It goes without saying that Amsterdam is famous for its nightlife and party culture. But with bars on every street, finding the best bars in Amsterdam can be a bit of a mission! Especially when there are just as many coffee shops as bars in the city!
Luckily for you guys, I was halfway through my second year at uni when I discovered that the combination of beer and weed makes me violently throw up…everywhere. And I also love drinking. Both of which means that I spend less time in coffee shops than the average traveller to the city and have more time to, well, sit on bar stools and get to know the local bartenders for you.
As it happens, I’ve been getting to know the local Dutch bars for the best part of two years. And so, thanks to friends from the city with great local suggestions, and hostels with fantastic nightlife, here is my list of 5 of the best bars in Amsterdam!
Amsterdam Nightlife: The Best Bars in Amsterdam
1. Gollem Beer Café
This was one of the highest suggestions of bars to visit, by Slavin and Sarah from the Flying Pig Uptown Hostel. That’s where I was staying on this recent mission to find the best bars in Amsterdam, and you can read my hostel review here.
But what makes Gollem so special isn’t its close proximity to the hostel, but its huge selection of beers. With 14 beers on tap, and over 150 more bottled beers to choose from, the staff here are more than willing to suggest their favourites based on your preferences.
I visited twice during my last stay in Amsterdam. And each time the bar was packed with locals and tourist wanting to try the best of the selection.
They even brew their own beer, called the Gollem Precious IPA. At 5.9%, it’s not the strongest one behind the bar. Which means one can easily lead to two, and if you’ve managed to get a spot at the bar you won’t want to leave early anyway!
Located in the Pijp district, this bar might be a little out of the way if you’re staying closer to the centre. But don’t worry, as it’s actually one of four Gollem beer cafés in Amsterdam! You can find out where the other three are located by visiting their website.
Phone Number: +31 20 737 0273
Location: Daniël Stalpertstraat 74, 1072 XK Amsterdam
Opening Hours: Sun – Thurs: 16.00 – 01.00; Fri – Sat: 16.00 – 03.00
2. Aen’t Water
So whilst I visited the Gollem Beer Café twice during my stay at the Flying Pig Upton Hostel, it’s actually Cafe Aen’t Water that tops my list of the best bars in Amsterdam. And the reason for this has everything to do with the people that work there.
Some of you might know that I moved to Amsterdam for a few months at the start of 2015 (click here to find out how to move to Amsterdam!).
A friend of mine, Jules, introduced Aen’t Water as one of his favourite bars, and it soon became my local. Since then I take every opportunity to pop in and see, Arend and Ciska… my favourite bartenders in Amsterdam!
Aside from the staff, the thing that makes Aen’t Water so special is their music. With screens behind the bar and in the upstairs seating area, the staff only play music from live concert DVDs. And it’ll always be something classic, from Creedence Clearwater Revival to Billy Idol!
In fact, one of my favourite artists is Beth Hart who I was introduced to for the very first time here. So pop in and tell Arend that The Hostel Girl sent you!
Phone Number: +31 6 52006618
Location: Oudezijds Voorburgwal 2a, 1012 GD Amsterdam
Opening Hours: Sun – Thurs: 11.00 – 01.00; Fri – Sat: 11.00 – 03.00
Another suggestion from friends, Schuim is not only a great place to sit a chill out during the day but it’s also one of the liveliest and best bars in Amsterdam during the night!
Located in what was once the artistic heart of Amsterdam’s squatter street, Schuim continues to attract the best of Amsterdam’s unique characters and late night party animals. Which may also have something to do with the fact that their beer is cheap and if the electronic music doesn’t keep you awake the abstract wall art and lighting will do!
It should be noted here that Schuim is not a fancy place. The chairs are old, the toilets are full of graffiti and the the bartenders, whilst friendly, can really drag their feet. The small dance floor attracts young drunks as well as seriously ageing hippies, and it can be hard to have a conversation over the loud music beating from the DJ booth.
But Schuim is always packed. And in my opinion, what makes it one of the best bars in Amsterdam is all of the above, plus the intriguing people you’ll meet or dance with while you’re inside.
During the day, it’s much quieter and I’d definitely suggest grabbing a beer and traditional Dutch bitterballen. You also won’t have to wait as long to be served, and if it’s sunny they have a great terrace where you can watch the eclectic locals of Spuistraat go about their day.
Phone Number: +31 20 638 9357
Location: Spuistraat 189, 1012 VN Amsterdam
Opening Hours: Tues – Thurs & Sun: 12.00 – 01.00; Fri – Sat: 12.00 – 03.00; Mon: 13.00 – 01.00
4. Café de Gaeper
So, this will be the second time I’m adding a bar to this list of best bars in Amsterdam on recommendation of my friend Jules. But he’s a born and bred Amsterdammer, so there’s no wonder why I’ve become a local at some of his favourites!
I first visited Café de Gaeper two years ago, and kept returning the more I got to know the fabulous Matthias who worked behind the bar. He’s now left, but that hasn’t stopped me popping in whenever I pass to grab a tasty lunch and a beer or two!
Located ridiculously close to the city centre of Amsterdam, Café de Gaeper is a true locals haunt. So for those of you looking for an authentic brown beer café (as they call them in Amsterdam), this is the perfect place to grab a bar stool next to a regular and get to know the city from their perspective.
On my last visit, I was also lucky enough to meet the owner. Dennis, who opened the bar in 1974, is full of fun stories and just as welcoming to locals and new visitors.
The perfect example of Dennis’ charm was when a girl arrived in De Gaeper and wondered if it was too early in the day to grab a beer. So he dimmed the lights in the whole bar to make her feel better about her day drinking!
5. Belushi’s Amsterdam
Most of the bars I’ve featured in this list of the best bars in Amsterdam are ones that really give you a local vibe in an otherwise touristy city. However, I couldn’t put this list together without introducing Belushi’s Amsterdam!
A true traveller’s bar, it’s linked to the neighbouring St Christopher’s at The Winston Hostel which means that you’ll get all the fun, cheap drinks and pub crawls that St Christopher’s are notorious for!
Located just outside Amsterdam’s infamous Red Light District, Belushi’s is the perfect place to start your night out, before you return to its club next door. The club, Winston Kingdom, is one of the few bars in the district open until 5.00am on weekends, as I discovered when I stumbled in there after this year’s STAY WYSE Conference!
But if you’ve exhausted yourself from a weekend of drinking and just need to chill, then Belushi’s has the perfect space in its garden to catch some sun and tuck into one of their incredible burgers!
Usually, entrance to the Winston Kingdom costs €5, but if you stay at the St Christopher’s Hostel or any of the Flying Pig Hostels then you get free entry with your keycard, as well as 25% of any food on the menu at Belushi’s! Which I think is a pretty sweet deal…
Phone Number:+31 20 623 1380
Location: Warmoesstraat 129, 1012 JA Amsterdam
Opening Hours: Sun – Thurs: 10.00 – 01.00; Fri – Sat: 10.00 – 03.00
Do you have a favourite bar in Amsterdam? Or have you visited any of my favourites? Let me know in the comments!
I would like to thank the Flying Pig Uptown in Amsterdam for sponsoring my stay with them, but as always opinions are honest and entirely my own.