A Local’s Guide to the Best Bars in Amsterdam

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Enjoy Amsterdam like the locals with this handy guide to the best late night, early morning and breakfast time bars in the city.

An infamous red light district, picture-perfect canals and cannabis cafes that cater to veteran stoners and curious tokers alike.

These are the first things many of us think of when we think of Amsterdam. Popular tourist haunts aside though, there’s so much more to discover about this charming Dutch city. For instance, did you know it’s home to over a 1,100 bars? Or, that it has its own night mayor whose job is to oversee all aspects of Amsterdam’s thriving nightlife?

This all boils down to one hell of a town. And it nearly goes without saying that Amsterdam is a guaranteed good time. With literally countless opportunities for entertainment and excitement at every turn. Seriously, if you can’t have fun here, you can’t have fun anywhere.

So, to ensure you hit the ground running on your next visit, we’ve selected nine bars we believe are the cream of the crop. Hand plucked from a long list of quality establishments, by a local who’s got partying in Amsterdam dialed down to an artform.

Hitch up your britches and read on folks. There’s a good chance your new favourite watering hole is on this list of 8 of the best bars in Amsterdam.

1. Vesper Bar

Photo credit: Vesper

Flex That Pinkie Finger and Sip Away

Cosy, swanky and oh so classy, Vesper Bar is a cocktail lounge that oozes effortless cool.

Check out its comprehensive drink menu that’s been called the best in town and select a libation to suit your mood, the occasion or your hair colour.

It’s one of the best bars in Amsterdam for after work drinks and for when you want to cut loose on the weekend. It’s also somewhere you can sip away with that pinkie finger extended and pretend you’re sophisticated.

Location: Vinkenstraat 57, 1013 JM, Amsterdam
Opening Times: Tues – Thur: 8pm – 1am; Fri – Sat: 5pm – 3am; Sun – Mon: closed

2. The Tara

Photo credit: The Tara Amsterdam

A Nook and Cranny For Everyone

The Tara combines a subtle British vibe with a unique design to create a space that essentially feels like a glamorous labyrinth.

Walking inside, it’s easy to lose your bearings and wind up in a room that resembles your great grandfather’s study. Take a few more steps though, and you’ll soon find yourself in a different room with a completely different atmosphere.

This makes The Tara great for quiet ones with your beloved. And for when you feel like getting sauced in a place that’s somewhere between the best pub you’ve ever been in and a quirky 1940s manor home.

Location: Rokin 85-89 / Nes 100, Amsterdam
Opening Times: Sun – Thurs 10 to 1 and Fri – Sat 10 t0 3

3. Café Lennep

Photo credit: Cafe Lennep

Your Friendly Neighbourhood Watering Hole

There are probably better bars in Amsterdam to party, but if you want excellent food and drinks in an unhurried environment far from the city’s more popular tourist haunts, its worth a visit.

Try the burgers, mussels or rotisserie chicken and throw back a beer or two. All of which can be enjoyed in either of their two terraces overlooking Amsterdam West’s stunning waterfront.

For those who want to savour a drink in peace, without an entire rugby union forward pack nailing shots of Sambuca at the bar behind you, Café Lennep will be right up your alley.

Location: Jacob van Lennepkade 334, Amsterdam
Opening Times: Mon to Thurs 12pm – 1am  fri 12pm – 3am Sat 11am – 3am & Sun 11am – 1am

4. Waterkant

Photo credit: Waterkant Amsterdam

Canal Side Beers and Surinamese Cuisine in the Sun

Waterfront views, delicious food and a generous selection of quality beers make Waterkant one of the best bars in Amsterdam.

Manage to score it on a sunny day and you won’t want to leave. If it’s overcast though, and chances are it will be, you can still enjoy unobstructed views across the canal and drink in a uniquely Dutch outlook. Can get busy, so make sure you arrive early if you want to stake out a decent spot.

For casual drinks and for when you want to turn it up a notch on the weekends.

Location: Waterkant Amsterdam, Marnixstraat 246, Amsterdam
Opening Times: Sun to Thurs 11am – 1am & Fri to Sat 11am – 3am

5. Brouwerij ‘t IJ

Photo credit: Brouwerij ‘t IJ

For Windmill Lovers and Beer Fanatics Alike

Everyone in Amsterdam knows about Brouwerij ‘t IJ for two reasons.

One; they produce an almost endless array of high-quality beers, and two; they’re located next to the iconic De Gooyer Windmill. That being said, Brouwerij ‘t IJ is more than just a novelty. They use organic ingredients in the brewing process to create some seriously superb beers and offer tasting samplers on quieter days for curious mouths.

Tours of the brewery can also be arranged. Just make sure you’ve lined your stomach beforehand.

Location: Funenkade 7, Amsterdam
Opening Times: 2pm to 8pm

6. Café Tabac

Photo credit: Café Tabac Amsterdam

Watch The World Go By (And The Tourists Stack Their Bikes)

Café Tabac is an authentic brown or bruin café, which is what they call a traditional pub in the Netherlands. It’s suitable for those looking for a typically Dutch drinking experience and some interesting locals to shoot the breeze with.

It also boasts a pleasant outdoor area, a great selection of drinks and an enviable corner location. This makes it an awesome hangout spot on Kings Day, as you’ll get to see all the action on the canals from the comfort of your very own waterfront terrace.

It’s also one of the best bars in Amsterdam to watch tourists try to wiggle and weave their way through the intersection traffic on hire bikes… often with humorous results.

Location: Brouwersgracht 101, Amsterdam
Opening Times: Mon to Sun 12pm – 12am; Tues to Thurs 12pm – 1am; Fr 12pm – 3am & Sat 11am – 3am

7. Bloemenbar Amsterdam

Photo credit: Bloemenbar

Booze and Smoke Like The Locals

Bloemenbar is located deep in the heart of tourist trap territory, but it ain’t just another vapid nightclub.

In fact, it’s a cool little bar with an after-party vibe and a liberal smoking policy. Heaps of Dutchies go there and you’ll definitely feel as if you’re hanging with the locals. It’s also open till the wee hours of the morning for those of you who aren’t ready to head home yet.

Come here and tear up some rug with your own interpretation of the full body heave. Then, collapse onto a comfy couch and watch others try to put out the fire you just started with your moves.

Location: Handboogstraat 15, Amsterdam
Opening Times: Sun – Thurs 8pm – 4am; Fri – Sat 8pm – 5am

8. Café Panache

Photo credit: Café Panache

Come For The Seafood, Stay For The Cocktails

If you fancy something a little different, Café Panache is the place to go. Located in the popular Oud-West, it has made a name for itself as one of the best bars in Amsterdam, with its decidedly chic aesthetic, delicious menu (try the seafood platter) and stylish cocktail lounge.

Cafe Panache is heavy on the ambiance in the best possible way. Expect dim lighting, knowledgeable staff and a trendy interior. All of which combine to create a bar that’s incredibly hard to leave.

Check it out when you feel like one or two or seven tasty cocktails in an intimate setting with your closest friends.

Location: Ten Katestraat 117, Amsterdam
Opening Times: Sun to Thurs 5pm – 3am Fri to sat 5pm – 3am

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Lachlan Campbell

Lachlan is a freelance copywriter from Australia who loves travelling the world writing and surfing. Based in Portugal, he spends most of his time scouring the coast looking for a decent wave, that is unless he’s in the home office creating content for major companies such as Wrangler, DAVIDOFF or Heineken. Lac also manages his own blog, The Barefoot Vagabond, which provides freelancers who share his passion for surfing with humorous and sometimes useful advice.

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