Amsterdam’s reputation as one of Europe’s main party cities is well deserved. To enjoy its vibrant and diverse nightlife, head for Leidseplein, Rembrandtplein and Nieuwezijds. The districts host a number of discotheques, clubs with live music, cafes and restaurants.
Amsterdam also has a huge gay and lesbian scene, with most gay-friendly hotels, clubs and bars located on and around Reguliersdwarstraat.
Bruine cafés (brown cafés)
Amsterdam’s bruine cafés are a bit of an institution. The name comes from the low lighting, dark-wood interior and walls seasoned by years of cigarette smoke, but don’t let that put you off. They are not really tourists hangouts, but they are a good place to meet the locals, the atmosphere is relaxed and you can linger for hours over a good beer. Some are quite famous like Hoppe on Spuistraat.
Another unique Amsterdam experience – it is the only city in the world that takes such a liberal view on soft drugs. Many visitors come out of curiosity. As the law stands, they can sell you up to 5 grams of cannabis, but no alcohol and there is an age limit of 18. They are not allowed to advertise, so look out for a Rastafarian flag or “leaf” in the window.
Live music and clubs:
Amsterdam is a hotspot for live music, from classical to rock, world to jazz.
Address: Weteringschans 6–8
A classic Amsterdam landmark. The former church near Leidseplein has two spaces for live shows. The Big Hall draws big pop and rock bands. Plenty of legends in world music and reggae have also been known to play here.
Address: Oude Schans 73–77
A must for jazz aficionados. Amsterdam has long had a strong jazz scene and the Bimhuis is one of the best venues for live jazz in Europe. The club has been around since the 1970s and has hosted great names like Chet Baker. The building offers fantastic views over the harbour.
Melkweg (Milky way)
Address: Lijnbaansgracht 234
The former dairy is now home to one of Amsterdam’s best clubs. The music includes Latin, hip-hop and reggae, but it is best known for the Jam in the Dam festival, a three-day event that attracts crowds of jam-band fans.
Amsterdam’s biggest and most famous club. Its Saturday “chemistry nights” are hugely popular and feature some big names in the international DJ world.
Address: Rozengracht 133
The place has a chic feel about it. Funky house music and international DJs.
Address: Oostelijke Handelskade 4
The Panama is located in the docks area at the back of Central Station, a new up-and-coming warehouse district. It combines a club, restaurant and hip club/theatre.
Address: Max Euweplein 62
Opening hours: every day from 1.30 pm until 3 am (last admission: 2 am)
You will need to show your passport and must be over 18.
The other casino is located at Schiphol Airport, in Terminal West.
Opening hours: everyday from 6 am until 7.30pm.
Classical music and Theatre
Located on the banks of the river Amstel, this is the most important opera and ballet venue in the Netherlands. The Music Theatre is home to the Dutch Opera, the National Ballet (one of the leading companies in the world) and the Holland Symphony Orchestra.
Box office: Amstel 3 (on the ground floor)
Tel: +31(0) 20 6 255 455
Tickets can also be booked online: www.muziektheater.nl
Monday to Saturday: from 10 am to 6 pm
Sundays & public holidays: from 11.30 am to 2.30 pm
Address: Het Concertgebouw, Concertgebouwplein 2-6 ,1071 LN Amsterdam. (Opposite the Rijksmuseum)
The concert hall is internationally recognized for its exceptional acoustics. It is home to the Dutch Philharmonic Orchestra and the Dutch Chamber Orchestra. It is one of the finest concert halls, and the second most visited, in the world. As well as classical music, it features exotic music from other countries, jazz and pop events.
Box Office: daily from 10 am until 8.15 pm.
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