Amsterdam
Amsterdam's nightlife can have you careening between smoky coffee shops, chic wine bars, mellow jazz joints, laid-back lounges and clubs. The city's nightlife centers mainly on two of its main squares. Leidseplein, rich with cafés and discos that attract younger visitors to the city, also has the city's two major live venues, Melkweg and Paradiso, around the corner. The area around Rembrandtplein harbors the trendier nightspots and many of Amsterdam's gay venues (particularly along Reguliersdwarsstraat). Warmoestraat and other streets in the Red Light District provide the spicy setting for the more leather-oriented gay bars and throbbing rock clubs. The lounge phenomenon, while a bit late in arriving, is now in full bloom, offering a kinder, gentler club vibe. Hipsters are attracted to the venues concentrated around Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal. Amsterdam's theater and music season begins in September and runs through June, when the Holland Festival of Performing Arts is held. What's On in Amsterdam is a comprehensive English-language publication that lists art and performing-arts events around the city.
T Loosje (Located at Nieuwmarkt 32-34)
Very old, brown bar with a lot of character on the edge of the Red Light district. The interior features beautiful tile tableaux dating from the beginning of this century. Attracts a mixed public during daytime, but caters mainly to students during the evening. Outside terrace with a good view of the Nieuwmarkt.
Reijnders (Located at Leidseplein 6
One of the best bets in the touristic Leidseplein area is this authentic brown bar. It used to be the literary center of the Leidseplein, together with the neighbouring cafe Eylders. Elegant, high-ceilinged interior and waiters clad in traditional black-and-white. The glassed-in front opens during the summer to create a sunny outside terrace.
Thijssen (Located at Brouwersgracht 107)
Large bar in the Jordaan, frequented by young locals. Though of more recent date then the neighboring bars, it already has managed to acquire a nice 'brown' patina. The large windows provide a nice view of one of the most beautiful parts of the Jordaan. Gets crowded during evenings.
Hoppe (Located at Spui 18-20)
A famous Amsterdam institution, Hoppe consists of two adjoining properties. The part on the right has been a bar since 1670, the interior reflecting its rich history. There is fresh sand on the floor every day, no music is played and there is standing room only. The left part is bigger and offers seating as well as music. Hoppe is a very popular bar with the crowd spilling out onto the sidewalk on summer days.