Answers from Our Experts (2)
Amsterdam by night is as varied as by day. A church, dairy factory and boat all double as music and clubbing venues. Here are our recommendations for the best places to go after dark.
1. Paradiso. Located in a former church, this is quite literally Amsterdam’s pop temple. In spite of its limited capacity, Paradiso has hosted some of the world’s biggest names, from the Rolling Stones to Pink Floyd. The smaller stage upstairs is reserved for emerging talent.
2. Melkweg. A cultural behemoth housed in an old dairy factory, Melkweg (“milky way”) programs live music, theater performances, movies and photography exhibitions. If you visit Amsterdam at the weekend, check out the popular club nights on Friday and Saturday.
3. Bimhuis. In a black box jutting from the state-of-the-art Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ, Bimhuis is the place to catch world-class jazz and improvisation performances.
4. Jimmy Woo. Things get going late at this plush, Oriental-themed club off Leidseplein. From around 1 a.m., the stylish local crowd leaves the suede couches and intimate booths upstairs and trickles downstairs, where DJs spin a mix of house, RnB and techno.
5. Supperclub. More a sensory experience than anything else, Supperclub combines music, art, food, drink and the occasional offbeat performance. Recline on one of the sleek white couches in the venue behind Dam Square, or hit the dance floor on the Supperclub Cruise that plies Amsterdam’s waters.
Where to find the best nightlife in Amsterdam depends on what type of nightlife you’re looking for. If you want to kick back with a beer or glass of wine in a cozy spot (Amsterdammers even have a name for cozy places: gazellig), try a café. You can either go to a brown café, so named because years of tobacco use by its patrons have stained the walls brown (smoking is now banned, though many still flout the law, especially late at night), or any of the hundreds of cafés where locals and tourists alike hang indoors and out nursing their drinks. Two cafés we especially like are ‘t Smalle, a brown café on Egelantiersgracht that’s so adorable, an exact replica was built in Japan; or ‘t Arendsnest, which serves solely Dutch beers in an intimate atmosphere. Most cafés are open until 2 a.m. or even later.
If you’d rather spend your night listening to music, Amsterdam has two main concert venues: the ornate Concertgebouw for classical music and the striking Muziekgebouw, which is right on the IJ river and has both classical and more modern music. The Muziekgebouw also houses the Bimhuis, a smaller venue that specializes in jazz performances. If rock is more your thing, check out the online listings for the Paradiso or the Melkweg; or, for larger, more international acts, the Heineken Music Hall or the Carré are your best bets. Note that Amsterdam has a large electronic music scene, so if you feel like dancing, many of these venues host DJ-driven parties after the live music ends.
One of our favorite nightlife activities in Amsterdam is people-watching in an outdoor plaza while nursing a beer. We suggest doing so with the masses at Leidseplein or Rembrandtplein, two of Amsterdam’s largest squares. Open well into the night, they’re both lined with cafes and bars that boast plenty of outdoor seating. Just be forewarned: Many other tourists (including a number of bachelor and bachelorette parties) will have the same idea, especially on a warm evening.